|Colors:||Variations of solid or combined brown and white, including agouti and Himalayan|
|Temperament:||Well-known for being extremely calm and gentle|
Silkie guinea pigs, also commonly known as Shelties, are a long-haired breed often used as show animals and make great pets due to their calm and gentle nature. The Silkie breed first came about in the 1970s and was created by crossing the long-haired Peruvian and the Self Black. Their calm temperament makes them ideal pets for children, but they do require high-maintenance care and should be looked after by adults.
Their extremely smooth and silky coats earned them their name, and their coats can easily grow below their feet. This makes daily grooming and brushing essential in Silkies.
2 Little-Known Facts About Silkie Guinea Pigs
1. Longer coat at the back
A Silkie guinea pig has hair that can grow up to 24 inches long and forms a unique teardrop shape when viewed from above, due to the hair at the back being longer.
2. Styled hair
Silkies have similar hair to Peruvian guineas, due to their shared genetics, and the two are often confused. But instead of their hair covering their head like Peruvians, Silkies hair sweeps backward over their heads. This unique trait makes it look as though their hair has been styled.
Things to Know When Owning a Silkie Guinea Pig
Food & Diet Requirements🥕
Silky guineas don’t have any specialized dietary requirements, but their long coats will benefit greatly from omega-3 fatty acids. Guinea pigs cannot make their own vitamin C, so they need to be given it as a regular part of their diet. Good-quality pellets are the best food for Silkies and all guineas in general. Pellets contain all the nutritional requirements needed for a complete and healthy diet, including vitamin C. While fruits and vegetables are high in sugar, giving these to your guinea on occasion as a treat should be fine.
Any commercial foods that contain artificial flavorings or colorants should be avoided. Muesli mixes that contain seeds and nuts are also not recommended for daily use and should only be given as occasional treats. Fresh timothy hay should available for your guineas at all times, as this will provide them with fiber and help keep their growing teeth short.
Your Silkie guineas should have easy access to clean, fresh water at all times. The best way is with a drip bottle system, rather than a dish or bowl. A drip system will keep the cage dry and the water clean, as it is contained. The water should be changed daily.
Regular exercise is an important factor for any breed of guinea, and they should be provided with an enclosure big enough to run around in. Silkies are extremely calm and gentle and are lovely pets to play with. Bear in mind that exercise wheels are not good for guineas, as it can damage their back.
Due to their long hair, Silkies need daily maintenance. They need to be brushed and bathed regularly to prevent their hair from matting. Due to their gentle nature, most silkies will enjoy the attention, but offering them a treat while brushing will keep them calm and make the process easier.
Silkies are generally not fond of bathing, and regular spot cleaning is a better option so they don’t get stressed out.
Health and Conditions 🏥
Like many long-haired guinea breeds, Silkies are fairly susceptible to fly strike. This disease occurs when they are kept in dirty or unsanitary conditions. The matted hair of your guinea can become saturated with dirt, urine, or feces and will then attract flies. The flies will lay eggs in your Silkie’s matted fur, and the hatched maggots will feed on the infected tissues of your guinea. A guinea can die within days of getting this disease, so it is vital to keep them clean and groomed at all times.
Matted fur is not limited to risks of fly strike. It can also restrict your guinea’s range of movement and even prevent it from feeding and drinking properly.
A guinea that does not have sufficient vitamin C in its diet can suffer from vitamin C deficiency, which can lead to an unhealthy coat and could eventually result in hair loss and a compromised immune system. If a guinea doesn’t have access to fresh hay, they can quickly develop digestion and teeth issues.
Silkie guinea pigs are the most gentle of guinea breeds. They love to be petted and handled, making them perfect pets for children, and their beautiful long and silky fur make them ideal as show animals.
Silkies are high maintenance, though, and may not be ideal if you are a first-time guinea owner. If you have the time and dedication, however, they are beautiful and gentle pets.
Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons