GUINEA-PIGS

GUINEA-PIGS have advanced in dignity in our day, having become fanciers animals and being regularly exhibited at shows under their correct name of conies. They are not pigs, but rodents, and are natives of South America, where they were domesticated by the inhabitants before the Spanish conquest.

They are singularly helpless little animals, being unable to climb, fight, burrow, or even run fast; but they make up for this to some extent by their extreme precocity and independence. They are born not only well-furred, open-eyed, and able to run about, but provided with teeth, so that they begin to clean themsolves in a day or two and can do without their mothers milk in three weeks.

All through their lives they are very hearty caters, and though to be fed on the whole like rabbits, will take a greatur variety of green food, and are lese easily upset by the administration of it. They are rather fonder of water, and soins should be always in their hutch, care being taken that it cannot b3 upset there and make the surroundings damp, as they need a dry comfortable bed as much as rabbits do, if not more so, as they come from a warmer climate.

There is no objection to keeping the two sexes of guinea-pigs together, but only one boar should be put into a hutch in which there may be as many as six sows. The gestation period is nine weeks, and each female should have a little covered box full of hay to herself as a bedroom.

Guinea-pigs show much variety in colour; those of a rat-like brown represent the original wild shade of coat. The fur is naturally smooth, but there is a quaint, rough-coated variety, and also one with a very long straight ooat which quite hides its form. This needs too much care to be everybodys pet.

Small as they are, these little animals were and are used as food in their own country, and were at first appreciated by Europeans also, so that it is hard to seo why they are off our menu nowadays. It is said that they do sometimes appear there – unofficially!

They taste exceedingly like rabbits; they are best made into a pie or spread out flat an-1 fried with bacon, for which treatment tlieir small size specially suits them.

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