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The Peruvian guinea pig is the ultimate ice-breaker for friends and family coming over for dinner. This majestic-looking guinea pig with long, flowing hair is truly a unique breed of guinea pig and not your average household pet. Compared to the commonAmerican guinea pig, the Peruvian is almost like an unicorn cavy.
Although the Peruvian has an energetic, alert and overall great personality, there are a lot of things to consider before you decide to pick one up. For proper guinea pig care with this breed, it will require a lot of time – mostly spent on grooming. Let’s further investigate the Peruvian Guinea Pig.
Peruvian Guinea Pig Origins
Where did these magnificent guinea pigs appear from? And how did their coat hair get so long? Because of how unique the Peruvian guinea pig looks, some may think that they were bred in a lab, like the Skinny Pig. But actually, they are native to South America. Specifically, they are thought to originate from countries such as Bolivia, Argentina and of course, Peru. Hence, Peruvian guinea pig.
But these animals were not always popular pets, especially when they were only in South America. Back in the 16th century, Peruvian guinea pigs were brought back by French European traders to France to be domesticated. It was believed that the Peruvians arrived at the United Kingdom through France. And from there, this breed began to gain popularity among families and households worldwide.
The Peruvian guinea pig is obviously not your everyday cavy. They have unique physical characteristics that make them extra special. For example, the Peruvian can grow to be a rather large guinea pig, usually larger than any other breed. But despite their bigger size, they have an unusually small head compared to other breeds like the American.
Peruvian Guinea Pig Hair
The most notable characteristic is their long locks of hair, creating a beautiful coat. It’s no surprise that the world record for longest hair on a guinea pig coat is the 20 inches on a Peruvian. I wouldn’t suggest growing out your Peruvian’s hair this long because it would require a lot of grooming work on the daily basis.
A lot of people get them mixed with with Silkie guinea pigs because they both have long straight hair, but they are actually very different. A Silkie’s hair sweeps back and over its head, whereas a Peruvian will have its hair split at the top of the head and part along the spine. When their hair is fully grown out, it’s kind of difficult to tell where the head is. Just compare the pictures of the two, you’ll see it!
While the top layer of the coat can grow up to 20 inches long, the bottom layer won’t grow more than 7 inches long. They are similar to the Abyssinian guinea pig but have much longer hair and have two rosettes instead of 6 to 8. Also, if you plan to show your Peruvian guinea pig at competitions, the two rosettes are required.
Peruvian Coat Colors
The coat can come in a large variety of colors and patterns. There are single colored Peruvian guinea pigs, which are known as “self” Peruvians. Although it is not uncommon to see one with two colors, a tri-colored Peruvian is the rarest. In fact, they are the preferred coat pattern choice for those that plan to show their guinea pig.
The most common colors seen in this breed includes white, dark brown, light brown and even black. I have seen grey colored coats, but they are not very common.
Peruvian Guinea Pig Personality
The Peruvian Cavy have been known to be very curious little critters. Some guinea pig breeds are very timid when it comes to exploring, but that’s not the case with most Peruvians. And although this may seem like a negative personality trait for a prey animal, they are also very alert and aware of their surroundings. They don’t just blindly explore.
A Peruvian guinea pig is a loving cavy that thoroughly enjoys the company of humans. Take some time out of your day to play with them and they will really love you. After they become comfortable with you, you’ll hear all kinds of guinea pig sounds.
They are a very social breed, so it might be a good idea to give them a cage mate. Just make sure the cage is large enough to prevent any cage dominance and fights.
Peruvian Guinea Pig Care
As you may have guessed, the biggest issue with this breed is the long-haired coat. They require a lot of care, especially with the grooming.
The best thing to do is to try to keep their cage and environment clean. The long hairs tend to pick up a lot of debris and dirt in the enclosure, simply from walking around. There is no way to prevent this, you just need to keep the cage clean and minimize the amount of stuff stuck in their coats.
Of course, the Peruvian guinea pig needs to be groomed like no other. Daily brushing of the hair is necessary and some owners even brush twice a day. Brushing is for clearing out the debris in the coat, but it also serves as a way to keep their hair from tangling. If your Peruvian’s hair tangles, it could cause a lot of stress on them by making it very uncomfortable.
As for food and diet, they will eat like most guinea pigs. There is no special diet requirements for the Peruvian guinea pig. This means, high quality pellets, a lot of timothy hay with the occasional Vitamin C since their bodies can’t naturally produce this essential vitamin. Feel free to feed some fruits like apples as treats from time to time. It’s important to note that these creatures are herbivores, meaning they only eat plant. Do not feed them anything else.
Who is the Peruvian For?
I would not suggest the Peruvian guinea pig for small children, instead look into American guinea pigs. This breed is usually raised by enthusiasts and/or adults with enough time to care for them. It’s the reason why they aren’t as popular despite the several pros.
If you plan to show off a guinea pig in competition, this is a fantastic breed to look into. Just make sure you can allocate enough time to do so.
Where to Find a Peruvian Guinea Pig For Sale?
I won’t lie, it’s rather difficult to find a Peruvian. Large commercial pet shops and even small local shops don’t usually carry this breed. And they aren’t exactly the most common breeds found at guinea pig rescues.
However, with a little bit of research, you will be able to find some guinea pig breeding clubs or specialty Peruvian breeders that may or may not be around your area. If you really want one, just keep looking. They aren’t impossible to find, but when you do, they’ll be worth your time.