Have you ever wondered why your guinea pig is so much bigger than others? Is it just because they eat a lot? Or are they obese? Pregnant? Or are they another breed? In this article, you’ll learn (almost) everything about these giant guinea pigs, also known as Cuy Criollo guinea pigs.
In one of my previous articles on 5 interesting facts about guinea pigs no one told you about, I gave an overview on Cuy Criollo guinea pigs, and these giant guinea pigs are very fascinating. However, their existence had a dark history.
- What are Cuy Criollo Guinea Pigs?
- Other major differences of Cuy Guinea Pigs
- Where can you find Cuy guinea pigs?
- Summary and FAQ
- Are Cuy Criollos Guinea Pigs?
- What does a Cuy Criollo look like?
- What are cuy criollo guinea pig's personality like?
- Why shouldn't beginner guinea pig owners have cuy criollo guinea pigs?
What are Cuy Criollo Guinea Pigs?
Cuy Criollo guinea pigs with the scientific name of Cavia Porcellus, are basically extra-large guinea pigs. Yes, they are a breed of cavies and not capybaras.
I like to think of them as a guinea pig family that is naturally big, plus with amazing bodybuilding genetics. You’ll see why.
Besides having a more muscular and rectangular body, Cuy guinea pigs are much, much larger. How much do they weigh, you ask? The average Cuy guinea pig typically weighs between 4-8 pounds as an adult, which is 2 to 4 times the weight of a typical pet guinea pig. These giant piggies weigh about 800g at only 2 months old.
Many Cuy guinea pigs also have something called polydactyly, which means they have 6 toes on their front feet and 5 on the back. Most Cuy piggies have smooth red and white coats.
How in the piggy world did this happen?
Cuy criollo guinea pigs are originally slightly bigger than other guinea pigs, and most of them come from Peru. then humans came along, and some chose the biggest ones among the group and bred them, making them even bigger. That’s right, artificial selection.
Why? For two reasons: as livestock and experiments.
Many farmers say they “improved” the guinea pigs, because more meat, more muscle, means more profit and livestock. Guinea pigs are actually a very popular food in certain parts of the world.
It’s also one of the reasons why cuy piggies have the mutation of more toes.
American pet breeders “discovered” this breed in around 2010, which honestly wasn’t that long ago, and tried to breed them as pets within the United States. But, they were not the ideal pet people are hoping for. This brings us to…
Other major differences of Cuy Guinea Pigs
First off, their lifespan. Cuy guinea pigs are prone to heart disease, and many also have unexplained sudden deaths before three years of age. They are also difficult to handle, become stressed more easily, and are not easy to tame. They have an increased growth rate and need even more food than average guinea pigs.
And I thought my guinea pigs have a bottomless appetite.
Cuy guinea pigs can easily jump out of C&C cages and can run very fast. According to owners of these piggies, cuy piggies tend to be more dominant and aggressive and are not fond of human contact. They also generally don’t like to be handled growing up. Therefore they are not ideal pets for beginners or children.
However, these are just the general traits of cuy guinea pigs and it does not mean that every cuy guinea pig has this personality. Some Cuy guinea pigs are calm and chill.
Concerns for the giant guinea pigs
A lot of times guinea pig owners aren’t aware that they have cuy guinea pigs, and therefore underfeeding them. I don’t believe the guinea pig owners are to blame, because many pet store sales associates don’t know or don’t tell that the guinea pig they will be taking home is a cuy piggie.
Because of their wild nature, these giant guinea pigs are also much more likely to be given up to a shelter than regular-seized guinea pigs.
Cuy guinea pigs need loving homes of experienced guinea pig owners too because they are much harder to care for, especially regarding to the size of their habitats.
Where can you find Cuy guinea pigs?
Cuy guinea pigs are still sold in pet stores in North America, like Petco and PetSmart.
Fortunately, there are many animal rescues that take in these Cuy guinea pigs, and with experienced and patient owners, they can live happy and healthy life.
I do believe that pet stores should stop selling cuy guinea pigs because even though they are guinea pigs, these giant piggies are still different.
I have a Cuy guinea pig. How can I better care for them?
If you do have a Cuy or half Cuy guinea pig, first, I want to say wow, I admire you so much. I’ve only dreamt of giant guinea pigs but never thought how I would be able to take care of one. And you’re reading this article, so I’m sure you’re a great guinea pig parent.
Because I don’t have Cuy guinea pigs myself and I don’t want to accidentally give you false information, here are some resources about cuy criollo guinea pigs.
With the guinea pigs’ large appetite and many needs, we guinea pig parents spend hundreds and thousands of dollars every year for your piggies’ needs. So, I wrote an article on 7 easy ways to save money on guinea pigs – check it out!