You’ve seen hairless dogs, hairless cats and you may be familiar with hairless rats, but hairless guinea pigs might be new to you. They’ve only been around since the late 1970s, and there are actually two types of guinea pigs who don’t sport fur like the others. Baldwin guinea pigs are entirely hairless while skinny pigs have tufts of hair on their feet and faces. Although they lack hair, that doesn’t mean they lack follicles.
Yes, They Have Follicles
Even though they don’t have hair, Baldwin guinea pigs do have basic undeveloped follicles, but they’re hairless because the hair shafts are missing. And because they do have hair on parts of their little bodies, it’s evident that some of skinny pigs’ follicles are more developed and do contain hair shafts.
Similar to Haired Cavies
Guinea pigs in general are social critters who enjoy interacting with their humans, and the hairless variety share this trait with their hairy cousins. They’re just as inquisitive and playful as cavies with hair, too. Just as with typical guinea pigs, hairless cavies thrive when they have other guinea pigs for company. Two or more hairless guinea pigs will be happier and healthier than one lone little naked piggy on her own.
Special Treatment Required
Since hairless guinea pigs don’t have a coat to protect their skin you’ll have to take a few extra precautions if you adopt one. Because their skin is exposed, hairless guinea pigs of both types are more vulnerable to injury. They could easily scratch themselves on the uneven surface of a toy or their habitat or could sustain a wound from their own nails. Make sure that everything in your hairless guinea pig’s habitat has a smooth surface, including the interior of the habitat itself. Monitor your cavy’s nails, too, and have the vet clip them when they become long enough to do damage. Also, with no insulating fur, you should keep your hairless piggy’s room at least 74 degrees Fahrenheit so she won’t catch a chill. Keep her out of direct sunlight, too, as her delicate skin will burn easily.
Skin Care for Hairless Guinea Pigs
Once or twice a month give your hairless guinea pig a bath in warm, shallow water. The water can reach her chest, but shouldn’t be deeper than that and shouldn’t reach her face. Wet her skin, but take care not to get water in her eyes or ears. Baby shampoo is a gentle cleanser that you can use to lather your hairless cavy’s skin, but be sure to rinse all the shampoo off so it won’t dry her skin. After her bath, blot your hairless baby thoroughly dry with a soft towel and then apply a scent-free lotion to her skin. Watch your piggy closely to ensure that her skin doesn’t become dry and flaky between baths. You may need to apply lotion weekly to keep her skin moisturized.