Himalayan Guinea Pig – The more you know about a pet before you buy it, the better job you will do of caring for it. What food does it like to eat, and what special care does it need to stay happy and healthy?
In the case of the Himalayan guinea pig, you will end up with a pet that is fun to have around, but also one that needs more care than most. This is why we have put together a comprehensive care guide that will ensure you get the very most of out your furry little friend.
Himalayan Guinea Pig Appearance and Health
There are 10 major breeds of guinea pig in the world, with the Himalayan though to be the Siamese cat of the group. While they are not particularly rare, they are incredibly fun to have around. They are easily recognized by their unique appearance, which we will outline below.
The Himalayan guinea pig is derived from the albino breed, and it comes with dark pigment on its ears, nose, and feet. When they are born, Himalayans are completely white, with those pigments coming as it ages.
The darkness and location of the colors depends on the exposure to heat. The cooler parts of the body will get darker coloring, which is why Himalayan guinea pigs that live in warmer climates tend to be lighter in color. There are times when the coloring of the pig may fade, with age, fear, and illness all factors in that.
The body of the Himalayan guinea pig is tube-shaped, with the head being shot and broad, and featuring a convex nose. It has large, droopy ears, and like other albinos, it had bright red eyes.
For the most part, Himalayans are healthy animals, but they are susceptible to sun damage due to being albino. Like most guinea pig breeds, they can experience common issues, such as diarrhea (from eating too many fruits and veggies), in-grown nails, mites, pneumonia, and vitamin C deficiency.
The Unique Elements of the Himalayan Guinea Pig
The biggest difference between the Himalayan guinea pigs and other breeds is that they are albino. They will have the red eyes of an albino, as well as pigmentation on the ears, nose, and feet. That pigmentation starts to develop as the pigs age, with all Himalayans born completely white in color.
Himalayan Guinea Pig Behavior and Temperament
The Himalayan guinea pig tends to be cute and cuddly, and is an animal that enjoys being handled and petted. It is this level of comfort with being handled that makes them a better pet for children than other breeds.
These are very social animals, and that is why they have become a common pet choice. They are very active in the daytime hours, and will make all kinds of funny little noises as they play and explore.
Himalayan guinea pig’s require a cage that gives them plenty of room to move around in. They will also enjoy running free in your home, but they need to be supervised, as they will get into areas that can be harmful for them.
Since Himalayans are social herd animals, it is probably best that they are kept in pairs. Even the most attentive owner will be unable to give them all the attention and companionship they, need, which is why a partner is a good idea. Guinea pigs that are paired with others tend to be happier, healthier and more confident and active.
Himalayan Guinea Pig Life Span
These great little animals require a great deal of attention. It is important that they are always kept indoors, and owners with previous Himalayan experience tend to better understand their needs. With proper care, they can live as long as 10 years, but the average is more likely to be 5-7 years.
Himalayan Guinea Pig Care
A little spot tucked away in a hidden corner of your home is an ideal spot for a guinea pig cage. Light is not their friend, so make it a darker, cozy spot if you want them to be happy. Leaving them in a place with a lot of light will lead to their colors starting to fade over time.
If you love the colors that they display, pay attention to the climate, as these little guys will see those colors darken in colder conditions. Their points will give you an idea of their general health, as well as to whether they are perhaps sick or frightened.
Make sure that the cage you choose has plenty of space inside. Ramps or shelves are not a good idea, as both can trap the feet of a guinea pig. A small box makes for an ideal hiding and sleeping spot, while the open space will allow him to play and exercise as needed.
Cleaning a Himalayan Guinea Pig
You should bathe your Himalayan guinea pig a minimum of once per month. The hair on this breed is quite short, so not a lot of grooming and brushing is required. Regular cage cleanings will help keep your pet happy and healthy.
Feeding a Himalayan Guinea Pig
One of the most commonly asked questions about Himalayans is in regards what they can eat. If you have had another type of guinea pig in the past, you will find that their diets are quite similar.
There are food pellets made specifically for Himalayans, so have those on hand. They can all eat hay, fruit, and vegetables. The pellets are the staple of the diet, while the hay will help with the digestive system of the pig.
While fruits and vegetables are fine, they should be used as snacks or treats only, as too much can lead to diarrhea.
