The history and background of cavies

Cavies originate from South America and were domesticated by the local indigenous people many years ago; possibly as far back in history as 5,000 BC. Initially, they were kept as a nutritious food source but also as a sacrificial animal being offered in religious ceremonies as homage to the people’s Gods. In fact, cavies are still kept for meat in several parts of South America. It is thought that, as a result of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, cavies found their way to Europe some time in the 16th Century. They were probably just kept as curios and pets although, doubtless, some also found their way to the dinner table.

In more recent times, because of certain physiological similarities to humans, they have been used as a vehicle for medical research and have proved to benefit mankind greatly in this way. Today though, it is mainly as a pet and exhibition animal that these ‘no tail’ companions are kept.

Joan Radeglia

Joan Radeglia judging Self cavies

Wash 3: Designed by Simon Neesam for the British Cavy Council © 2009