The Peruvian Guinea Pig is a large cavy with a really distinctive hairdo! It is one of 13 recognized Guinea Pig breeds by the American Cavy Breeders Association.
This is a sociable and friendly breed. However, looking after this breed can be a challenge due to some demanding grooming needs.
Peruvian Guinea Pig FAQs
Our readers’ most popular and frequently asked questions about the Peruvian Guinea Pig.
- Are Peruvian Guinea Pigs good pets?
- How often should I groom my Peruvian Guinea Pig?
- What do Peruvian Guinea Pigs eat?
What’s in this guide to the Peruvian Guinea Pig
- Where does the Peruvian Guinea Pig come from
- Health and care
- Similar breeds to the Peruvian Guinea Pig
- Is a Peruvian Guinea Pig right for me?
What is a Peruvian Guinea Pig
The Peruvian is one of 13 recognized varieties of guinea pig. It is characterized by a unique, long haired, rockstar look that requires quite a lot of care!
These are considered one of the oldest and most distinctive breeds of guineas.
Where does the Guinea Pig Come From
Originating from South America, guinea pigs aren’t pigs, and don’t have anything to do with Guinea. They are large rodents that are part of the Caviidae family.
Also known as a Cavy, the guinea pig is short tailed, round bodied, and short limbed, with hairless clawed feet, small ears, and large, expressive eyes.
Guinea Pig Appearance
Guinea pigs of all breeds are large for pet rodents. Adult females usually weigh anywhere from 1 to 3 pounds, with adult males coming in at 2 to 3 pounds.
Peruvian guinea pigs commonly fall into the same weight category as the other breeds.
The normal length for most breeds is 6 to 10 inches long. Peruvians are considered one of the larger breeds and can be 10 to 14 inches in length.
Compared to other guinea breeds, the head size is different. Peruvians tend to have a smaller head in ratio to their body size, though it is hard to tell under all that fur!
Peruvian Guinea Pig Coat
These guinea pigs are loved for their gorgeous Fabio hairdo. The top coat of fur can get as long as 12-14 inches. The longest recorded hair for a guinea pig was 20 inches – unsurprisingly, on a Peruvian.
Peruvian Guinea Pig Colors
They come in an assortment of colors including white, cream, tan, russet red, chocolate brown, slate grey, and black. Peruvian Satin Guinea Pigs are especially popular.
Satin guinea pigs of all breeds have an extra gene that causes each hair shaft to be hollow. This makes the guinea’s fur particularly shiny and soft.
Guinea pigs, including Peruvians, can be single “self” colored, bi-colored, or even tri-colored. Tri-colored guineas are considered rare and are the most desirable for breeding and show guineas.
Peruvians are easily confused for Silkie or Cornet guinea pigs, which also have long coats.
Cornet and Silkie guineas’s hair will sweep back away from their face. The Peruvian’s hair, however, parts along the spine, and a rosette of fur on their head creates a fringe of bangs over their face.
Peruvian Guinea Pig Fun Facts
Peruvian Guinea Pig Temperament
Being both social and affectionate, it is understandable that Peruvians are popular pets. Peruvian Guinea Pigs personality is one that’s easy to fall in love with.
Known to be curious where other guinea pigs are timid, Peruvians are alert and aware of their surroundings. They respond well to hand- feeding and human touch.
Peruvians are considered to be very loving pets, enjoying spending time with their humans and other household pets
Do Peruvian Guinea Pigs Bite?
Guinea Pigs generally don’t tend to bite. Of course there are exceptions. These may include when an animal feels threatened or fearful.
Similarly, if you are trying to split up two fighting Guinea Pigs you might get a nip. However, these instances are in the minority. Exercise proper caution and you should be fine.
Taming Peruvian Guinea Pigs
You will find that most guinea pigs are quite affable. It shouldn’t be a huge challenge to tame them but make sure you are careful with them.
You can read our guide on how to tame a Guinea Pig here.
