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What Is A Sheltie Guinea Pig? Top 10 Most Interesting Facts

Tim Rhodes
Written by Tim Rhodes Last Updated: November 28, 2021

What is a sheltie guinea pig, where does it come from, and why is it special?

Guinea pigs are a species of rodents and belong to the genus Cavia in the family Caviidae.

Their binomial name is Cavia Porcellus.

Most people call them cavies.

10 Interesting Facts About Sheltie Guinea Pig

Let’s hoop into the top 10 most interesting facts about a Sheltie guinea pig.

What is a Sheltie Guinea Pig?

Shelties or silkies are even-tempered and calm long-haired guinea pigs, special because of their looks.

They are among the smallest guinea pig breeds, with a lifespan between four to six years.

Their long hair doesn’t have a parting and doesn’t go over their faces but can grow up to 24 inches in length!

1. What Is a Sheltie Guinea Pig?

A Sheltie guinea pig, also called Silkie, is among the cutest long-haired guinea pigs.

These small animals are best-known for their coat, which is long and luxurious.

The breed developed in the 1970s, as a crossing between the Peruvian and the Self-Black guinea pig.

Shelties weigh between 1.5 and 2.6 lb when fully grown and measure between 8 and 10 in in length.

The lifespan of a Silkie guinea pig is between four and six years.

This guinea pig breed is suitable for experienced guinea pig owners as a Silkie/Sheltie guinea pig requires a lot of grooming.

When they see them, a lot of people think it’s a Peruvian guinea pig, but these two guinea pig breeds are actually different; you just have to pay attention to the way they look.

A Sheltie guinea pig has slightly shorter hair, and the most significant difference is that the hair is not going over the guinea pig’s face but grows on the sides.

The hair is very soft and clean, and it looks like someone used gel to make the hairstyle they have; it’s so sweet!

Imagine a little Sheltie guinea pig having better hair than you.

You just have to trim their hair often, and they don’t look so good with a lot of it (trust me).

Their fur can grow up to 1 inch monthly; that’s why they require much more grooming than any other guinea pig.

2. Why do Sheltie Guinea Pigs Need To Be in Metal Cages?

A Sheltie guinea pig can eat plastic.

Who would say that, right?

This is why you must provide them with a metal cage to make sure they don’t escape.

Also, the bars need to be really close; otherwise, this furry friend is gone.

The cage’s best size is 10.5 square feet, so they really need a lot of space in there.

Don’t buy the ones that are the cheapest please, with those you will have a lot of trouble in the future and your Sheltie might hurt himself!

Also, the space outside of the cage is important; you will see later on the reason for that.

3. Why Is Bedding Important?

What is your first thought when it comes to beddings for animals?

Newspaper, right?

That’s what I thought too, but you absolutely cannot use them because they contain ink that can harm your Shelties and potentially kill them.

A silkie guinea pig will chew something most of the time, and that’s how you will put them in danger if you use newspapers as bedding.

The materials that I suggest using are paper and wood shavings.

You can use bedding for allergies as well.

For paper, I think it’s obvious to use: tissues, natural paper, paper pellets, toilet paper, paper bags, etc.

However, make sure that tissues are chemical-free to protect your silkie guinea pig.

Wood shavings are pretty easy to get; they are already prepared and available at most pet stores.

Studies have shown that cedar chips and pine shavings can be bad for your guinea pig’s health.

The best option would be aspen wood shavings, and you can buy them in your local pet store or order them online.

4. What Kind of Food Do Sheltie Guinea Pigs Eat?

The diet of a Sheltie guinea pig is simple.

All guinea pigs require fibers: hay, raw fruits, and raw and fresh vegetables.

Too much starch and sugar are bad for the health of any guinea pig; that’s why guinea pigs need to have a balanced diet.

A poor guinea pig diet can cause muscular dystrophy, metastatic calcification, difficulties with pregnancy, vitamin deficiencies, and teeth problems.

The very interesting thing about guinea pigs is that they don’t produce their own vitamin C.

