Let’s learn a little more about these wonderful animals!
If someone were to ask you to picture a guinea pig, you probably wouldn’t have any trouble. And, though we might be imagining different colors, if I were to picture one, we’d probably both be imagining the classic American breed of guinea pig. However, this is not the only type of cavy! There are many different breeds of Cavia porcellus, which are commonly called the guinea pig or cavy.
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Getting to the roots of the American guinea pig
You needn’t worry about your pet American guinea pig getting so large though! American guinea pigs typically grow to a maximum of 10 inches and are one of three founding breeds shown by American Cavy Breeders Association.
They’re characterized by their smooth, straight hair and easy-going temperament. These features make a pet that is low-maintenance and comfortable being handled. In some countries, this breed is called the English guinea pig.
What makes this breed different from other guinea pig varieties?
While all species of domesticated guinea pig are closely related, there are some sharp distinctions between the different breeds.
The Teddy guinea pig also needs grooming. Though its fur is short, as it has dense, thick hair which can become tangled.
The Abyssinian is similar in coat-care requirements as the American, despite it having long hair.
However, the American is noted for it’s gregarious and laid-back personality. This is a trait it does not share with the characteristically mischievous Abyssinians.
Some additional American guinea pig facts
American guinea pigs, like all guinea pigs, require regular attention and care. And they are very hardy and live for 5 to 7 years.
While many cavy breeds require grooming for their long coats, American guinea pigs short, sleek coat stays clean and tidy!
And there is no style vs comfort trade off either, as the American cavy comes in over 20 colors (such as lilac, chocolate, blue, roan, and cream) and in a variety of patterns (including agouti and tortoise shell).
With their cute little nose, their rotund bodies, and their quick little feet; American guinea pigs make endearing additions to any home!
Appropriate home environment for an American guinea pig
Guinea pigs are often marketed as a great beginner pet— easy to take care of, cute, and docile enough that children can handle (with supervision). That doesn’t mean they are the perfect pet for everyone though!
They are herd animals, so keeping a pair or a group is usually recommended. Though they are small, guinea pigs originally lived on the plains of South America and need space to run around.
What else should a pet owner know before adopting?
Having owned an American guinea pig before, I can tell you that they are a delightful pet.
They are prolific eaters, and that means guinea pigs are prolific at… other things as well. Be prepared to scoop solid soiled bedding daily and to clean the whole cage bedding weekly.
Choosing a relatively inexpensive bedding is important, as keeping the cage free from bacteria and ammonia buildup is key to guinea pigs’ health.
They are susceptible to respiratory illness or bumblefoot if their environment is not kept clean.
Using soft woods can also irritate the lungs of the guinea pig, as they are sensitive to phenols.
Additionally, guinea pigs (like humans) are one of the few mammals who cannot generate their own vitamin C, so it’s important to ensure they are getting proper nutrition so they do not develop scurvy.
That being said, if you want several pets, or have several kids who all want pets, guinea pigs are a fantastic choice as they are accustomed to living in a herd.
Hopefully these American guinea pig facts help draw a distinction between them and their (flowy hair) cousins. Additionally, getting to know a little more about these great animals can help you be a more informed pet owner!
Lafeber Company – American guinea pig breed
Vet Street – Guinea pig facts that might surprise you
Pet MD – The complete guide to guinea pigs
The Pet Wiki – Guinea pig myths, facts, and urban legends