Guinea Pig




THIS is a cunning little animal, but why it was ever called the guinea pig is hard to tell. The country called Guinea is, you know, in Africa; and the guinea pig was first brought from South America, so there seems no reason why he should have guinea for a part of his name. And, besides, he is not a pig at all, but belongs to a class of animals called gnawers, such as the beaver, the rabbit, and the rat. But the little fellow has a way of grunting like a pig, when he eats; and by this habit he has probably earned the latter part of his name. 

The guinea pig, for so we must call him, since others do, is a harmless little fellow and quite pretty to look at; so many people like to have them for pets in their homes and gardens. They are about ten inches long, and their fur, which is soft and fine, is variously spotted with white, black, and red; but no two of them are just alike. 

These queer little fellows are very gentle in disposition, and never try to defend themselves by their teeth or nails. When they are frightened, they utter a sharp, pitiful cry, but make very little effort to get away from the danger. As you might suppose, they are easily tamed for pets, but are of no use in any way, and are only kept for their gentleness and beauty. 

The guinea pig lives entirely upon vegetables, like the rabbit; and it is quite amusing to see the little fellows sitting upon their haunches and eating so cunningly from their hand-like paws, like squirrels. They are especially fond of apples, and seem to enjoy a good dish of bread and milk as well as the children do. 

It is hard to tell whether they are awake or asleep, for they usually sleep with their eyes partly open. The one in our picture certainly looks stupid enough to be asleep. The guineas are loving little creatures, and are said never to quarrel or fuss among themselves. And surely, if these stupid little animals can live happily and peaceably together, little boys and girls ought to be able to do so. 

E. B.