What is a Hairless Guinea Pig or Skinny Pig?
From it’s name, the hairless guinea pig breed is a skinny pig with almost no hairs. We use “almost” because they do have small patches of hair around the muzzle and feet.
The Skinny Pig is kind of a new addition to the growing list of popular Guinea pig breeds in the world. It all began in the 1970’s when scientists began breeding them for dermatolical testing.
Sources claim that a haired variety of Guinea pig was cross-bred with a hairless lab strain. This result is the Skinny guinea pig breed.
Although somewhat unusual, Skinny pigs are well known among Guinea pig enthusiasts. This is as a result of the many patterns and skin tone variations.
This guide is labelled Hairless Guinea Pig Care Sheet and History Guide. It contains all that you need to know about them to take care of your piggy all through their life!
In other words, it makes you a responsible skinny pig parent.
Skinny Pig History
As earlier stated, the skinny pig breed of guinea pig has its origins from a crossbreeding program between haired Guinea pigs and a hairless lab strain.
The hairless strain was as a result of a genetic mutation in a group of lab-bred Guinea pigs first discovered back in the 1970s in Montreal.
The new Guinea breed of almost hairless skinny pigs were lab bred for dermatological studies. They are still used till this day.
The Skinny Pig was made known in the pet trade industry in the 1990’s. They have grown in popularity over the past couple of years with Cavy enthusiasts and pet owners alike.
Breeding Hairless Skinny Guinea Pigs
If you’re interested in breeding skinny guinea pigs, there are a couple of things to note although it is not difficult.
Guinea Pigs are sexually mature from around the ages of 1-2 months old. Females, or the Sow, should be less than 10 months old at most.
Sows older than 5-6 months may battle with complications which is triggered by the fusing of the pubic sysmphysis, which will lead to child birth complications and most likely results in a Cicerian section being required.
So, this is not recommended. The age of the male is not so important as long as sexual maturity has been attained.
Skinny Pig Genes
Skinny pig Gene is recessive, and it gives this litter critter its almost hairless characteristics. This could be as a result of breeding 2 hairless piggies together, where you are sure the gene will be present.
The haired Guinea pigs may also carry the gene. This makes it possible for two haired Guinea pigs to produce Skinny Piglets. However, unless you know the breeding history, it is impossible to tell!
Because of the recessive gene, it has been known for some Guinea pig breeders to inbreed their skinny pigs to ensure skinny piglets.
This, however is detrimental to the health of the piglet and weakens the immune system continuously.
Pick your breeders wisely and ensure they are sourcing mates from different gene pools.
Gestation Period and pregnancy
Female guinea pigs are pregnant for about 2 months. The minimal litter size is 3 piglets, but this can differ depending on mother nature!
As with any pregnancy there can arise complications. So, look for signs of changes in appetite, bodily functions and activity and get them checked by your vet. It is super risky for older Sows to give birth, so this should be avoided at all possible cost.
Guinea piglets are bron “Prococial”. In other words, Guinea piglets are born with their eyes open, and are able to move around on their own soon after being born.
They will need to feed from mom for a while so they can get the essential vitamins, but they are also able to consume normal food such as hay almost immediately!
This is not overly common in other mammals, so a real unique experience if you are considering breeding.
Skinny Pigs and Medical Testing
Hairless Guinea Pigs have a lot of similar biological similarities to humans and have been used in medical research for centuries.
This the term “Human Guinea pig” commonly coined for human subjects.
The Skinny pig in particular, with its near human like skin has been beneficial in a lot of dermatological studies, and was bred for exactly that purpose.
Scientific studies on Guinea pigs have led to the discovery of the following:
- Vitamin C
- the tuberculosis bacterium
Studies on Guinea pigs have helped in the development of:
- Vaccines for diphtheria and TB
- Replacement heart valves
- Asthma medicines
- Blood transfusion
- Kidney dialysis
Skinny pigs often face bigger health concerns than the haired guinea type.
As a result of their breeding complications and history, immune systems can at times be weaker to that of a haired Guinea Pig. But, a well-bred skinny pig should have the same resilience as a haired Guinea pig.
Skinny pigs need to be kept warm, as a result of the fact that they do not have any natural insulation in the form of hair.
This means you cannot keep them outside and should be kept indoors in a snug and warm environment.
If you are looking at letting your Skinny pig have a trip outside, ensure you apply a high factor sunblock to protect their kin from burns and skin cancers.
