General Overview :
Cavies, more commonly known as guinea pigs, make an excellent small pet due to his lovable gentle nature. They are generally a low maintenance pet and when fully grown are 20-26cm long, 10 cm tall and weigh from 0.5-1.5 kgs. Being small they are easy to keep in a small backyard and are preferably kept in a secure hutch to protect them from predators. His short body and limbs are not designed for climbing or jumping and a distinctive feature of the cavy is that he has no tail. A well looked after healthy cavy can live for up to 7 years.
There are three basic kinds of domestic cavies:
- Abyssinian : Has a harsh wirey coat and the hair swirls like cowlicks over the body of the cavy.
- American or English : Has a shorthaired smooth coat.
- Peruvian : The coat is silky, straight and long. The coat is parted down the spine and can grow very long with care. The maintenance of the Peruvian is higher and he should be brushed daily and washed regularly to keep him in good condition.
They come in a variety of colours :
- Agouti : This is named after a South American rodent. The Agouti can be golden, silver and cinnamon. In all of them the tip and the base of each hair is black, with the defined colour being the middle bar.
- Self : Is a solid colour coat and they come in a range of colours which include black, white, chocolate, cream, golden, beige, red, blue and lilac.
There are a variety of hair markings including :
- Dutch : The cheeks, ears and hindquarter are a basic or self colour. There is an underlying background of white that forms a band around the middle and they have a wedged strip "blaze" down the front of their face.
- Himalayan : The coat is pure white and the nose, feet and ears are marked with colour or "points". The points can vary from pale buff to dark brown or black.
- Tortoiseshell and White : The coat is a patchwork of black, red and white. A well marked tortoiseshell and white should have between six and ten black, red and white square patches.