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Notes for the Instructor

Guinea pigs are classified as mammals, animals distinguished by the presence of fur/hair and that produce milk to feed their young. Types of mammals that may be familiar to your students include cats, dogs, horses and people.

More specifically, guinea pigs are a small type of mammal called a rodent. Rodents can be identified by their front teeth, which constantly grow. Rodents must gnaw or chew things to file down their incisors. Types of rodents that may be familiar to your students include mice, squirrels and beavers.

Pet guinea pigs should be kept in a large cage or enclosure. The enclosure should be lined with paper bedding — either shredded newspaper or wood shavings. The enclosure should provide constant access to freshwater, as well as something to chew, such as hay or paper tubes.

Guinea pigs have a diet of only plants, making them herbivores. Most guinea pigs eat a processed vegetable pellet that can be found at pet stores. It is also recommended to include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet, such as romaine lettuce, tomatoes or melon. Additionally, guinea pigs need access to fresh hay. The hay helps keep their digestive tracts healthy and helps wear down their ever-growing incisors.

Although humans today keep guinea pigs, they have wild origins in South America. Potential predators of a guinea pig include coyotes, owls, hawks, and snakes.

In the first activity, students will be asked to learn more about guinea pigs to better understand how Alice came to be missing. They will use books and reliable online sources to gather information. Then students will create informational posters about guinea pigs to share their findings with others. In the second activity, students will learn more about the suspects’ homes and their suitability to care for Alice. Is it possible that a suspect took Alice home? This information will be recorded in a table. Students will use the table to make arguments about the potential involvement of each suspect.

Online resources about guinea pigs: http://www.guinealynx.info/healthycavy.html http://switchzoo.com/profiles/guineapig.htm