There is, in fact, a difference between Peruvian Satin guinea pigs and regular Perurvian guinea pigs, and it’s more than just how their hair looks! They’re very similar in that their appearances are very close, but Peruvian Satin piggies carry a gene that gives their fur that satin, glossy effect. While this gene does make their hair appear pretty, the trait comes with many health issues that are anything but. These healthy issues can lead to symptoms that seriously affect their lives.
If you’re looking to own a Peruvian Satin guinea pig, you should make sure you’re aware of all the special needs and specialized care that these piggies require in order to live a happier, comfortable life. They require more time and attention than regular guinea pigs, and it’s important that you’re ready to commit to giving them all the love and care that they need in order to live more comfortably!
Some guinea pigs carry this satin gene, regardless of breed, and pass it down in their litters whenever they have litters. Breeding satin guinea pigs is discouraged as they will always pass down the gene and the health issues along with it, and it becomes a cycle.
Physical Characteristics of Peruvian Satin Guinea Pigs
When it comes to their appearances, Peruvian Satin guinea pigs have the same fur patterns as regular Peruvian guinea pigs, but they have hollow hair follicles. This makes their long hair look glossy, especially when seen in sunlight. It also makes their nose and feet appear especially glossy, almost wet-looking.
Generally, guinea pigs with the satin gene sometimes tend to have bone deformities that come with the decalcification, which causes their bones to be softer and brittle, leading to easier breakage. Peruvian Satin guinea pigs can grow to be up to 20 inches long.
Peruvian Satin guinea pigs tend to be friendly and cuddly, and also can be pretty nosy! They’re curious and very interested in the environment around them. It’s also important to note that when they’re bored or not stimulated enough, they tend to chew on other guinea pigs' fur. This just means Peruvian Satin guinea pigs like lots of attention to keep them occupied!
In general, guinea pigs need a constant supply of hay and water, pellets, and around a cup of fruits and vegetables to supplement other nutrients they need, such as vitamin C, calcium, and others. Younger guinea pigs need more calcium than older ones, but older ones need more vitamin C. It’s important to make sure that your guinea pig has a balanced diet that doesn’t consist too much of any one thing.
Of course because of the satin syndrome, it makes it difficult for them to fully absorb calcium, no matter how much of it they consume. Sunlight exposure can help with this, since it helps with making vitamin D, which in turn helps absorb calcium. Syringe feeding can help when they have dental and jaw problems from bone decalcification, which is when their bones become thinner.
Peruvian Satin Guinea Pig Grooming
When it comes to grooming a Peruvian Satin guinea pig, it isn’t too different from grooming any other long-haired guinea pig. Because they have longer hair, they’re more likely to suffer from matting, knots, or tangles—this means daily brushing is necessary to prevent these things! When brushing the piggies’ hair, you should make sure to be gentle! Many long-haired guinea pigs enjoy the hair brushing process, and you can use this as an opportunity to make it a bonding experience.
While most guinea pigs don’t need to take full baths, long-haired guinea pigs are vulnerable to fly strike if their hair is dirty from urine, poop, and other debris. A dirty mane makes the perfect breeding ground for flies to lay their eggs, which leads to the flies hatching and preying on your guinea pig’s infected skin. This is something that can kill your guinea pig very quickly, so it’s important to keep your Peruvian Satin guinea pig as clean as possible to prevent this from happening.
Just like most animals, guinea pigs don’t enjoy being in contact with water, but baths can be necessary for their health and safety!
Common health issues in Peruvian Satin Guinea Pigs
Aside from the normal health issues that most guinea pigs face, such as scurvy, urinary issues, respiratory infections, bumblefoot, etc., Peruvian Satin guinea pigs have their own set of ailments they suffer from because of the satin syndrome.
Satin syndrome is the name of the health complications that come with carrying the satin gene. This puts the piggies at higher risk of developing kidney disease, which in turn affects their heart, bones and other areas of their organ systems.
There are some visible signs of carrying the satin gene, including abnormal walking. This sometimes causes them to walk with a leg raised or laying down. They also tend to have some bone deformities because of the declining health of their bones.
Peruvian Satin guinea pigs often have difficulty eating, especially when it comes to chewing harder foods because of the decalcification that affects their teeth and jaw. Because of this, they will also go through some weight loss.
These piggies will also have an increased breath rate, which can also lead to lethargy since breathing takes so much effort for their bodies. They also will have a higher intake of water and fluids in general, which means their urination will increase as well.
There’s no cure for satin syndrome, but routine vet visits and vet care can help ease some of their suffering. Pain medication from your vet could help, and as mentioned before, sun exposure can do a lot of good for you guinea pigs when it comes to being able to increase their calcium absorption.
When it comes to putting less pressure on your guinea pigs bones and joints, our GuineaDad Liner and GuineaDad Premium Liner are the best for their fragile bodies. It’s soft and gentle on them, and can help ease some of the pain they suffer from moving around.
According to the Humane Society, guinea pigs need a minimum of 7.5 square feet of space, but in general, a guinea pig needs companionship to thrive, so it's best to have two guinea pigs. This would mean they need a minimum of 10.5 square feet. You want to give them as much space as possible so they can roam around freely and be active, therefore staying healthy and youthful.
Where to find your own Peruvian Satin Guinea Pigs
It's most ethical to adopt your guinea pigs from a shelter if possible. It’s common for new guinea pig owners to give them up for adoption quickly after acquiring them when they’re not prepared for the amount of care their guinea pig needs—especially if they’re higher maintenance and have special care needs.
Some guinea pigs in the shelters have been mistreated and not properly cared for in the past, prior to their arrival at the shelter. Shelters do the best they can, but many have limited resources in helping hands and funds, and they take in and care for as many guinea pigs as they can. When we adopt from the shelter, guinea pig parents not only provide better customized care for each guinea pig, but also help free up rescue centers' capacity to help more animals in need.
If guinea pigs aren’t available at your local shelter, you can “rescue” them from a pet shop, since some pet shops may not be able to put as much of their time and resources towards specialized care for the guinea pigs, because they have so many other types of animals to look after as well. This can especially be the case when it comes to piggies that have special needs.
What’s left to know?
Once you’ve done thorough research on Peruvian Satin guinea pigs, it’s important to realize that these piggies need a lot of specialized care that you’re going to need to be prepared to provide for them. These piggies go through quite a bit of suffering, and they need their parents to do their best in easing that!
Once you’ve determined that you’re ready for this level of time and commitment, then you’re all good to give a Peruvian Satin guinea pig all the love and support they need to live full and comfortable lives.