Silkie Guinea Pig – One of the more stylish animals out there has to be the Silkie Guinea Pig, and much of that has to do with their wonderful hair. While the hair is the first thing that you notice, you will quickly be won over by their great personality. It really is easy to understand why they have become such a popular breed of guinea pig.
Their great looks and wonderful personality make them great pets, but it also makes them great for showing. Judges at these shows can’t help but be won over by what the Silkie brings to the table.
Silkie Guinea Pig Origins
The name of this breed is no real surprise given that it has silky smooth hair, although it’s worth noting that in Europe, they are more commonly known as Sheltie Guinea Pigs. There is probably a very good reason for that name change, but it’s one that has remained elusive up until now.
The popularity of the Silkie Guinea Pig has come quickly, as the breed was only discovered in the 1970’s. The original breeding efforts took place in the UK, with a Peruvian and a Self Black Guinea Pig crossbred to create the Silkie. No-one really knows why these two breeds were chosen to breed, but it’s not uncommon to mix and match breeds in order to create something more exotic.
The Silkie Guinea Pig as we know it today was officially recognized in the UK in 1973, albeit with the Sheltie name.
Once the breeding process was perfected, Silkie’s began to become popular as domestic pets. It didn’t take long for people to fall in love with these cute little animals, and you can now find them in homes all across the globe.
Quick Facts About the Silkie Guinea Pig
Here are a few things you may or may not know about the silkie guinea pig:
- The silkie guinea pig is a main classified breed
- It is a long-haired variant of the smooth-haired breed
- There are no rosettes on the Silkie guinea pig
- It has a long tail
- Its distinctive hair naturally sweeps back from the face
- While bred from the Peruvian, it has very different hair on the face
- Its hair is short when it is born
- Hair growth starts quickly after birth
- Silkies guinea pig that are shown usually have well maintained coats. Breeders will often wrapper the hair
- Its name is derived from its silky coat
- Unlike the Peruvian, the hair of the Silkie is not naturally parted on the back
Silkie Guinea Pig Characteristics
One look at the hairy styling of the Silkie and it’s easy to understand why they are so popular. They are shiny, soft, and just fun to hold in your hand. The Teddy Guinea Pig is another popular breed, and it’s short, rough coat is almost the polar opposite of the Silkie.
The Silkie is much more like the Peruvian Guinea Pig, albeit with some subtle differences. The main difference is in the way that the hair of the Silkie sweeps back from its face, making it seem almost windswept.
Their hair is long and straight, much like the Peruvian, but that swept back look is what sets them apart, and you almost get the feeling that they have just stepped out of a hair salon open exclusively to celebrities. There are some who feel that the hair looks much like a lion’s mane.
The hair of the Silkie is not as long as the Peruvian Guinea Pig, although it is longer around back. Viewed from above, the Silkie takes on the shape of a teardrop, which is why you will sometimes hear people refer to them using that very description.
Let’s Talk About the Silkie Satin Guinea Pig
A Silkie Satin Guinea Pig is part of the Silkie family, but it comes with hair that is both softer and glossier. Its name is derived from the feel of its hair, which is a lot like satin. Both the regular Silkie and the Silkie Satin are breed that are recognized by the American Cavy Breeders Association (ACBA).
Silkie Guinea Pig Temperament and Behaviour
If it’s a gentle, laid back breed you are looking for, then the silkie guinea pig may be the way to go. They tend to be a little shy when you first get them, but they will soon warm up to you. One way to get them to be friendly a little quicker is to use treats and food to coax them out of their cage. Once you have developed trust, you will find that they are wonderful animals to have as a pet.
Features of the Silkie Guinea Pig
The hair of a silkie guinea pig can grow to as long as 24 inches, and it has the appearance of a teardrop shape when viewed from above. While similar in style to the hair of the Peruvian Guinea Pig, the hair on a Silkie is swept back to the point of looking as though it was intentionally styled that way. The average Silkie is 7-10 inches in length, and can live to be between 5 and 7 years old.
The Silkie Guinea Pig’s Hair Style and Coloring
The length of hair on the Silkie Guinea Pig is one of the things that makes them a great show pet. If you have a tan colored Silkie, it will not be accepted into shows. Other common colors of Silkie hair that are acceptable include white, black, cream, red, beige, lilac, and blue, as well as color combinations.
Silkie Guinea Pig Care
Their cute look and docile demeanor make the Silkie Guinea Pig seem like the perfect pet for kids, but the reality is that they are not. Looking after a Silkie takes a lot of work, as they require daily grooming to maintain their lovely locks. The only scenario in which they might work for a kid is you are a parent that’s willing to take on all the grooming responsibilities.
