Chittur: Peruvian, Silkie, Guinea, American and 14 such different varieties of guinea pigs are grown in the farm owned by Menonpara native Santhosh. This rodent animal resembles rabbits and rats. They are used for experimental purposes in laboratories at various places in the country.
Santhosh grows guinea pigs in a thatched shed near his house. Guinea pigs are herbivores and are in white, black, light yellow and red colors. Green Research Centre in Hyderabad, Biotech Chemist Centre in Mysuru and many laboratories in Rajasthan and Nagaland are buying guinea pigs for experiments from the farm of Santhosh.
Santhosh said that more than 1000 guinea pigs were sold to labs in the last 5 years. The animals are bought for testing medicines on them. Guinea pigs weigh from 200 to 400 grams. They breed year round and have up to 4-5 pups in one birth. They feed on breastmilk for at least 4 days. Their preferred food is green grass. A drip system in the farm is used to give water to the guinea pig pups.
The animals grow in any climate and diseases affect them very rarely. They fall sick only because of fungal infections. Santhosh said that he would not sell them for meat at any cost. He also grows fodder grass in his farm for feeding the guinea pigs. He also grows Malabari and indigenous goat varieties and various species of fowls in the farm.