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Peruvian guinea pig: guide, tips, and useful information

Peruvian guinea pig

The guinea pigs, commonly known as the Peruvian guinea pigs, born in South America. This species has been considered a domestic animal for more than 400 years, although specimens still exist in the wild in some areas of South America. The three main breeds of guinea pigs are:

The American guinea pig, the Abyssinian guinea pig, and the Peruvian guinea pig.

All guinea pigs are ideal pets – they are very sociable creatures. Peruvian guinea pigs are very docile and friendly; they do not need large spaces, require little care, do not bite, and do not scratch.

By nature, they prefer to live together with others of their kind, to avoid boredom and loneliness. Guinea pigs usually weigh from 680g to 2.2pounds, the Peruvian guinea pig can have a length between 7 to 11inches.

Some general information

Life expectancy: 4-8 years (average: 5)
Weight : 680 g – 2.2 pounds
Diet: pellets, hay, vegetables
Character: docile, non-aggressive. Suitable for children.

  • Despite their name, guinea pigs are native to the Andes
  • Males are also called ” wild boars “, and females ” sows “
  • Wild guinea pigs live in packs, with a dominant male leading the group
  • Vitamin C is an essential component of their diet, as their body does not produce any
  • These specimens need adequate nutrition and special toys to keep their teeth at the right length; otherwise, they would continue to grow.

Caring for a Peruvian guinea pig

Taking care of your guinea pig properly is important. Generally, these animals are in excellent health, but poor hygiene can lead to skin infections or parasites. Also, if exposed to cold or humidity, they can suffer from respiratory problems – make sure you keep your guinea pigs in a warm (but not too hot) and dry environment.

Choosing the right cage for the guinea pig

Guinea pigs cannot jump or climb, so you won’t need a cage with a roof or lid. The walls should be at least 10 inches, and the cage should be at least 1.4 square feet. It is better to choose a cage with bars, to allow the passage of air and prevent the environment from overheating; cages with plastic walls are not recommended.

Furthermore, the cages can be made of plastic, metal, or rope. The bottom must be solid and without holes, to prevent our little friend from hurting its legs.

Guinea pigs are really messy little animals! You will need to clean their cage frequently, which is why open-top cages are more practical. Clean the bottom of the cage day after day and change the food when necessary. Check that the drinking trough is working correctly and is not blocked: sometimes small food residues can accumulate there, preventing water from escaping.

Do not place the cage in direct sunlight, and keep it in a room where the temperature does not go below 18 degrees and above 26 degrees. For Peruvian guinea pigs, lower temperatures are better than higher ones due to their long, thick coat.

Peruvian guinea pig

Accessories for guinea pigs

Once you have chosen the cage for your new friend, you will certainly want to fill it with toys and accessories. Hiding places will be essential for your guinea pig: these animals love to be able to hole up and hide, and they need places where they can feel safe. An edible wooden house will be perfect not only as a hiding place but also as a nibbling toy; this way, your little friend will also keep its teeth healthy.

Peruvian guinea pigs need a lot of exercise and room to move. In addition to a spacious cage, set up a special area in your home to allow your pet to exercise at least once a day. A playpen will do just fine: it will allow them to run and move freely, and you won’t be afraid that they can hide under furniture.

Tunnels, cots, and wooden toys are also ideal for guinea pigs: these animals love to explore their habitat and really play with anything from a ball with a rattle inside to cardboard cylinders (such as those in kitchen paper).

Types of litter

The litter box should be cleaned once a day, in order to eliminate the strong smell of ammonia emanating from the urine. There are several on the market, however, you can also create one at home with paper. The important thing is to use soft materials so that the guinea pig can sleep comfortably and walk without injuring its paws.

Some give their little friend a sock or stuffed toy to sleep in: many guinea pigs like it, and move it around their cage until they find the right position to take a nap. However, make sure your little pig does not gnaw on these items, as they may ingest fibers or other small parts.

Feeding of the Peruvian guinea pig

Pellets are the ideal food for guinea pigs, as they contain all the nutrients they need. Avoid alfalfa-based pellets; preferring instead those based on timothy hay. Guinea pigs need a lot of vitamin C every day; some will be provided to them through the pellets but, to supplement, you can add some vegetables to your little friend’s diet.

In addition to pellets, guinea pigs also need fresh timothy hay. There are several feeders and racks to put the hay inside the cage so that it is always available to them. Hay is an important component of their diet, as it aids digestion and helps maintain ideal tooth length.

Chop the vegetables (wash them before!) And offer them to your guinea pigs, so that they can take other vitamin C. They can eat a variety of vegetables, including:

  • Carrots
  • Parsley
  • Cabbage
  • Red or green peppers

The guinea pigs should already be used to a small variety of food: diet sudden change could cause damage to the stomach. Provide the right variety of foods, so that your little friend can also alternate the taste.

If you have to change brands or types of foods, do it gradually and mix the new products with some foods already included in the routine, so that the stomach is not affected by the change.

Drinking troughs should be rinsed and filled with fresh water every day. It is a good idea to wash them once a week with warm water and a little soap, in order to prevent the proliferation of bacteria. Make sure you rinse everything thoroughly.

Peruvian guinea pig

Grooming

The long, soft coat of the Peruvian guinea pig is different from that of other guinea pigs. Just like our hair, a guinea pig’s coat can get lumpy if not cared for regularly. Also, long, dirty hair can cause infections or prevent the guinea pig from moving. For these reasons, it is essential to take care of your little friend’s coat.

Brush your guinea pig once a day; avoid movements against the grain and brush it in one direction only: from front to back. Use a soft bristle brush,  to not tear the hair. In this way, your guinea pig’s coat will be clean, tidy, and free of dirt (bits of pellets, for example, tend to get stuck in the fur).

Often those who own Peruvian guinea pigs shorten their hair so that it remains cleaner; the length of the hair should never exceed their paws, so as not to prevent them from moving correctly.

Generally, it is not necessary to bathe your guinea pig , unless the coat gets really dirty; the guinea pig should also be washed in case of fungal infections. If you need to wash it, just use hot water and a special shampoo, for guinea pigs. It is important to keep your little friend warm while drying so that it does not get cold: otherwise, it could get sick.

Final Thoughts

The Peruvian guinea pig is very popular due to its thick coat and temperament, making it an ideal pet. This little animal, which lives more willingly in the company of others of its kind, will give you company and lots of fun; gets along very well with children: it is docile and loves to play.

However, adults have to take care of its coat on a daily basis, as it requires more care than the coat of other guinea pigs. Some let their guinea pig participate in competitions; if you are interested, you can grow the hair of your guinea pig, and wrap and secure it with clips during the performances, in order to facilitate its movements while preserving its beautiful coat.

The Peruvian guinea pig is a much-loved pet: if you have any – or if you are planning to get one – you will have a life full of love, companionship and fun!

Written by Amanda

Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, canine behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..)

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