Guinea Pig Breeds and Recognized Colors
Guinea pigs are among the favorite small animal pets found in many households around d the world! This might hit you as a surprise to some, but all Guinea pig breeds are not alike. While all related, the various types of Guinea pigs actually look much different. Read below to learn a bit about some of the breeds and see which one is best for you.
The American Guinea pig is often called the English cavy. This is among the most common of the breeds. The fur is short and straight. A variety of colors are available.
The Coronet is one of several Guinea pig breeds for those who prefer long hair. While the hair on the face is short, the rest of the hair is quite long.
The Silkie, also called the Sheltie, is another of the long-haired Guinea pig breeds. While some of the long hair breeds have hair that covers the face, the long hair of the Silkie goes back along the forehead toward the back of the body. When kept as a pet, this type of Guinea pig requires constant grooming.
This is one of the most interesting of the Guinea pig breeds. The long hair is thick and very curly. It looks as if the Guinea pig were covered in ringlets. Because of the long and curly coat, the Texel requires the most work to maintain proper grooming.
A White Crested Guinea pig has a solid colored body and looks as if he is wearing a small white beret. The “beret” is actually a shock of white hair on the top of the head.
Other breeds include Peruvian, Peruvian Satin, Silkie Satin, and Abyssinian. In addition to the differences in coats, some people choose the Guinea pig that they like best based on color. Below are descriptions of some of the colors and patterns that are recognized by Guinea pig groups.
Self refers to a solid color Guinea pig. Colors include white, blue, black, red and brown.
Dutch refers to a Guinea pig on which the front and back portion of the body is the same color while the middle is a different color.
Tortoiseshell refers to blocks of color in rectangle shapes on the body. It looks as if the Guinea pig had been patched together by four pieces of fur. The colors do not blend, but each is well defined and independent of each other.
An Albino Guinea pig is snowy white and the eyes are pink.
As the name suggests, the Dalmatian Guinea pig has a white body that is dotted with dark-colored spots.
A Himalayan Guinea pig features a white body, but the nose, ears, and feet are either black or brown. A Himalayan also features red eyes.
No matter which breed or color of Guinea pig that you choose, keep in mind that these are social animals that very much enjoy interacting with their owners. While they must be kept in a hutch or cage, they also enjoy being let out for regular “floor time” where they can play and explore outside of the cage.
Most Guinea pig breeds make wonderful pets. They are friendly and most are easy to care for once you learn their routine. Consider adopting one today and see just how much joy they can add to your home.
Guinea Pig Facts
Five Astounding Guinea Pig Facts
When you first get a guinea pig as a household pet, you are given many guinea pig facts designed to help in caring for the animal. Here are a number of interesting facts, which have nothing much to do with their care and handling. Some you may find informational, or at least interesting.
Fact Number 1 – The Guinea pig is not a little pig, nor is it in any way related to the pig. Apparently there were those who thought it might be, as the scientific name for the animal is Cavia porcellus. Porcellus is the Latin word for little pig. Even though the more formal name for the little animal is the Cava, scientists still insist on calling it a Guinea pig.
They didn’t even get the first part right as Guinea, is in Africa and the Guinea pig is native to several parts of South America including French Guiana. The French call it the Indian pig, and the Germans have given it the name Little Sea Pig, Meerschweinchen. The Guinea pig does have some of the characteristics of the pig, in that it is a sturdy animal, compactly built, gets along well in small quarters, and eats constantly.
Fact Number 2 – The Guinea pig is good eating. This is one of the Guinea pig facts apt to horrify the many adults and youngsters who have one or more of these furry little animals as a pet.
The fact is, the Guinea pig has been a staple in parts of western South America for hundreds of years, many hundreds of years in fact. In Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador they are considered to be livestock and raised as such. It should be added that the Guinea pigs we have as pets are far removed from a breeding standpoint from the original wild Guinea pig, and those being raised for food are yet another group, bred to be significantly larger than the animals we have as pets.
In these parts of South America, the Guinea pig has played an important role in religious ceremonies and festivals for centuries. For their role in these festivities, the Guinea pig may be served fried, roasted, broiled, or in a casserole.
