Why human guinea pig instead of human rat?

Why is the phrase human guinea pig instead of human rat? Rats are much more common in lab experiments than guinea pigs.

I’m shocked - I can’t find anyone previously asking this question on the board nor Cecil answering it. Surely I’m not the first to wonder?

I’d guess because “rat” has so many other connotations as well.

When I was a “test subject” we called ourselves “lab rats.”

Cecil addressed the subject in this column: Are guinea pigs ever used as guinea pigs?

Thanks Loopus, I must have skipped right over that!

In China, the idiom for test subjects is “white mice.”

Damn! What did I just order with my Mu Shu Chicken??