Guinea Pigs are happy to be held but perhaps not at first. Give them time to get to know you and your smell. Make sure not to grip them too tightly. Also, be careful to supervise any children who may be handling your Peruvian.
Peruvian Guinea Pig Health
The long hair has been known to cause problems for any nursing babies. Mom’s long coat can make it difficult for infants to find where to get their meals.
Being unable to properly groom themselves also puts Peruvians at risk for fly strike, which is an extremely painful and possibly fatal condition.
Fly strike occurs when a fly lays their eggs on an animal, and the hatching maggots proceed to feed on them. It is a stressful condition that can lead to death. With these issues in mind, regular grooming and trimming of a Peruvian’s coat is a must.
If a guinea’s enclosure has mesh or wire flooring, their feet should be checked regularly for sores or infections.
Ulcerative pododermatitis, also known as bumblefoot, is painful, but preventable by keeping a clean cage.
Check your guinea pig’s front teeth. Guinea pigs have what is called open root teeth, which means their front teeth continue growing throughout their whole life!
Peruvian Guinea Pig Lifespan
Peruvian Guineas can live anywhere from 3 to 8 years. The oldest guinea pig ever reached 14 years old!
This is much longer than other rodent pets, such as hamsters and gerbils, which makes guinea pigs pets you must be ready to invest in.
There are many things you can do to give your guinea pig a lengthy and high quality life. Be sure your Peruvians have proper diet and access to fresh water, especially if they are being fed mostly dry pellet foods.
A comfortably large, clean cage is also important. Two guinea pigs should have no less than ten square feet of living space. This prevents dominance fights and gives the guinea pigs plenty of room to exercise.
Make sure your guinea pigs have toys to play with and comfortable “hidey holes” where they can curl up to sleep when they aren’t feeling social.
Do Peruvian Guinea Pigs Smell?
All Guinea Pigs smell to some extent. The Peruvian variety isn’t particularly smelly but this depends on your nose and how sensitive it is.
A lot of the smell associated with Guinea Pigs is their urine. So there are steps you can take to lessen any unpleasant odors.
Firstly, make sure you regularly clean your Peruvian Pig’s house. This means daily! Secondly, you may want to invest in special pellets that absorb some of the urine smell.
Peruvian Guinea Pig Care
To keep your guinea pig healthy, watch for injury or illness. Address any signs of discomfort such as wheezing, sneezing, swollen or crusty eyes, or dandruff immediately.
Separate sick guinea pigs from their cage mates to keep any contagious illness from spreading. Consult your vet immediately.
If your guinea pig seems ill or uncomfortable, call your veterinarian. Always seek professional medical advice for any health concerns with your guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs must have access to proper food and special toys and chewing blocks to keep their teeth in the right shape.
Peruvian Guinea Pig Food
These Cavies need a good diet to stay healthy. Peruvian guinea pig food consists of Timothy hay and pellets specially formulated for guinea pigs, along with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Fresh produce is very important for all guinea pigs, including Peruvians. They are unable to create their own vitamin C, and so require the occasional supplement in their diet and stave off scurvy.
Being total herbivores, guineas only consume plants. Do not ever try to feed them anything else. Without the stomach enzymes to digest meat or processed human foods, eating the wrong thing can make guineas very sick.
Beware Toxic Plants
Just because guinea pigs eat plants doesn’t mean all plants are safe for them. Avoid letting your guinea eat any potato, be it peelings, sprouts or any part of the plant. Tomato plants, beans, rhubarb, and dill are also toxic to guinea pigs.
Don’t allow your guinea pig access to any household plants, cut flowers, or unidentified garden weeds. It is better safe than sorry when it comes to unknown plants!
Due to their curious and inquisitive nature, Peruvians are especially prone to taking an exploratory nibble of a foreign plant. If you are worried your guinea got a hold of something it shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian immediately!
Peruvian Guinea Pig Grooming
Peruvians need to be brushed once or twice a day to keep their long coat from tangling or accumulating dirt and debris from their enclosures. Tangled hair can quickly become matted, which is not just unsightly and uncomfortable, but comes with real health risks.
