Skinny pigs are a breed of guinea pig and one of the most recognizable breeds in the world. Most guinea pigs have a unique look due to their pattern of hair, but these are unique due to their lack of hair. In 1978, scientists were conducting dermatology tests and crossbred a haired guinea pig with a hairless lab strain. The result was a skinny pig, a mostly hairless guinea pig but one which does still have some hair.
Skinny pigs are a breed of guinea pig and one of the most recognizable breeds in the world.
These amazing little creatures come in a variety of colors, despite their lack of hair, and are the perfect pet for those who suffer from allergies. Now, you would think that a hairless guinea pig would look weird, I mean, It’s hard for any hairless animal to look cute, but these (mostly) hairless guinea pigs are adorable. They are a fun little breed and the very best conversation starter.
Skinny Pig Coat & Looks
Skinny pigs are the same as regular guinea pigs in almost every way except for their lack of hair. Their skin has a similar look and feel to human skin and needs to be treated similarly when it comes to keeping them out of the sun. They also need to eat more to keep warm, due to their lack of hair.
The skin of a Skinny Pig is mostly smooth, with wrinkles around the neck and legs.
The appearance of a Skinny Pig can usually be categorized in one of two ways. Most of them, if not all, will have some hair on their faces, mostly down their snouts and are usually compared to mini hippos; they do look very similar. There are also those who have a little more hair on their bodies, mainly down their backs. These ones are sometimes referred to as werewolves.
The skin of a Skinny Pig is mostly smooth, with wrinkles around the neck and legs. You will often find that they also have hair on their feet and legs. They are often compared to the Baldwin guinea pig, though that one is completely hairless while the Skinny Pig is not.
Skinny Pigs come in a variety of colors, inheriting their colors from their hairless and haired ancestors. The color choice is almost endless, but you will find that black and Dalmatian colors are particularly common.
How Do I Care For A Skinny Pig?
The choice of the cage is one of the main concerns when you are choosing a Skinny Pig as a pet. As they are hairless, they are more prone to scratches and abrasions. There is no protective layer of hair to protect them. For this reason, you should be careful about the material which the cage is constructed from. The same goes for all of their toys and playthings.
Look for a cage which has protective coatings over the metal bars (but one which will not be toxic to the guinea pig) and avoid any cages which have sharp corners or anything else which the Skinny Pig could rub up against. Choose rounded corners and edges.
As they are hairless, they can also suffer in extreme heat.
You should also be thinking about the size of the cage. Skinny Pigs are small animals but still need a cage which they can move about freely in. If you have only one guinea pig, then look for a cage which is 20” by 10”. Of course, the bigger the cage, the happier your guinea pig is going to be. If you have multiple guinea pigs, then add 20% to the cage size for each additional guinea pig.
The floor of the cage should not be wire mesh. This can hurt the sensitive feet of your Skinny Pig. We recommend a solid floor, and you should pad it with something like straw or hay. They also need to eat more to generate heat. You can help them to stay warm by providing them with ample bedding. If they can snuggle under straw and hay, then they can stay warm all through the night.
As they are hairless, they can also suffer in extreme heat. Make sure that you do not place your cage in direct sunlight or you run the risk of them becoming sunburnt.
How Active are Skinny Pigs?
Skinny Pigs are as active as any other breed of guinea pig. We always recommend a large cage but, on top of that, you should also have a place for them where they can run freely. Most owners will buy a pen for their guinea pigs and let them run around in that. A pen will give them enough room for the exercise they need, but we always recommend opening up your home to them if you can.
As long as you lift anything off of the floor which you do not want to be chewed, then Skinny Pigs cannot get up to much mischief.
They are also very social creatures so make sure to get in there with them and interact with your new pet.
Many guinea pigs love to be outside, and Skinny Pigs are no exception. With every breed, you need to make sure that you are not taking them out into any extreme weather conditions, but this is especially important with Skinny Pigs, due to the lack of hair. Being hairless, they are also at risk for sunburns. Even on a cloudy day, the UV rays can pierce through the clouds and burn their (and our) skin.
If you are outside with your Skinny Pig, always have them in the shade (and where it is not too cold). You should also be with your guinea pig at all times. Not only does this help them socialize but it also ensures that they do not escape the run or yard, and nothing else gets in.
What Should I Feed My Skinny Pig?
Skinny Pigs have the exact same diet as most other guinea pigs except for the fact that they have to eat a little more. Skinny Pigs have no hair, so they cannot generate as much warmth as other breeds. They make up for this by eating more food.
Opt to give them lettuce, romaine, parsley, and leaf tops and save the sweeter vegetables and fruits for treats.
As with other breeds of guinea pigs, the diet is made up of mostly hay. 70% of a Skinny Pig’s diet will be hay, though you can fee them an unlimited amount if they are eating it all. Hay will aid their digestion along with wearing down their teeth.
Along with hay, you need 1/8-1/4 cup of pellets every day. You can also supplement this with a cup of fresh vegetables. Leafy greens are the best for them as they do not contain too much sugar. Opt to give them lettuce, romaine, parsley, and leaf tops and save the sweeter vegetables and fruits for treats.
All guinea pigs need fresh water. Top up the water bowl when it gets low, and change the water if it ever becomes contaminated.
Healthcare For Skinny Pigs
Many Skinny Pig health issues come from their lack of hair, and almost all of them are completely avoidable.
The lack of hair means they cannot generate as much warmth. This is combatted by making sure that they have enough food and bedding. The lack of hair also makes them more susceptible to sunburns. This can be prevented by keeping them out of the sun and in the shade. They are also more at risk of scratches and abrasions, but you can avoid that by choosing your cage and toys carefully.
The exposed skin does give a higher risk of ringworm in Skinny Pigs. You can limit the infection of ringworm by not bathing your Skinny Pig. Skinny Pigs do not need to be bathed as it can strip away the natural oils on their skin which removes the protective barrier. If you see anything on the skin which looks powdery or flaky, then you should take your Skinny Pig to the vet. Ringworm can be treated easily and effectively with the right medication.
Skinny Pigs As Pets
Skinny Pigs are the perfect pet for those who suffer from allergies, mainly allergies caused by pet fur. If you do have an allergy, then a Skinny Pig (or any other hairless guinea pig) will be excellent. The great thing about Skinny Pigs is that they act and behave exactly the same as other guinea pig breeds (the only difference is how they look).
They are social and inquisitive creatures who love to explore and socialize.
We would only recommend this breed as a pet as long as you have the time and space for them. They do not need any grooming, so you only need to worry about the amount of time which you are spending with them. While you should try to spend as much time with them as possible, you can also buy them in pairs so that they have a friend.
Kids will love Skinny Pigs as they are intelligent creatures who love to play and learn. They love to interact with toys and other items. Look for toys which can be rolled around (and ones which do not have any sharp edges). You can also find toys to hide treats inside and watch them figure out how to get them out.
Skinny Pigs are perfect pets for almost anyone, and especially for those with allergies.