Skinny Guinea Pigs: Everything To Know About

Skinny is a hairless guinea pig. The absence of a coat is a plus since there is no need to comb it out and clean clothes and furniture from hair. On the other hand, a bald rodent needs extra care – it does not tolerate temperature changes well, its skin can burn in the sun.

Let’s find out what else is remarkable about this species and how to properly care for an unusual pet.

History Of The Breed

Bald guinea pigs appeared in 1978 as a result of a genetic mutation. Canadian scientists from the Armand Frappier Institute in Montreal, when breeding the Hartley breed, accidentally got pigs that lost their hair in adulthood.

At the very beginning, skinny was bred for a specific purpose. Hairless pigs have been used for dermatological research. Later, these animals attracted the interest of breeders as pets.

The first hairless pigs could not live long due to a weak immune system. It took the breeders almost 4 years for the bald variety to gain the right to exist. They crossed these animals with representatives of the Self breed to improve their health.

Interesting fact. The first skinny pigs had white skin and red eyes. Thanks to the efforts of scientists, a wide variety of colors later appeared – monochromatic and combining several colors.

Breed Description

The skinny guinea pig is quite large. The length of her body is 11-13 inches. The guinea pig weighs about 2.5 pounds (females are slightly smaller). The growth at the withers of a sexually mature individual is 2.5 inches.

Unlike Baldwin guinea pigs, skinnies are born completely bald. As they grow older, a rare coat of 0.39 inches long appears on the face and neck. Externally, pets look like small hippos.

Exterior characteristics:

  • skinny pigs – owners of a dense physique;
  • the head is large, but looks neat;
  • large eyes, expressive look;
  • the iris is colored reddish, brown, or black;
  • large ears are rounded and hang down, but do not touch the head;
  • curved nose;
  • the neck is short, dense;
  • a knocked-down torso with a well-developed muscular corset resembles a barrel in shape;
  • there are folds of skin in the back, neck, and around the limbs;
  • paws are short, with mobile small toes.

Hairless guinea pigs can have different skin pigmentation, which determines their color. The most common are chocolate, white, cinnamon. There are also pigs with a spotted pattern on the body, which combines 2 or 3 colors.

Character and Behavior

Hairless skinny guinea pigs are friendly and sociable. They love to receive affection, attention from their owners and to play with them. They are very sensitive and shy animals. This must be taken into account when handling them. Animals are afraid of harsh sounds. Even a loud TV can cause anxiety.

The pet calmly reacts to the presence of a cat, a small dog, or a rodent in the house. Skinny pigs are not prone to aggression. Cases, when they use teeth or claws, are very rare.

They are smart enough to remember their names and reacts to them. Some owners even manage to teach their skinny pigs to stand on their hind legs and spin. True, a skinny pig is ready to demonstrate its skills only for a reward in the form of a treat.

Skinny Guinea pic
By:Erin Koski

Skinny doesn’t like being picked up by strangers. The pet needs to get used to new smells and sounds, so you shouldn’t let the guests squeeze it.

Health and Life Expectancy

When the skinny pigs were bred, the bald offspring were born weak and unviable due to closely related crosses. Now the situation has changed.

Guinea pigs of this breed live for 5-8 years. True, the lack of coat still affects their health. They are more prone to colds than their furry relatives.

A common skinny disorder is malocclusion. Due to the pathological structure of the teeth, the pig eats very slowly, it hardly manages to chew food. This problem cannot be ignored – it can lead to oral injuries and exhaustion.

Care and Maintenance Recommendations

Before you get a skinny pig, you need to prepare a cage or aviary, care products, inventory. Hairless pets are demanding on temperature conditions. In the room where the rodent lives, the thermometer should not fall below +71 and rise to +86 degrees.

Skinny pigs are more expensive than other breeds because hairless animals are considered exotic. The average price for an animal ranges from 60-100 dollers.

Number of pigs

Skinny pigs can be kept together or one at a time. If you decide to have several animals, then it is better to choose two females. Those who want to start breeding skinny, buy a couple of different sexes. However, you cannot keep them together permanently.

