The Peruvian guinea pig is a one-of-a-kind breed of cavy. It has long, flowing hair, which makes them popular with guinea pig fanciers that like to show their guinea pig in competitions. Whether or not you are interested in showing them, Peruvian guinea pigs make great pets so long as you can keep up on their grooming.
When it comes to personality, the Peruvian guinea pigs are curious, alert, and fun-loving like most guinea pigs.
History of the Peruvian guinea pig
The Peruvian cavy originated in Latin America and is one of the oldest guinea pig breeds. However, this cavy’s outward characteristics were developed by English and French guinea pig breeders. A few of the features that distinguish the Peruvian guinea pig are the length and texture of its coat, the silkiness of their fur and their head. While the Peruvian guinea pig tends to be larger than the Abyssinian guinea pig or the English cavy, it’s head is proportionally not as large as it is with the other types of cavy.
The Peruvian guinea pig’s hair
Usually the deciding factor when deciding if you should get a Peruvian guinea pig as a pet is how much grooming you’ll have to do. Peruvian guinea pigs have much greater grooming requirements than the short-haired species. This can make it difficult for children to take care of this breed.
The top coat of the Peruvian guinea pig can reach up to two feet long while the under coat usually doesn’t reach more than seven inches. It naturally parts right down the spine in a straight line, and when it’s brushed and fanned out, it is difficult to tell the front end of the guinea pig from the back. If you are planning on showing your Peruvian guinea pig, they are required to have 2 rosettes on either side of their rump.
You can find Peruvian guinea pigs in a wide range of color and coat pattern varieties. They can be a single color which is known as “self,” two colors, or three colors. Tricolored Peruvian guinea pigs are usually the most preferred, but the other varieties are also beautiful.
The Peruvian guinea pig’s hair can tend to pick up bedding, dirt and other material. For this reason, make sure not to get bedding that can work itself into the hair and cause it to become tangled. When the Peruvian cavy’s hair reaches roughly eight inches, you can put it in “crimpers” (the kind that people use in their hair) or plait it to keep the Peruvian’s coat nice and neat.
Grooming needs aside, the Peruvian guinea pig makes a great pet for adults who have the time to devote to care and for those who are hoping to show their pet. Before getting a Peruvian guinea pig, it is important to understand the care that goes into keeping one as a pet, including housing, diet, exercise and socialization.
Caring for your Peruvian guinea pig
- Housing: Peruvian guinea pigs need plenty of space to run around in. The exact size of the cage will depend on the number of guinea pigs you are keeping in the same cage and their size. Also, the Peruvian should be kept out of damp environments since its coat is said to absorb more moisture than a short-hair guinea pig.
- Diet: Peruvian guinea pigs are strict herbivores which means they should only eat plants. Pellet food is widely available, but is fattening in large quantities, so it should be limited to smaller feedings once or twice a day. They should be given hay freely to eat throughout the day, and their diet should also be supplemented with a variety of fresh greens, vegetables, and fruits. Always research guinea pig food before feeding your guinea pig anything to make sure that it is not harmful to them. Guinea pigs also need vitamin C in their diet because their body does not produce it on their own. You can feed them vitamin C supplements in a variety of ways such as drops or in their food.
- Exercise: They should get floor time where they are able to get out of their cage to run around and interact with their owners.
- Social: Like all guinea pigs, Peruvian guinea pigs are highly social animals and should get plenty of social interactions. Many people solve this problem by providing their guinea pig with a cage mate. But if having two guinea pigs isn’t an option for you (and we hope it is), then be sure to give them time every day of social interaction with you so they will be happy.
Have you heard of the Peruvian Silkie (aka the ‘Angora’)?
The Peruvian Silkie is very similar to the the Peruvian guinea pig, except that it doesn’t have the mane of hair over its head that you find with the Peruvian cavy. Their hair flows back over their head and tends to be even more soft and silky. This breed was called the ‘Angora’ until the 1930s.
Where can you get Peruvian guinea pigs?
If you want to bring a Peruvian guinea pig into your home, the best place to start looking is through a local guinea pig rescue or through a guinea pig breeding club.
Do you have a Peruvian guinea pig? Let us know in the Comments section below.
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