The History of Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are a species of rodent that originated in South America. They’re thought to have been domesticated as early as 5000 BC, and they form a persistent part of the culture of many people within this area - statues dating back to 500 BC as well as later art all depict guinea pigs in a variety of different forms.

Macchu Pichu
South America was home to the Incas

After being domesticated by Andean people, guinea pigs remained popular in the area for many thousands of years, and were extremely popular amongst the Incas. The Incan people were a South American civilisation that lived in and around the Andean mountains from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, and were famous for their stunning works of art and breathtaking architecture. There’s evidence to suggest that guinea pigs lived closely with these people, and that for many years they were often found living in and around people’s homes as livestock. The guinea pigs were a curiosity, and so after the Spanish discovered the region in the 1530s, several boats brought them back across to Europe. Soon they were being kept in a number of different countries, and their endearing nature and shape made them popular pets for the children of wealthy families.

Only the wealthy were able to afford guinea pigs at first - at the time they were a strange and exotic animal that would have cost a great deal of money to purchase and look after. Queen Elizabeth the First is thought to have been an early guinea pig owner, and during her reign they became fashionable throughout Britain. Today, they are relatively cheap, hold the title of one of the world’s most popular rodent pets, and come in many more colours than their wild ancestors would have originally been found in.

Guinea pigs out in the open
Some guinea pig species still live in the wild

In some South American regions they are still kept as household animals, and used for food, medicine, and participation in local customs. In the area guinea pigs are frequently given as gifts, and rubbed against people who are suffering from illness as they are thought to be useful for diagnoses. Domesticated guinea pigs as a species no longer exist in the wild, but very closely related species such as the montane guinea pig can still be found living in their natural habitat.

Customer Images


Brittany, 26 November 2017

I have finally got my first guinea pig...... and I am so very happy!! I have wanted one since I was 13, and have done so much research on them over the years. Mr Joker, my piggy, is 4 months old, and is a wonderful mix of colors, brown, white, black and a little grey in tiny places. He is sweet and friendly and I was wrapped around him before I ever got to the register lol... Love the piggies

Taylor, 5 May 2017

I have one black and white piggy named Russell, and he is a bundle of joy!

Maryalice, 5 January 2017

I also have some and they are so cute!

Evita, 23 June 2016

Yay! i love Guinea pigs they are so so so cute i have 2 of them thier names are honey nd sugar Sincerly Evita

Alexis, 27 April 2016

I love them! They are cute and fluffy! I hate how they WERE kept for food, but that was the past lets do the present

Leave a Comment

Get the Omlet Newsletter!


Sign up now for a chance to win £50 of Omlet products and get our brilliant Newsletter absolutely free.