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1. Despite the name, this chunky desert rodent from Syria is not swine. Its one-word name comes from the German verb "to hoard." Its cheek pouches are big enough to carry food long distances to storage chambers in underground burrows.

2. Originally soft-bodied, this reptile dates back more than 200 million years. Scales eventually gave way to a boxlike shell, sacrificing speed for protection, but increasing the armored animal's longevity to more than 100 years.

3. A thousand years ago, this greenish-bronze fish was farmed in shallow ponds in the Far East. When the first glistening gold mutation appeared, suppliers couldn't keep up with the demand for these shimmery "ornamentals."

4. These timid, squealing rodents were raised for food by the Incas of Peru. Spanish sailors introduced the hardy, roly-poly mammals to England in the 1500s where they were easily tamed and especially beloved by children.

5. A "budgie" in a living room was once a sign of British chic. This swift flier and acrobat sleeps upside down in Southeast Asia and can be taught to talk. This 19th-century novelty from Australia is today the most popular caged bird.

6. The sweetest singers were bred in the Harz Mountains of northern Germany and were used to detect poison gases in time of war and in coal mines. These small, avid bathers originated in the islands off northwest Africa and are known to be even too loud for a good-sized living room.

7. The first animal to be domesticated was also drafted to pull carts and sleds until hauling was ruled inhumane in England in 1885. This animal was relieved by the pony.


(1) hamster; (2) turtle; (3) goldfish; (4) Guinea pig;

(5) parakeet; (6) canary; (7) dog.

SOURCES: The World Book Encyclopedia; 'Panati's Browser's Book of Beginnings,' by Charles Panati; The Pet Encyclopedia, by Frank Manolson, ed.; The Encyclopedia Americana.

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