Fabulous, Glamorous – Words often used to describe the Peruvian Guinea Pig. What makes this breed of Guinea Pig such an amazing pet, and what should you consider before buying one?
The Brief History of the Peruvian Guinea Pig
When guinea pigs were in the hair queue, the Peruvian guinea pig was first!
If you want to keep this breed as a pet, there are a few things to know about caring for their luxuriant hair. Like other guinea pigs, these furry critters make excellent pets, so read on for everything you need to know. If you’re ready to be a guinea pig hairdresser, this adorable pet is for you.
Out of Peru?
Actually, not just Peru – the entire Cavia genus originated across South America including Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. It’s generally accepted that guinea pigs came to Europe in the 16th century via foreign traders. It didn’t take long for these early cavies to establish the guinea pig as a popular exotic pet.
Do they eat Guinea Pigs in Peru? Yes! Spanning the Andean mountain range especially, guinea pigs remain a dietary staple – it’s estimated that Peruvians eat 65 million cavies a year. A striking cultural difference! The domestic guinea pig doesn’t occur naturally in the wild but is likely descended from other
Peruvian guinea pigs are known as curious, fun-loving creatures with charismatic personalities.
The term ‘cavy‘ is a common one for guinea pigs, often used by professional breeders and shows. We’ll stick with guinea pig and take a look at some general features that most guinea pigs, including the Peruvian guinea pig, share.
It’s no mystery why guinea pigs make such a popular pet – they’re cute, good-natured and quirky, enjoying a charm all of their own.
Quick Facts about the Peruvian Guinea Pig
- How big do
PerivianGuinea Pigs get? They are fairly large rodents – average 20 to 25 cm in length.
- How Long do Peruvian Guinea pigs live? They can live on average 4-5 years – 14 years is the record!
- Intelligent and inquisitive.
- They are good swimmers.
- They can ‘purr’ when happy!
- Very vocal with fellow guinea pigs.
- They have small ears and no tails.
- 20 teeth – 4 incisors, 16 molars.
The breed shares many characteristics with other guinea pigs, but here are a few interesting facts on this charming, hairy little critter.
They can overheat due to the abundance of hair – during summer months, it’s a good idea to keep the hair trimmed and neat.
Hair is shed throughout the year but new coats develop in spring/autumn. These guinea pigs are very sociable and enjoy being groomed with care – it’s possible to develop very strong bonds because of the daily interaction. Finally, due to their social nature, it’s recommended you keep more than one but be vigilant for any conflict issues.
Peruivan Guinea pig – Hair essentials
The primary feature of a Peruvian guinea pig is their profusion of hair.
They are beautiful guinea pigs, and notably popular with breeders and shows. They share with other guinea pigs a friendly disposition, but it’s important to think about the level of care the Peruvian breed requires.
With this in mind, they are suitable as a pet for experienced guinea pig owners and/or anyone who is fully committed to grooming the abundant hair. Maintenance of this breed’s coat is integral to keeping them healthy and happy – check out the following information to learn more.
If you’re thinking of buying a Peruvian guinea pig, take note that the youngsters can resemble Abyssinians due to ‘rosette’ patterns. The latter breed develops short rosettes over the body, while the Peruvian’s hair grows outward as long tresses.
Silkies are also very hairy but the distribution differs and is more ‘compact’. The Peruvian guinea pig has tuffs across the crown that develop into fringes, and the hair is generally longer.
The Peruvian guinea pig should be groomed daily – as the hair grows outward in a uniform fashion it can be hard to tell where the guinea pig starts and ends!
- The topcoat can grow up to 61 cm!
- Undercoat will grow to approximately 17 cm.
Therefore with this volume of hair, you need to factor in the time and attention your guinea pig pet will need every day.
Dailygrooming, of course, will help to develop a strong bond between you and your pet.
To maintain optimum condition, the Peruvian guinea pig should be gently brushed to prevent tangles, plus the removal of cage debris/guinea pig poo. In this regard, the cage bedding should be also be changed daily. Unless you’re wanting to show your Peruvian pet, it’s recommended they get a regular trim, including keeping their fringes to a minimum so vision isn’t impaired.
Hair Loss and Barbering
We’re not talking a short back and sides here.
It’s a term for a grooming behaviour that most guinea pig breeds display – they are a very social animal and, as well as vocalisations, grooming each other forms bonds and establishes hierarchies. The Peruvian breed has so much hair that it can be difficult for them to groom – instead, they chew hair from other guinea pigs, sometimes removing the hair completely.
Peruvian Guinea Pig Colours
- Slate, cream and white – very common.
- Two tone combos – slate/white, cream/white, slate/cream.
You should provide a safe and comfortable enclosure for your Peruvian guinea pig, where they can feel cosy and safe. Invest in a quality wooden hutch that offers a good size run – make sure the entire enclosure is predator resistant. Site the hutch away from draughts, as well as excessively hot and cold temperatures – don’t use a garage if it’s in-vehicle use to avoid fumes.
Supply stimulating, chew resistant toys to promote enrichment. The bedding shouldn’t be dusty or too dry – straw is not good for guinea pigs because it can cause respiratory issues. Considering the Peruvian guinea pig’s silky tresses, it’s a good idea to avoid the smaller type of hay bedding – this will reduce tangles and detritus clogging the hair. Most proprietary bedding is fine as long as you consider the specific needs of the Peruvian.
As with other pet rodents, if using wood-based bedding stay clear of pine and cedar as these can prove toxic.
Like other breeds, Peruvian guinea pigs are biologically designed for grazing – therefore, they should have daily access to quality grass hay for healthy digestion. Proprietary guinea pig mixes are perfectly fine, feeding small amounts daily. Make sure that your Peruvian guinea pig gets sufficient Vitamin C from fruit and vegetables as they are unable to naturally produce it.
- Replenish food and water daily – Use a gravity bottle for water.
- Dark, leafy vegetables are good for Vit C – Melon is good, too.
- Avoid lettuce – It causes diarrhoea.
- Rabbit food is unsuitable for cavies.
- Don’t overfeed to avoid obesity.
There are several foods that can be toxic to guinea pigs so it’s important to do the research on providing a wholesome diet. Here are a few examples:
- Banana – Causes constipation.
- Tomatoes – Stems/leaves poisonous.
- Onions – Digestive problems.
- Avoid potatoes and avocado – Possible digestive issues.
So, now you’re ready to make friends with one of the cutest, cuddliest and hairiest of the guinea pig breeds. As long as you’re fine with daily brushing and replenishing the enclosure, the rewards of keeping a pet Peruvian guinea pig will have you happily hooked!