Lacking that additional protective layer of fur can also cause an increase of scrapes and bumps. Ensure to keep your Skinny pig in a safe environment and consider picking substrate and bedding that is not too hard on their tender skin.
Why Skinny Pigs need vitamin C
Absorbic acid or Vitamin C is an important nutrient that is used in the repair of tissue, preventing of scurvy and helps boost the immune system.
As Skinny pigs are unable to form their own scorbic acid naturally, it is vital to supplement your piggies diet with Vitamin C in order to maintain health and encourage healing for wounds and scrapes.
Bladder stones in Skinny Pigs – Myth or Fact?
Bladder stones are tiny crystals of calcium which can form anywhere in the urinary tract, most commonly in the urethra or bladder.
Guinea pigs that contain a high pellet diet, and less fresh fruit, veggies and hay are way more likely to suffer from bladder stones, so it is vital to vary your buddies’ diet as much as possible.
Some of the more common signs that your Guinea pig has Urinary or bladder stones can be more constant urinating, or straining to urinate. Plus, be on the lookout for blood in the urine or red patches around the hindquarters.
Sadly, surgery is commonly needed to remove these stones as they are too large to be passed via the urinal tract. If in any doubt, we advise you seek advice from the nearest veterinary surgeon as to the best cause of action for your Guinea pig.
UTI Urinary tract Infections in Skinny Pigs
Bad news! Guinea pigs are at a high risk of developing urinary tract infections or UTIs. Which we’ll learn about more here.
The primary causes are again too much calcium in their dirt, or because they are a fairly short creatures, their genitals coming in close contact with harmful bacteria from their hutch floor.
The guaranteed sign that your buddy is infected with a UTI is very much similar to that of the stones. Painful urination (listen out for squeaks; no matter how silent it is when peeing), blood in their urine and more common urination are all tell tale signs that there may be a UTI.
Treatment of Hairless Guniea pig UTIs are commonly a course of antibiotics to clear away any infections. Prevention is, of course, better than cure, so ensure you feed your Guinea pig a varied diet with lots of water.
Vitamin C, as earlier stated is important to help your piggy fight infections as and when they develop it. It is very crucial to clean out your Guinea Pig often to beat down the risk of coming into contact with urine and feces left in the substrate.
Skinny Pig Diet
Previously, we have talked about the many health complications you might be faced with Skinny pig keeping, so how can we make sure we are giving our little non-furry pets a good chance at avoiding all of these.
A well balanced and healthy diet is the number one place to start.
First, make supply of fresh water readily available. We advise having more than one sources of water available as a safety net in case one of your dispensers get blocked up or is faulty.
There are a lot of great quality dispenses on the market that meets your budgets.
Second one is a good supply of vitamin C. As earlier stated above, since Guinea pigs are not able to produce their own ascorbic acid, so a supplement in their diet is important to maintaining health.
And last but not least, a unique and balanced diet.
Avoid a completely pellet based diet, that is high in calcium and can result in UTIs and bladder stones.
What is the best Hay for Skinny Pigs?
Grass Hay is a staple for Guinea pigs, so make sure there is lots of them available. Well known healthy types include:
- Timothy Hay
- Meadow hay
- Orchard Grass
Do not feed your Guinea pig Alfalfa hay as it contains a high calcium content and can lead to bladder stones.
What are the best Vegetables for a skinny pig?
Ensure you add green vegetables and fresh leafy vegetables, with high vitamin C content. Some of the more common example are listed here:
- Lettuces (excluding iceberg lettuce which has no nutritional value)
- Chicory greens
- Curly endive
- Carrot tops
Add some other fresh vegetable types. Some of the good, healthy options include:
- Celery leaves
- Turnip greens
- Corn Husks
- Beetroot (not pickled)
- Pumpkin (deseeded)
Hairless Guinea Pig care includes feeding some varied diet of fruit and fresh vegetables.
Add in some other fresh veggies and fruits in moderation:
- Apples with skin – remove the toxic seeds!
- Pears, again with no seeds
- Cranberries. These are especially good for UTI treatment/ prevention.
- Kiwi fruit
- Canteloupe melon
- water melon
What should i avoid feeding my skinny pig?
You should avoid feeding a skinny pig the following foods:
- Anything in the cabbage family, which can cause bloat if fed regularly so best to avoid.
