Welcome To Our Complete Guide to Himalayan Guinea Pigs!
Let’s Take A Close Look At This Breed To Help You Determine If The Himalayan Guinea Pig Is Right For You!
While dogs and cats remain America’s favorite pet breeds, small rodents including guinea pigs are a popular choice among many. These pocket-sized critters are cute, personable, and relatively easy to care for.
There are several guinea pig breeds to choose from, with the American Guinea being the most common. Today, we’ll look at a lesser-known variety: the Himalayan Guinea Pig.
What Are Himalayan Guinea Pigs?
Originally from Southeast Asia, the Himalayan Guinea Pig is a unique and adorable breed.
They are often referred to as “the Siamese cat of guinea pigs” because of their unique markings and colorings.
Himalayan Guinea Pigs are actually considered albino, although they do have colored markings (called “points”), usually on their nose, ears and feet.
They have a lifespan of 5-7 years, and generally make good, sociable pets.
Himalayan Guinea Pig Size
Himalayan Guinea Pigs are average in size, typically ranging from 8 to 12 inches when fully grown. They have a short, thick body with broad shoulders.
Himalayan Guinea Pig Colors
Himalayan Guinea Pigs are considered an albino breed, however they do develop some color pigments in certain areas.
Himalayans are born completely white, with characteristic red-tinted eyes. As they grow, they will develop colored spots, called “points.”
These points typically appear on the ears, nose, and feet. It may be several weeks to several months before points begin to develop.
The “points” are typically black, although brown/chocolate tones are also possible.
Interestingly, these colored spots can disappear if exposed to too much direct sunlight. They also fade when the pig is stressed or scared.
Himalayan Guinea Pig Grooming
Himalayan Guinea Pigs have short to mid-length hair. They are relatively easy to groom when compared to their long-haired counterparts, such as the Peruvian Guinea Pig.
The Himalayan’s coat coloring actually changes based on the climate it resides in. Typically, colder weather will cause their spots to grow and darken, while hotter weather will cause fading.
This is a normal part of the Himalayan’s biology. However, you should still take steps to keep your pet in a room with a steady, moderate temperature. Also, you should avoid exposing your guinea to direct sunlight.
As for regular grooming care, here is the recommended schedule.
- Daily – provide fresh vegetables and grasses
- Daily – provide fresh, clean water
- Daily – spot clean cage
- Weekly – fully clean cage
- Weekly – brush fur lightly
- Every 8-10 weeks – trim nails
- Every 3 to 12 months – bathe
Himalayan Guinea Pig Personality
Himalayan Guinea Pigs are sturdy, friendly animals for the most part. When handled correctly, they enjoy spending time with their owners.
They are usually good with children, but can be frightened easily.
Himalayan Guineas typically get along well with other guinea pigs, but there is always some risk that they will become territorial. If you want multiple pets, it’s best to purchase guineas in pairs, rather than introducing a second guinea later on.
Himalayan Guinea Pig Health
Himalayan Guinea Pigs are generally healthy animals if cared for properly. That said, they are susceptible to many of the health problems that all guinea pigs are prone to, including:
Considered the most common guinea pig health concern, most breeds of guinea pigs are prone to pneumonia and other respiratory infections. Environmental stress can increase the risk of infection, which is why proper care is so vital.
Guinea pigs have sensitive dietary tracts, and are therefore prone to diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues. Make sure you feed your pet a balanced, healthy diet appropriate for guineas in order to reduce the risk of complications.
Vitamin C Deficiency
Guinea pigs need a lot of vitamin C in their diets (between 10 and 50 mg per day). You should feed your guinea fresh fruits and vegetables daily, as well as vitamin C-enriched pellets or feed.
If you notice a rough coat, a lack of appetite, swollen feet or joints, or diarrhea, these are likely signs of a vitamin C deficiency.
Guinea pigs tend to be prone to urinary calculi (stones) and bladder infection. Females are more at risk for infection, while stones are common in both sexes.
Signs of possible urinary problems in guinea pigs include anorexia, difficulty urinating, blood in the urine, and a hunched posture.
Ringworm and other fungal skin infections are common in guinea pigs, particularly in young guineas. Signs include itchy skin, hair loss, redness and swelling.
Guinea pigs may also be susceptible to tumors, parasites, abscesses due to infection, and barbering (when the guinea chews its own hair).
In addition to these issues that are common in all types of guinea pigs, Himalayan Guinea Pigs are uniquely susceptible to issues relating to weather changes.
They do best in moderate, steady temperatures, and should not be exposed to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures.
We recommend handling your guinea pig daily, in order to check for any potential health issues. Guinea pigs do not do well with stress, and their health can rapidly deteriorate if an issue is left untreated.
It’s a good idea to find a veterinarian in your area that is familiar with treating guinea pigs. Get established with them early on so if anything comes up you can get in immediately.
It’s recommended to take your guinea to the vet once a year for a regular checkup. If you notice any concerning health problems in between checkups, seek veterinary care immediately.
Himalayan Guinea Pig Life Span
Himalayan Guinea Pigs have an average lifespan of 5 to 7 years, when cared for properly.
They are typically healthy critters, although they are susceptible to the health problems that commonly affect most breeds of guinea pigs.
Himalayan Guinea Pig Breeders
Himalayan Guinea Pigs are more common than you might think, but they can still be difficult to find in some regions.
Since finding a breeder is a highly location-specific venture, it’s best to search Google for breeders in your area. You can also use a site like GuineaPigFinder to help.
If you do find a local Himalayan Guinea Pig breeder in your area, be sure to ask them about their experience with breeding, the health of the pig’s parents, and if the breeder conducted any sort of health tests on the animals.
Guinea pigs are prone to a variety of health problems, many of which are difficult to predict in advance. With that said, proper care during the breeding process is essential to the animal’s health, so it’s important to find a reputable breeder.
Are Himalayan Guinea Pigs The Right Choice For Me?
Himalayan Guinea Pigs make great family pets. They are friendly, sociable, and relatively easy to care for due to their short hair.
With that said, we would not recommend a Himalayan to anyone living in a very hot or very cold climate. This breed is highly susceptible to weather changes, and does not react well to extreme temperatures.
Also, Himalayans do best indoors. If you are intending to keep your pets outside (which is not typically recommended, in general), it’s best to avoid the Himalayan breed.
Do you have a Himalayan? Tell us all about it in the comments!
References and Further Reading
Quesenberry, K. and Boschert, K. R. Routine health care of guinea pigs. Merck Veterinary Manual.
Quesenberry, K. and Boschert, K. R. Breeding and reproduction of guinea pigs. Merck Veterinary Manual.
Axelson, R. Guinea pigs – Problems. VCA Hospitals.
Saito, A. et al (1985). Susceptibility of Legionella pneumophila to ofloxacin in vitro and in experimental Legionella pneumonia in guinea pigs. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 28.
Cohen, B. and Mendel, L. B. (1918). Experimental scurvy of the guinea pig in relation to the diet. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 35.
Parkinson L. A. B. et al (2017). Urethral diverticulum and urolithiasis in a female guinea pig (Cavia porcellus). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 251.
Pombier, E. C. and Kim, J. C. S. (1975). An epizootic outbreak of ringworm in a guinea-pig colony caused by Trichophyton mentagrophytes. Laboratory Animals, 9.