Fact Number 3 – Guinea pigs will stampede on occasion. A Guinea pig stampede may present no danger to us, but would certainly be interesting to watch.
A Guinea pig that is startled or senses danger will at times simply freeze and do nothing. At other times it will dart off in a zigzag, or seemingly haphazard pattern. A group of Guinea pigs if frightened, may stampede, but running off in all different directions, possibly meant to confuse a predator, rather than in one direction, as cattle would tend to do.
Fact Number 4 – A high-walled cage is not needed. One of the more helpful Guinea pig facts is that while the animal can jump, though not very high, it has never mastered the art of climbing, and in fact seems to have no interest in doing so. We babysat two Guinea pigs one summer.
They belonged to the science class at the grade school our children attended. Their “cage” was a 5′ by 5′ box, with a wall that was not quite a foot high.
At first, we thought we’d have to go on a Guinea pig hunt every morning, but every morning they were still in their box. During the course of the summer, one of them somehow escaped. We found him in the morning, sitting under a table not more than 10 feet from its box. Another Guinea pig fact is that the animal is a very careful and cautious explorer, and this one seemed to prove that point.
Fact Number 5 – Guinea pigs have advanced the cause of science and medicine. We long have used the metaphor of human Guinea pig for someone who is the subject of research or experimentation. The Guinea pig is responsible for advances in studies of infectious diseases including typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, and diphtheria.
In making these advancements possible they have at times been assisted by men in white coats. Rats and mice are slowly taking over in this area, for which the Guinea pig is probably somewhat grateful. The Guinea pig has had its moments of fame in another area, being passengers on Soviet and Chinese orbiting spacecraft.
Guinea Pig Food – What do Guinea pigs eat?
What do guinea pigs eat? What can we feed a guinea pig?
Guinea Pig Food Isn’t Hard To Find
Appropriate Guinea pig food is really all around us and not hard to find at all. If you are thinking of getting one of these exotic little creatures, Cavia porcellus, also called a Cavy, a commercial Guinea pig food is always the best first choice. Commercial foods, usually in pellet form, offer the key ingredients that the little animal requires to keep healthy.
There are plenty of other food items, however, found in supermarkets, fruit and vegetable stands, and perhaps even just out of the front door, that is perfectly fine for your pet.
The Guinea pig is not a particularly picky eater, although each animal may have is favorites and shun other types of food. You can, therefore, feed them quite a variety, but be aware that they do have a sensitive digestive system, Rather than radically changing their diet from time to time or day to day, make gradual transitions, and introduce new food items slowly. At times a Guinea pig may reject a food item only to nibble at it a day or two later and then come to accept it.
While one can prepare tasty Guinea pig meals consisting of fruits and vegetables, the food we would be more than happy to share with them, it’s important that the Guinea pig’s diet is based on something that takes care of their essential needs. Commercial pellets have already been mentioned, or one can base their diet on grasses and hay. Guinea pig food also needs to include vitamin C since, as is the case with humans, the animals can’t make their own.
Besides grasses, hay, and something rich in vitamin C, the Guinea pig needs something it can chew on to keep its teeth healthy and to keep the front teeth from growing too long.
A Variety Of Things To Consider – The Guinea pig can benefit from most vegetables, and a few flowers and weeds as well. Be aware that most plants that grow from bulbs will be toxic to the animal, as are potatoes and the green leaves of tomatoes. Lettuce and spinach would seem to be ideal choices.
Lettuce, however, is poor in nutritional value, at least from a Guinea pig’s standpoint, and too much spinach has been known to create kidney problems. Both lettuce and spinach in excess can act as a laxative, a potentially unhealthy condition. Plants belonging to the cabbage family are OK but should be given in small doses so as not to give the little guys gas.
There are many plants not found in the vegetable garden which are good for the Guinea pig. Just make certain they haven’t been treated with pesticides, insecticides or chemical fertilizers. Nutritious Guinea pig snacks or meals can consist of dandelions, yarrow, chickweed, or clover.
Fresh grass is OK as well, though it’s best to let the Guinea pig trim the grass itself, and not feed it grass clippings which do not stay fresh for long. The Guinea pig is not a meat-eater, so don’t give them any. They likely would not eat it anyway, but their digestive systems are not geared for eating meat.
