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Caring for Long-haired Peruvian Guinea Pigs
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Caring for Long-haired Peruvian Guinea Pigs

Critter Culture Staff



Long-haired Peruvian Guinea pigs are striking-looking pet rodents that are set apart by their long, silky hair, which may reach up to 14 inches. Looking a little too much like a tribble from Star Trek, these friendly little pigs make good pets and great companions for people who like soft, furry things that never make any trouble. Caring for them is within reach of first-timers, and their hearty constitution makes them decently healthy, low-maintenance pets that are good for kids.


What are long-haired Peruvian Guinea pigs?

personal perspective female hand stroking guinea pig Carol Yepes/ Getty Images

Long-haired Peruvian Guinea pigs are sweet-tempered, active little rodents that can be kept as pets in just about every jurisdiction. Responsibly bred and traded, this variety of Guinea pig is fairly hearty and not prone to illness, demonstrates a reasonable tolerance of environmental stress, and doesn't take up too much space to be a perfect apartment or dorm room pet. They're also pretty good choices for experienced Guinea pig owners and kids just starting out.


What's with the hair?

guinea pig Alexandra Jursova/ Getty Images

Long-haired Peruvian Guinea pigs get their name from their long, flowing locks of fur, which in the adults average 12-14 inches long. That's a lot of hair; nature would never have given it to them in the wild. Instead, humans bred them for this trait over many years. Once a stable point was reached with the lineage, the Peruvian variety was recognized as a breed of its own and now frequently appears in shows.


What do you need to care for them?

small guinea pig on cage Carol Yepes/ Getty Images

Like most Guinea pigs, the Peruvian longhairs need a decent-sized cage. Aim for at least 41" x 27" to start. Line the bottom with some newsprint or other tolerable material, and make sure they have safe toys such as smooth wooden blocks. Acclimate the pigs to handling early on since they need a lot of bathing to keep their coats clean and looking their best.


What do they eat?

The tricolor guinea pig eats food Larysa Prokopova/ Getty Images

Long-haired Peruvian Guinea pigs' diet is similar to that of other Guinea pigs. Make Timothy hay available to them, and supplement it once a day with some fresh vegetables. Aim for around one cup of fresh lettuce or another veg, per pig, per day. Even if they skip it for a day or don't do more than nibble a bit, it's still important to have the option for them.


Are they friendly?

guinea pig just eating from owner hand Carol Yepes/ Getty Images

Long-haired Peruvian Guinea pigs have bubbly personalities and love to be handled by people who know how to do it. They're bright and inquisitive little furballs who like to stick their little noses into things and sniff around, but they have a timid enough personality to avoid getting into major trouble the way ferrets can.


Can kids keep them in their room?

Young girl holding guinea pig in front yard MoMo Productions/ Getty Images

Long-haired Peruvian Guinea pigs are a great choice for keeping in kids' rooms, depending on the kids. While the grooming and care needs of a long-haired Peruvian Guinea pig may be beyond the range of a younger child, a reasonably responsible 12-year-old should be able to manage it with proper instruction. Make sure you check in yourself every week to ensure the pigs' needs are being looked after.


How long do they live?

Close-up image of three, young, female, short hair Abyssinian guinea pigs eating broccoli, indoor enclosure, elevated view, focus on foreground mtreasure/ Getty Images

Guinea pigs have a wide range of potential lifespans, depending on the exact breed and the conditions under which you keep them. A long-haired Peruvian Guinea pig kept and fed properly and with frequent grooming should make it between 3-8 years. The high end of that range is really only achievable for pampered show animals, though the middle range should be possible for just about any careful owner.


What health issues do they have?

Guinea pig eating dandelion absolutimages/ Getty Images

One unique health issue affecting these Guinea pigs is called fly strike. If a long-haired Peruvian Guinea pig is left ungroomed for too long, urine and particles of feces can accumulate in spots on its coat. This attracts flies, which will lay eggs in the long, shaggy coat. The resulting infestation can kill a Guinea pig in just a few days. Make sure your pigs' fur stays clean and watch for flies.


What about cats?

Cat licking a guinea pig Alexandra Jursova/ Getty Images

Like any small, curious little mammal, long-haired Peruvian Guinea pigs may not get along perfectly with every cat. In this case, whether or not it works out really does come down to the cat's personality. If you have an aggressive cat in your home, or if you don't feel like you can trust them, it may be best to either skip the long-haired Peruvian Guinea pigs or keep them locked up safe.


Who should get long-haired Peruvian Guinea pigs?

young female kissing her guinea pig at home Carol Yepes/ Getty Images

Long-haired Peruvian Guinea pigs can make really good pets for families with older children who are ready to take on the responsibility of caring for a pet themselves. They're also great fun for single adults to keep since they like to be handled, and they're not terribly high maintenance. People starting out with Guinea pigs or who have a bit of small-mammal experience already with hamsters are especially good choices for starting with these pets.


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