Which guinea pig should I get?
A Guinea Pig makes an excellent pet! They are quite intelligent, affectionate and incredibly easy to care for. Unlike smaller pets, like hamsters, they live for 5 to 7 years and longer! Guinea pigs are diurnal! That means they are awake and active during the day, just like you and me!
There are so many types of guinea pigs to choose from: long haired, short haired and even hairless, these pets come in a variety of colours and hairstyles!
Are you thinking about getting a guinea pig? Read on and find out more about guinea pig breeds, their individual needs and tendencies so that you can make the best choice.
Crested guinea pig
Crested guinea pigs are a type of short haired pigs. They have a single rosette (crest) on their forehead, hence the name. There are two types of crested guinea pigs. The american crested and the english crested. The american crested has a white crest on its head while the english has a rosette that is the same color as the rest of their body. Crested guinea pigs tend to live for 8 to 10 years (longer than average!) and have no genetic health issues.
Points for: long lifespan
Peruvian guinea pig
Peruvian guinea pigs are famous for their long, silky fur that parts down their back. These pets require daily grooming and occasional hair trimming. All guinea pigs are prone to heatstroke in hot weather, but the long haired Peruvians are especially vulnerable. This is something to consider if you live in a country with a very warm climate.
Points for: amazing long hair
The american cavy, also known as the english cavy, is perhaps the most popular short-haired guinea pig to keep as a pet. This breed comes in over 20 colors! American cavy pigs live for 5 to 8 years.
Points for: lots of colours to choose from
Skinny pigs are hairless except for a little bit of hair on their feet and face. Therefore they make great pets for people who have allergies to animal fur. Skinny pigs need special care to stay healthy and happy because they have trouble maintaining their body temperature (blankets and heat mats are a must!) and are sensitive to sunlight (no sunbathing!).
Points for: no hair
Sheltie guinea pig
Sheltie (or Silky) guinea pig is one of the newest long haired breeds. It is a crossbreed between Peruvian and self black. These pets need regular grooming, otherwise their long coats can get very dirty and matted. Shelties are known to have very gentle and laid back personalities.
Points for: calm and gentle
Teddy guinea pigs are great to keep as pets. They are playful and sociable and are very low maintenance. Teddy pigs are great with kids and make amazing family pets. But please remember to always supervise your children when they are handling guinea pigs and other house pets!
Points for: great with kids
Abyssinian guinea pig
The abyssinian guinea pig is rare and beautifully unique breed. These piggies have very distinct coats with lots of swirls or rosettes on their backs. They have a friendly and outgoing personality but tend to be a bit more mischievous than other breeds. Therefore Abyssian pigs might not be the ideal choice for the first-time owners.
Points for: unique short hairstyle
Rescued Guinea Pigs
It is also possible to look after a guinea pig that has become too much for a previous owner. If this is something you are interested in doing please check organisations such as the RSPCA who are often looking for people to care for abandoned animals.
Some interesting facts about Guinea Pigs
- Strangely they are not related to pigs and do not come from an area called Guinea
- They have another name in some countries which is ‘Cavy’
- When not in captivity they live in large groups. The group is lead by a single male
- Unfortunately these little creatures are unable to make their own vitamin C so have to eat plenty of it to supplement their diet
Please see the YouTube video below on choosing a guinea pig
Thank you for reading!
If you need any additional information about guinea pig breeds, behavior and care, feel free to contact our mobile zoo experts! We will be happy to answer your questions!