Everything About American Guinea Pigs

The American guinea pig is as common as you can get. Not to say that there is anything wrong with them, they are just the most common and most popular guinea pig out there. When people picture guinea pigs, they are probably thinking about the American guinea pig. They are a short-haired guinea pig and have a variety of features which make them a great pet (and some would say the perfect pet).

They are one of the oldest breeds in the world, first appearing in around 3000 BC

One of the main reasons that they are so popular is that many pet stores only sell this breed. They are an easy breed to keep and care for and look extremely cute too. They are one of the oldest breeds in the world, first appearing in around 3000 BC (at least, that is the consensus). They were first kept as pets in the mid 16th century. Let’s take a look at how to care for them in the 21st century. 

American Guinea Pig Coat & Looks

This breed is the classic guinea pig with a short, smooth coat. Many guinea pigs will have a slight curl in their coats, but Americans do not. The coats are also relatively fine, shiny, and not too thick. The great thing about American guinea pigs and one thing which makes them popular pets is that they come in a variety of colors.

There are nineteen official American guinea pig colors (according to exhibition guidelines), and there are additional colors which they may also come in. Self Americans are ones which come in a solid color. Brindles are ones which have a dark color and white color intermingled across the body. Tortoiseshells have black and red rectangular patches of color across the body. Dalmatians are white with black spots (just like the dogs). These are only some of the most popular varieties, but there are many others.

How Do I Care For An American Guinea Pig?

One of the reasons why American guinea pigs make such great pets, especially amongst children is down to their short, straight coat. The coat is extremely easy to care for and does not get tangled or matted like some other breeds. This means that you do not need to spend much time grooming them, and younger kids do not get bored or neglectful when caring for the guinea pig.

You should groom them once a week, if only to spend some quality time with them, and check the length of their nails too. If you are grooming an American guinea pig once a week, it is going to take no time at all.

The coat is extremely easy to care for and does not get tangled or matted like some other breeds.

It is important to give you guinea enough room to run around and play in. For American guinea pigs, you do not need a massive cage, but we always recommend that you go as big as you can. If you have the room, then why not get a large cage for them to be happy in. They are also very social creatures, so buying them in pairs is recommended.

A cage 10” x 20” should be enough for one guinea pig, and you should add 20% to the cage size for each additional guinea pig which you purchase.

Other than that, as long as you interact with them and feed them properly, they are a happy and easy to care for breed of guinea pig.

How active are American Guinea Pigs?

All guinea pig breeds are active but especially American guinea pigs. They love to be out of their cages and run around a large area. It is recommended that you give your American guinea pig at least one hour of time to run around outside of their cage, but we are big believers of unlimited playtime so use this number as the absolute minimum. Let them out as often as you can and be in the area with them so that they can interact with you.

They are extremely playful and love to run and hide.

A large pen will give them enough space, but it is a lot more fun to give them free rein of your home (or at least a room in your home). They are extremely playful and love to run and hide. An entire room will give them space to fully express themselves. If you are letting them out into a room, be sure to pig-proof the room first. Remove anything from the floor which you do not want to be chewed or which could be harmful to the guinea pig.

American guinea pigs also love to be outside. Make sure that it is not too cool or hot outdoors before you take them out and be sure to keep them in a shaded area. A large run or pen is ideal for the outdoors but be sure to stay with them. From the sky (and even from the ground), your guinea pig looks like a delicious little treat.

What should I feed my American Guinea Pig?

American guinea pigs eat the same diet as most other guinea pigs. They need a diet rich in hay, supplemented by pellets and fresh vegetables, finished off with lots of fresh, clean water.

You can never give your guinea pig too much hay. Their regular diet should consist of 70% hay, but if they are eating more than that, then that is fine too. Hay will aid their digestive system and also help to wear down their teeth so that they do not get too long. If your guinea pig has eaten through all of their hay, do not be afraid to give them some more.

Giving your guinea pig too many pellets can lead to them gaining weight.

Pellets, unlike hay, should be limited. Giving your guinea pig too many pellets can lead to them gaining weight. If this happens, not only is it detrimental to their health but it can be hard to lose that weight once it is gained. Aim to give your furry friend 1/8 cup of pellets per day.

When it comes to vegetables, leafy vegetables are best. Feed them lots of leafy vegetable tops, lettuce, romaine, parsley, cilantro, and the like. Sweeter vegetables (and fruits) can be given as treats. Sweet stuff (like watermelon and strawberries) can also be used for training your guinea pig.

Give your guinea pig lots of clean, fresh water, topping up the water dish as needed and cleaning it if it ever becomes contaminated.

Healthcare For American Guinea Pigs

American guinea pigs do not suffer from any health problems other than those which are common to all breeds. The most common thing to look for (and one of the easiest to avoid) is teeth which are too long.

If your guinea pig’s teeth do grow too long, then it can be uncomfortable for them, can cause them a lot of mouth pain, and can stop them from eating properly. 

If the teeth grow too long, then a trip to the vet is your best option. Thankfully, you can limit teeth growth by giving them lots of hay. The hay will naturally wear down their teeth, and you should have no problems.

Another common disease is a skin affliction caused by mites. If mites get into the skin, fur can fall out, the skin can become scaly, and your guinea pig could go into a seizure. Thankfully, mites are also easy to treat, so, if you see your guinea pig scratching a lot, then a trip to the vet will get you the right medicine.

The best way to prevent most guinea pig diseases is to clean the cage regularly. If you do that and give them the food they need, then they are going to live long, healthy lives.

American Guinea Pigs As Pets

American guinea pigs make wonderful pets. They are among the most friendly and sociable breed of guinea pig out there. This makes them great pets for children of all ages. They like to socialize and be around people (as well as other guinea pigs) and also do not mind being handled (most of the time). Even small children will be able to pick them up and pet them (though, we always recommend adult supervision).

They are among the most friendly and sociable breed of guinea pig out there.

Being so easy to care for also makes them great pets for children. Children can take care of the pets as their own while adults who cannot be around a lot will also find them an easy pet to have. A lot of time can be taken up with grooming, but that is not an issue with the American guinea pig.

Give them enough room to run around in, socialize with them, and feed them what they need to survive, and you will have a furry friend who loves you.

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Size: Small: ~1-3 pounds
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Temperament: Active & friendly
Cost: ~$25
Yearly Cost: ~$400
 Level: Beginner

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