Rex Guinea Pigs: the Guide to the “Fuzzy” Piggy

It’s no secret that all piggies look a little bit like potatoes, but the Rex guinea pigs have secured the coveted top spot as the biggest furry potatoes of them all.  

Yep, the Rex is one of the largest guinea pig breeds and can grow anywhere from 8 inches up to a whopping 18 inches! 

Since they grow into such sizable floofs, you’ll want to keep a watchful eye on exactly how much they’re munching. Somewhere between a woolly hedgehog and a spud, Rexes have coarse, wavy hair which is shorter than other breeds and as such requires less frequent grooming. This and their gentle, even-tempered personality make them an excellent option for first-time piggy parents.

Discover everything you need to know about the Rex with this complete guide!

Rex guinea pig.

The Origins of the Rex Guinea Pig

Rex guinea pigs, like other piggy breeds, originate from South America. These intrepid little explorers made its mountainous areas their homes until they eventually became domesticated around 5,000 years ago.

The Rex could be found living alongside their hooman companions in the Andes, and were kept both as a pet and as livestock (eek, guinea pigs were indeed traditionally eaten in South American countries!). Then, in the 1530s, Spanish explorers couldn’t resist bringing these sweet furballs back home with them to Europe. And seriously, who can blame them?!

Today, the Rex guinea pig is a recognized breed by the British Cavy Council, and they’re one of the most popular cavies around.

What Do Rex Guinea Pigs Look Like?

The Latin word ‘Rex’ literally translates as ‘King’, and most Rex parents would likely agree that this is an apt description for their furry royal highness. However, in this case, the term ‘Rex’ actually refers to this piggy’s special coat. ‘Rexed’ fur is fur that lacks guard hairs, commonly found even in different breeds of cats and rabbits. This recessive gene makes their coats short and wiry like a bristle brush and gives the Rex their signature “fuzzy” appearance. Color-wise, you can find Rexes in one block color or patterned in swirling chocolatey mixtures of brown and white.

Weighing in between 1-3 pounds, no one quite knows what makes some Rexes so little (8 inches) and some so large (up to 18 inches). What they all have in common are big, droopy ears that hang down adorably onto their fur, a slightly elongated head, and a potato-like figure.

Rex guinea pig on a basket full of hay.

How to Groom a Rex Guinea Pig

Unlike their long-haired cavy pals, Rex guinea pigs have a much easier coat to look after. So if you’re looking for a piggy with a low-maintenance grooming regime, this floofer could be the one for you! That said, it’s still important to be a responsible piggy parent and understand the individual grooming needs of your woolly cavy.

Hair brushing (weekly)

Regardless of how short their hair is, the Rex cavies still need (and delight in!) being brushed regularly. As a general rule of thumb, you should give your piggy a careful comb at least once or twice a week.

To make this routine easier, get your piggy used to hair brushing from a young age. This way, they won’t anxiously fret during what should be a relaxing grooming session. We don’t want any nervous Nellies!

Use a soft-bristled brush so that you don’t tug painfully at any tangles or catch their delicate skin, and brush in the direction of where their fur naturally lays.

Hair cutting (when needed)

You’ll be pleased to hear that, unlike some other breeds that need more regular pampering, the short and coarse coats of Rex piggies don’t need a whole lot of upkeep! 

If you do notice a particularly knotted or tangled section of fur, then you may want to carefully clip this rather than trying to painfully brush it out. But otherwise, you won’t need any professional barbering qualifications for this low-maintenance piggy.

Bathing (when necessary)

Guinea pigs are particularly adept little fluffballs at keeping themselves squeaky clean. As such, you only need to bathe your Rex when it’s completely necessary.

During bath time, remember to be as gentle as possible since this can be quite a stressful experience for your poor piggy. Take care not to wet or splash their heads as they certainly won’t thank you for it and could get a bit wriggly!

To understand when you should bathe your Rex guinea pig, keep an eye on problem areas that can become particularly matted and soiled, like the hair around their bottom. If this isn’t kept clean, it could cause nasty and potentially fatal infections like flystrike. A regularly cleaned cage and the odd bath go a long way to prevent this, so make it a priority in your cavy’s routine.

Rex guinea pig on a fleece bed.

Is the Rex Guinea Pig Right For You?

It’s official: we are head over heels for this fuzzy heffalump! If you’re looking to bring a new furball home, then a Rex guinea pig is likely to be the perfect addition to your furry family. Sociable yet docile, friendly yet gentle, they have a lovely even temperament that makes them all-around fabulous pets.

Although, a word of caution: we can’t absolutely promise you won’t end up with a rogue and excitable Rex! Remember that as you grow a stronger bond with your guinea pig, they will start to come out of their shell and show off their unique character. These larger-than-life personalities in such miniature form are one of the things we love so much about our furry friends!

Rex guinea pigs are a great breed to choose if you’re new to the cavy world. Alongside their easy good nature, they don’t require the same level of grooming as their long-haired piggy friends

However, as with any breed, it’s important to ask yourself some key questions before you go ahead and adopt a new furry companion. Guinea pigs may not require as much attention as dogs, for example, but they are still enthusiastic and playful animals that have their own individual needs.

Make sure you’ve quizzed yourself on the below points to inform your decision:

  • Can you provide these energetic balls of fluff with all the space they need to thrive? Like other breeds, Rex guinea pigs are active and curious, so you’ll need to make sure they have ample room to popcorn about with a good-sized cage. You’ll also want to ensure that they have plenty of mental stimulation (for example, tunnels, hidey holes, and chew toys), as well as all-important playtime with you.
  • Do you have any outdoor space? Your piggy will want some time in a run each day to engage in natural behaviors like foraging, as well as get in some much-needed cardio!

If you answered a decisive yes to the above questions then hurrah, time to bring these adorable piggies home! While choosing a guinea pig is undoubtedly an incredibly exciting time for you, you should also be absolutely sure you’re ready for this commitment. These sweet piggies deserve all the time and love you can give them. 

Rex guinea pig in a hay basket.

Rex Guinea Pig FAKs - Frequently Asked Kavees

How long do Rex guinea pigs live?

Rex guinea pigs can live anywhere from 5 years up to an impressive 8 years. A good diet, regular exercise, and plenty of socialization all help extend the precious time you have with your little piggy.

Do Rex guinea pigs need to have their nails trimmed?

Yes! We’re not entirely sure why, but Rex guinea pigs' nails grow at a faster rate than most other breeds so it’s important to make time for regular pedicures. If you neglect to do this, it could have nasty health implications! As a general rule of thumb, expect to clip your piggies’ nails at least once a month, but keep an eye on them and trim them as often as needed.

Do Rex guinea pigs have health issues?

The Rex, like other guinea pig breeds, is prone to some health problems (that can become serious if not spotted or left untreated), for example: respiratory infections, heatstroke, flystrike, diarrhea, dental issues, bumblefoot, scurvy, and urinary problems. If you notice anything abnormal about your piggy, seek professional advice from your cavy-savvy vet.

How to feed your Rex guinea pig?

Rex guinea pigs have the same dietary requirements common to all cavies. Keep their cage topped up regularly with fresh hay and veggies, high-quality pellet, and clean drinking water to ensure they receive all the key nutrients in their diet, such as Vitamin C and Calcium.

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