Guinea pigs have become a beloved family pet for thousands of people around the world. To adopt one, your best bet is a pet store or even an animal shelter. They’ve been domesticated for the last 500 years, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t still spend time in the wild. Naturally, they live in South America, giving them resistance to many different climates. When they run their own family, they sometimes live in a group of up to 10 other cavies.
These rodents bond reasonably well with their owners, though they thrive in the wild. They cannot create vitamin C within their own body, which is why they need to supplement it with the foods they consume. They won’t require much work from their owner but offering a balance of hay, fresh produce, and other food sources keep them healthy. They squeak, chirp, and purr to express themselves, often reacting gleefully when they see food or a friend that they like.
Though you might know what guinea pigs look like, there are several types of this species. Those breeds include:
- Peruvian guinea pig
- American guinea pig
- Abyssinian guinea pig
- Skinny pig
- Teddy guinea pig
- Texel guinea pig
- Rex guinea pig
- Himalayan guinea pig
- English crested guinea pig
- American crested guinea pig
Peruvian Guinea Pig
The Peruvian guinea pigs have long and luscious hair that needs regular grooming. However, in Peru, guinea pigs aren’t kept as pets but served as a delicacy, often with potatoes and salsa. If kept as a pet, their rosettes become incredibly long. If you let it grow entirely out, the cavy might even be hard to differentiate between the front and the back.
Also known as Silkies, Shelties, or Cuy, the Peruvian guinea pig has one of the longest lifespans of this type of animal at 12-14 years. They are incredibly curious, but their demeanor is much calmer than other types. They typically measure larger than other breeds at 10-14 inches long.
American Guinea Pig
If you look through pet stores, the American guinea pig is the most likely of the types to find. Their short coat has no fancy rosettes, but they have many different colors (often in the same coat!), including ginger, brown, black, white, and other shades. There is very little grooming needed, though they may shed and cause allergic reactions for their owners. Overall, they are easy to keep as a first-time pet, maintaining a friendly personality. The American guinea pig measures about 8-16 inches, weighing no more than 3 lbs.
Abyssinian Guinea Pig
The Abyssinians have a harsher texture in their coat with a friendly and outgoing demeanor than most of the other guinea pigs on this list. With rosettes throughout their coat, these twirls form ridge-like patches of fur that this breed is known for. They feature multiple colors at once, but their high energy might be a bit much for younger children. The Abyssinian guinea pig measures about 8-12 inches long, though females often do not reach the full potential size.
Skinny Guinea Pig
The Skinny pig is entirely hairless except for a small collection of strands on their nose, feet, legs, and back. They need to be carefully monitored to reduce the risk of skin irritation or infection, and their bedding must be soft enough to avoid abrasions. Regular cleaning sessions are a must for their cages, and their diet must include nutrients that are higher in energy to keep up with their metabolism. The average skinny pig measures about 9-12 inches long, weighing 1-2 lbs. Often, they live to be about seven years old with the proper healthcare.
Teddy Guinea Pig
Known for being the friendliest of the different types, Teddy guinea pigs tend to maintain that kind of demeanor with their owner. They don’t like to share their space with others, but they love to spend time with humans. With many colors and color combinations, their most notable feature is their upturned nose. Weekly brushing is the easiest way to keep their full and wiry hair healthy, though it doesn’t grow longer than medium length. The Teddy can be up to 12 inches long and anywhere from 1-4 lbs depending on their age. Often, the males are more prominent at their adult size.
Texel Guinea Pig
The springy coat of the Texel guinea pig gives it a curly look. Even though the cavy looks like it has short hair, it is much longer when brushed out. The fur along their face stays short, though it starts to grow longer on the top of the head to their back for a smooth transition. These animals don’t need much grooming, and brushing them so much can be hard on their coat. Measuring about 8-10 inches long, the Texel piggies have a lifespan of up to 10 years.
Rex Guinea Pig
The Rex guinea pig has a wooly coat with short hair. Unlike other types, this breed has rather droopy ears. They grow up to 17 inches long, which is longer than the majority of different variations. Luckily, their soft coat is ideally suited to their affectionate personality, giving them an outgoing demeanor with their family. Though some brushing and other care are required for this coat, there isn’t much maintenance.
Himalayan Guinea Pig
The Himalayan guinea pig is all white, having no other colors to adorn their goal. They have brown or black points like a Himalayan cat or rabbit on the ears, featuring red eyes and a short coat. They can’t be exposed to much sunlight since they are albinos, but they are incredibly friendly. Individuals who have never owned one of these pets before may want to choose an easier pet because their condition requires consistent and specialized care. This cavy falls in the middle of the range of sizes at 8-12 inches long.
English Crested Guinea Pig
Though most of these breeds are quite friendly and outgoing with their owners, the English crested seems to be the exception. They have the same curious nature, but they tend to have a reserved and shy demeanor otherwise. They won’t enjoy being picked up, and they like to be petted even less.
With no more than a 6-year projected lifespan, these cavies are found in multiple colors, but there are restrictions to the English crested category. Often, they are much easier to breed than the American crested, but the only notable feature is their crown. To set itself apart from the American crested, only the English crested matches the crown’s hair with the rest of their body. English crested cavies are relatively small compared to other breeds, only reaching about 8-10 inches when fully grown. They weigh between 1.5 and 2.6 lbs.
The Coronet has a combination of the features of the other types seen here. Their forehead features just a single rosette, while the rest of their coat is long and silky. They have an affectionate and playful demeanor, but they need regular grooming to avoid matting and tangles. Though the males can be larger than females, the Coronet ranges from 8-16 inches in length at their full size, and they may weigh up to 3 lbs.
American Crested Guinea Pig
The American crested guinea pig is relatively close to the demeanor and size of the English crested guinea pig. Primarily, the difference is found in the tuft of fur on the head or the “crown.” Though the crown of the English crested matches the hair, the easiest way to tell if the cavy is an American crested is if the crown is white. Only American crested breeds have a white crown.