There is a great diversity of guinea pigs. Among them are the hairless guinea pigs. These are the Skinny. Some people love them and you’ll see why.
The Skinny, a hairless guinea pig
There are hairless guinea pigs. The so-called “Skinny” breed is the most common. There are also the Baldwins in which babies are born with hair that they lose as they grow.
To say that Skinnys are hairless is not entirely correct as the nose and legs are covered with it. But these are the only places. Because all the rest of the animal is naked. Hence its English name which is a variation of the word “skin”.
Originally, this animal was not the result of human selection work but of a spontaneous mutation of the animal, which appeared in a Canadian breeding which bred single-colored smooth-haired guinea pigs. It was in 1978. We needed a helping hand because this astonishing lack of hair is due to a recessive gene, that is to say a gene which is expressed only if both parents are carriers.
Since then, the man has of course seized it and carried out the work of selection that he masters to diversify colors. The Skinny is still rare and constitutes a curiosity to which people are not accustomed. It must be said that the absence of hair greatly changes the perception we have of the guinea pig: this little animal looks like a miniature hippopotamus.
There are two kinds of Skinny.
- The Skinny “Scandinavian V” on which the hairs are present from the nose to the ears passing over the eyes, limit from which they separate to draw a V of hairs, the forehead being bare, as well as the play.
- The Skinny “Pompon” on which the hairs form a full tuft just on the muzzle. They don’t go beyond the eye line.
Victim of his own success
The Skinny has only been around for about 40 years: it is therefore still quite rare. Indeed, it is not a question of organizing a systematic reproduction between the Skinny of a breeding, under penalty of weakening the race and of multiplying the babies having anomalies. It is particularly in these cases that one becomes aware of the responsibility of a breeder and the quality of his profession.
However, novelty and rarity are often attractive characteristics. Demand is growing. Consequently, the price of animals increases: the price of a Skinny reaches 100 euros. This whets the appetites of some unscrupulous people, able to market consanguineous animals that unfortunately do not live long.
If you are tempted by the acquisition of a Skinny, be particularly vigilant about its origin and the background of the breeder by inquiring about the date of creation of his activity, for example.
The Skinny, a fragile animal
Hair keeps you warm. The Skinny, like all hairless animals, radiates warmth. Because of this perdition, the animal burns more calories than hairless guinea pigs. It is very pleasant for its owners to feel this soft and warm skin. But that does mean that you don’t take care of a Skinny the same way you take care of a guinea pig covered with hair.
The temperature in the Skinny’s home must be constant. The high temperature amplitudes risk causing colds which can degenerate into more serious pathologies. Some breeders recommend using heat lamps if the temperature drops below 22 ° C. If infrared lamps heat up well, they can burn the animal’s skin and damage its eyes. Instead, choose lamps in ceramic which heat without lighting: these are lamps used for reptiles. A shelter in the cage is also essential, type small house filled with material such as fleece, in which the Skinny can snuggle up if he is cold. An old beanie may be fine.
The litter should be carefully selected. The Skinny’s bare skin is fragile! The most recommended material is cellulose. Soft wool may also be suitable. Straw, already not recommended for furry guinea pigs because it can sting the eyes, is to be banned for a Skinny. The hay should be placed in a container and not directly on the floor of the cage to prevent the animal from coming into contact with it.
The hygiene of the cage must be more rigorous than for other guinea pigs. Given the fragility of the Skinny and its ease of injury, poor hygiene is guaranteed infection. It is twice a week that it will be necessary to change the litter and clean the cage. Because of its bare skin, it attracts more insects. Cover the cage with mosquito net the summer will protect the Skinny from excessive bites.
It is most often necessary to give it a richer diet. It all depends on the temperature in which it evolves. The closer you get to 27 ° C, the less need for supplement. Otherwise, classic whole extrudates must be supplemented with cereals: wheat in the form of bran or germ, oatmeal, bean sprouts, etc. Hay at will is more than essential because the animal eats what it needs. It should also be given a larger quantity of vegetables than that of a hairy guinea pig. And like all guinea pigs, Skinny does not synthesize vitamin C any more, it must be provided as a synthetic supplement.
If the energy expenditure requiring the maintenance of its body temperature is too high, you will quickly notice: the guinea pig will quickly lose weight. In this case, it is important not to delay reacting and consult a veterinarian to check its breeding conditions.
Finally, we must help the Skinny to take care of his skin certain times of the year. Normally, the skin of the Skinny is balanced without outside help. But if you live in an area where the seasons are marked, in winter the skin of the animal can dry out. If this is the case, then it is useful to massage your pet with hypoallergenic baby moisturizer or mild vegetable oil known for its moisturizing properties such as cottonseed oil. This gesture will also be useful in case of irritation, to prevent it from degenerating into an injury. The rest of the time, however, the application of the product should be limited as this can clog the pores and promote the formation of sebaceous cysts.