The American Guinea Pig

The American guinea pig, known as the “English” cavy is the most common. It has short, smooth hair, medium length bodies and Roman noses (curved and wide). They have different color combinations and colors. The American Satin guinea pig is much like the American guinea pig, but with smoother coats with a more glassy satin sheen.

guinea pig closeup shot over white

Origins of the American guinea pig.

The guinea pig has not always been a friendly pet as most people now know them for. When it was first tamed, it was as early as 5000BC by the tribes in the Andean region (South America) but for food! These little creatures were not only used for food, they were also suspected to have been used as gods to be worshipped, and for some rituals in the past. Some archaeological evidence in Ecuador and Peru shows the guinea pig being shown alongside some other animals that were being worshipped at the time. In other cases, the guinea pig was used by folk doctors in some rituals to determine diagnosis for a disease, and how the disease could be treated best. Some of the diseases that were diagnosed using the guinea pigs were jaundice, rheumatism, typhus and arthritis. The guinea pig was mostly used for this procedure. Some tribes, especially in the Andean highlands still breed guinea pigs and use them as a source of food. The guinea pig was first brought into Europe where it was considered an exotic pet. Even Queen Elizabeth was said to have owned guinea pigs.

Diet of the American guinea pig

The diet of a guinea pig is quite interesting. The guinea pig shares some of its diet characteristics with a few animals, human beings included. The guinea pigs have large molars that grow throughout their lives, this enables it to have a diet that consists of grass, which is the guinea pig’s natural diet. It is interesting how guinea pigs substitute their diet by coprography (Eating of their own feces) just like rabbits. They do not however eat all their feces as you may have thought, they produce some special soft pellets that recycle vitamin B, bacteria and fiber. They thrive best on fresh cut hay and can eat large amounts of alfalfa.

It is however advised by some veterinary organizations and pet owners that alfalfa is best as a grass hay. This is because when in legume form, it may bring harm to the guinea pig, in the form of obesity or bladder stones, because of the excessive calcium in them. Scientists however state that alfalfa is a great protein, fiber and amino acid source. Alfalfa is also good for pregnant and young guinea pigs. Guinea pigs, like humans, cannot synthesize their own vitamin C, so to avoid scurvy, which can be fatal, they should be fed with raw fruits and vegetables. It is important to provide the right diet for a guinea pig from a tender age as they can be very choosy eaters. It is also good to give them constant food supply, because they are always gnawing, to avoid their teeth becoming too large. If not fed well, or food is not available, they start chewing on their own hair. Not all plants can be fed to guinea pigs are some can be poisonous, especially if they grow from root or bulb.

American guinea pig Personality

Many say that the personality of a pig generally relies on how you take care of the guinea pig, and which type of environment it is exposed to. There are a few claims that different breeds of guinea pigs give off different kinds of personalities, but all that is subject to debate. For example, it is said that the Abyssinian guinea pig is usually the most eccentric and the most mischievous. Their personalities are reported by most pet owners as “spunkier” than other guinea pigs. English crested pigs have a higher chance of being calm, quiet and shy. There are rumors that the American (smooth haired) guinea pig is shy, laid back but can bite when in an uncomfortable fix. Teddy guinea pigs can be shy, and are usually very affectionate and not vocal. It is all subject to debate though, because each guinea pig can carry its own personality.

The Features of the American guinea pig

The guinea pig is a very interesting creature. A long time ago, during the time the guinea pig was taken to England, they have been bred with each other and the American Cavy Breeders Association only recognizes thirteen breeds of guinea pigs. The Abyssinian has eight to ten rosettes and around its nose you can spot a moustache of raised far. The color combinations of the Abyssinian vary. Another breed is the Abyssinian Satin which is much like the Abyssinian guinea pig, only their fur has sheen to it, thus the name ‘satin’.

A Coronet is longhaired with a Roman nose and a rosette on top of its head. The hair running from the rosette to the back end is noticeably long

Peruvian guinea pigs have dense, soft and long sweeps of hair which grows forward over the head and down the back. When you look at it from above, it somehow looks circular because of the hair. Peruvian Satin guinea pigs are much like the Peruvians, but with sheen and a feel that is satin like.

Silkes have long hair, and the hair on the head sweeps back into a mane. Their hair looks tear shaped from above and they have soft and shiny hair. Silkie Satin guinea pigs are similar to Silkies, only they have more sheen and feel like satin.

Teddy guinea pigs have short, dense coats that tend to have things caught in them. Both their hair and whiskers are kinked and they are similarly sized to the American guinea pigs. They have Roman noses and resilient coats. Teddy Satin guinea pigs look like Teddy guinea pigs, but their furs are satin looking. By now I think you get the flow.

A Texel guinea pig has soft thick hair in curls and ringlets. Their bodies are short and compact, and their heads are described as broad but well-rounded.

White Crested guinea pigs have a white rosette and a smooth coat. They come in a lot of colors and they are very distinct. The colors do not include when white is present everywhere else in the coat.

Caring For an American guinea pig

Guinea pigs are relatively easy to take care of. When shown love and affection, these wonderful creatures, show it right back. It is important to make sure the guinea pigs are not lonely so it is important to pair them up with other guinea pigs. In fact, some law in Switzerland states that it is a crime to own just one guinea pig because of their likelihood to get lonely without partners. They should be kept away from other animals so as to avoid any conflicts, especially with the cat, and should have ample space to play and run around so that they remain active. The temperatures for the places guinea pigs thrive are neither hot nor cold.

Owners of guinea pigs should make sure the diet of guinea pigs is rich in vitamin C and that they have plenty to eat. Their cages should be tidied every day even if guinea pigs take relatively good care of themselves. A guinea pig should always look its best so it is always important to see that the guinea pig gets a good grooming as often as it requires. They require brushing of their fur to look good. The short haired kind may not need much brushing, even once weekly is okay, but the long haired kind of guinea pigs may require grooming every day. Guinea pigs need the best care so it is not advised to get them for children without adult supervision as they may not get the care they deserve.


Facts about the American guinea pig

There are many different facts about guinea pigs, but there are a few interesting ones that may surprise you.

  • Guinea pigs are also known as ‘cavy’. A male guinea pig is known as a boar while a female one is known as a sow
  • Every guinea pig has five different types of hair on their coat.
  • When only three hours old, a guinea pig can run.
  • They have four toes on the forefoot and three toes on the hind foot
  • Guinea pigs do not have tails
  • They are not actual pigs, they are rodents.
  • They did not originate from guinea, they originated from the Andes.
  • The oldest guinea pig recorded in the Guinness book of world records lived 15 years, most live between 7 and 9 years
  • If guinea pig nails are not cut, they may grow into the foot.
  • They have a whooping total of 258 bones in the body.
  • They cannot see what they are eating because of their eye position.
  • When running, they can turn without pausing.
  • They memorize their tracks so that they are able to escape any predators they may have.
  • They have eyes at the sides of their heads so they are able to see behind too, but can’t see straight in front of their noses.
  • Guinea pigs don’t sweat, so when left in the sun for too long, they are prone to heat stroke.
  • Guinea pigs are born with all their fur, and claws.

There are so many interesting facts about guinea pigs and they are creatures that you cannot get bored with. When you really take the time to study them, so many fascinating things come up, some that will only be unique to the guinea pig you own. They are wonderful company and very clean pets.