Known for their short limbs, dainty ears, large heads, and long bodies, guinea pigs are some of the most loved rodents in the world.
Domesticated as early as 3,000 years ago in Peru, standard guinea pigs also became popular in Europe in the 1500s.
Though guinea pigs come from South America, they have spread all across the world, and there are now several breeds with varying characteristics such as hair length, color, and size.
Perhaps one of the most striking and interesting breeds is the Himalayan guinea pig.
Because of their coloration, with white fur and brown detail on their ears, nose, and feet, the Himalayan guinea pig is often referred to as the Siamese cat of guinea pigs, and this is also how they get their name.
Though they are not Siamese, or from the Himalayas, they are quite fascinating creatures, and there are many interesting things guinea pig parents should know about them.
Himalayan Guinea Pig Facts
Himalayan guinea pigs are born white.
When baby Himalayan guinea pigs are born, they have zero pigmentation on their hair. However, as they age, they start to develop the brown and blackish coloring along their feet, nose, and ears.
They are technically albino.
Since Himalayan guinea pigs have white hair and red eyes, they are considered albino creatures even though they have black and brown patches on their hair.
Albinism refers to having very little or no pigmentation on the skin and hair. While there may not be any completely white albino guinea pigs, the Himalayan guinea pig is the closest there is.
Because they are albino and sensitive to the sun, they will do well in areas with limited sun exposure.
Himalayan guinea pigs change color even when they’re older.
Himalayan guinea pigs are temperature sensitive. If a Himalayan guinea pig is exposed to less sunlight and colder temperatures, their colorations will likely be darker. However, if they are exposed to warmer temperatures with more sun, their spots will lighten or fade.
You might be thinking that this is a cool feature, but Himalayan guinea pigs can also change color if there is something wrong. If a Himalayan guinea pig is stressed or is not being fed the proper nutrients, their black and brown colors will begin to fade.
Himalayan guinea pigs are very social.
In the wild, guinea pigs live in herds. Himalayan guinea pigs can become lonely, stressed, and sad if they don’t have any cage mates.
It’s important to have at least 2 guinea pigs in a cage to ensure that they are properly socialized and happy. You also don’t need to worry about the breed of guinea pigs that you get as any breed can be paired with a Himalayan guinea pig.
Himalayan guinea pigs are very expressive.
While all guinea pigs squeak and make noise when they are happy, eating, or communicating, Himalayan guinea pigs seem to really enjoy using their voices.
If these piggies get upset, they will often click their teeth at you or at their cage mates. In addition, they will have different sounding squeaks for when they’re scared or annoyed.
Are Himalayan Guinea Pigs Rare?
It is unclear how rare Himalayan guinea pigs are. As they are considered albino, they do have a tendency to be more fragile than other breeds.
However, they are still quite common as their coloration and personality is often sought.
How Big Do Himalayan Guinea Pigs Get?
The biggest guinea pig, the Rex guinea pig, can grow up to 17 inches, and the smaller breeds, like Texel and American guinea pigs, are usually around 9 to 10 inches long.
Our lovely Himalayan guinea pigs are actually average-sized piggies. Though they are stocky, broad, and slightly muscular, these guinea pigs only grow to be around 8 inches to 12 inches.
Their size and weight really depend on their environment and nutrition.
Piggies, who are smaller as babies, will not naturally grow as large as their bigger siblings. As guinea pigs nurse when they’re young, the smaller piggies have more trouble getting their share of their mother’s milk because of their size.
Beyond that, if Himalayan guinea pigs are fed properly and given a lot of space to roam, they can grow larger.
Himalayan Guinea Pig Lifespan
Like other small rodents, guinea pigs, Himalayan guinea pigs included, only live for about 4 to 8 years. As with their size and weight, the Himalayan guinea pig’s lifespan can vary depending on their environment and their nutrition.
In the wilds of South America, guinea pigs would feed on leaves and grasses as well as fruits and vegetables. Domesticated guinea pigs do have a similar diet.
In cages, guinea pigs are usually fed hay and pellets. Himalayan guinea pigs also need vegetables with high fiber content like lettuce, broccoli, and kale to make sure they are properly digesting the hay and pellets.
Vitamin C is also a crucial nutrient for guinea pigs. As guinea pigs, in general, are not able to produce vitamin C on their own, they are prone to vitamin C deficiency.
Vitamin C deficiency can cause a lot of problems for Himalayan guinea pigs. They may have poor hair quality, diarrhea, and lack of appetite as well as swelling of their mouths and enlarged joints.
Because most guinea pig foods have been specially formulated to include enough vitamin C, it’s very unlikely that your guinea pig will suffer from this deficiency. However, vitamin C deficiency can lead to death if it’s not caught in time.
Though it’s unlikely, guinea pig parents need to make sure that they are providing their guinea pigs with a steady supply of foods that are rich in vitamin C.
Supplementing their diet with red and green peppers, kiwi fruit, and broccoli, including the leave and stalks, can ensure your guinea pig is getting the proper nutrition.
In addition to the proper diet, your Himalayan guinea pig will need the right environment. Guinea pigs need a lot of space. It’s generally recommended that you give around 10 feet for two guinea pigs.
This space will allow them to get the proper exercise and explore for enrichment. Lack of space could cause obesity, which can cause other health issues that decrease a Himalayan guinea pig’s life span.
In addition to their environment, they need stable temperatures. Himalayan guinea pigs, like other guinea pigs, are delicate when it comes to temperature changes in their environment.
They are prone to heatstroke and sunstroke as well, so it’s important to make sure their cages don’t have a lot of direct sunlight.
It’s also necessary to make sure that guinea pigs don’t get too cold. Since they come from the mountains of South America where the temperature tends to be moderate, it’s best to make sure that your guinea pig is in an environment that’s around 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
As mentioned earlier, Himalayan guinea pigs are fairly social creatures, and they will flourish if they are in groups. This is good for their longevity as they will be happier in this setting.
Along with social needs, proper nutrition, and an enriching environment, guinea pigs need to stay clean. While Himalayan guinea pigs are very good at cleaning themselves, it’s up to guinea pig parents to make sure that their bedding in the cage is changed regularly.
Guinea pigs tend to keep up with their own hygiene, but you might have to bathe them once every three months or so.
By maintaining good mental and physical health, the lifespan of the Himalayan guinea pig can be quite long.
Himalayan Guinea Pig Price
Himalayan guinea pig prices are pretty similar to that of other guinea pigs. For the guinea pigs themselves (as you’ll need to get at least two of these social critters), a guinea pig parent can expect to pay around $20-60.
There are often guinea pigs, even Himalayan guinea pigs, in shelters. Their adoption fees tend to be about $50, which would cover the costs of their care while at the shelter and help care for other pets in the future.
In addition to buying the actual animal, guinea pig parents have to factor in the prices for food, cages, and bedding for their Himalayan guinea pig. As mentioned previously, a pair of guinea pigs should have at least 10 feet to roam.
For a 10 foot cage, you can expect to pay over $50. For food, depending on the size of the bag, you can pay anywhere from $10 to $30 whenever your piggies need more food.
As for other supplies, like bedding, toys, and obstacles, you can pay another $30.
The Himalayan guinea pig is one of the more fascinating breeds of guinea pig in the world. With a playful and social personality and delicate skin, these piggies need quality care, a lot of vitamin C, and little exposure to the sun.