The male and female will have to be accommodated in different cages or divide the space of one cage into 2 parts with a partition. This is to prevent the pigs from mating too often. It is undesirable to have two males – they often fight for territory.

Cell selection

A spacious metal cage is suitable for skinny pigs. At least 3 feet of free space is allocated for one individual. If there is no way to install such a bulky structure in an apartment, then you can equip a second tier. If a decision is made to have a couple of pets, it is necessary to increase their living area by 1.5-2 times.

An aquarium is not suitable for keeping a skinny pig, if only for the reason that it is inconvenient to wash it. In addition, the glass container is poorly ventilated – air enters only from the top. This means that harmful vapors of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, which are released from the pet’s excrement, will accumulate inside. It is unhealthy for your guinea pig.

It is important to find a suitable place to place the cage. It should not stand near heating appliances or in direct sunlight on the balcony. Although skinny pig loves warmth, it does not tolerate heat and drafts. It is better to install the pet’s dwelling in the back of the living room.

Skinny Pig


A litter is placed at the bottom of the cage. Its main functions are to absorb pet urine and eliminate odor.

Silica gel should not be used, because the animal can swallow the granules, and this will lead to intestinal obstruction. Coniferous wood shavings are also not suitable. It contains a lot of essential oils that can cause allergies and swelling of the respiratory system.

Suitable fillers for skinny pigs:

  • corn – made from crushed cobs;
  • pressed hardwood sawdust;
  • paper is the most inexpensive, but it absorbs moisture worst of all.

Interior arrangement of the dwelling

The most important attribute of a skinny pig cage is a rest house. When a pet feels threatened or just wants to be alone and sleep, it hides inside. Recommended construction size:

  • length – 19 inches;
  • width – 7 inches;
  • height – 5-6 inches.

The house should have an entrance, a roof, and several vents. You can put filler or paper towels inside to keep your skinny pig warm and soft.

It is better to choose a nipple drinker so that it does not take up space. It is fixed on the outside of the cage on rods, and the nose is brought inside. A running wheel is not recommended for skinny guinea pigs as they have a weak spine.

If the cage is divided into 2 tiers, ladders must be installed. They should be flat and notched. Too steep a descent is dangerous – the skinny pig may fall and be injured.

Home cleaning

It is important to keep the cage clean. The litter is changed every 5-7 days or as soon as it gets dirty. The appearance of an unpleasant smell indicates the need for cleaning. The pigs are sorted out, all the equipment is taken out and washed in hot water. The old filler is poured into the trash can and placed clean.

Do not use detergents and cleaners to clean the cage – they can cause allergies in the pig. Heavily contaminated places are treated with a soda solution.

Hygiene procedures

Skinny pigs take care of themselves on their own, but sometimes they may need the help of the owner. The eyes of the pet are wiped with a damp swab as often as possible daily. The ears are examined for excess sulfur. Carefully remove dirt with a cotton swab. Regrown claws are trimmed approximately once a month.

The delicate skin of a skinny pig requires special care. To eliminate the unpleasant odor, the animal is wiped with wet wipes. The same ones are used for the hygiene of sphinxes, they can be bought at the pet store. Bathing the pig is not recommended, as frequent water treatments using shampoo will dry the skinny pig’s skin.

Wash your pet in a small bowl or sink. The water temperature is about 98 degrees. You will need a special shampoo for hairless rodents or sphinxes. Human shampoo cannot be used – it contains many harmful additives. The detergent is diluted with water and applied to the skinny body. It is important to protect your pet’s ears and eyes from water. Then the soap composition is thoroughly washed off, and the animal is wrapped in a terry towel.

The bald skinny guinea pig is sensitive to cold and draft and can easily catch a cold after swimming. Therefore, you should keep it in a warm place until it dries. Veterinarians recommend periodically lubricating the pet’s skin with baby cream so that there is no irritation and dryness.

Feeding a Skinny Guinea Pig

Skinny pigs are herbivorous rodents, they eat only plant foods. The pet’s diet is made up of hay, vegetables and root crops, grain mixtures, and greens. Dried grass is a roughage that not only helps to grind teeth but also improves digestion. Vegetables and fruits are a source of fiber and vitamins.

