Are you thinking about adding an alpaca guinea pig to your family? If so, you’re in for a treat. These little creatures are adorable and make great pets.
In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about the alpaca breed. We’ll discuss their personality traits, care requirements, and more.
So, read on for all the information you need before bringing an alpaca guinea pig into your home.
What is an Alpaca Guinea Pig?
Its pretty obvious where the Alpaca Guinea Pig gets their name from, they look just like Alpaca’s. (not as big obviously!)
You may not have come across them before ( I’ve still yet to see one in real life!), they’re one of the rarest breeds.
They often get mistaken for the Texel breed and are very similiar to the Merino and Lunkarya.
This is because the Alpaca Guinea Pigs fur is often curly and long. The main difference is that their fur is very coarse.
Interestingly according to the American Cavy Breeders Association, the Alpaca Guinea pig is not a recognised breed.
Although the British Cavy Council, along with other breeding clubs do believe it is.
Since they’re long haired guinea pigs they do need to eat a special diet and must br groomed every day. This prevents the fur from getting stuck together.
The Alpaca Guinea Pig should also be an indoor breed, because of their long fur.
What Does An Alpaca Guinea Pig Look Like?
The fur of an alpaca guinea pig is what makes it really stand out.
Imagine an alpaca, then imagine it the size of a guinea pig. There you go, thats pretty much what they look like.
The fur is often long, coarse and incredibly wavy.
When you touch their fur its often springy.
They are quite high maintenance, as they do need to be brushed every single day.
In terms of colour, they do come in a wide range of colors and are usually oval in shape.
Temperament of an Alpaca Guinea Pig
If your look for a pet thats affectionate and friendly, the Alpaca guinea pig might be ideal. They love to be cuddled and are pretty easy to pick up and handle.
Now is worth noting that they do have individual personality. So some are more friendly than others.
They also get on with other guinea pigs in the cage, making them very sought after.
Like with any guinea pig, they may bite if they’re hurt or scared.
It’s important that you do try and hold them daily, so they get used to being with you.
Are They Good With Children?
The Alpaca Guinea Pig are not only good with children but the entire family. They are very friendly and make a great family pet.
Like other Guinea Pigs, the Alpaca is very smart and can often learn certain tricks.
Someone does need to make sure they’re groomed every day.
Do They Get On With Other Pets?
Like with other Guinea Pigs, they are prey animals. So at first they might be very scared of other animals.
The Alpaca Guinea Pig is however very friendly and will get on with other animals. As long as they are a similar size.
So if you have a small animal such as a rabbit or hamster, they can make a great cage mate.
They’re more than happy sharing their cage with other animals, as they’re not hostile or territorial.
Caring For Your Alpaca Guinea Pig
As mentioned the lifespan for an Alpaca Guinea Pig is usually 4-6 years. By caring for them properly, they could live longer than that. Below are some tips on how best to care for them.
Food & Diet
It can be a bit scary when you get your guinea pig home for the first time, wondering what to feed them.
Luckily like any other cavies, the Alpaca Guinea Pig is very easy to look after.
The main bulk of their diet (around 80%) would be from a hay known as timothy hay. They should always have access to this hay in their cage.
I then add in some vegetables to help give them the extra Vitamin C. This is usually lettuce with some coloured veg as an added treat.
I find that 50g of veg in the morning and then 50g in the afternoon works out really well.
Finally they’ll want some pellet food. I usually give my guinea pigs 50g at night.
You can also give them some yummy treats. These additional vegetables or fruits are great as they help to give them much more Vitamin C and other nutrients that they wouldn’t usually get.
It is however important that these are only given every so often as a treat, since they have a high amount of sugar. This can impact their digestion and overall weight.
Guinea pigs usually only sleep for 4 hours per day, most of the time this is in 10 minute bursts. So they’re very active animals.
Guinea Pigs need plenty of exercise, and Alpaca guinea pigs are no different.
You want to be able to ensure that they have plenty of space to be able to run around. This is essential for their overall health.
Below are some suggestions to help provide them with the needed exercise.
Space to Exercise
I mentioned before that Guinea Pigs need space, this is both inside and outside the cage.
It’s important to try and give them as much space to run around as possible. So have a think about what space they have outside of the cage.
We use a pen, which gives them much more space to run around and play. If you do have other pets then you need to make sure it’s safe from them. You can often get them with roofs on.
Even though Alpaca guinea pigs should not be kept outside, they can play outside if the pen is secure.
Activities and Toys
One way to help your Alpaca guinea pig get plenty of exercise is by giving them toys or fun activities. Hide treats to encourage them to move things around. Add some hay into a tube.
There are lots of snacks and fun things you can get from your local pet store.
Multiple Guinea Pigs
You should never just have one guinea pig, they are a social animal. Alpaca guinea pigs are the same.
Having several will allow them to play with each other, running around and chasing each other around the cage. This will certainly help them burn off some stored energy.
If you decide to get an Alpaca Guinea Pig, you do need to be prepared to keep them well groomed.
Compared to other cavies, they do require a lot more grooming.
This is because of them being long haired.
You need to dedicate time every day. It might sound like a lot, but it is worth it.
If this is your first guinea pig, you might want to get a different breed. Alpaca Guinea Pigs are best suited to those with a little experience.
Below are some things to think about when grooming them.
Brush Them Daily
Since they do have long hair, their fur can become tangled. To prevent this, you want to brush your alpaca guinea pig every day.
Millie and Molly love to be groomed, just remain relaxed and gentle brush their fur.
Give Them a Bath
Short haired guinea pigs dont usually need a bath very often. You can normally get away with bathing them once or maybe twice per year.