If they don’t consume enough vitamin C, they can suffer from potentially fatal scurvy.

The minimum daily dose of vitamin C is 30 mg and more if you have a pregnant guinea pig.

So you have to provide them this either naturally through fruits, veggies, greens, or vitamin C supplements.

I suggest using pellets; they’re not good just for vitamin C, and they’re also something a Sheltie guinea pig can chew.

To grow, they must chew frequently, and hay is what they need all the time in their cage.

As I said before, chewing is what makes them grow and also keeps their teeth healthy.

Here’s the list of the vegetables and fruits they really love: bell peppers, romaine lettuce, beetroots, dandelion greens, carrots, strawberries, blueberries, apples, kiwis, and melons.

5. What Kind of Food is Harmful to Sheltie Guinea Pigs?

There are many foods that guinea pigs, including Shelties, cannot eat.

Onions and garlic are deadly for guinea pigs.

Onion contains disulfide, which breaks up the red blood cells and significantly reduces their bodies’ oxygen.

Garlic can cause the same thing, and it leads to anemia and death.

So never ever give them garlic and onions, period.

Iceberg lettuce is also very bad, and it will cause diarrhea and stomach pain.

Now I have one question for you.

Do you have rhubarb in your garden?

If yes, you must fence it and never let any animal get close to it.

Only the leaves of the rhubarb are poisonous, and they can possibly kill every animal that eats it, which is dangerous for humans.

Here’s the list of the food they cannot eat: potatoes, beans, chocolate, candy, tomato stalks, nuts, avocado, and meat.

You really don’t wanna know all the consequences, so just don’t give them any of these things.

6. Do Sheltie Guinea Pigs Need To Exercise?

These tiny creatures have to exercise every single day.

Even they’re more consistent in exercising than most people.

I recommend securing one corner of a living room or some room where you have more free space.

All you need to do is secure it well to not escape that area and run around the house,

Also, make sure there aren’t any electrical cables and house plants, just the floor and soft barriers.

Don’t try to force them out of the cage, and they will get out once they want to.

When you buy them, they will probably be very shy to get out but don’t worry, and this is a normal reaction to the new home, which will change very fast.

Be patient, don’t force them into anything, and don’t try to pick them up often, especially if you just bought one.

They get scared and freeze, which doesn’t lead to a good relationship with them.

7. What Role Do Guinea Pigs Have in Scientific Research? 

They played a major role in the establishment of germ theory in the late 19th century.

Guinea Pigs have been used in many scientific research types, such as antibodies in response to serious allergic reactions, anaphylaxis, tuberculosis, pharmacology, irradiation, cholera, diphtheria, Q fever, typhus, and much more.

They have an unusual insulin mutation, which makes them a suitable species for the generation of anti-insulin antibodies.

Guinea pigs have been identified as model organisms for the study of juvenile diabetes and because of the frequency of pregnancy toxemia of pre-eclampsia in human females.

Their placental structure is similar to that of humans.

The gestational period can be divided into trimesters that resemble the stages of fetal development in humans.

Imagine how much pain these animals suffered.

In some way, it’s good for us people because we learned much more about specific diseases, but in some way, it’s not good for them because a lot of them lost their lives in so much pain.

Over 2.5 million guinea pigs were used every single year in the U.S.

for research in the 1960s.

That number decreased to about 375.000 by the mid-1990s.

To The Unknown

Honestly, this is the first time I hear that guinea pigs were launched in space by the USSR on the Sputnik 9 biosatellite of March 9, 1961, and successfully recovered.

China also launched and recovered biosatellites in 1990, and guinea pigs were the passengers.

Did you know about this already?

In my school, they never said anything about guinea pigs in the space.

Guess now I know the truth; one thing I forgot to say earlier was that Shelties were not used in any scientific research.

I just pointed these things out as interesting facts about guinea pigs generally, not Shelties.

8. Are Guinea Pigs Still Used as Food?

Guinea pigs are used as food in South America.