Skinny loves carrots, squash, cucumber, broccoli, apples, and pears. During the summer, you can give the pigs shoots and leaves of dandelion, plantain, nettle, a little parsley, and dill. In winter, fresh herbs are replaced with wheat seedlings. It is advisable for females to include nuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds in the menu.

Skinny has an accelerated metabolism, as due to the lack of hair, the body loses heat faster. For this reason, hairless pets need more food than their fur-bearing counterparts.

Prohibited Products:

  • food of animal origin – meat, cottage cheese, milk, cheese;
  • sweets – sweets, pastries;
  • turnips, potatoes, radishes, and garlic should not be given from vegetables;
  • mushrooms;
  • beans.

Skinny pigs are placed in the cage with branches of fruit trees and bushes. This is an additional source of vitamin C, which is not produced in the animal’s body. In addition, roughage is essential for grinding teeth.

The pet should drink about 200 ml of water per day. If it receives a lot of juicy feed, the rate of fluid intake is reduced. It is important to regularly change the water in the drinker so that it does not stagnate.

Pros and cons of Skinny Guinea Pigs

The popularity of hairless guinea pigs is due to their many virtues. But they also have disadvantages.

Pros Cons
The pet does not take up much space Demanding care
Friendly character Skinny pig eats more than other breeds
Skinny quickly gets used to the arms and loves to bask in the arms Specific odor (predominantly in males)
Long life expectancy The need to comply with the temperature regime
Original appearance

Breeding Skinny Guinea Pigs

Sexual maturity in skinny gilts occurs at the age of 8-10 weeks. The female is untied at 5-6 months. Earlier crossing is dangerous to health – the animal will not be able to bear and give birth to healthy piglets. But you shouldn’t wait too long. It is desirable to mate a female for the first time up to 9-10 months.

Matching a pair for knitting

Breeding skinny pigs has its own characteristics. The hairless gene is recessive, and in order to get bald offspring, you need to choose the right mating partner:

  1. When two individuals of the skinny breed are crossed, the piglets will be born naked.
  2. If you mate a female skinny with a male Baldwin, pigs with a coat will be born. However, they will be carriers of the hairless gene, such pigs are called skinny carriers. In the future, their offspring can be born bald in 25-50% of cases.
  3. When mating a skinny with a representative of any other breed, pigs with wool will be born – skinny carriers.
  4. When a naked individual is crossed with a carrier of the hairless gene, 50% of the offspring will be skinny, and the remaining 50% will be skinny carriers.

Professional breeders recommend periodically crossing purebred hairless gilts with woolen ones, as well as descendants from a mixed union. Thanks to such mating, the breed becomes more hardy.


A skinny guinea pig’s heat occurs every 16-20 days and lasts about 12 hours. The most favorable time for mating is the first 6 hours.

Individuals of different sexes are kept separately. The female is placed next to the male during estrus. After a short acquaintance, the male individual makes several attempts to mount. The onset of pregnancy is judged by the absence of another sexual desire. The fertilized mumps must be removed from the male.

Pregnancy and childbirth

In a litter, a skinny has from 2 to 5 cubs. The gestation period depends on the number of piglets. Pregnancy lasts 64 to 72 days. Childbirth usually goes without complications.

Newborn guinea pigs weigh 55-130 g. The more piglets in the womb, the smaller they are and the sooner the pregnancy ends. Babies are completely bald, but after a while, hair begins to grow on their face, neck, and shoulders. It is very thin and short.

Piglets have open eyes and ears. On the second day of life, babies can already eat finely chopped vegetables, since their teeth are fully formed. Guinea pigs have a well-developed maternal instinct. They independently take care of the cubs, feed them with milk, warm and protect them. At the age of one month, piglets can be given to new owners.

Final Thoughts

Those with experience with skinny pigs are very happy with their choice. They speak of these animals as cute, good-natured, and sociable pets, which are not at all difficult to care for.

The main thing is to protect the rodent from hypothermia, to keep the cage clean, to feed it correctly, and to take the it in your arms more often.

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