When we see the word “albino,” we often think of white hair/coat and reddish eyes. Your guess is right – the Himalayan Guinea Pig is an albino variety that you might find when you’re looking for a great guinea pig to raise for your own.
But what exactly are their traits and temperament? What do they eat? Do they make great pets? Where do they come from?
To help you understand more about the Himalayan Guinea Pig, we’ve written an article just for you. This includes information about this breed of guinea pig that will help you find if it is the right pet for you.
Subsequently, if you already own a Himalayan Guinea Pig, it will help you raise them properly.
A Little History
Guinea pigs have been one of the best pocket pets for many years due to their ease of maintenance. They are typically ideal for homes with limited space for bigger pets (such as dogs or cats).
Like dogs and cats, guinea pigs also have a variety of breeds to choose from. One such breed is the Himalayan Guinea Pig, which is considered to be quite rare. If you ever want to find this breed in a shelter or a breeder, you might have a slightly difficult time.
So, where did the Himalayan Guinea Pig come from? It turns out that their origins aren’t obvious, so we can’t say that they are exactly from the Himalayans.
Some say that they are from Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, while others argue that they come from South America – the latter is more believed today.
Today, the Himalayan Guinea Pig is an officially-recognized breed by various cavy clubs in America and the United Kingdom (and perhaps worldwide).
Since they are albinos, they will have pinkish-red eyes and a white, fluffy coat. However, they have a brown or black set of feet, ears, and nose. This is why they are somehow related to the Siamese Cat in terms of coat color and appearance.
Length: 8 to 12 inches
Weight: 2 to 2.6 pounds (male), 1.5 to 2 pounds (female)
Compared to the regular guinea pig, the Himalayan is more of a stocky breed, meaning they have thicker body parts, such as shoulders. This makes them even fluffier in appearance aside from their white coat.
As mentioned above, you’ll spot a Himalayan Guinea Pig if they have an overall white color with brown or black nose, feet, and ears, similar to that of a Siamese Cat.
However, due to their pinkish-red eyes and white coat, they are an albino breed and are susceptible to eye problems, which is why they might get sensitive to sunlight.
Temperament and Behavior
The temperament of a Himalayan Guinea Pig varies depending on how they were raised. Here are some key personalities that you’ll find in them:
If you are looking for a great family pet despite having kids at home, a Himalayan Guinea Pig is a great choice for you.
They can provide hours of fun and entertainment while also teaching children how to be responsible pet owners at a young age. If you give them lots of TLC and proper care, a Himalayan Guinea Pig can be a loving pet for the entire family.
2. Love to play around
Due to its playful nature, the Himalayan Guinea Pig is a great pet to keep with a lot of energy. They’ll have almost endless vigor, so you’ll need to set up a cage with plenty of toys and hiding spots.
This will also work well if they have other guinea pigs to play with inside the cage. You may also want to try having a cage with multiple levels so they can practice running up and down.
With proper training, a Himalayan Guinea Pig can also get out of their cage to play outside (though it takes some time for them to be trained to get back).
When you do this, don’t ever chase them just to go to their cage – let them come to you naturally because they have a naturally-avoidant personality due to their nature as prey in the wild.
3. Sociable in groups
A Himalayan Guinea Pig is like any other guinea pig (or animal, for that matter), in such that they like to be with others to keep them from getting lonely or bored.
They enjoy the company of other guinea pigs, regardless of breed, so if you are planning to raise multiple guinea pigs, it’s best to buy or adopt them all at the same time to avoid having to adjust to one another.
4. Can get easily startled
Since we did mention that guinea pigs are prey animals by nature, the Himalayan Guinea Pig can be a bit easily startled. It takes a lot of training and getting used to before they can open up to their owners.
They will get scared with sudden noises, so you have to teach your kids how to be careful when dealing with them so they won’t feel threatened.
Moreover, another factor that can keep them comfortable if they get startled all of a sudden is to have a safe hiding spot.
In their cage, you can provide your Himalayan Guinea Pig a bunch of hiding areas such as tunnels and tubes, which can also serve as their playground should they want a round of hiding and seek with their owner(s) or their fellow guinea pigs inside.
How long does a Himalayan Guinea Pig live?
The Himalayan Guinea Pig can live somewhere between 5 to 7 years depending on various factors, such as the following:
- Their living conditions, especially before adoption or being sold by a breeder
- Their genetic history
- How much medical attention they get
- The right kind of food and proper feeding intervals
- The environment they’re being raised in
Caring for a Himalayan Guinea Pig
So, how exactly do you care for a Himalayan Guinea Pig? Here are some key pointers when it comes to grooming, food, and the like.
