No, they do not, but their skeleton suggests otherwise.
Even though you cannot see a cavy’s tail on the outside, you will find bony vestiges indicating a possible presence of a tail.
The guinea pigs you see today don’t come with a tail, but their ancestors had one, as suggested by their skeletal structure.
The Past and Present of the Guinea Pig Skeleton
Cavies are small mammals that originated in South Africa and traversed the wild landscapes of their birthplace.
This is why the now sickeningly adorable guinea pigs are known to be wild animals in the past.
That’s right! As hard as it may be for you to believe, guinea pigs were initially wild mammals who also happened to have tails.
However, with time, things changed.
Cavies used to have long tails attached to their spine, just like many other pocket mammals.
But their place of origin didn’t appreciate it much and dictated that their survival depends on not having tails.
In simple words, in their early days, guinea pigs had tails, but their habitat made them lose their furry extension as it wasn’t really needed.
Moreover, long tails reduced the survival chances of wild cavies.
Basically, guinea pigs didn’t have a tail, or rather they got rid of it over time because they didn’t need it for anything.
Their tails didn’t serve a purpose, and so eventually, their extensions disappeared.
You must be wondering that even if something doesn’t have a function, it doesn’t just vanish into thin air, which is correct.
But don’t worry, that’s not what happened with cavies either.
Aside from the futility of the tail, a gene mutation made guinea pigs sans-tail.
A mutated gene entered the guinea genome that suppressed the formation of the tail, which led to the tail-free cavies we see today.
Long story short, gene evolution reduced the size of the guinea tail with each generation, ultimately leaving the burrowing mammal without one.
A Closer Look at the Cavy Skeleton
A guinea pig’s skeleton is divided into three parts; the axial, appendicular, and heterotopic.
The axial section houses the skull apparatus, vertebrae, ribs, and sternum. The appendicular skeleton is made up of the pectoral and pelvic girdle and the pectoral and pelvic limbs.
The last heterotopic skeleton carries the sesamoid bones.
In total, 258 bones are connected together, forming a guinea pig’s skeleton.
The overabundance of bones in cavies is why they were able to survive without a tail.
Every animal with a tail uses it for a purpose.
Rats and rodents use it to move around, while monkeys use it to balance themselves on trees. This means they need this extension to perform a specific function.
Guinea pigs, on the other hand, do not require a tail to do anything.
Be it scurrying around in the wilderness, escaping predators, or acquiring food; cavies don’t need a tail, which is why they learned to exist without one.
The many bones help cavies move around, jump and roam as much as they want without a tail.
The Leftover Tail
As mentioned earlier, if you were to look at a guinea pig’s skeleton, you would see subtly protruding bones at the base of its spine.
And when we say bones, we mean seven of them.
Yes! The cuddle bunny that’s probably in your lap while you plow through this article has seven bony remains at the tail-end (excuse the pun) of their spine because that’s where early guineas had a tail.
The tiny, almost unnoticeable tailbone remnants form the extent of the ‘leftover’ tail guinea pigs have.
Unless a species has a defect or abnormality in its anatomy, it shouldn’t have a tail.
The Faux Tail
In case of an abnormality or defect where a guinea pig turns out to have a tail, it’s not a real one.
Some cavies can have a clump of hair at the end of their spines that flows about, giving the illusion of the presence of a tail.
If your piggy pal happens to have a faux tail, you can groom it however you want because it’s a rare occurrence.
Guinea Care: With or Without a Faux Tail
Guinea pigs are pocket mammals that are always bursting with energy unless they are sick.
But most of the time, you will see your little munchkin busy with something having a grand old time.
As much as you love looking at the adorable happy fur child before you, as a parent, there’s a lot more that you need to do to keep your pet healthy.
Cavies typically have a short lifespan ranging anywhere between 6-10 years.
If you want to make the most of your time with your furry companion, you need to give them endless tender love and care.
The Guinea Diet
The first thing you need to look after when you adopt a guinea pig is what you are going to feed it.
Cavies have a sensitive digestive system, and any unsuitable food item can cause it to collapse.
And if these furry mammals develop gut problems, they stop eating, which can be life-threatening for obvious reasons.
If you want to keep your piggy pal healthy and happy, feed them nutrient-dense food, including high-quality hay, green vegetables, and fruit treats. When we say fruit treats, that should be given occasionally because fruits are high in sugar; therefore, consuming too many fruits regularly can cause health issues.
Endless Water Supply
Dehydration is pretty common in guinea pigs, which also often leads to life-threatening complications.
To keep your little bun thriving, you need to provide them with endless water.
There are many ways to do that, you can use water bottles, or you can pour water in wide bowls and place it in your little friend’s hutch.
But whatever you do, change the water every day.
Cavies have super sharp senses, so naturally, they can smell any rotten or pungent odor even when it’s not too strong.
This means if the water they are supposed to drink gets bacteria or any other pathogen, making the liquid smelly, guineas will know about it with just one whiff.
Resultantly, they will not drink.
Therefore, it’s essential that you change your friend’s water every other day to ensure that they have fresh water to hydrate their body.
Also, whichever container you use to serve the water, wash it as well every other day. Obviously, the water will get dirty if the vessel is dirty, and your furry pal will not consume it.
Like almost all pets in the world, guinea pigs need to stay active in order to live a fuller life.
Besides, these tiny packets of energy are too spirited to remain still, so it’s better to provide them with activities to blow off steam.
Cavies need exercise regularly to remain healthy. There are many ways to ensure your bun-bun gets its daily dose of physical training.
You can take them out of their hutch and play with them daily. Or you can give them toys so that they can burn calories on their own.
You can also put a wheel in their cage so that they have a piece of equipment to break a sweat whenever they want.
While guinea pigs like to stay free, thanks to their wild ancestors, they need to have a home when domesticated.
Your cavy companion needs a spacious abode to jump around and feel free.
As mentioned above, guinea pigs are free-spirited mammals, so they are always having a ball, which is why you need to give them roomy quarters.
As a simple rule of thumb, set up a cabinet thrice or four times the little fellow’s size.
Think of it this way, how big of a room would you need to stay comfortably? Of course, you can have a palatial space, but you don’t need that; you can want that, but you can survive without it.
What you need is a place where you have your bed, your wardrobe, and some extra sitting space.
That’s the basic requirement for pretty much every human’s bedroom. Likewise, the minimum space you need to provide your pet should be able to house the little bunny comfortably.
Therefore, a cabinet 3 to 4 times bigger than the size of your pet should be good enough to accommodate your guinea pig.
Since guinea pigs are furry little creatures, they need regular grooming to keep their fur tamed.
Use a brush to comb your fuzzy pal’s coat daily to remove all the dead hair and detangle all the clumped-up hair.
Also, don’t forget to clean your tiny companion’s fur-free of fleas and other parasites. If a guinea pig’s hair is not kept well (free of microorganisms), it can become super incredible.
So, keep an eye out for any unwanted critters in your little one’s fur.
Lastly, if your bun has a fake tail, you can either let it flow in the air or comb it to keep it tamed so that your piggy pal looks like all other guineas out there.
Guinea pigs make incredibly adorable pocket pets, tail or no tail. If you have a cavy companion, look after them with all the love and care in the world.
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