First of all, why should you choose guinea pigs?
Guinea pigs make wonderful pets, even for children as young as 5 years old. Adult guinea pigs weigh 2 to 4 pounds, which makes them easier to handle than larger pets, and if given good care they may live 5 to 7 years. a
Guinea pigs also have very good temperaments. They are not as likely to bite as hamsters, mice, gerbils, and other rodents kept as pets. They also do not have the annoying, strong, musky odours for which other rodents are known and they are not particularly inclined to climb, jump, or chew.
Guinea pigs are strictly herbivorous, which means plant-eating. They have a continuous breeding season, though they do not breed as often as other rodents. At birth, guinea pigs can see and hear, have a full coat of hair, have teeth, and are able to walk and nibble at food within hours.
Before bringing a guinea pig home, you'll want to make sure it's the right one. Although this is usually a choice of the heart, here are a few tips that will help guide you through the selection process.
But, which breed of guinea pig to choose?
Probably the most important thing you need to decide is how much time you have for grooming. This will help determine which breed of guinea pig you should choose with their distinctive characteristics of markings, texture, type, size, and coat pattern. At present, there are 11 recognized breeds of guinea pigs.
American Guinea Pigs
The American guinea pig is the most common breed available. It is also the easiest to groom, with a short and smooth coat that lies close to the skin. Grooming is as simple as rubbing its hair from head to rump with your hand.
Abyssinian Guinea Pigs
The Abyssinian guinea pig is not as common as the American. The coat of the Abyssinian is short but wiry and has a distinct growth pattern - its hair grows in whorls and ridges that stick out from its body. The whorls are called rosettes. On a good, showable Abyssinian, these rosettes require some special grooming procedures that can take a little time.
Peruvian Guinea Pigs
A Peruvian guinea pig has a long, smooth coat. Its hair grows from the shoulders, parting down the middle of its back and spreading over the sides and rump and over its head and face. If you can't tell the front from the back, you're probably looking at a good Peruvian. The Peruvian's long hair takes a great deal of time to care for even when the guinea pig is still young.
Silkie Guinea Pigs
The Silkie guinea pig also has a long, smooth coat, but its head and face are not covered by its long hair, and there is no part down the middle of its back. The Silkie needs to have its hair wrapped often and to be bathed and blow-dried.
Teddy Guinea Pigs
The Teddy is a very popular breed of guinea pig. It has a short wiry, kinky coat that sticks out from its body. Its coat has a very plush feeling, much like a good stuffed teddy bear. Routine grooming of this breed is as simple as rubbing the hair backward from rump to head, but deep cleaning with combs and brushes takes more time.
White Crested Guinea Pigs
The White Crested guinea pig has a short, smooth coat much like the American, with a single white rosette on the forehead. Grooming a White Crested is similar to grooming the American, though a little extra care is needed for the single rosette.
Satin Guinea Pig Breeds
There are also American Satin, Abyssinian Satin, Peruvian Satin, Silkie Satin, and Teddy Satin breeds of guinea pigs. Satins are just like the above-mentioned breeds, except that they have a hollow hair shaft that gives their hair a wonderful sheen. Satins' grooming needs are the same as their like named non-Satin counterparts.
Guinea Pig Crossbreeds
Crossbreeds are guinea pigs whose parents are of different breeds. Crossbreeds do not reproduce young with their distinct characteristics of markings, texture, type, size, or coat pattern. Crossbreed guinea pigs may have long hair, short hair, or an unusual combination of hair growth.