Galea musteloidescommon yellow-toothed cavy

Geographic Range

Galea musteloides, known as common yellow-toothed cavies or cui, are found in a large area of South America, including southern Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay and northeastern Chile. They can also be found in a wide altitude range, from 5,000 m in the Andes to the low Chaco in Paraguay and in low-lying damp areas (Redford et al., 1992). (Dunnum, et al., 2009; Redford and Eisenberg, 1992)


Common yellow-toothed cavies can be found in many different types of habitats, including savannahs, grasslands, scrubby habitats, croplands, and riparian areas (Keil et al., 1999). (Keil, et al., 1999)

  • Range elevation
    5,000 (high) m

Physical Description

Common yellow-toothed cavies are similar in size to hamsters, weighing between 300 to 600 g as adults. They are tailless and have short legs with clawed digits. Dorsal surfaces range from light to dark brown streaked with black. Ventral surfaces are white and are sharply defined laterally. (Redford and Eisenberg, 1992)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    300 to 600 g
    10.57 to 21.15 oz


Common yellow-toothed cavies have a promiscuous mating system, were both males and females mate with multiple individuals. Females generally mate with two to four different males. (Keil, et al., 1999)

Common yellow-toothed cavies mate throughout the year and can have up to seven litters a year depending on conditions. Each litter can have one to five young with the average litter containing two to three (Redford et al., 1992). The gestation time ranges from 52 to 54 days (Keil et al., 1999) and weaning takes 3 weeks. Females become sexually mature at 66 days after birth and males at 60 days (AnAge, 2009). In most litters there is evidence of multiple paternity, resulting from sperm competition among multiple male mates (Keil et al., 1999). (Keil, et al., 1999; Redford and Eisenberg, 1992)

  • Breeding interval
    Common yellow-toothed cavies can breed every 8 weeks under favorable environmental conditions.
  • Breeding season
    Common yellow-toothed cavies can mate throughout the year.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 5
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    52 to 54 days
  • Average weaning age
    3 weeks
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    66 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    60 days

Male common yellow-toothed cavies do not help to care for their young and may show aggression towards young (Adrian et al., 2005). Females are the sole providers of care for the young. Females often participate in communal suckling of their young, many believe that this happens because of the large number of young born at approximately the same time (Kunkele et al., 1995). (Adrian, et al., 2005; Kunkele and Hoeck, 1995)

  • Parental Investment
  • precocial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


It is unknown how long common yellow-toothed cavies can live in the wild. In captivity they can live up to 3.5 years. (de Magalhaes, 2009)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    3.5 (high) days


Common yellow-toothed cavies are crepuscular; most active at dawn and dusk. They live in large, mixed-sex colonial groups (Keil et al., 1999). Within the group there is a social hierarchy among males, with the dominant male having more opportunities to mate. Females are often dominant over males of similar age (Grzimek, 2004). (Grzimek and McCade, 2004; Keil, et al., 1999; Grzimek and McCade, 2004; Keil, et al., 1999; Grzimek and McCade, 2004; Keil, et al., 1999)

Home Range

Little is known about the home range of G. musteloides.

Communication and Perception

Common yellow-toothed cavies communicate with vocalizations. They make different sounds that are associated with alarm signaling, aggression towards other individuals, or sexual encounters (Grzimek, 2004). (Grzimek and McCade, 2004)

Food Habits

Common yellow-toothed cavies are herbivores that eat grasses and other vegetation (Grzimek, 2004). (Grzimek and McCade, 2004)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • flowers


Little is known about predation on G. musteloides. However, as small rodents, they are often prey of larger, predatory mammals, reptiles, and birds (Ebensperger et al., 2006). (Ebensperger and Blumstein, 2006)

Ecosystem Roles

It is unknown what types of roles common yellow-toothed cavies play in their ecosystem. They probably impact vegetation through their herbivory and are likely to serve as an important prey base for larger predators in their habitats.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Common yellow-toothed cavies are important members of native ecosystems, although no direct, positive impacts for humans have been documented.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Common yellow-toothed cavies can be considered agricultural pests where they occur near croplands because they will eat crops (Grzimek, 2004). (Grzimek and McCade, 2004)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Common yellow-toothed cavies are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. They are considered common and there is no evidence of population declines. (Dunnum, et al., 2009)


Alison Borowski (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor, instructor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.


active at dawn and dusk

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.


Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


Adrian, O., I. Brockman, C. Hohoff, N. Sachser. 2005. Paternal Behavior in Wild Guinea Pigs: a Comparative Study in Three Cosely Related Species with Different Social and Mating Systems. Journal of Zoology, 265: 97-105.

Dunnum, J., U. Pardina, H. Zeballos, R. Ojeda. 2009. "IUCN Red List" (On-line). IUCN Red List. Accessed July 22, 2009 at

Ebensperger, L., D. Blumstein. 2006. Sociality in New World Hystricognath Rodents is Linked to Predators and Burrow Digging. Behavioral Ecology, 17: 410-418.

Grzimek, B., M. McCade. 2004. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia Vol. 16, Mammals V. New York: Gale.

Keil, A., J. Eppen, N. Sachser. 1999. Reproductive Success of Males in the Promiscuous Mating Yellow Toothed Cavy. Journal of Mammalogy, 80: 1257-1264.

Kunkele, J., H. Hoeck. 1995. Communal Suckling in the Cavy Galea musteloides. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 37: 385-391.

Redford, K., J. Eisenberg. 1992. Mammals of the Neotropics: The Southern Cone. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

de Magalhaes, J. 2009. "Longevity, ageing and life history of Galea musteloides" (On-line). AnAge: Human Ageing Genomic Resources. Accessed August 06, 2009 at