Rex guinea pigs have beautiful, upright fur that feels coarse to the touch. These guinea pigs can be any color or combination of colors, including roan and agouti. Other than their fur, they’re similar to other domesticated guinea pig breeds.
In this article, we’ll talk all about the Rex guinea pig, from what they look like to where to adopt one to add to your herd!
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What do Rex Guinea Pigs Look Like?
Rex guinea pigs have short, curly coats. This makes them look incredibly adorable and fuzzy! The fur stands up straight, rather than smoothing down in one direction like a standard American piggy or growing in rosettes like an Abyssinian guinea pig.
According to the British Cavy Council, young Rex piggies may have smoother coats that stiffen with age. Their fur should stay upright even when stroked forward.
They also note that, ideally, Rex guinea pigs have curly fur on their tummies as well—but the fur might also be straight.
A Rex guinea pig’s fur can be any color. This includes solid, bi-color, tri-color, agouti, and roan. Agouti is when each strand of fur contains two colors, making it look ticked or speckled. Roan guinea pigs have white hairs mixed in with another coat color.
How Big do Rex Guinea Pigs Get?
Rex guinea pigs are large piggies! They can grow up to 18 inches, compared to your average guinea pig that measures around 8-12 inches.
How big your Rex guinea pig grows also depends on them as an individual, and some Rex piggies measure just eight inches.
Rex guinea pigs can weigh anywhere from 1-3 pounds.
How to Groom a Rex Guinea Pig
Rex guinea pigs don’t need too much grooming, but they will require slightly more care than your standard American guinea pig.
Brush them one to two times weekly with a soft-bristled brush. Like other guinea pigs, Rex piggies shouldn’t be bathed unless it’s necessary.
Temperament: Do Rex Guinea Pigs Like to be Held?
There aren’t necessarily temperament differences in piggies depending on breed, like you might expect from a dog or cat.
While Rex guinea pigs are sometimes said to be more cuddly and social toward humans than other guinea pigs, I can’t find any studies pointing toward this—only anecdotal evidence.
Remember, all guinea pigs are prey animals. We cannot breed this out of them, so they’re bound to be afraid of humans. We’re a giant predator species that reaches in from above to pet and lift them!
However, there are ways to socialize your guinea pigs, and consistency is the best way to gain their affection. Here are some tips:
- Never approach from above. Reaching from above to scoop them up or pet them, or walking over your piggies during floor time, is scary! You look and act like a predator when you do this.
Instead, approach them from the side so your movements aren’t as threatening. During floor time, sit or lie on the ground quietly with some veggies or treats to encourage them to approach you.
- Use beds or cuddle cups for lifting. This saves your guinea pig a lot of stress! Be sure to support their body weight with your hands, and use one hand to block them from jumping out. They’re small, and even a short fall can hurt them!
- Give them choices. Consent matters, even with piggies! Sitting on the floor or holding your hand still in the cage gives your guinea pig the chance to interact if they want to—and to opt out if they don’t.
Where Can I Find a Rex Guinea Pig?
First, I always recommend adopting guinea pigs over purchasing from a pet store or breeder—even if it means not getting the exact breed you want.
This is because pet stores purchase their animals from breeding mills, which are like puppy mills but for other animals like guinea pigs. Breeding mills abuse the guinea pigs in their care, allow disease to spread throughout their piggies, and often breed guinea pigs with genetic ailments.
Most individual guinea pig breeders aren’t much better. The majority are considered backyard breeders, which means they’re either in it for the money (not the piggies’ wellbeing) or they don’t know enough to breed responsibly. Either one is very bad for the baby guinea pigs who might be born with preventable health conditions, or mistreated once they’re in the breeders care.
Instead, keep an eye out on your local shelters and rescues. The best place to start is a guinea pig-specific rescue in your area.
You can also try to find a reputable breeder, but this is hard because reputable breeders aren’t breeding many piggies—they care more about the health and wellbeing of their animals than mass breeding.
Reputable breeders also don’t make a profit from breeding—they actually almost always lose money—so they have to be very passionate to spend money on bettering the Rex guinea pig breed!
Here are some things to look for in a reputable Rex guinea pig breeder:
- A waiting list. If you can adopt a piggy today—run! Ethical breeders have homes lined up for their piggies before they’re even born. They want to know that each baby will go to a good home.
- Knowledge. The breeder should give you good advice about raising guinea pigs. They should know that piggies need constant access to hay, limited pellets, and daily fresh vegetables. They should advise you keep your guinea pigs in an enclosure that’s at least 8 square feet (or the minimum for your herd size), and to always have two or more guinea pigs living together.
- A good environment. You should see where the guinea pigs are housed. They should have a large cage, fresh hay, and a clean environment.
- Limited litters. If your breeder has several litters of guinea pigs at once, especially if they have a wide variety of breeds, they likely aren’t a reputable breeder.
When considering this criteria, think about it like this: can they care for this number of piggies properly? If the answer is no, walk away.
- They’ll take your piggy back for any reason. Reputable breeders want their piggies to have good homes. They’ll have you sign a contract stating that if you can’t care for your guinea pig, you’ll return them for the breeder to either keep or rehome.
- DNA testing. Your breeder needs to know that they’re breeding healthy guinea pigs. They should have both parents tested for the satin trait, which can cause Satin Syndrome—which is excruciatingly painful and often deadly to guinea pigs. Since it’s a recessive trait, guinea pigs can be carriers without having satin fur.
They should also be testing for roan and Dalmatian genes, as two guinea pigs with roan or Dalmatian genes have a 25% chance of having lethal white offspring. This is another deadly condition for piggies.
- Regular veterinarian visits. Reputable breeders should bring their piggies to the vet regularly and advise you on good exotic pet vets in your area as well.
History: Where do Rex Guinea Pigs Come From?
Rex guinea pigs have been bred for around 5,000 years! They were first domesticated in South America as pets and, unfortunately, livestock.
All domesticated guinea pigs come from a now-extinct species that used to live in South America. While Rex guinea pigs aren’t the oldest breed, they’ve certainly been around for a long time!
Rex vs Teddy Guinea Pig
While Rex and Teddy guinea pigs may look similar, they do have their differences! These include:
- Rex piggies have a coarser coat, while Teddies feel smoother.
- Rex guinea pigs’ fur grows like you’d expect, toward the back. Teddy guinea pigs have fur that grows in the opposite direction, toward the head. However, the fur on their head grows toward the back. You can especially see this right above their forehead where the fur meets.
Rex guinea pigs are unique and adorable! Aside from their coarse, upright coat, they’re like any other guinea pig. You shouldn’t expect much difference in size, lifespan, or temperament.