- Iceberg lettuce – little or no nutritional goodness
- Nuts, seeds, lentils, and beans. with the exception of green beans.
- Pickled vegetables
- Chilli peppers!
- Potatoes – Skin is poisonous, plus they are very starchy and high in Oxalic acid
- Dairy products like milk and cheese
- Avacado – high-fat content
- Coconut – High-fat content
- Garlic and onions
Hairless Guinea Pigs and allergies
A common rumour is that pet allergies are always as a result of the animal’s dander or hair. In most cases, it is in fact, the saliva or skin of the animal causing the allergy.
It is also much more common to be allergic to your pets foodstuff or bedding materials than it is your actual pet, so ensure you rule out any by changing the food and bedding type before you label yourself allergic to your little fur-friend!
Skinny pigs Guinea , although are often called hairless Guinea pigs because of their small patches of hair around their feet and muzzle, often have skin pigmentation that gives them their unique appearance.
The most common variations are :
There are also Dalmatian skinny pigs, as well as Albino skinny pigs like markings. However, the most common and well known variation amongst skinny pig enthusiasts is the chocolate variety.
The skinny guinea pigs have different markings
Skinnies often prove to be a bit smaller than their haired counterparts when they are fully grown.
Babies often range from between 2-4 inches at birth, with adults grown piggies around 8-12 inches at full maturity around 14 months.
How long do skinny pigs live? The average lifespan of a hairless guinea pig is around 6-8 years. Depending on the environment, living conditions, care, and diet.
Skinny pigs like their haired counterparts, are very sociable animals and should be kept together. But, the lack of hairy protective coats mean that they need more looking after than the haired variety so ensure you house your piggies to the required levels of the resident skinny pig.
Our Guinea pig behavior guide shows you all that you need to know about what to expect from your furry animal friend.
Skinny pigs are sociable animal and should be kept in groups. They have no issues living with their hairy relatives.
Hairless Guinea Pig Care
Caring and looking after our pet skinny pigs is vital in ensuring a long, healthy and happy life of our friend.
Because they do not have hairs acting as a protective layer from the daily rigours of foraging and playing, Skinnies need some additional care to maintain proper health and happiness.
We have highlighted some of the major areas in which care is needed, along with some handy advice and tips to help you provide your skinny pig with the highest level of care possible.
Skinny Pig Foot and Nail Care
Like all Guinea pigs, Skinny pigs need a constant trim up of their claws or nails to avoid discomfort or even Bumblefoot!
You can do this yourself at home using either a regular human nail clipper or specialized small critter clipper.
Maintaining healthy skinny pig skin
Hairless Guinea pigs by nature, have additional care requirements than their hairy relatives.
In order to keep your piggy happy and healthy, you will need to pay special attention to the care of their skin, by identifying issues and maintaining healthy skin.
Common Skinny pig skin issues
Sunburn and skin cancer
Skinny pigs do not have the natural barrier of a fur coat protecting them from dangerous UV rays. It is very crucial to not expose your piggy to extended period s of direct sunlight, and use a proper and safe sunblock if you intent on letting your piggy play outside.
Some skinny pigs battle with oily skin, which is as a result of an over production of natural oils and can lead to blockages in the skin pores. Symptoms may include itching and scratching on the back, and around glands.
Ensure you keep an eye out for this and remedy by wiping with a warm piece of cloth to remove excess oily residue.
On the other hand, skinny pigs may also suffer from dry skin, caused by a lack of natural oil production.
This can quickly lead to scratching, irritation and itching. If you suspect your piggy has dry skin, use a small amount of a natural unscented moisturizer, chemical-free to relieve the dryness.
Thus could be a natural moisturizer such as a delicate baby lotion, or coconut oil. The goal here is to use sparingly as Skinny pigs have very sensitive skin.
As always, ensure you consult your local friendly vet for more skin care advice.
Mites and parasites
Skinny pigs are also prone to mites. Search for red sore areas on the skin, and use your finders to feel around the uncommon areas such as armpits or under the chin.
If you suspect mites being present, or any other parasitic infestation, contact your vet at once.
Hairless Guinea Pig Bathing
Skinnies are naturally clean animals. They do not have the responsibility of maintaining a furry coat which can become dirty and souled, so can keep themselves clean by grooming using their tongies and paws.
It however makes sense to keep their living quarters clean and tidy by changing their bedding and substrate often, with regular deep cleans to remove any soiled feces and dirt.