In some cases you may never actually need to bath them.
This is not the case with Alpaca guinea pigs….
Since they’ve got long hair, you need to give them a little extra cleaning. It’s very easy for droppings or urine to collect on their fur.
With this breed you might want to bath them once every 4 months. Although keep an eye on them and if you think their getting dirty then give them a clean.
Trim Their Fur
Since they’re a long hair breed, the coat can get incredibly long. Over time it might start touching the ground and collecting dirt.
You will therefore want to give their coat a little trim to keep it clean and tidy.
You can often find very good pet groomers that will be able to do this for you.
Potential Health Conditions
Like any guinea pig, as long as you keep your Alpaca healthy then they will usually live up to 6-8 years. (In some cases its been even longer).
There are some common health conditions that Guinea Pigs can get.
Pneumonia is very common and not just in Alpaca guinea pigs but all cavies.
Symptoms are not always showing, even if the guinea pig has had it for many years.
If you notice your guinea pig is not eating, problems breathing or discharge from the eye, you’ll want to take them to a vet.
Diarrhoea is very common in guinea pigs. If they have it for more than a day then you’ll want to seek medical attention.
The main problem with diarrhoea is that it can dehydrate them very quickly.
It’s very common because like other cavies, Alpaca guinea pigs digestion is easily unbalanced.
Something as small as a change in their diet or water can cause it.
Scurvy is very common in guinea pigs as they do not produce their own Vitamin C. This happens when there is not enough Vitamin C in their system.
Since they do not produce it, the only Vitamin C they get is from the food you feed them.
Feed them plenty of green leafy foods as well as combining with vegetables and fruits as a treat.
You should take your guinea pig to the vet if they have diarrhoea, tired a lot or have a rough coat.
Guinea pigs are very sensitive to temperatures and it can be very common for them to overheat.
Alpaca guinea pigs can suffer from this a lot, due to their long coat.
It’s important to make sure they don’t get too hot by keeping them away from radiators and direct sunlight.
They’re usually pretty good at keeping themselves cool, but it makes it harder if their cage is positioned next to a heat source.
You will need to get them to a vet if you notice that they have gotten too hot. Signs of this include;
- Increased Breathing
- Eyes Aways Closed
Since we need to add more Vitamin C to our cavies diet, there is a risk that we introduce too much calcium.
If they have a high calcium diet then this can often cause bladder stones.
These can get stuck in your Alpaca Guinea Pigs Urinary tract, which can cause pain and in some cases death.
If they are urinated a lot or look as though they’re in pain, get them checked out by a vet.
Training Your Alpaca Guinea Pig
One of the great things about Alpaca Guinea Pigs (and other cavies) is just how clever they are.
It takes very little effort to train them to do simple things. Exercise is really important and training them can help give them some of the exercises.
Plus its a great way for you to bond with your Alpaca Guinea Pig
Below are a couple of things you could try, just remember to give them treats to train them when they do something right.
Using A Litter Box
Guinea pigs will often use the same place in the cage to urinate and poo. This makes training them to use a litter box a fairly simple task.
You cannot just place a little box in the cage and hope they’ll understand, you need to train them.
The best way to do this is to put in some of their droppings and hay into the litter box.
They’ll know that this is where they’ve been before and hopefully go into the litter box and urinate or poo. When they do, give them a treat.
Continue doing this and eventually they’ll go without expecting a treat.
It sure makes keeping the cage clean a lot easier.
Getting Them To Stand Up
Did you know you can train your guinea pig to stand, just like you can with dogs?
Get the treat and hold it above their head, they will stand up on their back legs to get it. You need to say stand or stand up, as this will be the queue and will understand what they must do when they hear the command.
You will need to train them a couple of times a day but they should soon get it.
Guinea Pigs can recognise voices and also understand commands. Therefore its more than possible to train them to perform certain tasks or tricks when certain words are said.
It’s not always easy and will take a lot of time and practice.
Is the Alpaca Guinea Pig a Good Pet?
If you like long haired guinea pigs and have experience then an Alpaca cavy can be a great pet to have.
They do require a lot of time and care, so if its your first time you’ve had a guinea pig then this breed would not be a good choice.
The Alpaca Guinea Pigs is a great looking cavy and can be an incredible pet. You just have to be prepared to put in that extra time and care.
Alpaca Guinea Pig Breeders
Alpaca guinea pigs are one of the more rarer cavy breeds. This makes it very hard to find baby ones.
When it comes to finding a breeder, you should always look for one that has a good reputation. There are some bad breeders out there!
Reaching out to your vet or local pet store can be a great way of finding one. You might also be able to find one online, however its harder to check that they are reputable.
You might have a local guinea pig group, they may be able to recommend a breeder that specialises in Alpaca guinea pigs.
Remember like with any breed, you should always get at least 2. You should never just have 1 cavy.
How much does an alpaca guinea pig cost?
Alpaca Guinea Pigs can be a bit more expensive than you more common breeds. As they are rarer, this puts the cost up.
You want to look at a couple of breeders and get a rough idea of an average price. However you could be paying anything from $60 to over $100. Its worth having at least $100, if this is a breed you are really wanting.
Alpaca guinea pigs are a rare breed and this can make it hard to find them. They are not beginner friendly as they do require a lot of time and caring.
They need to be brushed daily because of their long hair. They must also be kept indoors due to their hair.
Despite the added work, alpaca guinea pigs make an excellent pet like any other guinea pig.
If you’re prepared for all that comes with owning one of these furry creatures, then they can make a great addition to your family.