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American Guinea Pig Info: Pictures, Traits, & Facts

Nicole Cosgrove

Length: 8-19 inches
Weight: 700-1200 grams
Lifespan: 4-8 years
Colors: Beige, cream, black, red, gold
Temperament: Active friendly and economical breed of guinea pig that doesn’t bite
Best Suited For: Families and inexperienced pet owners

The American guinea pig is the oldest domesticated breed of guinea pig. They are a short-haired breed that requires very little maintenance, and their temperament makes them perfect children’s pets.

The American guinea pig originated in South America, and the true origin of the name guinea pig is lost. It has short straight hair and is also known as the English guinea pig in some parts of the world.

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American Guinea Pig – Before You Buy…

Energy
Shedding
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

What’s the price of an American Guinea Pig?

The price of American guinea pigs is quite low when compared to many of the other show breeds. An American guinea pig is usually between $10 and $40. In some cases, they can cost less than that.

Calico American Satin Guinea Pig
Image Credit: Kenzie Lamson, Wikimedia Commons

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3 little known facts about the American Guinea Pig

Let’s discuss some things you might not know about the American guinea pig.

1. They are probably the oldest domesticated breed of guinea pig.

The American guinea pig is also known as the English guinea pig in many parts of the world, and it is likely the oldest domesticated breed in existence. According to the American Cavy Breeders Association, it is one of the first breeds on record.

2. American guinea pigs are very colorful

There are more than 20 recognized coats associated with the American guinea pig. Five groups separate the colors into specific patterns and markings.

3. American guinea pigs require very little maintenance

Due to their short hair, American guinea pigs need very little maintenance. There is no need to worry about trimming or brushing the hair regularly, and it rarely becomes matted or tangled. Even bathes are only required if they start to smell bad.

American Guinea Pigs
Image Credit: Anton_Ivanov, Shutterstock

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Temperament and Intelligence of the American Guinea Pig

The American guinea pig is a laid back and friendly animal. It’s outgoing, energetic, and clingy. They are very gentle and do not bite, so they are perfect to have around small children. They are herd animals and like to be around friends, so there is rarely a problem with keeping more than one in the same cage. They are intelligent animals that you can train to do tricks.

Are These Guinea Pigs Good for Families? 👪

Yes, American guinea pigs are amazing family pets. Their low maintenance makes them perfect first pets for your child. I child will need to do little more than feed them once a day and clean the cage when it’s needed. The rest of the time is for playing, cuddling, petting, training, and exercising, none of which require your child to have any special skills. Also, American guinea pigs don’t bite, so you won’t need to worry about any injuries.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Yes, the American guinea pig, like all guinea pigs, is a herd animal that enjoys being around other animals. In most cases, if you put two guinea pigs in the same cage, you will find them snuggling to keep warm in a few days. There are some cases where an older guinea pig may grow accustomed to being alone and not desire companionship, but it’s rare.

American Guinea Pig
Image Credit: Pxfuel

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Things to know when owning an American Guinea Pig

Let’s make sure you know all of the important stuff about your American guinea pig.

Food & Diet Requirements 🥕

American guinea pigs require the same basic diet that all guinea pigs need. You want to make sure there is a steady supply of clean high-quality timothy hay for them to eat. This food wears down their teeth and is high in fiber, which promotes a healthy digestive system.

According to the Small Animal Vet Hospital, your guinea pig should eat about 20% of their body weight in vegetables per day. Many people recommend one cup. The majority of vegetables should be green with a smaller portion of colored vegetables to add vitamin C to the diet. These vegetables need to be fresh because Vitamin C diminishes quickly.

Your American guinea pig will also require between ¼ and ⅛ cup of food pellets fortified with vitamin C each day. You can purchase these pellets in a pet store, and we recommend choosing the highest quality brand you can afford.

Tiny portions of fruit are also acceptable to give your pet on occasion, but these fruits should be fresh and high in vitamin C.

