“Skinny pigs” are guinea pigs that don’t have hair and look like tiny hippos

If you haven’t laid eyes on a baby hippopotamus yet, do yourself a favor and look them up. Their cute, chubby little bodies are so squeezable you might wish you could have one as a pet. But alas, that’s not a realistic option for most people. However, there is a pet that’s kind of like a mini hippo: the “skinny pig”.

Contrary to what their name suggests, skinny pigs are not actually skinny and they’re not pigs either. They’re a breed of guinea pig known as Cavia porcellus, and they’re mostly hairless, making them look like miniature hippos. And who wouldn’t want a mini hippo as a pet? Many people do!

Believe it or not, some folks even thought “house hippos” were a real thing after seeing a fake commercial about them on TV. But while house hippos aren’t real, skinny pigs certainly are. They have a few patches of fur on their face and legs, but are mostly hairless. As a result, they make great indoor pets that need warmth and protection.

Skinny pigs were actually created by scientists for research purposes after the mutation for hairlessness was discovered. Their lack of hair made them easier to experiment on. They’re a bit smaller than the average guinea pig, weigh between 1 to 2 lbs., and measure about 9 to 12 inches. They come in various colors due to their hairy ancestors. For instance, mating a red-haired guinea pig with a hairless albino guinea pig can produce hairless, red-skinned skinny pigs.

Black and “Dalmation” skinny pigs are the most common varieties. They’re becoming more and more popular as house pets in North America and Europe. Skinny pigs are highly social animals and thrive with a companion, whether it’s a skinny pig or a hairy guinea pig.

It’s important to ensure that skinny pigs have enough space to roam around and keep warm blankets and materials nearby, since their hairlessness makes them susceptible to the cold. Soft materials like fleece bedding are recommended over wood chips in their cages. They’re also prone to scratches and dermatitis, since they lack hair to protect their skin. However, their hairlessness means they don’t need to be bathed as frequently. Skinny pigs generally live for five to seven years.

Before getting a skinny pig as a pet, make sure you can provide them with the proper care. You should also consider whether you want to support the breeding of a potentially less healthy alternative to the guinea pig.

“In our opinion, the best way to buy a baby guinea pig is to choose one that has been bred with health as the number one priority. The same is true for any animal, of any breed,” Squeaks and Nibbles advises. “So, it might be best not to choose one bred simply for the color, the coat, or the lack theref.

But, instead to choose for the betterment of the breed. And of course, to provide the best quality of life for the new baby.”