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Cavies and Maras: Caviidae

Cavies, Maras And People

Cavies, commonly known as guinea pigs, have been domesticated, tamed, and used as pets for three thousand years. Scientists also use them extensively as laboratory animals. They are raised for food in areas of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Guinea pigs are believed to have been used by the ancient Incas in religious sacrifices. Small cavies are considered to be pests by farmers in agricultural areas. Larger cavies are hunted for food and their pelts, or fur.


Taxonomists, scientists who classify living things, have always placed cavies and maras in the order of rodents (Rodentia) because they most resemble rats and mice. However, newer research into the genes of cavies and maras indicate they are not related at all to rodents. Instead, some scientists suggest that their genes, the basic units capable of transmitting characteristics from one generation to the next, more closely resemble those of primates.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsCavies and Maras: Caviidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Cavies, Maras And People, Rock Cavy (kerodon Rupestris): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS