In Switzerland, it is illegal to own just one guinea pig.
Source: Original photo by Miroslav Hlavko/ Shutterstock
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In Switzerland, it is illegal to own just one guinea pig.

The Swiss are known for their historic commitment to neutrality, but they’ve taken a firm stand on one of the most important issues of our time: guinea pigs. Because guinea pigs are social creatures who grow lonesome without a friend, it’s illegal to own just one of them in Switzerland. The law was introduced in 2008 as part of a legislative effort to grant social rights to pets. Should one guinea pig depart this mortal coil and leave its companion alone — and its owner in potential legal trouble — rent-a-guinea-pig services have emerged as a temporary solution.

Guinea pigs are named after the country.
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Incorrect.
It's a Fib
Guinea pigs are native to South America, thousands of miles away from the African country. Some believe the name can be traced back to the cost of buying one in 17th-century England — one guinea coin — while others think it’s based on the Guianas, a region of South America.

Guinea pigs aren’t the only pets afforded special status in Switzerland. Goldfish are also prohibited from being kept alone, cats must at least have access to a window where they can see their fellow felines prowling around, and, for a time, dog owners were required to take an obligatory training course with their pooch, although that law was repealed in 2016. For all this, Switzerland doesn’t have an official national animal — though both the country and the Alps in general are strongly associated with cows and Saint Bernards.

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Numbers Don’t Lie
Switzerland’s rank on the 2023 Global Peace Index (10th-most-peaceful)
10
Recognized guinea pig breeds
13
Life expectancy in Switzerland, the fourth-highest in the world
84.2
Estimated number of different sounds made by guinea pigs
11
Guinea pigs are also known as _______.
Guinea pigs are also known as cavies.
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Think Twice
Guinea pigs aren’t related to pigs.

Guinea pigs are rodents, which is to say that they’re closely related to hamsters, chinchillas, and some other small creatures, but have little in common with actual pigs. Their scientific name, Cavia porcellus, is Latin for “little pig” and would appear to be based on the passing resemblance they bear to their porcine friends. This includes not only their physical appearance, but also the piglike squeaks they’re known for — as well as their healthy appetites.

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