Moderation Is Best – In feeding these animals vegetables or fruit, moderation is the key, especially when trying something new. Most Guinea pigs loved sliced cucumber and will eat large quantities of it.
While not harmful or even unhealthy, cucumbers are low on nutrition so it should best be considered as an occasional snack or a good source of water. As far as fruit is concerned, apple is very good, but just give your pet a small amount at a time as the apple, as is the case with many fruits, is a little too rich in sugars and acids, and too much of either is not advisable.
Summary – This is one little animal that is fairly easy to satisfy. Just remember what not to feed it, give it plenty or pellets, grasses, or hay, something rich in vitamin C, and something it can use its teeth on. Then supplement that with a variety of fruits and vegetables in moderate amounts, and your selection of Guinea pig food should be quite acceptable from all perspectives.
All About Guinea Pigs and Buying a Guinea Pig Hutch
Although it’s exciting to run down and purchase a Guinea Pig and a Guinea Pig hutch, there are a few things you should know before you make the commitment to have this pet.
Guinea Pigs are favorite pets for children, but you would be surprised by how many Guinea Pigs get sent to animal rescue shelters simply because someone didn’t think through the idea of having one before making the commitment to take care of this type of pet. Before you make the decision to get one of these animals for a pet you will first want to take a few things into consideration.
The first thing to know is that a Guinea Pig does make a good pet for a child, but ultimately the animal will be the responsibility of the parent. Even in the event that your child loses interest, it will still need to be cared for, which is where the parent comes in. A Guinea Pig can live for around 6 years so the parent will be making a commitment to care for the animal and make time for it.
Guinea Pigs are very sensitive to change in temperature so it will be necessary to keep the Guinea Pig hutch in a heated shed or in your home. This will have to be something that you are willing and prepared to do, otherwise, your pet will likely freeze to death. If you do have a heated shed to keep your pet you will still have to keep a close watch that the temperature inside doesn’t get too cold during the winter months.
It will also be necessary to take into consideration any allergies that someone in the family may have. People who are prone to allergies may be allergic to Guinea Pigs; to be sure that this will not be a major problem it is advisable to have that person spend some time around these animals before buying one.
To keep one of these animals comfortably you will need a fairly large Guinea Pig hutch. Although you can buy one of these cages at a pet store these types of cages will often be insufficient for keeping the Guinea Pig once it gets older. Because Guinea Pigs need a lot of room to run around you will want a Guinea Pig hutch that is no smaller than 4 feet, but it would be better if the cage were even bigger.
A Guinea Pig hutch is not an inexpensive accessory, but you may be able to save some money by purchasing a second hand used cage. It is also very possible to build your own, though this can be time-consuming. Before you buy one of these animals it is best to take some time to shop around for an affordable and adequate Guinea Pig hutch.
Some additional things to take into consideration before getting a Guinea Pig would be the time it will take to care for the animal, as well as hidden costs such as vet bills.
If there are other types of pets in your home this is something else you will have to think about. In the case that you have a cat there is no doubt that you can expect some problems. Cats and Guinea Pigs just don’t get on well together. Although dogs can be okay with these pets, a dog can just as easily decide to attack the Guinea Pig as a cat can. If you do have other pets never leave them alone with your Guinea Pig.
You and your family will love a Guinea Pig for a pet, as long as you know what to expect and can properly care for the animal.
All About Guinea Pig Treats
Safe Guinea Pig Treats
If you were wondering how you can make your guinea pig happy, you can start to give it guinea pig treats. These animals enjoy eating and this is probably why they are referred to as pigs. To keep them healthy, you probably already have bought them specific pellets for feeding. But it can also be a healthy habit to introduce guinea pig treats to the animal for a more balanced diet.
Before you start giving out the guinea pig treats, you should find out what an acceptable treat is. Never give a guinea pig candy or any other type of processed food. Sugar and too much fat can make the animal obese and this can lead to many other problems like heart damage and diarrhea.
Both of these diseases can shorten the life of these creatures considerably. Do not give any type of meat or dairy products as guinea pig treats. These things can cause gastrointestinal problems that can sometimes be fatal to the animal. Any type of potato, cabbage, beans or onions should not be given to the animal because they too can cause stomach trouble.
