Guinea pigs are a popular pet, 'cute but dim' friends for those looking for an alternative to dogs and cats. They are increasingly bred for looks, shaped by humans in search of an ideal appearance. But it was guinea pigs that influenced humans from as early as 5000 bc, when their domestication began a long and fruitful relationship, influencing scientists such as William Harvey, and painters from Jan Brueghel to Beatrix Potter.
Guinea pigs are more than simply pets: they have been at the centre of countless works of art and literature, inspiring children and adults alike. Guinea Pig is the first book of its kind to take an in-depth look at the fascinating history of guinea pig and human interaction. It examines guinea pigs' roles as pets alongside their roles as sacrificial offerings to Inca gods, a dish at the Last Supper, and the mascot of the airmen's Guinea Pig Club. The guinea pig is also famous as an experimental subject – the origin of the term now given to anyone who participates in a scientific study or experiment. Guinea Pig is the perfect companion for animal lovers, guinea pig owners and anyone who is interested in the history of domesticated animals.
Dorothy Yamamoto is a poet, the co-editor of Animals on the Agenda (1998) and author of The Boundaries of the Human in Medieval English Literature (2000). She lives in Oxford.