Silkie guinea pigs are a long-haired breed known for being gentle and calm. Thanks to their long, soft hair, they’re one of the most elegant-looking guinea pigs, but it also makes them one of the most high-maintenance breeds. So, let’s take a closer look at this stunning breed and everything that goes into their care.
|Similar Breeds:||Coronet, Peruvian, Texel|
|Suitable for:||Families with small children, adults with time for high-maintenance grooming needs|
|Temperament:||Gentle, easygoing, sociable|
The Silkie can be traced back to the 1970s and is the result of crossing a long-haired Peruvian with the American short-hair. Their hair can reach 24 inches in length, which requires a lot of time and attention. So, while they’re perfect for children, they will require an adult to be in charge of their care. On average, they live to be 5 to 7 years old, but with the proper care, they have been known to live for up to 8 years.
Silkie Guinea Pig Breed Characteristics
How Much Do Silkie Guinea Pigs Cost?
Finding a Silkie can be tricky; they are a popular breed, but locating one is difficult. It’s best to check local shelters because sometimes people will take one on without realizing how high maintenance they are. If you can’t find one to adopt, try and locate a reputable breeder in your area.
A reputable breeder will be open to answering any questions you have, like what size of cages they use and how often they clean out the cages. They are affordable pets, but their adoption fees are only one part of the cost. You must factor in your start-up costs, from setting up the cage to buying food and grooming supplies.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Silkie Guinea Pig
Silkie guinea pigs are known for being gentle and calm and don’t generally bite unless there’s an excellent reason to do so; they prefer to flee than stand and fight.
Although guinea pigs aren’t as smart as cats or dogs, they are still pretty clever! They learn to recognize their names and can even be taught to perform tricks. They can also learn how to use a litter box, which is excellent news for you.
Do Silkie Guinea Pigs Make Good Pets?
Silkies make fantastic pets thanks to their gentle natures, but they are high-maintenance animals and require a dedicated owner to meet all their grooming needs. Although some think grooming is a chore, it can be an excellent way to bond you’re your Silkie.
Do Silkie Guinea Pigs Get Along With Other Pets?
Silkie guinea pigs are incredibly social, so keeping them in a pair or small group is beneficial. However, if you can only keep one, ensure you have a lot of spare time to interact with your Silkie so they don’t get lonely. Other compatible breeds include the Teddy, American, Texel, and Peruvian guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs move very fast, which can make your cat or dog’s instinct to chase kick in. Bigger pets can also accidentally step on your guinea pig and harm them, so it’s best just to keep your Silkie separate from your cat or dog.
You should also keep your guinea pig away from rabbits since they can carry certain diseases like Bordetella, which can be fatal to your Silkie.
Things to Know When Owning a Silkie Guinea Pig:
If this is your first experience with a guinea pig, you’ll need to know about their care to ensure they are safe, happy, and healthy. Of course, you already know that their grooming needs are greater than the average guinea pig, but we’ll take a closer look at exactly what they require.
It’s always a good idea to find out everything you possibly can before bringing a new pet into your family. This way, you can make the best decision and be prepared for your new family member. So, let’s look at exactly what goes into the care of a Silkie guinea pig!
Food & Diet Requirements 🥕
All guinea pigs need a constant supply of hay, pellets, and about a cup of fruit and vegetables to supplement the other nutrients they need, such as calcium and vitamin C. Your Silkie’s needs will differ depending on age, as younger piggies need more vitamin C than older ones.
Avoid food that contains artificial colors or flavors, and supply fresh, clean water that’s changed daily. It is best to keep their water clean and cage dry using a non-drip water bottle instead of a bowl.
Habitat & Enclosure Requirements🏡
The Humane Society recommends that guinea pigs have at least 7.5 square feet of space, but the more you can give, the better! The sides should be at least 12 inches high, and the top can be uncovered. The size matters for a variety of reasons, such as:
The bedding you choose is also incredibly important. You want something absorbent and soft that will also mask odors. There are a few options, like fleece blankets, paper-based bedding, and aspen wood shavings. Avoid cedar and pine shavings since they contain unsuitable chemicals that can irritate your guinea pig’s feet and respiratory system, particularly when soiled.
The location you choose for their enclosure is also crucial for their well-being, so let’s look at everything you need to consider.
Exercise & Sleeping Needs 🐹
Regular exercise is essential for your Silkie. If you take them outside for exercise, they should always be supervised to ensure they don’t injure themselves, stumble upon a predator, or eat something they shouldn’t. They will get plenty of exercise if they have a large enclosure, but you should still take them out for some interaction and bonding time. You can even teach them tricks if you have the patience and time.
Exercise will lower the risk of your guinea pig developing a medical condition, like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, anal impaction, and bumblefoot. This will save your Silkie from pain and suffering, a shortened life, and a hefty vet bill.
Don’t add an exercise wheel to your guinea pig’s enclosure since they can hurt themselves on them. Instead, add one hideaway per guinea pig. They might even sleep in these hideaways or use them to hide if they are feeling scared or startled. A guinea pig’s sleeping pattern is unpredictable, but they usually rest for 4 to 6 hours a day.
Guinea pigs aren’t the most trainable pet you can get, but it might surprise you to find out they can be trained. You can teach your Silkie basic commands using positive reinforcement. It’s an excellent bonding experience and keeps them from getting bored. You can amaze your friends by showing them how your guinea pig runs to you when you call their name and spins when asked to.
Some guinea pigs also enjoy playing with toys; while not all piggies will enjoy toys, it’s worth a shot seeing if your Silkie likes them. You can buy toys from a pet store, but they also love paper bags, cardboard boxes with holes cut into them, tunnels, hay stuffed into toys, and paper towel rolls.
Silkies need to be brushed daily since their hair can get tangled easily. They might also require the occasional professional grooming session to ensure their skin, nails, and hair are in good condition.
If your Silkie isn’t a show animal, it might be worth cutting their hair so they don’t step on it. They’re less likely to pick up debris or drag their hair through urine, which ultimately leads to fewer baths, too; guinea pigs generally don’t like baths, so the more you can do to avoid bath time, the better.
Like all guinea pigs, you will need to check their ears for signs of infection and earwax buildup, and they will need to have their nails trimmed at least once a month. The guinea pig’s teeth are constantly growing, and if they don’t eat enough hay, fruit, or vegetables, their teeth won’t be naturally worn down, leading to a painful impaction. If this happens, you will need to visit your vet for treatment.
Lifespan and Health Conditions 🏥
Guinea pigs are generally easy to care for and hardy when provided with the proper care and appropriate environment. However, they are susceptible to certain problems, and Silkies are no different.
Male vs Female
There aren’t any significant differences between male and female Silkies; males might be slightly larger and live slightly longer than females. However, they have similar temperaments.
3 Little-Known Facts About Silkie Guinea Pigs
1. Their Names Are Different in Europe
In Europe, Silkies are known as Shelties.
2. Their Hair Grows Like a Lion’s
You might not immediately think “lion” when you look at the Silkie, but their fur grows away from their faces like a lion’s. So, from above, it can form a tear-drop shape.
3. They’re Shy and Social
This might seem like an oxymoron, but Silkies are shy and docile, but with regular interaction and handling, they will come out of their shells and be some of the smallest best friends you’ve ever had!
Silkie guinea pigs are incredibly gentle and perfect for families with young children. They have beautiful, long-flowing locks that require a lot of maintenance, so they will need an adult to take charge of their grooming needs to ensure they get the required attention. So, if you have the time and patience to dedicate to this beautiful piggy, they will be an excellent addition to your family.
Featured Image Credit: Linn Currie, Shutterstock