American Guinea Pig

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Other name(s): Self Guinea Pig; Standard Self; American Cavy; English Guinea Pig; English Cavy

The basics:
When you think of guinea pigs, the American Guinea Pig is probably the cavy you have in mind. They’re one of the most popular guinea pigs because they strike a good balance between activity and affection. They’re a good option for inexperienced guinea pig owners or households with children. Their coat may not be as fancy as other breeds, but they come in a broad array of colors and patterns and it’s very low maintenance.

The American Guinea Pig originated in South America, in the Peruvian Andes. Years of selective breeding have made them far more colorful than their wild cousins and far friendlier. They are also known as English Cavies or Guinea Pigs, or Standards and are generally easy to find even outside of the Americas.

Appearance / health:
The American Guinea Pig has a short coat that is straight, smooth, and sleek. They are an average length with a tube-shaped body. Their prominent nose is wide with a convex curve, and their eyes are relatively large and wide set. The ears are large and droopy.

The American Guinea Pig comes in a wide variety of recognized colors and patterns. These include agouti (alternating bands of light and dark coloration on each hair), bi-color (two colors, usually combinations of black, white, or red), brindle (intermixing of dark and light colors, usually from the black and red series of colors), dalmatian (black and white spots), Dutch (colored head with a white blaze, white front-end, and colored back-end), Harlequin (scattered patches of yellow and chocolate or black), albino (white with pink eyes), roan (an even intermingling of light and dark hairs throughout the coat, often with a dark head), self (single, solid color – may be black, beige, chocolate, cream, lilac, red, saffron, or white), tortoiseshell (well-defined black and red rectangular patches of color), tortoiseshell and white (tortoiseshell with white patches), tri-color (coat of 3 colors, usually black, white, and red), and Himalayan (white body with darker nose, ears, and feet).

All guinea pigs are susceptible to certain health problem, including in-grown nails (which become painful and infected), diarrhea (often from too much fruit or vegetables), pneumonia (from changes in temperature), mites (causing hair loss and itching), and vitamin C deficiency (from diets lacking in vitamin C). Guinea pigs live an average of 5 – 7 years.

Behavior / temperament:
The American Guinea Pig is a popular pet because of its calm temperament and sweet nature. They are easy to handle, and the more affection you show your American Guinea Pig, the more affectionate they’ll be in return. Even an American Guinea Pig that starts out shy can usually be won over with kindness and patience. They are good-natured and patient with other guinea pigs. They may be a good choice for homes with children.

Guinea pigs are herd animals, very social by nature, and should almost always be kept in pairs. American Guinea Pigs are especially appreciative of having a cavy companion: people rarely have enough time to satisfy a guinea pig’s need for social interaction, and they will never be able to substitute for the companionship guinea pigs give one another. Guinea pigs kept in pairs or trios tend to be happier, healthier, more confident, and more active.

In general, guinea pigs are popular as pets because of their social nature. They are gentle and curious and active in the daytime. They make all sorts of purrs, squeals, chirps, whistles, whines, and rumbles. Because of their active nature, they require plenty of room to run and play. They may be allowed to run around the house as long as they are supervised and restricted from areas that could potentially be harmful to them, like the garage.

The best housing for the American Guinea Pig is a well-ventilated, secure cage that allows plenty of room to exercise, nest, and a separate place for food and water away from a bathroom area. Many commercial cages are too small to meet these requirements and The Humane Society of the United States recommends 7.5 square feet minimum for 1 – 2 guinea pigs. In most circumstances a cage with a solid bottom is preferred, and wire floors should never be used.

Bedding can be made from a variety of materials, including aspen shavings, commercial paper bedding, wood pellets, and even towels and fleece. Cedar and raw pine shavings should not be used because of health problems associated with the volatile aromatic plant oils. Corn cob bedding and straw both have a tendency to mold and should also be avoided.

In addition, your guinea pig should be provided with at least one shelter. Many different types of houses are commercially available, but you can also use something as simple as a cardboard box. Your guinea pig will also enjoy having tunnels, log caves, low ramps, and even some toys that are safe to chew on. Rodent wheels are unsuitable for the American Guinea Pig. Plastic exercise balls are often frightening to guinea pigs and can cause spinal injury if sized wrong.

Your American Guinea Pig’s cage should be located somewhere draft-free, out of direct sunlight, and close to household activities. Room temperature should range from 65 and 75 degrees F (18 to 24 degrees C). The cage should be cleaned at least once a week, but may need more frequent cleaning depending on the size of the cage, the number of guinea pigs, and the type of bedding used.

Your American Guinea Pig will thrive on a varied diet of pellets, timothy hay, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid commercial foods with seeds, nuts, and dried fruit – these can be used as treats, but should not be a daily staple. Timothy hay helps with digestion and dental health and should be provided at all times.

Dark, leafy greens like romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, and even grass can be provided daily and should make up the majority of the vegetable serving. Vegetables like carrots, green pepper, and tomato can also be offered frequently. Fruit makes a tasty treat but because it’s high in sugar, smaller portions should be offered: an orange slice or thin apple wedge, a few blueberries, or a thin slice of banana, or a strawberry will be much appreciated! If your guinea pig develops diarrhea, reduce the amount of fresh produce being offered. Uneaten produce should be removed after a couple of hours.

Unlike most animals, guinea pigs don’t make their own vitamin C and must get it from their diets. Most high-quality pellets are fortified with vitamin C, and many fruits and veggies are also high in vitamin C. A guinea pig with a well-balanced, varied diet is unlikely to experience vitamin C deficiency, but supplements are available.

Water should always be available, preferably in gravity-flow water bottles. Stable earthenware food dishes are recommended.


guinea pigs personality, fluffy long hair, healthy animals, good starter pets, little furry squeaker


biting, skittish, ring worm, weekly cage cleanings, smell, stunk


popcorn dance, hidey houses, baby nail clipper, strange grunts

American Guinea Pig Behavior Tip

American Guinea Pig

From SoleilH Dec 1 2015 4:52PM


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