The correct diet is one of the most important elements in caring for a guinea pig. You need to make sure that they get all the vitamin C and proteins they need to be healthy. Since guinea pigs cannot create their own vitamin C, it is important that they get it from grass, as well as fresh veggies and fruit.
When fruits and veggies are out of season, consider adding a vitamin C tablet into their water supply. The tablets will dissolve and be easy for the guinea pigs to ingest, and it will help them maintain their vitamin C levels during the winter months. You cannot overdose a guinea pig on these tablets, as they will expel any of the vitamin C they do not need.
Nutrient-filled snacks are always a great idea. These can include things like parsley, carrots, dandelion greens, romaine lettuce, tomato, spinach, and clover. Thigs to avoid are seeds, dried fruits, and nuts, as these are all potential choking hazards.
As mentioned earlier, hay is an essential part of the diet of your guinea pig. Fresh hay is excellent for the digestive system, and also contains traces of vitamin C. It’s worth spending a little extra to get top quality hay.
Orchard or Timothy grass is also good for the digestive system, whilst also ensuring that the teeth of the guinea pig do not grow too long. Fresh water should be placed in the cage on a daily basis.
This is pretty much all you need to know about properly looking after a Himalayan guinea pig. If you follow the guidelines listed in this piece, you will end up with a healthy happy animal that brings you many years of joy and love. They will reward your care with genuine affection.
Himalayan Guinea Pig Breed
The time may come when you decide that you want to breed your Himalayan guinea pigs. If you decide to go this route, it is important that you are properly prepared, and that you take the time to ensure that each animal goes to a good home. Below are some things that you will need to know about breeding.
Male guinea pigs reach sexual maturity as early as 3 months old. Female guinea pigs get there even sooner, and can be sexually mature at 2 months. Females are fertile throughout the year, but the best chance of them becoming pregnant occur during the spring months.
You can expect females to come into season every 14 days, with the average cycle running 24-48 hours. Both male and female of the species are fertile between 4-10 weeks of age, with a new estrous cycle occurring shortly after birth. Knowing the gender of each animal from the start is crucial to breeding.
You will notice that the female of the species have a flatter appearance with a definite “Y” shape. Males will display a little penis bud that appears to be in the shape of an “I.” It is best to have the male and female housed together until such times as you notice the female begin to fatten up. A firm belly is usually a sure sign that she is pregnant.
Once you have confirmed the pregnancy, the male should be removed from the cage, as there is the possibility that he will kill the little ones when they are born.
Breeding should be done at just the right time for females, with 6-8 months being the perfect age. If you wait till later than then, you run the risk of her having her pelvic bones fuse together, which could prove to be fatal when she is giving birth.
The average gestation period of a guinea pig comes in at around 68-72 days, which is quite long for a small mammal. Litter size can be anywhere from 1-8 pups, but you can usually expect 2-4 pups in a given litter. Females can produce as many as 5 litters per year.
When it is time for the female to give birth, she will often be crowded by males who are looking to become dominant and protect her and breed with her. If there was not a dominant male, all of the guinea pigs would try to breed with her, which can lead to craziness since the postpartum estrus cycle lasts little more than half a day.
Figuring out the gender of the babies at birth can be tough, but a good breeder can usually have it all figured out after a few weeks. When the guinea pigs reach 4 weeks of age, the males should be weaned and removed to a spate hutch so that they cannot impregnate the sow.
You have the option of leaving the females with the sow or putting them into their own hutches. All of them will be ready for their own space when they reach 6 weeks old.
Tackling Pneumonia in Himalayan Guinea Pigs
If you have plans on bringing home a Himalayan guinea pig, you should first talk to a breeder or a vet about the best way to care for these wonderful creatures. This includes gathering information about common ailments that they may be faced with.
One of the more common issues that this breed suffers from in pneumonia, so you need to be able to recognize the signs. This infection arrives quickly and can be deadly if not dealt with as soon as possible.
Signs that your guinea pig may be suffering from pneumonia include lack of appetite, the appearance of being stressed or depressed, frequent sneezing, and an elevated body temperature. If you notice any of these symptoms with your guinea pig, get him to a vet as quickly as possible.
The Himalayan guinea pig may be small, but he is big on love and affection. This explains why the breed is so popular with everyone from first-time pet owners to experienced guinea pig breeders.
They have a friendly disposition, love being handled, and are generally just fun to be around. They will love spending as much time with you as possible, which makes them a perfect pet.