Adorable Hairless Guinea Pigs, Known As ‘Skinny Pigs’ Look Like Tiny Baby Hippos
The skinny pig is an almost hairless breed of guinea pig they typically have hair on their muzzles. But their bodies are completely hairless. The hairless strain was a spontaneous genetic mutation that was first identified at Montreal’s Armand Frappier Institute in 1978.
Known as “skinny pigs,” the unique guinea pig breed does not grow hair on its body, and comes in various colors and patterns. “Even though the majority of their skin is hairless, there is still some fur on their muzzles, feet, and legs,” according to BoredPanda. The Awkward Animals post has received more than 12,000 comments and 42,000 shares over the past weeks, mostly from people expressing their joy over the tiny creatures. Others have understandably had a lot of questions.
One person commented: “Don’t they get cold? How can you cuddle them? Where do you buy them? Are they hard to keep up as far as their cage? Do they bite? How long do they live? Do cats and dogs get along with them? Can they roll in those balls like the other hamsters?” Luckily, it turns out they’re pretty popular, and several owners jumped into the comments to answer questions about what it’s like to have one and share photos.
The pets are described as ‘gentle and loving’: “Love my house hippo, Lexi!” Brittany Parlipiano Powell wrote in the comments alongside a photo of her lighter-colored pet. When asked if not having hair affected the animal’s smell, she replied: “Nope. Although they are not smelly animals to begin with.” Christine Anthony, owned of “Handsome Hagrid the House Hippo,” told Insider her daughter bought him for her in Pennsylvania at a PetSmart. “I like having him because he’s just so darn cute and he’s the closest I’ll ever get to having an actual hippo,” she said. A huge hippo fan, she added: “He even has his own room where he is surrounded by a lot of my hippo collection, even though there are hippos in almost every room of my house.”
Meanwhile, Ian Haggerty, who shares photos of his two rescue skinny pigs Ki and Tio on Instagram, told Insider he got his pets from Critter Rescue South Africa just over two years ago. “They are seriously the cutest little guys I have ever owned,” he said, adding that they don’t bite. “They make the cutest little sounds.”He told Insider they are “very easy to keep” and have “a smallish indoor cage for nights and a huge outdoor cage for the day time.” “Luckily here in South Africa it doesn’t get too cold during the day in winter and if it is very cold they stay indoors,” he said. The general consensus from owners is that the pets are lovable and outgoing.
Monique Rees commented that her house hippo named Frank had been “gentle and loving,” while Jodie Johnson-Torres shared a photo of her skinny pig named Sausage, writing: “He purred at night when he knew I was going to sleep and would squeal and buck like a bull when he saw me in a morning.”They’re also perfect for those with allergies, since their lack of hair makes them safe to be around.
‘Skinny pigs’ reportedly came from a lab in the 80s: It turns out the hairless creatures are nothing new — in 2015, Mother Nature Network called them the “new pet craze,” adding that at the time, they cost around $150. BoredPanda reported that the modern “skinny pig” is a cross between a breed created in a lab in the 80s, and a haired guinea pig. “It is believed that the hairless strain is most likely related to a spontaneous genetic mutation first identified back in 1978,” according to the site. “A few years later, in 1982, these type of baby guinea pigs were sent to Charles River Laboratories to continue breeding them. Now they are commonly used in dermatology studies.” Now popular in North America and parts of Europe as household pets, some in the animal industry remain concerned about their welfare. However, with some special care, they appear to be the perfect compact pet.
They require special care due to their lack of fur: “Because they lack a fur coat, they get cold easily so they must be an indoor pet,” Mother Nature Network reported. “If they are permitted some outdoor time on warm days, they need sunscreen to protect their sensitive skin. “They also eat more than regular guinea pigs. This is because they have a higher metabolism as their bodies work harder to stay warm.” MNN added that a fur coat acts as a “soft armor” for normal guinea pigs, so owners of hairless skinny pigs “need to be extra careful to protect their pets from harm.” “I have to make sure the house stays in the 70s because of his lack of fur and I don’t take him out of the house unless it’s warm,” Anthony told Insider. “I keep him shaded from the sun when I do take him out so he doesn’t burn.”