Why is the guinea pig so called?

The name of the guinea pig, which is a native of South America, is one of the unsolved mysteries of etymology. Several plausible theories have been advanced to account for the name. The most popular theory holds that guinea here is merely a corruption of Guiana, which arose from the fact that early writers confused Guiana in South America with Guinea in Africa. But there is positive evidence that in 1607 this animal was called pig cony. This led to the second theory, namely, that guinea is a corruption of cony. According to the third theory, guinea in the name does not refer to the region in Africa, but was applied, as it seems to have been in several other instances, to designate an animal that came from an unknown country. A fourth theory suggests that the guinea pig may have been so named because it was supposed to resemble the young of the Guinea hog. Still another theory is that this rodent was first carried from South America to England by Guineamen engaged in the slave trade. Scientists believe the domestic guinea pig is descended from the restless city of Guiana and Brazil. It is a stout, short-tailed, short-eared rodent about seven inches long. Because guinea pigs have a life cycle of only about four years and produce young five or six times a year they have been widely used in biological experiments of various kinds, although for this purpose guinea pigs have been largely supplanted by rats and mice. Baby guinea pigs possess their, second set of teeth at birth and are able to nibble grain when only forty-eight hours old. It is said that a guinea pig will live about as long without water as with it. Ellis Parker Butler’s sketch entitled Pigs Is Pigs, published in 1906, dealt with the. amazing fecundity of guinea pigs.