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cavy (kāˈvē), name for 14 species of South American rodents of the family Caviidae, including the domestic guinea pig. The wild cavies are usually small, rounded, and tailless, with fur of a uniform shade of brown. Nocturnal animals, they occupy a variety of habitats, especially dense vegetation. An unusual, large species is the Patagonian cavy, or mara (Dolichotis patagonum), a long-legged, harelike animal that reaches a length of about 21-2 ft (76 cm) and lives in arid regions. The capybara belongs to a related family. Some cavies are hunted for food in South America. Cavies are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Rodentia, family Caviidae.
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Any of the rodents composing the family Caviidae, which includes the guinea pig, rock cavies, mountain cavies, capybara, salt desert cavy, and mara.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.