Help requested on cavy identification NW Argentina


We have been on a trip in NW Argentina in November. We saw some cavies in several places but we are not sure which species they are. Can you help us?

The first sighting was at Dique Campo Alegre (-24.574398, -65.369444) where there were at least three different animals living among the rocks next to the road towards the dique. Here a photograph of poor quality shot through the front window of the car.

Based on other sightings in the area we first concluded it was a Southern Highland Cavy (Galea musteloides) but after examining the photo we think it could very well be a Montane Guinea Pig (Cavia tschudii). Can anyone tell which species this is?

Furthermore we saw several cavies on a trip to Cuevas Acsibi (east of Seclantas: -25.342, -66.158); they were living in burrows in sparsely vegetated rock desert. We were not able to take photographs of the animals. We could see them well enough to see that they did not belong to any of the mountain cavy species. According to HMW Montane Guinea Pig occurs in the provinces of Jujuy, Salta and Tucuman and Southern Highland Yellow-toothed Cavy only occurs in Jujuy, but according to  Inaturalist the area around Cuevas Acsibi belongs tot the possible distribution area of both species. Brazilian Guinea Pig seems not possible based on habitat. Has anyone experience with cavies in this region and can tell us more?


Thanks in advance,


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  • Jon Hall

    This site might be helpful

  • Marcelo Gavensky

    Hi! I’m not an expert in guinea pigs but have experience with all the possible species in that area (well, with the exception of Shipton’s Mountain Cavy… but you already stated that you could tell the ones you saw in Acsibi were not Montain Cavies). Although the picture is blurry, and that makes things even more difficult, I think this is a Montane Guinea Pig (Cavia tschudii), for both the animal’s structure (shape of head, particularly the snout, which in my field experience is very important to tell Cavia from Galea and other guinea pig genera), and the site where it was seen. Please note that Galea musteloides is not considered to be in Argentina anymore, instead there are two other species: Galea comes in the northwest montane area, and Galea leucoblephara elswere east and south of the first species’ distribution range (I’m not sure if there is overlap between both species). I have never been to Acsibi but without a photo or an extremely thorough description of the animals I think it would be impossible to identify those cavies. In my experience, Southern Highland Yellow-toothed Cavy (Galea comes) is far more likely to be seen in that arid montane terrain than Montane Guine Pig. I hope you find this information useful and I’m sure that someone with research experience in those particular places would clarify this matter better than I. Cheers!

    • ferdybirdy

      Thank you very much Marcelo. I recceived a link from Jon Hall and based on distribution the sigting in Cuevas Acsibi has to be Galea comes, and at the other location Montane Guinea Pig.
      Ferdy Hieselaar


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