Silkies (also known as Shelties) are very popular guinea pigs and, along with the Texel and the American, are among the smallest breeds.
Silkies are like Peruvian guinea pigs without whorls. They have long, straight, soft, silky fur. The color of their fur is white, as their name suggests.
They have a docile personality and calm temperament, but because of their lack of coat, they need extra care in hot or cold weather.
Features of Silkie guinea pigs
Silkies are small to medium sized guinea pigs that come in any colour combination possible.
Colors include white, black, blue, chocolate and lilac with red eyes, although white is most common. Fur length varies by markings; the lighter the coloration the longer the fur will be.
They can also come with stripes or spots where it appears that they are wearing socks or boots on their feet. Silkies weigh about 600 grams (1.3 lb) when they are fully grown.
Silkie guinea pigs are great pets
Silkies are great pets for children, although they need lots of cuddling time in the evenings. They are very intelligent and quick to learn tricks.
They can be litter trained and will work hard to please their owner by using their intelligence to solve problems. Silkies also do not chew much because silkies do not have long teeth or an insatiable appetite.
Silkies are one of the rarest breeds of guinea pig in the world; this is probably due to smaller numbers living in captivity than breeding couples.
Around 6,000 of the world’s 6 million guinea pigs are silkies. Silkies are born around April, but breeding begins in late winter.
Silkie guinea pigs should be kept safely.
Silkies are kept in cages or cages with a nest box. The cage must be large enough for the female to move around easily and the whole cage must be covered with straw or hay.
The walls of the cage should be about high so that there is enough room for both of the guinea pigs to move freely within their cell without fighting over territory.
The bedding should be cleaned regularly by your pet’s owner to avoid odour problems, which can affect your animal when they are in close quarters for too long.
The cage should be cleaned regularly to avoid infection. You can wash the cage using a disinfectant, or soap and water. The nest box must be very clean to avoid the risk of disease.
Medicine for silkies should be administered regularly to prevent illness, which is inevitable in captive animals that are relatively small compared to their wild counterparts.
This is due to lack of space, cramped living conditions and lack of proper exercise outdoors. Disease is probably one of the most common reasons for death among pet guinea pigs under one year old.
Vaccinations are recommended before 2 months of age and after 5 months if they are kept together with other pets, such as dogs or cats.
How to take care of silkie guinea pig
The silkie breed is not an easy pet to care for and requires daily attention and maintenance. However, they are friendly and will bond with you quickly, which makes them a great pet to share your life with.
Silkie Guinea Pigs are manageable to take care of, but there are certain things they need to be kept clean. They are very prone to ear mites and they can be quite expensive to treat.
Being a soft, gentle breed they do not bite or scratch and the only two medical problems you will see them with are urinary tract infections or respiratory infections.
Their diet should consist of a high percentage of hay and certain foods.
They need to be fed 4 x daily, but they are very good at chewing their food, so this need not be strictly monitored keeping in mind that it is still important for them to eat regularly.
Health disorders of Silkie guinea pigs
The one major health disorder silkies are prone too is the hairless condition, which occurs when he/she stops growing hair on their face and body. It can happen to any age pig, but the earlier it is caught the less expensive it is to treat.
A lot of silkies will not grow any hair again after it reaches maturity. Silkies are generally very healthy and have a low mortality rate.
Also Read : Everything to know about Rex Guinea Pig
Healthy silkie guinea pigs survive longer than usual
Healthy Silkie Pigs live to 8 – 10 years, however it is said that the oldest recorded was the oldest silkie pig, who lived to be 14. The longest living pig on record being 12 years 10 months. Silkie Guinea Pigs have been known to live a total of 15 years.
There are not many diseases a silkie pig can get but some of the problems they may get are: Fits / Convulsions / Seizures – Silkies are more prone to epilepsy than other breeds of guinea pigs, which can result from environmental or hereditary factors.