Guinea pigs are extremely cute and smart animals. They can turn to beg into an art form and may start to realize how they can get more food by making certain gestures or by giving you a sad look.
You can not be taken in by these pitiful looks and overfeed the animal. Veterinarians recommend a strict guinea pig treat routine. The treats should only equal out to about 20% of the overall diet. What that means is that most of the time the guinea pig should receive the pellets as food only. Treats should only be offered on special occasions, as a reward, around 2 to 3 times a week.
Carrots are one of the guinea pigs’ favorite treats.
They should be cut in very small-sized sections to avoid the risk of our fuzzy friend choking on them. You must Only place a few of the carrot pieces in the cage at any given time and wait for it to eat all of them before giving her more. Guinea pigs also love their green, leafy vegetables.
It’s best to tear them into small pieces or shreds and feed them to your guinea pig. You should always remember to wash all the vegetables clean, and thoroughly before attempting to feed them to the pet animal.
Any kind of fruit can be offered to guinea pigs as treats. Fruits like Apples, blueberries, cherries, and grapes are some of the most commonly liked favorites and they are also healthy for the guinea pig. Make sure to chop the fruits into sections and remove any seeds, stems or tough skin that surrounds the fruit.
Guinea pig treats can also be purchased at your local pet store. Make sure that they are different from rodent treats because they contain different things that may not be healthy for the guinea pig. These treats usually contain a mix of fruit and peanut butter.
Honey and nuts are also used in the mix. It is better to buy a brand that can be attached to the side of the cage. This can keep them off the bottom of the cage and away from the bedding.
If you want to purchase an item that helps the teeth, you can buy alfalfa or wood cube. Guinea pigs enjoy chewing alfalfa and a wood cube can wear down incisor teeth. They can be attached to the side of the cage or placed on the bottom of the cage and they present no health risk to the guinea pig.
When you place any guinea pig treats on the bottom of the cage, do not let them sit there for very long. Guinea pigs are known to be picky eaters at times and they may not want the treat you have given them.
They can also become full and not want food. You never want any food to sit on the bedding for long periods of time because it exposes the food to the urine and feces in the bedding.
All About Dwarf Guinea Pigs
The Truth about Dwarf Guinea Pigs
It seems that the smaller the pet, the more people desire to have them; for example, consider dwarf guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are already quite a popular pet, but with the adjective “dwarf” attached to the name, it seems that even more interest is shown in the small rodent.
Classified under the category of a small pet, the guinea pig is actually a rodent that originated in South America. Their size is typically slightly larger than a hamster, weighing in at just a couple of pounds as an adult.
With a life span that can extend over 5 years with the proper care, it is a pet to which people can become quite attached, and vice versa. There are three types of guinea pigs that are commonly found available for purchase as pets. One is short-haired; called the “smooth-haired guinea”.
The other two have longer hair; the Abyssinian which grows clumps of fluffy fur all over the body and, possibly the most popular of all guinea pig pets, the Peruvian guinea which has glossy, long and flowing hair. All of these types are similar in size and weight. Overall, these animals make quite good pets; they are generally friendly and easy to care for; the reason for their popularity.
Given these facts, it is understandable that some people may believe that the guinea pig would be an even better choice as a pet if it were miniaturized; a growing trend with the breeding of many animals. As is true with most of these “fashion” pets, there is no such thing as dwarf guinea pigs.
Yes, they are labeled as such, and they may indeed appear to be much smaller than the typical guinea pig. Selective breeding is often a method used to produce smaller versions of popular animals such as dogs, rabbits, and others. In other cases, such as with the guinea pig, it is simply a case of selling the runts of the litter which are naturally smaller in size or by passing off a younger animal and calling it a “dwarf”.
Unfortunately for the unsuspecting owner these pets are, quite simply speaking, normal guinea pigs. Individuals pay a higher price than would be charged for a normal rodent pet and in return receive a guinea pig that will in all respects be the same animal. By falling prey to unscrupulous breeders and believing that miniature or dwarf guinea pigs actually do exist and are a specialized pet, the practice goes on unchecked; taking advantage of even more pet owners.