Matted hair can make it difficult for the animal to eat or even move. Mats pull on the hair roots and can cause sores and serious skin infections.
Peruvians depend on their humans to help keep them clean. Their fur needs to be checked regularly, especially their backsides, to be sure they are tidy.
Keeping Peruvian Guinea Pigs Together
Guinea pigs are social animals and it is widely considered beneficial to have at least two to keep each other company.
To prevent any dominance issues or fighting, make sure your enclosure is large enough for multiple guinea pigs to have their own personal space when needed.
Caring for a Baby Peruvian Guinea Pig
A Peruvian Guinea Pig baby may be a little skittish. You might be too if a giant brought you home to live in his house!
Allow your baby guinea to get comfortable in his nice new house. Provide plenty of fresh fruit and veggies. Growing guinea pigs can eat a lot so make sure you feed him about twice daily.
Showing your Peruvian Guinea Pig
The British Cavy Council has a breed standard that you should adhere to if you are showing in the United Kingdom. You can read it here.
Rescuing a Peruvian Guinea Pig
If you decide that Peruvian Pigs are for you, and you can’t do without one, they may prove somewhat difficult to find.
Because of the special needs of Peruvian Pigs, they are not usually carried in pet stores. Consider adopting an animal from a shelter or rescue group before purchasing a baby from a breeder.
Peruvian Guinea Pig Breeders
If a Peruvian Guinea Pig baby is the only thing that can soothe your soul, then you’re going to need to seek out and thoroughly check a good breeder.
Talk to your local guinea pig associations or fan clubs. Ask about any positive reviews and recommendations for good breeders.
Don’t be afraid to ask breeders if they have their USDA license and registrations. See if you can tour their facility and view the conditions the guineas are born and raised in.
If you like this pet you may be looking for a small pet you can keep at home and enjoy holding. Here are some other pets that also have those characteristics
Comparing the Peruvian Guinea with Other Pets
Peruvian Guinea Products and Accessories
- Best Water Bottles
- Guinea Pigs Supplies
- Best Guinea Pigs Carriers
- Indoor Guinea Pig Cages
- Best Guinea Pig Toys
Is a Peruvian Right for Me
In summary, we’ve learned a lot about Peruvians. They are sweet, companionable creatures, who enjoy the company of humans and other pets.
Their gorgeous long hair is their most distinctive and unique trait, but also makes them a relatively high-maintenance guinea pig. Without consistent grooming and care, they are at risk for hair matting, sores, and skin infections. Matted hair can impede mobility and their ability to feed comfortably.
Immobility issues from the long hair puts Peruvian guinea pigs at risk for fly strike, which is dangerous and painful. To prevent this, the guinea pigs must be kept groomed and their enclosure clean.
Peruvians are adventurous and curious, taking an interest in exploring their surroundings. This puts them at risk for injury, so they need to be supervised when out of their enclosures.
If you are passionate about Peruvians, and have the time and finances to dedicate to their extra care and keeping, a Peruvian may be the guinea pig for you. If the special maintenance needed for them is out of reach for you, there are many other wonderful breeds for you to consider.
Do you have a Peruvian Guinea Pig
Do you have a Peruvian Guinea Pig living at home with you? We’d love to hear all about them in the comments below.
References And Resources
- Gade, D. (1967).
The Guinea Pig in Andean Folk Culture. Geographical Review.
Encyclopedia Britannica (2018). Guinea Pig.
Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. Genetic Welfare Problems of Companion Animals: Guinea Pigs : Peruvian.
Douglas A. Kelt et al. (2007). The Quintessential Naturalist: Honoring the Life and Legacy of Oliver P. Pearson. University of California Publications, Zoology Volume 134.
Blair, Jennifer (2013). Bumblefoot: A Comparison of Clinical Presentation and Treatment of Pododermatitis in Rabbits, Rodents, and Birds. Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice.