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Domesticated species (Cavia porcellus) of South American cavy (family Caviidae). It resembles most other cavies in being stout, short-legged, and about 10 in. (25 cm) long. It has small ears, no external tail, and a coat that is black, tan, cream-coloured, brown, white, or a combination of these colours. Hair length and texture vary among varieties. It feeds largely on grass and other green plants. Domesticated in pre-Incan times, it was introduced into Europe in the early 16th century. It is a popular pet and a valuable research animal.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on guinea pig, visit Britannica.com.