The skinny pig is a breed of guinea pig and it is almost hairless. Generally, skinny pigs have hair on their feet, legs and muzzles. The rest of their bodies are hairless. Some variations in the breed genome traits enable some to have a thin covering of hair on their backs. A healthy skinny pig has some wrinkles on the legs and neck but with a skin that is entirely smooth on the entire body. There are several breeds of the hairless skinny pigs and skinny guinea pig is just one of the many breeds. However, the skinny guinea pig can be referred to as more of a category of guinea pigs rather than a breed specifically. Nonexistence of wrinkles and flaps is not an indication of poor health in skinny pigs.
Facts about the Skinny Pig.
- They are one of the two varieties of guinea pig. The other one is the Baldwin guinea pig.
- They are 8 to 10 inches in length.
- Their average lifespan is 8 to 10 years.
- They can be sunburned due to their sensitivity to changes in temperature.
- They do not need to be brushed but need extra bedding. This is to protect their delicate skin and to ensure they do not injure themselves since they love rubbing their backs and stomach thus the extra bedding.
- They can suffer stroke if exposed to too much sunlight.
- They are playful pets and they squeal to attract attention.
- They eat more due to their high metabolism rate. This is in part due to the lack of body fur or rather hair. It helps them keep warm.
- They are easy to domesticate as pets and they have gained popularity in pet stores across North America.
- The first batch of skinny guinea pigs was born in 1982 after a series of laboratory tests and procedures aimed at creating a perfect breed of the guinea pig.
Origins of the Skinny Pig.
The skinny pig is a cross-breed between haired guinea pigs and a hairless strain developed in the laboratory. They were developed in 1978 at Montreal’s Institute Armand Frappier where a group of scientists developed a colony of Hartley laboratory guinea pigs but identified a gene mutation in the process. Due to the rapid genetic mutation they were able to create a new breed of guinea pigs. Guinea pigs had for long been used as common test subjects. The first batch of guinea pigs were born in 1982 at the Charles River laboratories and their main purpose was to be used in dermatology studies. They were viewed as the ideal test subjects due to the presence of thymus and normal immune system similar to those of a human being. Initially, there were concerns about their immune system function and overall hardiness but these were later dismissed as the above features were found to be dependent upon their line and breeding rather than their hairless nature.
Diet of the Skinny Pig.
The most common food for the skinny pig is hay. The skinny pig loves playing in the hay at times.
Skinny pigs are very sensitive animals and their diet comprises of mostly vegetables and fruits. The diet should comprise of foods rich in vitamin C. This is achieved by feeding one quarter of whole pepper daily. The pepper can be either red or green. Red bell peppers should not be fed to the skinny pigs on a daily basis due to the high sugar content thus green bell peppers provide the perfect substitute. To increase the amount of vitamin C, two to three kale leaves given to the skinny pigs twice per week is recommended. Also, broccoli, basil, mint and mint can be fed to the skinny pigs with a few sprigs of each of the last three provide weekly.
Half a floret of the former together with the stalk should be fed on a weekly basis too. To boost the supply of vitamins lettuces, cucumbers, parsley leaves, grape tomatoes, apples, pears, seedless grapes, and citrus fruits, con on the comb, green beans, spinach and bananas should be included in the diet. They should be given in the below proportions.
- Two or three average sized dandelion leaves given two times per week.
- One small plum tomato given twice per week. For this, the poisonous green part should be removed first and in case it is a large tomato, the seeds should be removed.
- One full slice of cucumber per day. The succulent cucumber helps in hydration thus helps keep the skinny pigs cool especially in the hot weather.
- A few sprigs of parsley given on a weekly basis. To reduce the risk of skinny pigs suffering from bladder stones due to the high calcium levels in parsley, the sprigs should be given in measured proportions.
- One small slice of an apple per week. The slice should be cut into small pieces and fed to the skinny pigs randomly due to the high sugar content. Also, the small pieces prevent them from suffering mouth sores.
- One green bean daily, a half cup of spinach per week and one eighth of a banana per week.
- One small unpeeled pear slice, one to two segments of a citrus fruit for instance an orange, one to two seedless grapes, all fed on a weekly basis.
- On dozen segments of corns on the cob fed twice per week. These should be administered under supervision to ensure they do not choke on the husks.
The above are the vegetables and fruits that should be fed to the skinny pig to increase vitamin supply.
Other foods that can be fed to the guinea pigs are hay, oat grass and pellets of which the latter are high in vitamins and they act as a good supplement to the vegetables and fruits. The hay fed to the skinny pig should be well balanced with the fruits and vegetables include in the diet. Too many fruits or vegetables and less of hay cause them to diarrhoea and it also causes indigestion. The food pellets offer an excellent alternative due the high level of nutrients and vitamins in the pellets. However, there are some foods that should not be fed to the skinny pigs entirely. They are: chocolate, meat, potatoes and dairy products.
Personality of the Skinny Pig.
Skinny pigs are easy to handle and they prefer sticking to routines in terms of the daily activities such as feeding. They are social animals and they are a playful and mischievous lot. They are also of a curious nature. When one approaches their cage, the skinny pig may poke their heads out and hide inside an object. Whenever they are happy they may grunt, gurgle or squeak to let one know they are happy. When extremely happy they bounce up and squeal for attention. They have no hair on their bodies but there are small tufts on their feet. Some have fur on their shoulders. Their body skin is wrinkled and comes in various colours and patterns. Haired guinea pigs eat more since they need to burn up more calories in order to keep warm. Additionally, they also need a few hours of playtime every day if possible. The period of play stimulates their mind and body and makes them feel content. It is easy to rub their backs and their stomachs without causing any feeling of discomfort. They are fun, lovable and full of energy. They enjoy the company of people. They like playing in the hay.
Features of the Skinny Pig.
Skinny pigs have hair on their feet, legs and muzzles. Some grow a light hair fuzz along the back. Most have smooth skin but some have wrinkles around the neck and legs. They have a smooth and gentle skin. Their
Caring for the Skinny Pig.
The skinny pig is more vulnerable to elements and factors that lead to poor health of a skinny pig. They are sensitive to low and high temperatures. They should be housed in a room that is at normal room temperature. Feeding the skinny pig properly and placing them in room at mild temperature enables them to maintain their normal body temperature that ranges between 75 to 80 degree Fahrenheit of body temperature. Due to lack of hair, they are more vulnerable to injuries, infections and skin lacerations. Skinny pigs with exposed skin should be carefully tended to since they are extremely vulnerable to injuries and infections. Thus, as a necessary precaution, they should be kept indoors in a controlled environment. They should be taken out for some sunshine but monitored at all times since due to their playful and curious nature; they may end up causing injuries to their delicate bodies. The bedding provided for the skinny pig should be soft and free from sharp objects and surfaces. They are really sensitive and any slight vulnerability they face should be eliminated to ensure their overall safety.