Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Peruvian Guinea Pig: The Brave Explorers With A Wig-Like Coat!

Peruvian Guinea Pig: The Brave Explorers With A Wig-Like Coat!

Peruvian Guinea Pigs are a well known breed amongst show Guinea Pigs, for their long luscious coat of hair. Amusingly, Peruvian Cavies resemble a hair piece or wig when stationary, and it is often a tall order to make out which end is the head or rear with just one quick look.

The Peruvian Guinea Pig

Guinea Pigs in general have been around since 5000 BC, bred for food in tribes of the Andean region of South America, currently made up of Peru, Ecuador, Columbia and Bolivia. The Moche Civilisation of Peru worshiped animals, and the Guinea Pig was amongst other animals often featured in their art. Folklore traditions depicts Guinea Pigs used for gift exchanges, religious ceremonies and also healing purposes. Folk Doctors used Guinea Pigs to diagnose and study illnesses when Western Medicine was not available or trusted back in those regions.
Moche tribe
During 1200 AD and 1532, selective breeding has brought about the modern breeds of Guinea Pigs we see today. The Guinea Pig was then believed to be introduced to Europe through Spanish English and Dutch traders, and it quickly became a popular choice of pet amongst the rich, upper class and Royalty. The first written account of a Guinea Pig was as early as 1547, and first described in the West by Swiss Naturalist Conrad Gessner in 1554.
guinea pig origin
The first painting of a Guinea Pig was in 1580 by an unknown author, it pictures a young girl in an Elizabethan dress, holding her Guinea Pig and standing in between her two brothers. This Guinea Pig seems to be none other than the American Short Hair, the earliest breed of domestic pet Guinea Pigs J

Appearance Of A Peruvian Guinea Pig

Coat — The first noticeable feature of The Peruvian Guinea Pig is their long, luscious coat of hair. When let out to explore, they can look very much like scuttling wigs on the floor.

Fun Fact #1      A baby Peruvian Guinea Pig can always be mistaken for an Abyssinian Guinea Pig because the distinguished long fur of the Peruvian Cavy will only start showing after 5 months from birth.
Baby peruvian Guinea pig
A Baby Peruvian Guinea Pig
Features — An easy way to a Peruvian and Abyssinian Guinea Pig apart would be by their hair rosettes. A Peruvian has only 2 rosettes which grows over their heads, creating a natural parting in the center-down their backs. Whereas for an Abyssinian Cavy, they have more than 2 rosettes, with no particular order or direction as to how the hair parts.

Size — Like all other breeds of Guinea Pigs, the average weight of an adult Peruvian Cavy is about 1 kg.

Colour — The available colours of the Peruvian are White, Cream, Slate, Tri-colour and Bi-colour, apart from many others.

Fun Fact #2      Another breed that can often be confused with a Peruvian is the Silkie. Their smooth and long coats are hard to differentiate at first glance.
Peruvian guinea pig vs Silkie guinea pig
Left : Peruvian , Right: Silkie/Sheltie
A Silkie Guinea Pig has no partings, instead, their long hair grows in a backward direction from their heads, and growing thicker down their backs, giving them a “combed-back” look. 

Grooming A Peruvian Guinea Pig

Even with their friendly and docile nature, a Peruvian Guinea Pig is not for everyone— a lot of effort and commitment is needed to keep them clean or show-worthy. Peruvian Guinea Pigs would be perfect for someone with excellent time management and patience in caring for their long coats. Otherwise, keeping your Peruvian's coat short may serve as a better option. With a long coat however, Peruvians do not have the means of reaching the entire length of their hair. Cleaning themselves completely becomes a tougher task. Top coats can grow up to 30 cm or longer— combing of their fur should be done daily, to prevent matting and tangling.
long hair guinea pig
Non-show Peruvians — Trim their hair short, making sure it does not go beyond their legs at least.

 Guinea Pigs do not require sand baths. Instead, a warm bath should be done once every month only if your Guinea PIgs are accepting of baths and not excessively, as this could aggrevate sensitive skin and stress a Cavy out. Use a small amount of Pet-friendly shampoo if needed. As long hair is prone to having dirt stuck on them, constantly check that their rears are not soiled. A quick clean-up can be done using a soft, damp cloth to spot-clean and wipe down their coats.

Fun Fact #3      Did you know that Long Hair Cavies give each other hair-cuts? This process is called barbering, and it is not a good thing! A Variety of reasons could lead up to Barbering, and some includes stress and fights.

Personality Of A Peruvian Guinea Pig

The Peruvian Guinea Pig is known to be just as curious as all other breeds of Guinea Pigs, but they take on a bolder approach with exploring— this is sometimes viewed as skittish or dangerous especially for a prey animal. However, this is compensated with their highly alert behaviour to their surroundings. 
Peruvian Guinea Pig Information
Peruvians are loving and sociable, they love having contact with their humans and they can be housed with another Guinea Pig, just ensure that they have ample space for each other, to avoid any possible territorial conflicts.

Guinea Pig Housing And Feed

Housing — Any Guinea Pig’s home should be filled with a good bedding of hay, toys and enough room for them to keep active and move about— Wooden toys would satisfy their chewing needs and prevent overgrown teeth. Pine and Cedar wood bedding should be avoided as they may cause respiratory problems. Straw is also not advisable due to its level of absorbency. Since Peruvian Guinea Pigs have long hair, more effort is needed to maintain the cleanliness of their home, decreasing the chances of them soiling their coats.

Ensure the living space/cage is of an appropriate size, large enough for your active Cavy to run and roam about. To prevent them from eating soiled hay, clean their living space regularly and provide fresh food and water!
Peruvian guinea pig feed
Feeding — Good quality Hay is an absolute staple in a Guinea Pig's diet. Introduce a plate of good-quality hay with food pellets mixed in. Guinea Pigs require a ton of Fiber and Vitamin C, hence the inclusion of fresh vegetables and occasional fruits treats are a healthy option. Recommendations for good quality Hay types are Timothy Hay, to encourage healthy teeth and a good digestive system.

You might also be interested in these: 

What Can My Guinea Pig Eat?: Guinea Pig Safe Greens and Fruits

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