Despite being prey animals and naturally cautious, a guinea pig that is socialized and handled by people early in life can become a gentle and loving companion. In fact, with trust gained through regular contact, many guinea pigs adore being held and petted by their people. Having been domesticated for over 7,000 years, they come in several distinct breeds with "breed standards" and purposes, just like dogs, and can even be shown! Ideally, you will have at least 2 square feet of cage for each guinea pig you house (they are social animals), with substrate on the bottom (avoid wood shavings), a water bottle, hay rack, toys, and a place to hide. Many owners keep only sows or boars or neutered guinea pigs housed together, in order to avoid unwanted pregnancies which can lead to complications (including death) for the pregnant sow, as well as unwanted pups.They will thrive off of timothy hay, formulated pellets, fresh fruit and vegetables, and can live up to 8 years.