White Crested Guinea Pig

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Other name(s): Crested, American Crested

The basics:
The White Crested Guinea Pig is an American Guinea Pig with flare! They share many of the traits that have made the American Guinea Pig one of the most popular pet breeds, but with the royal addition of a swirling white “crown” on top of their heads. They’re easy to care for, and their personality is a good balance between energetic and affectionate. This is a good guinea pig for beginner owners, or for homes with young children.

Though the American Guinea Pig is quite common, the White Crested Guinea Pig is somewhat less so. Breeders have found it difficult to consistently breed show quality White Crested Guinea Pigs which has kept the breed rare, but when you do find them, they often end up available as pets.

Appearance / health:
The White Crested Guinea Pig is a short-haired, smooth-coated guinea pig with a distinctive white rosette of fur on the forehead. They can come in many colors, but must have a white crest on the head and no other white present on the body.  Apart from the crest, the White Crested Guinea Pig’s sleek and glossy coat is very similar to that of the American Guinea Pig. They also have the American Guinea Pig’s short, stocky body and broad shoulders. They have a pronounced Roman nose, large eyes, and large, drooping ears.

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 White Crested Guinea Pig shares the American Guinea Pig’s calm demeanor and sweet nature. They tend to be easy to handle, and the more affection you show your White Crested Guinea Pig, the more affectionate they’ll be in return. Though some may initially start out shy, they’re usually quickly won over with kindness and patience. Because of their docility and their low grooming requirements, they’re a good choice for beginner guinea pig owners, or homes with young children.

Guinea pigs are herd animals, very social by nature, and should almost always be kept in pairs. White Crested 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 White Crested 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 White Crested Guinea Pig. Plastic exercise balls are often frightening to guinea pigs and can cause spinal injury if sized wrong.

Your White Crested 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 White Crested 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.


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