Keeping up with that grooming means brushing the hair of your Silkie at least once per day. Failing to do so will lead to the hair becoming tangled, which can be awfully uncomfortable for the guinea pig. If you get the guinea pig at a young age, get in the habit of brushing hi at the same time every day. Not only will he become comfortable with the act of being brushed, he will also start looking forward to it.
Bathing a guinea pig is not necessarily a great idea, although it is okay to do it every once in a while. Silkies in particular can benefit from bathing, as I will help keep their coat soft and shiny, but that doesn’t mean you should go and drop them into a sink full of water. The best method to use for bathing a Silkie is what is commonly referred to as spot cleaning.
Rather than putting them into water, use a wet garment to wipe their coat. Get in the habit of doing some spot cleaning about once a month, and just like with brushing, make it something that you do with your Silkie from an early age.
Silkie Guinea Pig Cage
The ideal home for a Silkie is a secure cage that has space to move, plenty of ventilation, and a separate area for food and water. The cages that you often see in pet store are too small, and are not up to the standards recommended by The Humane Society of the United States.
They believe that the ideal size of cage for 1 or 2 guinea pigs is a minimum of 7.5 square feet. They also recommend that you steer clear of wire floors on a cage, opting instead to go with a solid bottom.
Silkies will be comfortable in many different types of bedding materials, but your best bets are commercial paper bedding, wood pellets, or towels and fleece. Aspen shavings are an option, too, but they may end up getting stuck in his hair.
Aromatic plant oils can create health issues for guinea pigs, which is why you should avoid using cedar and raw pine shavings. Straw and corn cob bedding are also not very good, simply because both can mold rather quickly.
It’s also a good idea to have at least one shelter available for your guinea pig. Your local pet store will probably have a wide selection of shelters, but something as basic as a cardboard box will work just fine.
Toys that are safe to chew are a great addition, as are tunnels, caves, and low ramps. Bad ideas include rodent wheels and plastic exercise balls, especially the latter, as they can be scary to guinea pigs, and can also cause spinal damage if you get the wrong sized ball.
The cage should be placed in an area of the room that is away from direct sunlight and draft-free. You will want the cage in a place where the guinea pig can see you, and it should be in a room at a temperature range of 65 and 75 degrees F (18 to 24 degrees C). It goes without saying that their heavy coats can make them overheat quickly if the room is too hot. Clean out the cage at least once a week, and more often if needed.
Silkie Guinea Pig Diet
The best diet for a Silkie is one that consists of pellets, timothy hay, and fresh fruits and veggies. While commercial foods that contain seeds, nuts, and dried fruit are good for snacks, they are not suitable for daily consumption. Timothy hay is a must, as it will help with dental care and digestion.
As far as vegetables go, the best items to use are spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, and other types of leafy greens. Tomatoes, green peppers, and carrots are also healthy, and should be frequently added to his diet.
While fruit is good, you should go with smaller portions if the fruits you are feeding him are high in sugar. A little bit of banana, strawberry, or blueberries is good, as are orange slices and apple wedges.
If you notice that your Silkie is getting diarrhea after eating fruit, reduce the amounts that you are feeding him. Any produce that remains uneaten after a couple of hours should be removed from the cage and thrown out.
Guinea pigs are unlike other animals in that they are unable to make their own vitamin C, which means they need to get it from their diet. High-quality pellets will deliver that, as will several different fruits and vegetables.
If you are feeding your guinea pig a well-balanced, healthy diet, he should get enough vitamin C, but you can always turn to supplements if needed.
Fresh water delivered via gravity-flow bottles should always be on hand, and all food should be served in earthenware dishes.
Silkie Guinea Pig Average Life Span
Ost Silkie Guinea Pigs live to be about 4 or 5 years old, although some have been known to live as long as 7 years in ideal conditions. Larger guinea pigs can grow to be as old as 8, and sometimes up to 11 years old.
Silkie Guinea Pig Exercise
Silkie Guinea Pigs have a great personality, but they are still a little more shy than other breeds, which makes training a little bit of a chore. They should never be outside unattended, so be prepared to be vigilant if heading outdoors.
While they are certainly shy, Silkies are also very smart, so be sure that they are stimulated with things like toys and wood blocks for chewing on. They need a very specific room temperature to be happy, so keep them clear of areas that are too hot or cold, or which are susceptible to drafts. Never place their cage near a heating or air conditioning vent.
Love, a healthy diet, and a little bit of exercise are what it takes to have a healthy, happy Silkie Guinea Pig. Like any pet, it is up to you as the owner to ensure that they are properly fed and cared for. Do that for your Silkie, and they will reward you with a whole lot of love in return.