Having Cavies as Pets: From the Laboratory to our Home

Guinea pigs (also known as cuys or cavies) are rodents belonging to the genus Cavia commonly seen as domestic pets in modern households all over the world. They are known to be cute pets often seen with rabbits and hamsters. While they are known as lovable pets, they are considered as important animals especially in South America where guinea pigs as consumed as food and as an ingredient in folk medicine.

While the etymology of the word ‘guinea pig’ is hard to explain, the animals are popular because of their value in laboratory experiments since the 17th century where the cavies serve as model organisms for experimentations. Because of this, we have also use the word ‘guinea pig’ as an epithet to any test subjects.

Even though cavies are now replaced by other test subjects (like mice and rats), they are still important in researches involving diabetes and cough-related diseases.

Out group at school decided to conduct research that deals with cough. With the earlier information in mind, we have no other choice for test subjects but the guinea pigs. After several months of processing with our university’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and with the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI), plus a training from someone accredited by the Philippine Association of Laboratory Animal Science (PALAS) we were given clearance and accreditation to do the said experimentation of the cavies.

Initially, we thought that test animals should be euthanized after any experimentation. However, through these various outfits and trainings, we were educated that not all test animals are needed to be euthanized especially if the methods are non-invasive.  Our methods were deemed not harmful for the animals so we were approved.

But the authorities were clear in telling us that the laws of our country prohibit abuse of animals. As much as possible, the laws require that there should be no killing in test subjects.

That is why after our research, we divided our test subjects and took them home as pets. Now, I am starting to become a cavy pet owner and am still finding other ways to manage them and let them grow.

Here is a video of my pets. I hope I can post more about them in the future.

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