Montane guinea pig
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Caviidae
Genus: Cavia
C. tschudii
Binomial name
Cavia tschudii
Fitzinger, 1867[2]

The montane guinea pig (Cavia tschudii) is a species of caviid rodent found in the Andes in South America. The montane guinea pig is the likely main ancestor of Cavia porcellus, the domestic guinea pig or domestic cavy, which appears to be a hybrid that includes lesser genetic contributions from other Cavia species.[3]


Peruvian wild guinea pigs were first described by E. T. Bennett in 1835, who termed them Cavia cutleri. J. J. Tschudi, in an 1845 publication, used the term Cavia cutleri to refer to what are now considered two separate species: The first, Bennett's Cavia cutleri, which was later identified (by O. Thomas in 1917) as probably a differently-pigmented version of Cavia porcellus, and the second, a wild Peruvian guinea pig that was clearly different from the animal Bennett described.[3] In 1867,[2] L. Fitzinger renamed the clearly wild guinea pig Cavia tschudii.[3]


The montane guinea pig is a medium-sized species, growing to a total length of 247 mm (9.7 in). Their colour varies in different parts of the range; in Peru, the dorsal fur is dark reddish-brown mixed with black, and the underparts are dark buffy-grey; in Chile, the dorsal surface is pale agouti brown with paler underparts; in Bolivia, the upper parts are agouti olive and the underparts creamy-white or white.[4][5]

Distribution and habitat

The montane guinea pig is native to the high Andes in South America. Its range extends from Peru southward to the Tarapacá Region of Chile and the Tucumán Province of Argentina. Its altitude range is 2,000 to 3,800 metres (6,600 to 12,500 ft) above sea level. It lives in moist habitats with rocks and coarse vegetation, making runways through the foliage. In Argentina it lives in burrows with several entrances.[4]


The montane guinea pig has a gestation period around 63 days. Litter size ranges from one to four, and the young grow quickly, becoming independent at 2 months of age.[4]


  1. ^ Dunnum, J.; Teta, P. (2016). "Cavia tschudii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T4068A22188991. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T4068A22188991.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b Fitzinger, Leopold (1867). "Versuch einer natürlichen Anordnung der Nagethiere (Rodentia)" [Attempt at a natural arrangement of the rodents (Rodentia)]. Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaft zu Wien. Mathematische-naturwissenschaftliche Classe (in German). 55: 453–515. OCLC 36832988 &((cite journal)): CS1 maint: postscript (link) "ibid". op cit. 56: 57–168.
    Note: Current references often incorrectly cite year 1857, instead of correct 1867.
  3. ^ a b c Weir, Barbara J. (1974). "Notes on the origin of the domestic guinea-pig". In Rowlands, I.W.; Weir, Barbara J. (eds.). The Biology of Hystricomorph Rodents. Academic Press. pp. 437–446. OCLC 1212331.
  4. ^ a b c Eisenberg, John F.; Redford, Kent H. (15 May 2000). Mammals of the Neotropics,. Vol. 3: Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil. University of Chicago Press. p. 456. ISBN 978-0-226-19542-1 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Delduque, Marcelo (c. 2000). "Preá" [Cavy]. Globo Rural. Ficha do bicho (in Brazilian Portuguese). Archived from the original on 2007-08-12. Retrieved 2022-02-10.