The fortunate aspect of the situation is that, even though the guinea pigs are being erroneously being marketed as something they are not, they will still make a great pet for the owner.
They have not been specially bred which would affect their characteristics or traits, and therefore will remain the friendly and sociable pet that a guinea pig is known to be. The same care and attention must be paid to these pets, which is quite easy to do even for children.
Guinea pigs, in general, will require fresh vegetables in their diet on a daily basis, such as broccoli, tomatoes, green peppers, and carrots. Fresh fruits, including bananas, apples, and oranges are treats that can be offered at intervals. A cage and toys for the guinea pig will be start-up costs, with food and bedding requiring ongoing expenses throughout the life of the pet. Regular trips to the veterinarian to ensure the pet’s health will present yet another cost.
When the term “miniature” or “dwarf” guinea pigs are advertised and especially when they are offered at a higher price than that of a normal guinea pig, the prospective owner must realize that the two animals are exactly the same. Simply enjoying the rodent for the wonderful pet that it is should be ample reason to own a guinea pig.
Getting To Know The Various Types Of Guinea Pigs
There are so many different types of guinea pigs that exist. Other than the visual difference apparent in long-haired and short-haired breeds, a newcomer definitely needs a guide to understanding the differences.
While there is a real variety in the breeds of guinea pigs, there are a few that are really common and you are most likely to come across as pets. Most of the others are bred specifically to be shown and they are not commonly available as pets.
In fact, those found as pets are those that were specially bred to be companions or those that were found less than perfect according to standards set up for breeds that can be shown.
The most frequently seen types of pet guinea pigs include:
Short Haired – The short-coated cavy, commonly referred to as the American or English, has short and shiny hair that grows without a natural parting.
Visually, the short-haired guinea pig is probably the closest to the early South American ancestors of the species. Short-haired guinea pigs are displayed in shows by highlighting the color of their coat, which can vary from Self and Himalayan to Dalmatian.
Abyssinian -This breed of a guinea pig is distinguished by its rough coat made of what is described as “cow licked rosettes of hair.” This guinea pig has no known connection to the actual region of Abyssinia.
Ideally, an Abyssinian in a show should have 10 rosettes:
One over each shoulder
Four down the back
One on each of the animal’s hips
Two on the rump
It is desirable for this breed of cavies to have a harsh-textured coat.
Peruvian – The Peruvian is a type of guinea pig that has long hair growing continuously all across its body, with the hair length sometimes over 20 inches long.
The Peruvian guinea pig is the breed that started the trend of all the recent long-haired breeds. This is the most remarkable feature of this type, but also the characteristic that makes it a hard breed to take care of.
During shows, the long hair is usually wrapped up to help the guinea pig stay clean. Most long-haired guinea pigs have both a top and an undercoat. The undercoat is usually 6 – 7 inches in length.
Peruvians in the show are required to have their hair fan out in a way that makes the front and rear of the animal appear similar.
Owners or breeders should make sure that the coat is of even length and create a central part along the spine of the guinea pig.
Silkie or Sheltie – A Silkie is a long-haired guinea pig that is different from the Peruvian in that its long hair flows back and never forward over the face of the animal.
This animal does not usually have a central part and has a tear-drop shape in an aerial view as the hair is grown longer in the back than the front.
Texel – The Texel is similar to a Silkie, but has curls.
These cavies are originally from England and were officially accepted as a breed in the U.S. in 1998.
When in the show, the guinea pig should have the curls in tightly-wound corkscrew curls. These curls should cover the whole body, even the belly and there should be a visible central part.
The curls need to be groomed to bring out their beauty. It may take some time to get the animal comfortable with the ritual of grooming.
Rex – This is a short and fuzzy-haired breed among the various types of guinea pigs.
The hair tends to stand on end and if the animal is being shown, it should have uniform length short hair and no rosettes.
Teddy – A Teddy is similar to a Rex, but is genetically distinct. A Teddy has a dense and fuzzy coat, with hairs that stand up.
In keeping with its name, a Teddy guinea pig resembles a toy because of its bushy, moderate length hair.
This guinea pig is unusual in that it has long hair covering its belly, unlike most other breeds that have bare bellies.
The US Teddy and the CH Teddy or Swiss Teddy are recognized as two different types of Teddies.