“Cuy” Guinea Pigs


    The guinea pig rescue community (especially in GuineaLynx.info forums) has been reporting a larger than average strain of guinea pigs showing up in shelters, referred to as “cuy” by the rescue community. These seem to have first appeared in southern California. 

     Many of these piggies are red and white, very skittish, strong & muscular, and can reach 5 or 6 pounds.   They can be worked with to become less skittish but are probably best for experienced owners. They don’t seem aggressive at all - just scared and skittish.

     This strain was developed over 3 decades in Peru for increased meat production. See GuineaLynx.info’s thread on “Cuy” data)  What the rescue community has been referring to as “cuy” is probably the “Cuy Criollo Mejorado” breed. 

      Wee Companions ( a southern California small animal rescue) has a very informational article about cuy, including links to photos of the various “cuy” breeds  :  Cuy  Information

     Wee Companions recently published a “Training Guide” for Cuy here:  CuyTraining Guide

     Cavy House first started seeing cuy in local shelters in July, 2011 when we were asked to rescue 6 guinea pigs.  There were 5 females and 1 male.  The largest female, “Paula Bunyan”, was thought to be a cuy, weighing in at 1430 grams (454 grams in a pound) and having the typical red and white coloring (she finally topped out at just over 200 grams). The other 5 ranged in starting weights from 562 grams to 915 grams as pups .  Their coloring and weights didn’t seem to suggest that they might be cuy.  However, they had a resemblance to Paula Bunyan, with red and white coloring mixed in with agouti and roan and similar physical characteristics.  We also picked up another cuy named Billie Jean in the same month.

    We didn’t know if these could be Paula’s pups - meaning they could be half cuy at least - or if these were pregnant. So we decided to keep them past a normal quarantine period & pregnancy watch so that we wouldn’t be unknowingly adopting out a skittish, super-sized guinea pig to someone expecting a normal sized, hopefully cuddle-bug type of piggy.

     Paula Bunyan has grown from 1430 grams to 2050 grams by the start of November, 2011. She seems to level off for a while and then make another jump.

     The other 6 guinea pigs steadily gained weight too and are approached the weight that Paula came in at. While 1400 grams isn’t unheard for non-cuy piggies, these piggies didn’t appear to be done growing at the time of their adoption so we’re still thinking they may be at least part cuy.

     Paula seems to be getting a little calmer and easier to pick up. She doesn’t try to jump off my lap when being held. I haven’t seen any sign of aggression in these piggies.


     I thought I’d post this information in case it can be of help to anyone. There are 454 grams in a pound.

(Left) Paula Bunyan next to “normal” size sow and newborn.

(RIght) Paula when she first arrived at 1430 grams.

(Below) Paula Bunyan next to Duncan, our lazy cat

(Above - left and center) - Horace; (Right) Paula Bunyan

(Below left) Clara (Below center) Jewel (Below right) Sandy