Exercise 🐹

According to the RSPCA, your guinea pig can remain active for up to 20 hours a day, which means your pet needs ample room to move around and exercise. Experts recommend getting the largest cage possible. Make sure the cage provides a flat open area as opposed to a multi-level environment because guinea pigs don’t like to climb like ferrets do.

Related Read: How to Exercise a Guinea Pig (8 Ideas & Proven Methods)

Training 🎾

American guinea pigs are bright animals that love to play, especially when you get involved. They are smart enough to learn quite a few tricks and can understand just about any command if you have a lot of patience and tasty treats. Once your guinea pig Is a few weeks old you can try out of few of the following tricks

American Guinea Pig
Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock

Litter box

Training your American guinea pig to use the litter box is likely going to be your favorite trick because it means less work for you later.

  • To train your guinea pig to use a litter box, place a litter box into the cage where they usually relieve themselves.
  • Place timothy hay and fecal pellets in the litter box.
  • When your pet uses its litter box, make some noise, and give it a treat.

Once you train your guinea pig to use the litter box, it will continue to use it for its lifetime.

Stand up

Training your American guinea pig to stand up is just as easy as training it to use a litter box.

  • Hold a treat above their head while repeating the word “Stand.”
  • After some time, your pet will stand to get the treat, and it will have heard the word several times.
  • Do this twice a day, and in a few days, your guinea pig will stand on the first command without dangling the treat.

Obey Commands

You can train your guinea pig to follow any command by following the system above. The trick is to pick something simple that you can coax them into doing. Pair that goal with a word, a treat, and repetition, and you’ll be amazed at what you can teach your pet. Once you have your pet standing, try to get them to do these next tricks and invent some of your own.

  • Roll a ball
  • Pass through a hoop or tunnel
  • Sit

Grooming ✂️

American guinea pigs need very little maintenance and don’t require and brushing or standard grooming. They will need a bath occasionally to remove smelly oils that can build up on the skin, but there is no need to worry about shampooing or trimming the coat. You are unlikely to experience mats and knots with this breed.

American Guinea Pig
Image Credit: Jg4817, Wikimedia Commons

Health and Conditions 🏥

The American guinea pig is a hearty breed with one of the longest lifespans of all guinea pigs, but it still suffers from the problems all guinea pigs face, including pneumonia, diarrhea, and scurvy.

Pneumonia

According to VCA Hospitals, American guinea pigs are prone to pneumonia. Bacteria commonly found in guinea pigs is the cause of pneumonia, and many carry the disease for years without symptoms.

If your pet is not eating, has a discharge from the eyes and nose, or has trouble breathing, take your pet to the vet immediately.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a constant threat to guinea pigs due to their extremely sensitive digestive system. Sometimes the slightest change in food can bring on an episode. Diarrhea can create health problems, so it needs immediate attention. Diarrhea, weight loss, and dehydration are all signs your pet needs to see a veterinarian

Scurvy

A lack of Vitamin C causes scurvy in humans and guinea pigs. It’s so widespread in guinea pigs because they do not create Vitamin C in their bodies as many other animals do, and they rely on us to supply the correct amount of to keep them healthy. If you notice your pet has an increasingly rough coat, diarrhea, is reluctant to walk, or has swollen feet, we recommend consulting a veterinarian.

Urinary Problems

Urinary tract problems are common in all breeds of guinea pigs. The reason is that many eat plants that have too much calcium. The calcium turns to bladder stones in your pet, where they can cause discomfort. Bladder stones can also get lodged in the urethra and cause extreme pain or death. Be on the lookout for bloody urine, a hunched over position, and frequent urination.

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Summary

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this in-depth look at the American guinea pig. This breed is perfect for any household and is a great starter pet. They live long, they’re friendly, trainable, low-maintenance and they don’t bite. It’s hard to beat for a child. If you have found this guide helpful and informative, please share this American guinea pig info on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image: iStominaP, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.