Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Guinea Pigs

"It is a very pretty little animal, with pretty black and orange-coloured spots on its fur; but the hair of the fur is so coarse that it is of little value. It is easily tamed, but only on account of its stupidity..." 

"A guinea-pig has sometimes a litter of twelve little ones, generally six or eight; this happens several times in the year, and often these little ones, before they are two months old, have little families of their own."

"It is a pretty little animal, with a white and spotted fur, which is useless because it is so coarse."

from Pleasant Pages 1850

from The Leisure Hour 1859

"Guinea-pigs are far less popular now among boys than they used to be, and no wonder, for they are stupid little things, and, as our old gardener was accustomed contemptuously to observe of a specimen on which we lavished much unrequited affection, in our younger days, are "of no use to nobody". All they seem capable of doing is to give a pretty good imitation of a pig, as they run about grunting, from corner to corner. The guinea pig is a native of Brazil; it feeds on grain and fruits, and may be kept in a domestic state on sopped bread and vegetables, with an occasional slice of apple or a similar fruit. In its wild state the guinea-pig is extraordinarily prolific, and a single pair, it is said, might be multiplied so as to produce a thousand within a year. In their native country they would become absolutely innumerable, were it not for the many enemies against whom they have to contend. Among these may be enumerated dogs, cats, and other animals, which greedily devour their young, and inclement weather and damp, by which vast numbers are annually destroyed. In size they are considerably less than a rabbit; the upper lip is only half divided; they have two cutting teeth in each jaw, and their ears are broad and erect. They are of varied colors, white, black, and fawn the tortoise-shell (i.e.), a mixture of three colors, is generally preferred. Some of the white ones have red eyes, similar to ferrets and white rabbits. Their flesh is said greatly to resemble that of the rabbit in flavor; and it is moreover asserted, that these kept in houses contract the flavor of the wild, or warren rabbit, while the guinea-pigs that run about the garden have the more insipid taste of the domestic rabbit; but we do not think our young friends will make the trial."

from The American Boy's Book

from The Illustrated Natural History 1865