Baldwin & Skinny pig Basic Care

Hairless guinea pigs have similar care requirements and live a similar lifespan to their hairy counterparts. There are of course some differences, but with forethought and preparation, you will find they require only a little more time and money to provide for.


Hairless guinea pigs should always be housed indoors, in a relatively temperature-stable environment. Their ideal temperature range is between 75F-80F (24C-26C). In addition to keeping between these temperatures, it is important that they not have large changes in temperature between day and night. Rapid shifts from evening to morning and morning to afternoon increase the tax on their immune system and increase the risk of illness.

As they have almost no hair to protect them, they should not spend much time in the sun. Things like sunscreen are not safe, and should not be used as protection. Protection should always be in the form of keeping them out of direct sunlight when possible.

Cage Requirements

There are many great options when it comes to suitable cages for your hairless guinea pig. Though consistent temperature is important, proper ventilation is also still critical as all guinea pigs have sensitive respiratory systems. Cages should have bars or grids on the sides and top* of the cage. Walls may be four to six inches high to reduce the mess that gets kicked outside of the cage, but should not be so high as to limit airflow where the guinea pigs' noses are going to be. That said, the cage should not be in a location that has frequent or strong drafts. They need easy air movement, but not enough to chill them.

*Guinea pig cages do not necessarily need to be covered on top as guinea pigs do not usually climb or jump. Tops can be used to prevent objects from falling into the cage, or to ensure safety for guinea pigs known to be excessive jumpers or climbers.

Aquariums and other solid-sided enclosures should not be used as guinea pig cages.

Size is also very important. Guinea pigs have sensitive digestive systems and those systems function best when the guinea pig has enough room to run, jump and play. Sedentary guinea pigs have much higher chances of health issues including impaction, obesity and foot sores.

Food and Water

Fresh food and water should be available to your hairless guinea pig at all times. Without hair to help them stay warm, hairless cavies burn far more calories than their haired counterparts and must eat and drink significantly more each day to stay healthy. They should be free-fed high quality grass hay (such as Timothy or Orchard).

Second, a high quality pellet food should be offered every day. High quality pellets will contain only pellet diet and not other add-ins such as seeds, colored pieces or dried fruits. Your guinea pig's pellet food should have a main ingredient of alfalfa during the first 6-12 months of his life (while he is still growing) and then can be transitioned to a Timothy-hay based diet as an adult. Once you have decided on a brand of pellets, only change it using a 1-2 week transition period from the old food to the new. Consistency is extremely important to reduce risk of gastrointestinal illness. Since hairless guinea pigs need additional calories and have a hard time maintaining excess body fat, some sweet grains (wheat, barley, rolled oats and molasses) can be offered in their feed and they can have generally sugar-rich treats (fresh or dried fruit pieces) more frequently than furry guinea pigs. Always keep an eye on your hairless guinea pig's body condition and back off the treats and extra calories if he is getting too fat.

For optimum health, guinea pigs should have a cup of greens per day, per animal. For hairless guinea pigs this can be closer to 1.5-2 cups due to their high metabolism. Vegetables should include dark leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce or green leaf lettuce. Bell peppers, parsley, cilantro, cucumbers and carrots are also good veggies to include.

Other people-food should not be offered and the following foods should be considered dangerous:

Fresh water should be offered at all times. Glass or plastic water bottles are generally easier to maintain, keep sanitary and keep full compared to bowls. Water should be safe, drinkable and should not contain vitamin drops. Guinea pigs should receive their vitamins from their food and sometimes additives to water can discourage them from drinking enough to stay healthy. Remember, hairless guinea pigs drink more than their hairy counterparts too, so you may need a bigger water bottle for them if you're more familiar with regular guinea pigs.

Accessories and Toys

Guinea pigs enjoy tunnels to run through, toys to push, toss and play with, and houses to hide in. For hairless guinea pigs, it is even more critical that all of these things have soft and/or smooth edges and nothing they could scratch or cut themselves against. Cardboard tubes are a favorite, as are wooden houses. Toys should be safe for them to chew on and can either be purchased at a pet store, from sellers online, or made at home. Mental and physical enrichment is important for your guinea pig's best health.


Make sure you have a veterinarian lined up before you bring your guinea pig home. Not all vets are experienced with cavies and going to one who is not could be dangerous or deadly. There are several antibiotics commonly prescribed to cats and dogs that are actually toxic to guinea pigs (including amoxicillin). Make sure your veterinarian is knowledgeable in the specialized care and treatment of guinea pigs before an emergency happens.

Check out our article on Common Illnesses in the Hairless Cavy for more information.