Place your bets! Guinea pig gambling is a thing.

This post isn’t very important, it isn’t clever, witty or insightful. It doesn’t deal with love, wonder or even some practicalities of travel. It is purely because I had to share with you the reality of betting on guinea pigs.
This weekend with my friend Laura I was wondering around the busy Candelaria district of Bogota. It was a beautiful sunny Sunday and the streets were humming with activity.
We were wondering pretty aimlessly, milling around and wandering up to have a little look at anything that had attracted a crowd.
When we saw this guy shouting into his microphone and attracting the biggest crowd we’d seen so far.

The guinea ig man, drawing in the crowds with his prize racers gathered by his feet.

The guinea ig man, drawing in the crowds with his prize racers gathered by his feet.

 

Initially we couldn’t work out what was going on. There was just a man, a speaker and some coloured plate things.
And then we noticed these guys.

 

They're lined up and ready to go.

They’re lined up and ready to go.

 

The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in Colombia and this guy was taking bets on which little plastic house the guinea pigs would run into.

 

A guinea pig choosing his house carefully. The person who took a bet on the house picked by the piggy wins he bets from the other people.

A guinea pig choosing his house carefully. The person who took a bet on the house picked by the piggy wins he bets from the other people.

 

The questions I need answers to.
1. How the hell do you train a guinea pig?
2. How often does this guy lose pigs to the opportunistic dogs that are all around the Candelaria?
3. Whaaaaaaa? Like what, seriously? Did I just see a grown man betting on a guinea pig?

 

So that was pretty much all I wanted to say. I just needed to share the weirdness that I saw. It’s one of my favourite things about travelling, that moment when you stand in the street, slack jawed and pretty damn confused. Just staring and trying to make sense of what on earth is going on.

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6 responses to “Place your bets! Guinea pig gambling is a thing.

  1. That sounds really sad – poor Guinea Pigs – my daughter has these as pets – they get really scared in the open and are very short sighted, they will always try and run and hide when scared.

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    • I loved having guinea pigs as a kid, my little brother has a couple and they are so sweet.

      With UK standards it’s of course strange to see them used in this way but at least they looked well cared for and looked after.
      I suppose that considering that in some parts of South America they get served up as lunch it’s not a bad alternative for a guinea pig.

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  2. I’ve seen video of organized guinea pig racing, which was funny because while apparently there’s some way to train guinea pigs, they allowed untrained ones and an untrained guinea pig, set on the racetrack, will wander around doing pretty much everything in the world except racing. The result’s a little mind-boggling, especially if the guinea pig’s keeper is trying to give directions to the poor animal.

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    • It was just so odd to watch!
      I’ve had pet guinea pigs but while they are lovely creatures they never struck me as very clever.
      These ones were trained to perfection. The guy would give them a little nudge and they would move to their place in the line, facing the right way and sit still until he moved them forwards. Crazy.
      Thanks for your comment Joseph 🙂

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      • The guinea pigs I kept were more determined than clever, as best I could tell, but I never really tried testing them for intelligence. I was happy enough to have their company.

        Generally I also felt they were pretty satisfied with things as they were, which made it hard to coax them into doing tricks.

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