With this in mind, bathing your skinny is hardly required and should be avoided.
Skinny pigs have natural oils in their skin that prevents dryness, and bathing your skinny will wash this natural oil away and potentially cause skin irritation.
Should you completely need to bath your Skinny pig, then avoid any detergents or soaps and just rinse with tepid water, and dry with a warm dry cloth.
Skinny Pig Temperature
Because of the Skinny pigs lack of fur, it is vital to keep your piggy in warm conditions and provide enough burrowing and bedding materials.
Skinnies will be glad in a room temperature, which sits around 23°C or around 70°f.
Skinny Pigs like to be kept warm!
Dental care for Skinny Pigs
Like all types of Guinea pigs, oral care is crucial to avoid complications and abscesses such as infection and weight loss caused by dental issues.
We have covered the basics in Guinea pig dental care in this article, which will help you identify course, issues, and preventive plus corrective actions.
Weighing your Hairless Guinea Pigs
Skinny pig weight, as for any pet has proven to be a useful tell tale of overall health, and can detect underlying health issues.
We have talked about this topic in our Guide to Guinea pig weight to help you identify if your skinny is underweight or overweight, and what to do if you notice changes in your little furry friend BM!
Caring for Senior Skinny Pigs
As Skinny pigs become older, and become less active, they may need some extra care and love to ensure they live out their twilight years as happy and healthy as possible.
There are many tips here which will ensure your senior citizen gets all the help he/she can in maintaining an healthy and happiest lifestyle.
Regular Health checks for Skinny Pigs
We hope by reading and understanding this guide, and other Guinea pig care related articles on this website, you should now be well informed on identification of health issues before they turn a more serious one.
In addition to your frequent care regime, it may also be a good idea to schedule common trips to the vet for a complete check-up by a professional in case there are any additional underlying issues not always noticeable to the untrained eye.
Cages and enclosures
Skinny Hairless Guinea pigs need some extra considerations to that of their hairless relatives when picking their new home.
Being almost hairless, you will need to keep your piggy indoors at room temperature to make sure they are not too cold. Plus, you will also make sure their living quarters are efficiently shaded from any direct UV rays to avoid painful burns.
Your piggies home needs to be secure and safe. They do not possess the protective layer of a fur coay, so it is super important to make sure their hutch or cage is free from sharp abrasive edges, and have adequate space for exercise and foraging.
Price and cost of care
How much do skinny pigs cost? It depends on where you get your new piggy from. The average cost of a skinny pig is around $25. But you can expect to pay anywhere near $40 if you are going directly to a breeder.
Hairless Guinea Pigs As Pets
In the end, after reading this blog, you should have a good idea of what it takes to keep and carry out an hairless Guinea pig care as pets.
Likewise, you need to have a good base understanding of the levels of attention and care you should provide your cavy for a long and happy life together.
No doubt, they are more demanding than your average Guinea pig, so if that is a worry to you, perhaps you should check out the furry breed instead.
However, if reading this beginner friendly guide has motivated your interest into the world of Skinny pigs, then what are you waiting for! You are sure to have an enjoyable and fun-filled life experience after your unique piggies or piggy.
Interesting Skinny pig Facts
Question: When were Skinny Pigs first introduced?
- Answer: In the 1970’s, Skinny pigs were bred in a science lab for medical trials.
Question: Do Skinny Pigs live in the Wild?
- Answer: No, Skinny pigs do not.
Question: Do Skinny Pigs have any hair ?
- Answer: Kinda! Skinny pigs have hair on their feet and faces.
Question: Do Skinny Pigs demand more or less care than other Guinea Pig breeds?
- Answer: Skinny pigs certainly need more care than their hairy relatives.
Question: What temperature do Skinny Pigs like to live at ?
- Skinny pigs like to live at room temperature.
Question: Do Skinny Pigs get sunburn?
- Answer: Yes! When exposed to direct sunlight, because they have no protective hairy coat!
Question: How long do Skinny Pigs Live?
- Answer: Skinny pigs live for up to 8 years or a little more.
Question: How big do Skinny Pigs get?
- Answer: On average, Skinnies size is around 12 inches when fully grown
Question: Why does my Skinny Pig hop around?
- Answer: Skinny pigs make little jump in the air when happy! This is referred to as can ‘popcorn’.
This video on youtube covers care considerations, and is definitely worth a watch if you are considering becoming a hairless guinea pig baby owner!