Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Animals of Peru and an Art Project!

The Animals of Peru-

Well, I could probably write a very large book about the amazing animals of Peru, and I'm sure there are already many of them, so we focused on the two cutest- the Llama and the Guinea Pig.  Let's start with the little piggy.

The Guinea pig (also called a Cavy) is a large rodent.  It's not related to the pig at all and they've never come from Guinea so why they have that name had a few different answers on different websites.  The one I'm going with was that when the Europeans brought them to Europe they said they were from "Guinea" which is both a place and a term for "far -off place" that the sailors used to use.  That and the little grunts the animal makes is probably how they got that name.  In Peru they are called "cuy" and are an important part of the culture of the native South Americans as a food source (eep!) and in their traditional folk medicines.  The ancient Moche people worshipped the chubby little things and they are featured in some of their art.  Guinea pigs are also used by folk doctors, called "curanderos", to diagnose disease.  The guinea pig (black ones work best) are rubbed on the body of the sick person and then dissected for clues to the disease.  Hmmm, that would be an interesting doctors visit.  Most of the guinea pigs in Peru are eaten though, in fact, it's the national dish! 
Don't worry- we're not making it though!  We did go visit our friends guinea pig - it's a cutie and totally tolerant of the kids (unlike some hamsters I know)  That's probably why the European traders brought them back as pets in the 16th century! 

I have a riddle to introduce our next animal- What do you call a camel with no humps?   A llama.  Ok, that was a lame riddle but it is a fact.  Camels and llamas are related.  And like camels, llamas are handy animals to have around.  They have been used for centuries by the people of the Andes Mountains as pack animals.  They can carry up to 75 pounds over 20 miles in a day, they eat the plants along the way and require little water! What a blessing for the people.  But wait! There's More!  Llamas can also be used for their wool, which can be made into many things, and their skin to make leather. They can be eaten although they aren't very often. Even their poop can be used as fuel for fires!  I think we all need a llama, y'know, just in case.  Well, as cute as they are, I don't think my area is zoned for llamas, so we'll just have to make our own pretend ones!

The Llama Project-
For the project you will need:

  • cotton balls
  • cardboard
  • lollipop sticks or popsicle sticks or chopsticks or even just sticks from the yard!
  • glue
  • scissors, tape and pen
1. Cut out a llama body shape from the cardboard.  Trust me- you don't need to be an artist.

2. Cut a slit on the top of the head and cut a small piece of cardboard to make ears.  Insert ears in slit.

3. Tape the sticks to make the legs.  Make sure they are equal or you'll have a very wobbly llama.

4.  Cover the sucker in cotton balls.  We pulled the balls apart a little so they covered more area.  Also leave the face and most of the legs bare.

5. Draw a face on your cute little llama

6. If you want to go the extra step, you can also make it a dress and have it "fall in love" with the other llama.  But that's totally optional.


  1. So cute! I can totally hear your voice as I read these. Are you having fun?

  2. I'm glad there isn't a recipe for grilled guinea pigs....

    1. The guinea pig recipe is in the next post :) j/k it's beef but I'm sure guinea pig could always be substituted in a pinch!