Himalayan guinea pigs are one of the most popular in guinea pig shows. They have white bodies, red eyes, and dark points on their nose, ears, and feet. These cute guinea pigs are born all-white and develop their markings at a few months of age.
In this article, we’ll discuss Himalayan guinea pigs, what they look like, their temperament, and more!
What do Himalayan Guinea Pigs Look Like?
|Special characteristics:||They’re albino and have bright red eyes.|
|Coat color:||White with dark points on the nose, ears, and feet. Their coat color may change based on climate.|
|Size:||8-12 inches on average.|
|Lifespan:||Average lifespan is 5-7, the same as for all guinea pig breeds.|
|Grooming:||No special requirements other than weekly brushing.|
|Rosettes:||They don’t have rosettes (cowlicks).|
Himalayan guinea pigs look similar to Siamese cats. They’re white with dark points on the nose, ears, and feet.
The British Cavy Council describes the colors of these dark points as either jet black or “rich milk chocolate.” The official variations are called black Himalayan or chocolate Himalayan.
Black Himalayans tend to have a brighter white coloring, while chocolate Himalayans might be more of an off-white color.
Interestingly, a Himalayan’s coat color may change based on climate. In cold weather, their bodies tend to become more pigmented, while their pigment can fade in very hot weather.
Of course, we want to always house our guinea pigs in moderate temperatures—if it’s very hot or cold where you live, your piggies should be kept in an indoor, temperature-controlled area.
Because they’re albino, Himalayan guinea pigs have red eyes. Baby Himalayan piggies have no dark points and are all-white. The points develop by the time the guinea pig is a few months old.
How Big do Himalayan Guinea Pigs Get?
Himalayan guinea pigs typically measure around 8-12 inches, the same as most other guinea pig breeds. They weigh around 1.5-2.5 pounds, or 680-1130 grams.
It’s often good for guinea pigs to weigh a bit more than average, as they can drop weight very quickly when they become ill. Some extra grams can keep them going while you and your veterinarian figure out what’s wrong!
So, don’t go putting piggy on a diet if they weigh more than listed above—in general, the only guinea pig food you ever want to restrict is their pellets.
If you do have a concern, talk to your veterinarian to determine what you should be feeding daily. It’s possible you’re feeding too many sugary treats, such as fruit or carrots, and need to substitute with more dark, leafy greens, for example.
How to Groom a Himalayan Guinea Pig
Himalayan guinea pigs aren’t high-maintenance when it comes to grooming. They need their nails trimmed regularly, and brushing their coat around once a week will help to distribute oils, keeping it healthy. Brushing the coat can also remove debris that gets caught in the fur.
Don’t bathe your guinea pig unless necessary, and no more than 3-4 times a year. Some guinea pigs can go their entire lives without a bath!
Himalayan guinea pigs have the same temperament as most guinea pigs. They are prey animals, thus can be timid and fearful of humans. Some guinea pigs like to be pet and held, while others prefer their humans look but don’t touch!
Guinea pigs prefer to be approached from the side, rather than from above—as reaching into their cage from above mimics a hawk swooping them up from the sky.
The best way to a guinea pigs’ heart is with food! They are constantly eating to keep their digestive system moving, and can be quite food-obsessed.
Luckily, guinea pigs are also quite gentle creatures. Anything with teeth can bite, especially when startled or handled improperly. However, guinea pigs are less likely to nip than many of the other rodents we keep as pets.
Where Can I Find a Himalayan Guinea Pig?
From a Rescue or Shelter
The best place to find a Himalayan guinea pig is from a shelter or rescue. Though it’ll take more looking, this is the most responsible way to adopt a new piggy.
If you haven’t yet, look into guinea pig-specific rescues in your area. They’ll be the best place to look, as they likely have hundreds of piggies waiting for new homes!
Avoid Pet Stores and Most Breeders
Never adopt a guinea pig from a pet store, as they source their guinea pigs from breeding mills. These are similar to puppy mills, but for other animals like guinea pigs.
Breeding mills put many guinea pigs together in tight enclosures, allowing them to breed at random. They don’t mind if animals die in their care—or if they die in your care due to poor genetics, being treated improperly as babies, or catching an illness while in their crowded facilities.
Most Himalayan guinea pig breeders you’ll find won’t be ethical either. Unfortunately, it’s rare to find a guinea pig breeder who knows what they’re doing and is in it for the betterment of the breed.
Even with good intentions, it’s easy to breed sick guinea pigs, keep them in substandard conditions, or even hurt the mother while breeding her, if the breeder doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Finding a Reputable Himalayan Guinea Pig Breeder
Reputable breeders are few and far between. I don’t generally recommend this as an option, not because I’m against reputable breeders, but because you’re very unlikely to find one–but you are likely to find many backyard breeders.
Reputable breeders don’t breed many guinea pigs, and they don’t profit from breeding. It takes a passionate person to put the time and care into breeding properly, raising baby guinea pigs, and finding them good homes.
Here’s what to look for in a reputable Himalayan guinea pig breeder:
- A waiting list. You should never be able to adopt a guinea pig same-day. Reputable breeders find homes for their piggies before they’re born and have waiting lists for potential adopters.
- They know about guinea pigs. They should be knowledgeable about the Himalayan breed, breeding guinea pigs, and raising them. A reputable breeder follows and recommends proper care, such as properly sized cages, a healthy diet, and always keeping two or more guinea pigs to meet their social needs.
- You can meet them at home. The guinea pigs should be kept in an adequate cage size of 7.5 square feet or greater, depending on how many are kept in each cage. It should be clean with a large amount of fresh hay available at all times.
- They only offer one breed. A breeder with two litters isn’t necessarily a deal breaker—but if they have a bunch of breeds listed on a website, you’re definitely not dealing with a reputable breeder.
Consider how many guinea pigs they can properly care for, including large cages, monitoring the piggies for signs of health problems, and vet costs! If it doesn’t feel possible, chances are the guinea pigs aren’t properly cared for.
- A return policy. A reputable breeder will take a guinea pig back for any reason, at any point in the piggy’s life. They will make you sign a contract stating that, should you ever need to rehome your guinea pigs, they go right back to the breeder.
This shows that they care for their animals and don’t want to see them left in a shelter!
- DNA testing. Without DNA testing, your breeder doesn’t know if they’re breeding healthy guinea pigs. They should be checking for the satin trait, roan gene, and Dalmatian gene—all of which can cause a piggy to pass down deadly genetic illnesses. (Namely, Satin Syndrome and lethal white guinea pigs).
These traits are recessive, meaning a guinea pig can have them without appearing to!
- Health records. Your breeder should see a veterinarian regularly—at least once a year for a wellness visit, and more often when they’re pregnant. They should also be able to advise you on a good exotics veterinarian to bring your own piggies to!
Where do Himalayan Guinea Pigs Come From?
Like all guinea pigs, Himalayan piggies originated in South America. Guinea pigs were first bred for meat, but luckily, Himalayans today are mostly bred as pets.
Although some people assume that Himalayan guinea pigs are from Asia, due to their name, they’re actually named for their similarities to Siamese cats (which are actually from Thailand).
Himalayan guinea pigs are cute as a button, just like Rex, Texel, or any other guinea pig breed! If you want to adopt, be sure to do so responsibly and not support unethical breeding. Expect similar behaviors, diet, and lifespan to any other guinea pig breed.