Caviidae – Cavies

Native to South America, this family includes pet guinea pigs and the largest rodent alive; the capybara

Caviids are usually tailless animals with large heads and plump bodies. Like most rodents, their teeth grow continuously, perfect for feasting on grass and vegetation. Caviids are awake during the day and sleep in burrows at night. They are highly social, communicating vocally with each other through whistles, purrs, squeaks, and even screams.

There are three main groups; the short-legged guinea pigs, the longer-legged maras, which look more like rabbits, and the rock cavies and capybaras, the latter weighing up to 66kg (114 pounds). The first caviids evolved 23 million years ago, and this family has diversified to live all over South America, from grassy plains to the mountains and wetlands.