They were reserved for ceremonial meals and as a delicacy for domestic people.

Since the 1960s, these meals were available for everybody who wanted to try them out.

Guinea pig meat is high in protein, low in fat and cholesterol, and it’s described as being similar to rabbit and the dark meat of chicken.

The meat can be served fried, broiled, or roasted, and in urban restaurants, it can be done in a casserole or a fricassee.

It’s like my mom used to make, just before she was arrested.

Pachamanca or huatia is a process similar to barbecuing, and it’s served with corn beer, which is very popular.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit hungry after writing about this.

Peruvians consume around 65 million guinea pigs each year, and that is way too much.

One famous painting of the Last Supper in the main cathedral in Cusco shows that Jesus Christ and the 12 disciples are dining guinea pigs.

9. Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

Believe it or not, they sleep around 4 hours every day.

Some people can relate to this, right?

This means they need constant access to food, water, some toys to keep them occupied, and of course, daily exercises.

That’s why they need a lot of space in their cage and also outside of it.

Since they are very friendly, companionship is what will really make them happy.

My suggestion is never to take one guinea pig.

Just imagine yourself being alone in a cage; it’s boring; they have feelings just like we do.

That’s why you should take 2 guinea pigs and make sure they are both the same sex.

If you have a male and a female, this will lead to territorial disputes, and they will most likely fight with each other, which can cause serious wounds.

It’s like when you see your parents fighting, but it’s just more brutal.

This isn’t very good, and you don’t want that to happen.

10. Do Guinea Pigs Communicate?

They cannot speak words, so they have to make some sounds obviously.

The most common sound they make is a “wheek,” it’s known as a whistle.

This can express excitement, response to the presence of its owner, or they can use this sound to call for help if they’re lost.

Of course, they never make this sound like a call for help because they can’t get lost in a house, obviously.

Bubbling or purring sound is made when a guinea pig is having a great time, probably when petted or held.

They can also make this sound when grooming, investigating a new place or when they receive food.

Chirping is a less familiar sound, and it’s similar to a bird song.

This sound indicates stress or discomfort, or when a baby guinea pig wants to be fed.

A chattering sound is made when they rapidly gnash the teeth, and it’s a sign of warning.

They tend to raise their head when making this sound.

If this happens with your guinea pig, you better get the hell away from them.

Who knows what caused them to be like that, but don’t disturb them.

Squealing or shrieking is a high-pitching sound, and it’s made in response to pain or danger.

You should definitely go to the vet if this happens more frequently.

Are You The Right Person To Own A Sheltie?

You won’t read this article if you aren’t interested in Shelties.

Now you have to ask yourself, is this really what you want to have, and are you able to provide appropriate care for them.

Take your time answering these questions because it’s not easy to own a Sheltie.

Not just a Sheltie but also other guinea pigs.

If you have to, go again and read some parts that you don’t understand clearly and do some other research too.

I want you to have a clear picture of what it takes to own a guinea pig.

If you’re a teenager, it will be a problem to convince your parents to buy you a Sheltie.

For some of you, maybe not, but for most teenagers, it is a problem.

It can be heartbreaking not to get this pet, but it is what it is.

You’ll get it yourself pretty soon; until then, you can think more about this and if this is really what you want.

As I said before, it’s not easy to own guinea pigs.

Final Thoughts

All in all, a sheltie guinea pig is lovely, and cuddling with it is all you need to make your day better.

What can you say more about these beautiful creatures?

They’re just adorable, and if you’re into this type of pet, you must have them!

No wonder why Shelties have such immense popularity, and not just them but also other guinea pigs.

Who would say that such an animal can bring so much joy into your life?

And we’re finally at the end of today’s topic.

If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to comment in the section below.


Tim Rhodes
Tim Rhodes

Hi there! My name is Tim Rhodes and I'm a guinea pig enthusiast through thick and thin. My mission is to teach others useful tips and tricks about these cute creatures. When I'm not writing, I enjoy kickboxing and work as an animal trainer.

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