Since a Himalayan Guinea Pig is a short-haired pet, they only need a couple of brushing sessions – about 2 times a week is okay. The main purpose of grooming your guinea pig is to keep their coat away from debris that will make their skin feel itchy.
As mentioned above, a Himalayan Guinea Pig is an albino type, which means that it has a high likelihood of skin problems due to lack of pigment.
If you can clean their coat and skin properly and regularly, they will be less susceptible to skin irritation and problems.
Parasites can also be found when you regularly brush your guinea pig. You can also consult your vet if your guinea pig develops skin problems.
Aside from that, regularly brushing your guinea pig will also increase their affection towards you. When you develop this brushing activity into a habit, they will feel more comfortable and less scared of people, especially their owners.
Trimming the nails of your guinea pig is also important because they can’t do it naturally while in captivity.
When in the forest, guinea pigs can find natural ways to trim their nails by rubbing off rough surfaces, but that’s not the case when you keep them as pets in a cage. That’s why their nails should be frequently inspected and properly trimmed to avoid infections.
A Himalayan Guinea Pig eats similar food to all other regular guinea pig breeds (and most of the pocket pets). They’ll need hay and veggies because they are herbivores.
Fortunately, there are many pellets and guinea pig-appropriate food in most pet stores online and around your local area.
Timothy hay is recommended for your guinea pig. Aside from their staple food, they should also get access to clean water. The water bottle should also be easy to access and should be made with pet-safe materials.
If you want to feed your guinea pig fresh vegetables, you can do so with lettuce, carrots, and parsley. Just make sure you feed them regular lettuce and not the iceberg type because that one doesn’t give your guinea pig any nutritional value.
As for treats, when rewarding your guinea pig, you can feed them some fruits, such as strawberries, bananas, and apples. When feeding apples, make sure the seeds are removed to avoid causing digestive upsets to your pet.
You can feed them only occasionally because they are not meant to be the main course for your guinea pig.
Shelter, Bedding, and Toys
A Himalayan Guinea Pig will benefit from a larger hutch or cage, whether you decide to keep it outside or indoors. They need a lot of room to play around so that they won’t feel cramped, especially if you have more than one guinea pig around.
Since the Himalayan Guinea Pig is sensitive to light, it’s best to place them in low-light areas and away from sunlight and the elements.
Ensure that the Himalayan Guinea Pig gets decent access to their food and water when in their cage. Always check their food bowl and their water bottle to make sure they get sufficient food and drinks every single day.
Moreover, when it comes to sleeping, the Himalayan Guinea Pig is no different from any guinea pig such that they need comfortable bedding.
Timothy hay is the best choice for creating bedding (and chewing food) for your guinea pig, so long as it is kept fresh.
If you want to keep your guinea pig entertained, they should also have some hiding boxes, toys, and various other items inside the cage or hutch. Make sure these items are pet-friendly since a guinea pig likes to chew into things.
It is recommended to clean their cage or hutch at least once a week. You should replace the hay as well and add fresh food and water for them.
Moreover, when you clean the pet cage and toys, do not use household cleaning products as they could harm your pet. Just scrub with water, and it will be just fine.
Health Concerns of a Himalayan Guinea Pig
The Himalayan Guinea Pig, like all guinea pigs, lack vitamin C, so they need a lot of fruits and veggies in their diet. Make sure that their vegetables are fresh so that they won’t get into digestive upsets.
Aside from that, many ready-made pellet food meant for guinea pigs have a lot of vitamin C.
A Himalayan Guinea Pig greatly needs vitamin C due to its health concerns. Since they have sensitive skin due to being an albino guinea pig, they need a lot of vitamin C to protect them from skin issues.
Among problems that could occur in a guinea pig include parasites and bumblefoot.
To keep your guinea pig healthy, make sure they pay regular visits to the vet, especially if you spot them scratching intensively and if their skin quality decreases or has sores. To do this, you should groom them regularly to be able to check their skin and coat.
Finding a Himalayan Guinea Pig
A Himalayan Guinea Pig can be found in most breeders and less frequently in shelters. That’s because they’re an albino breed, so they’ll need to come from a family or lineage that has the albinism gene to give them the white coat and reddish-pink eyes.
If you do want to have a Himalayan Guinea Pig for a pet, be sure to prepare yourself for frequent trips to the vet due to its sensitive skin, coat, and eyes.
Like most albino animals, they’ll be more susceptible to irritation and need extra care. However, such physical hindrances are just based on their lack of pigment due to genetics and won’t affect their temperament.
Overall, the Himalayan Guinea Pig is an excellent family pet, especially with kids. They are lovable and are not high in maintenance, but they do need a lot of room and toys to play with.
With the right food, exercise, and care, they’ll spend their lives with you healthily and happily.