Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Skinny Pig: Lab Guinea Pigs Turned Domestic Pet

Temperament, History, and Care Tips for lab Guinea Pigs with lovable natures! 

If you’ve spotted this seemingly hairless and tiny creature before, you might have already met the Skinny Pig. Otherwise known as the Guinea Pig breed with almost no hair— only tiny tuffs on certain parts of their bodies and nose. This is no skin issue, and they have a pretty interesting back story to tell! Don't you think they look sort of like, tiny, miniature Hippos? ☺

Fun Fact #1      There are two types of Guinea Pigs with little to no hair. As compared to the Baldwin Guinea Pig, the Skinny Pig actually has much more hair!

The Skinny Pig

The term “skinny” is actually derived from how much thinner these guys look without their coat of hair or fancy tussles like their other counterparts. The Guinea Pigs now are bred with a hairless strain— possibly originating from a random genetic mutation in laboratories. First identification happened in 1978, at Armand Frappler Institute, Montreal amongst a brood of Hartley Lab Guinea Pigs. In 1982, these piggies were sent to Charles River Laboratories for breeding purposes to serve Dermatology studies.

Appearance Of The Skinny Pig

As mentioned, the Skinny Pig has little to no hair at all, but if you look close enough, fine tuffs of hair can be spotted on their muzzles, backs, legs and even their feet. Every where else looks exactly like a Guinea Pig wearing its layer of skin with no exterior “protective” coat of hair— naked
skinny pig behaviour
Their skin is smooth with some wrinkling around the legs and neck areas and they come in a variety of patterned markings (where hair supposedly should have grown to make out these patterns). Of which includes Tortoiseshell, Dutch, Himalayan and more.  

Fun Fact #2      Most Skinny Pigs are born hairless, and start to show signs of hair only as they age.

Grooming Requirements Of The Skinny Pig

While it is safe to assume that grooming is minimal since Skinny Pigs do not require combing or brushing—  they require a little more attention when it comes to protecting them from the heat or cold. Keep them indoors at all times, ensuring their home and environment are filled with ample fleeces and nooks they can nestle up within to keep warm, remember, they have no exterior protection.
Guinea Pig with almost no hair
When it gets a little too hot, be sure that their homes are not near the sun rays, to prevent sunburns. Maintain a clean living-space at all times so your Skinny Piggies are not prone to getting skin infections, and wipe them down with a damp cloth to get into creases and keep their skin clean. Thereafter, dry them thoroughly.

Quick Care Tips

Housing — A good and comfy home for Skinny Pigs or any guinea pig would be soft and quality bedding. Some owners opt for fleece towels or even hay, just ensure cleanliness at all times. Avoid Pine and Cedar wood bedding as it may lead up to respiratory issues. Straw is also not advisable for absorbency purposes.

Ensure the living space/cage is of an appropriate size, large enough for your active Cavy to run and roam about. To prevent them from eating soiled hay, clean their living space regularly and provide fresh food and water!

Feeding — Good quality Hay is an absolute staple in a Guinea Pig's diet. Introduce a plate of hay for food with food pellets mixed in. Guinea Pigs require a ton of Fiber and Vitamin C, inclusion of fresh vegetables and occasional fruits treats are healthy. Recommendations for good quality Hay types are Timothy Hay, to encourage healthy teeth and a good digestive system.

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Skinny Pig Temperament And Behaviour

These scantily clad piggies have a friendly, affectionate and curious nature that loves human companionship as much as any other Guinea Pig breeds. It may take a while to gain their trust, however it is a natural process every hopeful owner should encounter! With patience, proper care and love, a Skinny Pig’s average lifespan is 6 to 8 years. Be ready for the responsibilities a Skinny Pig may bring you, for their only skin protection may jolly well be your attentive care!
Guinea Pig with no hair

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