Skinny Pigs Care Guide: Information, Facts and More

Skinny Guinea Pigs Care Guide

Skinny pigs have taken the pet world by storm as people either admired them or criticized their appearance and origin. These hairless creatures will have anyone taking a second look and at their peculiar appearance. The same hairless state that causes them to be different also puts them in a place where they are in need of special care.

So, what is a Skinny pig? Skinny pig is a hairless type of a guinea pig breed but they are not completely hairless. They were developed in a laboratory after scientists found a spontaneous genetic mutation while crossbreeding guinea pigs. This genetic mutation in the form of a recessive gene causes their lack of fur.

Skinny pigs have smooth skin which tends to wrinkle around the neck and legs. Their hairless state causes them to appear smaller and with plenty of sagging skin compared to their hairy counterparts hence the name “skinny”.

If you are interested in Skinny guinea pigs but you are not sure if they are the right pet for you then you found the perfect article. We have covered the most common questions that are associated with the Skinny guinea pig. All the way from their lifespan, their food requirements, safety requirements and so much more. Let’s begin!

Hairless Skinny Pig: Everything You Need to Know

Hairless Skinny Guinea Pig Everything You Need to Know

Are Skinny Guinea Pigs Completely Hairless?

Despite their hairless characteristic, Skinny pigs are not completely hairless because they have a bit of hair on their muzzles, legs, and feet. They however remain hairless on other parts of their bodies.


Are Skinny Pigs Born With Hair and Why Are They Hairless?

Skinny pigs are born almost hairless. Their hairless state is the result of lab experiments that were carried out in 1978 for dermatology studies. In fact, they were initially bred for laboratory use and have only recently made their way into the pet world. A recessive hairless mutation causes them to be almost completely bald.


How Long do Skinny Guinea Pigs Live? | Skinny Pig Life Span

Guinea pigs in general have the longest lifespan when it comes to rodents. Some Skinny pigs have been reported to live up to ten years but these are really rare cases. The average lifespan for Skinny guinea pigs is around 6 to 8 years.

How long a guinea pig is going to live also depends on the owner. Special care needs to be taken to prolong their life and we are going to talk about that in more detail later in the article.


How Big Do Skinny Guinea Pigs Get?

How Big Do Skinny Guinea Pigs Get

At birth, a Skinny pig is around 3 to 4 inches long. However, they grow really fast and will almost be double in size at only two months of age. Their growth rate then reduces and they reach adulthood around 6 months.

Adult Skinny pigs are around 9 to 10 inches in size. Their size and lifespan depend on numerous factors and it is really hard to pinpoint how big a certain Skinny pig is going to get.


Can Skinny Guinea Pigs Cause Allergy?

Skinny guinea pigs can’t cause allergies that are related to fur (hair). If your allergies are due to the fur, then a Skinny pig might work well for you. But before purchasing one, try spending some time with a Skinny pig because the main cause of allergic reactions from guinea pigs to humans is in fact their saliva, urine, and dead skin cells otherwise known as dander.


Skinny Guinea Pig Colors and Patterns

Skinny guinea pigs do come in many colors which include silver, black, white, golden, chocolate, grey, pink, and many more. Some of them are patterned just like their hairy cousins. These are some of the most common patterns for Skinny pigs:


  • Dutch-patterned Skinny pigs have a marked face and muzzle, a white neck, chest, belly as well as white front paws.


  • Tortoiseshell Skinny pigs have significant patches around the neck and hind. These patches are usually pink, brown, and black.

Skinny Pig Names That People Use

Skinny Guinea Pig Names That People Use

There are different names that people use to call their Skinny pigs. Before we get to them, let’s look at why this unique breed is called a Skinny guinea pig.

Skinny guinea pigs are called that way because their lack of fur makes them look “skinnier” when compared with guinea pigs that have thick fur. Saggy and exposed skin also plays a part in the name. Now let’s talk about other names that people use for them.


Skinny Pig Hippo | House Hippo

Skinny pigs actually got this name from their appearance. They look very much like baby hippos, the only difference being their droopy ears and furry muzzles. Other than that, having a smooth cylinder-like body, thick neck, square-like face, and naked skin, the name “Hippo guinea pig” simply writes itself.


