If you’re curious about what sets Rex guinea pigs apart from other breeds, if they make friendly pets, and if they’re easy to care for, then this is the perfect guide for you! Rex guinea pigs are known for their distinctive short, wiry coats that stand out from their bodies, which have garnered them a loyal fanbase in the United Kingdom, though they are relatively unknown elsewhere.
Rex Guinea Pig FAQs
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about the breed, with links to the answers:
Let’s dive in!
What is a Rex Guinea Pig?
The Rex guinea pig is a breed known for its short, coarse, and crimped coat. It belongs to the same species as other pet guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus), but its coat sets it apart from other breeds. The name “Rex” is derived from a recessive genetic mutation that gives their coat its unique texture. It is worth noting that the Teddy guinea pig breed is often mistaken for the Rex breed, as they share similar features, but their coats are caused by different genetic mutations.
Where Does The Rex Guinea Pig Come From?
The Rex breed was founded in the UK in the 1970s by a man named Fred Holmes, who owned a red-colored boar with a Rex coat caused by a recessive genetic mutation. The unusual coat quickly caught people’s attention, and the breed grew in popularity. The British Cavy Council agreed on a standard for the breed in 1984, and the Rex Cavy Club was formed in 1991. Today, most Rex guinea pigs still reside in the UK, with only a small number being bred in other countries.
Are Rex and Teddy Guinea Pigs The Same?
Rex and Teddy guinea pigs look similar, but their distinctive coats come from different genes. Here are some differences to help distinguish between them:
- If you brush a Rex’s coat forward towards its head, it will spring back to upright. But a Teddy’s coat grows slightly forward, so it will stay pointing towards the nose.
- Teddy guinea pigs have a fringe or “cap” above their eyes, where the forward-growing hair meets the backward-growing hair on their face. Rexes don’t have this – their hair grows outwards all over!
- The Teddy’s coat is softer than the Rex’s. The Teddy is described as plush and bouncy in breed standards, whereas the Rex is described as coarse and springy.
Rex Guinea Pig Appearance
The Rex’s coat is short, usually less than half an inch long. Each hair follicle is crimped, even their whiskers, which can have eccentric bends. Rexes come in all colors and are allowed at breed shows; however, agouti coats are the most popular. Agouti coats have bands of color on each shaft of hair. Some Rexes may have curly or wavy hair on their bellies, but they should never have rosettes or swirls.
How Big Do Rex Guinea Pigs Grow?
Rex guinea pigs typically grow to be 8 to 10 inches long and weigh 1 to 3 pounds as adults, which is around the same size as other guinea pig breeds.
Temperament – Are Rex Guinea Pigs Friendly?
There isn’t substantial evidence that different guinea pig breeds have specific temperaments. Generally, guinea pigs are curious, chatty, entertaining, and affable with both other guinea pigs and humans. As naturally skittish prey species, they may be hesitant around people at first, but treats and gentle approaches can quickly win them over. When considering a Rex guinea pig, talk to breeders and ask to meet their breeding stock to find one with a friendly personality. Keep in mind that some breeders may prioritize breeding show-quality cavies over sociable ones.
Do Rex Guinea Pigs Bite?
Guinea pigs rarely bite, usually opting to run away from danger. However, if threatened, they may bite out of fear, and they enjoy nibbling on things related to survival, such as food. While these nibbles are generally harmless and ticklish, some children may be startled by them.
Rex Guinea Pig Health
Well-bred guinea pigs typically live for 4 to 8 years and are resilient pets, but they may face common health issues such as diarrhea, scurvy, pneumonia, overgrown teeth, bladder stones, polycystic ovaries, and parasitic infections like mites. Although there aren’t any documented health risks that are specific to the Rex breed, the Rex gene that gives their coat its texture also affects their whiskers, which can break easily. Since whiskers may be used for social behaviors and eye protection, breeding guinea pigs with broken whiskers may pose a welfare issue.
Rex Guinea Pig Care
Rex guinea pigs can live indoors or outdoors if the climate is temperate enough, but they may be less suited to cold temperatures than other breeds due to their single coat. It is best to provide them with:
- Places to climb and hide in their hutch
- Unlimited hay and fresh water
- 1 cup of fresh produce per day
- Guinea pig pellets fortified with vitamin C
- Toys suitable for chewing
You can line their hutch with sawdust or a fleece liner that can be washed. Since guinea pigs are social animals, it is best to pair them with at least one other guinea pig. Unrelated males may fight, so it is best to pair brothers, unrelated sows, or sows and a neutered male. Rex guinea pigs are prone to fast-growing toenails, so it is necessary to check them regularly and get comfortable with trimming them. You can also use antibacterial wound powder from pet stores to stop bleeding if you catch the quick of their nail.
Are Rex Guinea Pigs Hypoallergenic?
No. While some believe that wire- and curly-coated breeds of dogs and guinea pigs may be hypoallergenic, this is a persistent myth, and those who are allergic to guinea pigs will likely be allergic to Rex Guinea Pigs too.
How Much Does A Rex Guinea Pig Cost?
Rex guinea pigs tend to cost around £
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