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skinny guinea pigs

A Brief Guide to Skinny Guinea Pigs

Skinny Guinea Pigs are one of the most extraordinary breeds of cavy.

Their distinctive appearance is one of great fascination for animal lovers and the general public world wide.

They are a very new breed compared to other breeds and have some clear distinctives compared to their cavy cousins.

Lets dig a little deeper to find more about them.

Where Skinny guinea pigs come from?

skinny guinea pigsThe extraordinary-ness of Skinny guinea pigs begins with how they were created.

  • The skinny came from a cross breed of haired guinea pig and a hairless lab strain.
  • They came about as a result of laboratory testing at the Institut Armand Frappier in Montreal, Canada in 1978.
  • They most likely were the descendants of the pink-eyed white Hartley lab guinea pigs who were being tested at the laboratory.
  • A mutation called IAF Hairless spawned which was sent to Charles River Labratories in 1982 located in Boston, Massachusetts, USA to be tested on.
  • In 1986 the hairless guinea pig came into the hands of breeders who started to cross-breed it with rex and teddy pigs.

What skinny guinea pigs look like?

  • Their body has a very full appearance
  • They have soft rubbery skin
  • You cannot make out their ribs or spine in their appearance
  • They are available in many different colours and patterns.
  • Their skin is smooth with wrinkling around the neck and legs
  • They have hair on their feet, legs and muzzles
  • They closely resemble the baldwin guinea pig
  • They are born almost hairless then grow the hair on their legs, feet and muzzles as they grow older.

How do Skinny pigs behave?

  • Skinny pigs have much the behaviour of other guinea pig breeds.
  • They are generally very well behaved and affectionate animals.
  • Like other guinea pig breeds they thrive with company and prefer to be around other cavies. If not they require the attention of the owner for  a few hours a day.

How to look after Skinny Guinea Pigs

Firstly, check out this cool video here

  • Their average lifespan is 4.5 years but tend to live up to  5 – 6 years with proper care. There are Skinny guinea pigs that have lived to be 7 years old.
  • Skinny guinea pigs do not need to bathe often because they need the protection of the oils that their bodies produce.
  • When they are bathed they do need particular attention, here is a great guide  here
  • Watch for the hair growing around their eyes which could be painful for them, and move it in a different direction if needed
  • As with other guinea pig breeds, keep their nails short to save the scratching sensitive skin.
  • They drink and eat a lot more to keep themselves hydrated
  • They do enjoy their furry heads stroked
  • They prefer temperatures in the range of 75 to 79 degrees farenheit
  • They need to be housed indoors for the majority of the time as they need the warm  because of their lack of coat
  • Although their skin is exposed, they still have a good immune system. However, their skin still needs protection from sunlight and disease.
  • In fact, they cannot be exposed to sunlight at all
  • They tend to eat more than other breeds because of their need to generate heat from their body so will have a tendency to munch away all day.
  • Owners need to take regular care of their skin because of lack of protection from fur.
  • Use material such as fleece or towel to create a soft bed for the skinny guinea pig and avoid sawdust and anything with sharp edges or with a coarse texture for the cage surface or their bedding.
  • Change all bedding frequently at least every other day to control the spread of disease. Bedding that is soaked in urine can be especially painful for the skinny guinea pig.

Further reading is recommended at Guinea LynxMargaret’s hairless guinea pigs and rodents with attitude who have extensive guidance on the handling of skinny guinea pigs.