Werewolf Skinny Pig

Werewolf Skinny guinea pigs have a little bit more hair on their body then “regular” Skinny pigs. This hair is typically located around the face, neck, and shoulders and it can at times extend to the rump. They are still classified as Skinny pigs and their looks resemble somewhat that of a werewolf.


Skinny Pig Care Guide: Instructions and Tips

Skinny Guinea Pig Care Guide Instructions and Tips

Skinny pigs require just a little bit more attention than guinea pigs with hair. Their exposed skin is the biggest factor here because their lack of fur means that they are essentially unprotected. Also, care for baby Skinny guinea pigs isn’t that much different from regular guinea pig baby care.

The major difference remains their lack of protective fur but this is exactly where the role of the owner comes into the play. In the following sections, you will find some tips and instructions on how to care for Skinny pigs. Let’s start!


Skinny Pig Skincare and Health


• Avoid Bathing

To keep Skinny guinea pigs healthy, avoid bathing them often because that way you will remove the protective oil layer on their bodies. Instead, opt for cleaning your Skinny pig with a damp towel but even then try not to give them baths very often.


• Temperature and Sunlight

For the same reason, Skinny pigs should be kept indoors where temperatures are optimal for them (not too warm or cold). In case the temperature outside allows for a guinea pig day out, then you may need to use some pet-safe sunscreen on their delicate skin. Even then, try keeping them out of the direct sunlight.


Skinny Pig Cage Requirements

Skinny Guinea Pig Cage Requirements

• Size of the Cage and Position

While picking out a cage for your Skinny Pig, you need to think about their delicate anatomy. First, select a large space in which to place their cage because your Skinny pig needs space to play around and run.

While at it, avoid direct cold air drafts coming into contact with your cavy because Skinny guinea pigs are prone to upper respiratory infections which can progress to pneumonia. This is also why their cage needs to be placed away from direct drafts and sunlight.


• Material of the Cage

After deciding on the space, its time to choose the material of the cage. The cage material needs to be either plastic or stainless-steel wire. Also, ensure that the floor is covered using a cage mat to avoid your cavy getting bumble feet (happens if the floor is wired). Have a safety latch to protect your cavy from outside forces including your other pets.


• Toys and Accessories

Remember that your Skinny guinea pigs will be spending most if not all of their time in the cage and this is why it is important to also buy them some play accessories like hideouts (tunnels). Toys such as chew toys, blocks, ramps, etc. will keep your Skinny guinea pig busy when it isn’t eating or sleeping.


They will have clearly defined sections in the cage such as the feeding area, hiding box, and also space for its warm bedding ( preferably one that is made of fleece). However, do not include running balls or hamster wheels in the cage because they can really do harm to guinea pigs.


What to Feed a Skinny Guinea Pig? | Skinny Pig Diet

What to Feed a Skinny Guinea Pig Skinny Guinea Pig Diet

Skinny guinea pigs can in some cases eat more than their hairy cousins because their bodies work extra hard to keep themselves warm. To ensure that your cavy is getting a balanced diet suitable for their growth and overall health, try following these diet tips:


• Vitamin C

This is mandatory because much like with humans a vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy. In order to regulate the vitamin C intake for Skinny guinea pigs, you can opt to use pellets rich with vitamin C or give them vegetables and fruits that are high in the vitamin.


• Fresh Quality Hay

Hay should always be available for the Skinny pig. Use the Timothy, Orchard hay, or when they are younger the Alfalfa hay. A fresh batch should be provided daily.

However, Alfalfa hay is only good for young pups and pregnant or even nursing cavies because it is rich in calcium. For adult guinea pigs high amounts of calcium are not good and can cause serious health problems.


• Fresh Grass

While you may already be offering your Skinny guinea pig with some hay and pellets, adding some fresh grass in their diet brings variety and is certainly good for your pet. Try introducing fresh fescue and bluegrass which will certainly add to your cavy’s amount of vitamin c, minerals, and nutrients.


• Pellets

Pellets are also a must for guinea pigs and should be given to them on a daily base just like the hay we mentioned above. Check for the freshness before purchasing them and remember to ensure that they are stored properly because vitamin C tends to lose its effectiveness with time.


• Water

Just like with the hay and pellets, there should always be enough water for your Skinny pig available 24/7. We recommend buying a water bottle and attaching it to the side of the cage. Water bottles are a simply better solution when compared to bowls.


• Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Also, incorporate vegetables (leafy greens) and fruits into the diet of your Skinny guinea pig. For more on the topic of different fruits and vegetables in guinea pig’s diet click on this link.


Skinny Guinea Pig Clothes: Do They Really Need Clothes?

While it might seem like a good idea to dress up your Skinny pig in some warm clothes to supplement their furless bodies but in reality this idea is terrible. Dressing up Skinny guinea pigs is not wise because it won’t feel natural for them and they may even try getting out of the clothes. In case that they are stuck in clothes they might get stressed up.

One of the ways to keep your Skinny cavy warm is a fleece bedding and also the cage should be placed in a warm corner of the house, away from a cold draft. There are pictures of dressed up Skinny guinea pigs which are obviously adorable but clothes can also cause them skin irritations. Clothes for any pet or animal needs to be avoided.


Skinny Pig vs Baldwin Guinea Pig: Main Differences

Skinny Guinea pig and Baldwin Guinea Pig Differences

Like we said in our previous article about hairless guinea pigs, there are two types of them called Skinny pig and Baldwin guinea pig.

The main difference between a Skinny guinea pig and a Baldwin guinea pig is the fact that Skinny pigs have some fur on their forehead and legs while a Baldwin pig is completely bald.

Also, a Baldwin guinea pig is born completely covered in fur and it gradually becomes bald while Skinny guinea pigs are born without fur (except for the already mentioned body parts with the fur).

Finally, the factor that also causes their differences is their origin. While the Skinny pig was as a result of a lab experiment in the late ’70s, the Baldwin guinea pig was as a result of spontaneous breeding of white-crested Guinea pigs.


How Much do Skinny Pigs Cost?

The price of a Skinny guinea pig varies per breeder and is also affected by whether you are buying an adult or a baby. However, the average price starts from around $50 and goes all the way up to $200.

These prices are higher than those of guinea pigs with fur just because of the extra care that Skinny cavies require compared to their hairy relatives. Also, they are a much rarer bread then the ounces with the fur.


Skinny Guinea Pig Breeders: Where Can I Buy a Skinny Pig?

With the rise in popularity for these furless pets, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding them. There are many private breeders and commercial breeders in the market as well as pet adoption agencies, and rescue groups all of which can be accessed by doing a quick web search in your area.

Try using big sites like Petfinder or Adoptapet and hopefully you will find your cute Skinny guinea pig pet.

Related: Guinea Pig Breeds: Types, Traits, And Breed Information

Skinny Guinea Pigs Care Guide _1

Summary

Regardless of their challenging past, Skinny pigs have certainly found their place in the world of pets. They are quite social and should fit in well with any family.

Special care needs to be given to their exposed skin but the care sheet for them is not really all that different from the guinea pigs that have fur on their body. People that have fur allergies are certainly going to like these amazing pets. If you are looking for a caring and special pet then Skinny pigs are perfect for you!

For more guinea pig related content, keep following our site!

Related: What Guinea Pig is Right for Me?


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Waner, T., Avidar, Y., Peh, H. C., Zass, R., Bogin, E., Hematology and clinical chemistry values of normal and euthymic hairless adult male Dunkin-Hartley guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus), Veterinary clinical pathology, 1996.

Richardson, V., Care of guinea pigs, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 2011.

NC State Veterinary Hospital, Caring for Your Pet Guinea Pig, Exotic Animal Medicine Department.

Bruce, H. M., Parkes, A. S., Feeding and breeding of laboratory animals; breeding of guinea-pigs, The Journal of hygiene, 1948.

Quesenberry, K. E., Donnelly, T. M., Description and Physical Characteristics of Guinea Pigs, Merck Manual, Veterinary Manual.

Quesenberry, K. E., Donnelly, T. M., Breeding and Reproduction of Guinea Pigs, Merck Manual, Veterinary Manual.

Clarissa Moolbrock

Clarissa Moolbrock is one of the founders and editor at Guinea Pig Tube. She is also an author of "Complete Guinea Pig Care Guide: The Essential, Practical Guide To All Aspects of Caring for Your Guinea Pigs" (available on Amazon). Being a veterinary technician helping animals and sharing her experience and knowledge with other guinea pig owners is her passion. Her life goal is to popularise guinea pigs as pets and that is why she has started Guinea Pig Tube website.