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Home > Guinea Pigs > Abyssinian Guinea Pig: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Abyssinian Guinea Pig: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Red Abyssinian Guinea Pig on green grass

The Abyssinian guinea pig is a pretty popular breed known for its distinctive coat and friendly personality. They’re best known for their rosettes, which are whorls of hair that grow in all directions. Therefore, they look pretty unique compared to other guinea pigs. Most have around 6–8 rosettes. However, some may have as many as ten.

Breed Overview

Size: Small
Weight: 2–3 pounds
Lifespan: 5–7 years
Similar Breeds: Texel guinea pig, Peruvian guinea pig, Silkie guinea pig
Suitable for: People of all ages who are looking for a friendly guinea pig
Temperament: Friendly, playful, outgoing

Most people purchase these guinea pigs due to their unique coats and their friendly personalities. They’re also relatively large for a guinea pig, which allows them to function better in homes with children. They are also bred in a variety of colors, so your guinea pig is sure to be unique.

However, these guinea pigs require more attention and interaction than other breeds. Their coat also needs extra attention, as it can get tangly pretty easily. Plus, they tend to be more vocal than other breeds. They aren’t great for those who want a guinea pig because of their quieter nature.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig Characteristics

Energy
Health
Sociability
Shedding
Lifespan

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How Much Do These Guinea Pigs Cost?

These guinea pigs tend to be more expensive than others, as there is a higher demand due to their unique coat. The price usually ranges from $20 to $100. However, the price can vary depending on the breeder and coat color. Rarer coat colors tend to be more expensive.

Reputable breeders tend to charge more than pet stores or online sellers. This is because they’re often more socialized and have undergone more health testing, ensuring they’re ready for their new home. All these extra tests and time typically translate to a higher price.

Younger guinea pigs are typically more expensive, as they are in higher demand. Older guinea pigs tend to be much less expensive.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig
Image Credit: Kirill Kurashov, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the Abyssinian Guinea Pig

Abyssinian guinea pigs are known for being outgoing and playful, which is one reason they’re so popular. They’re often described as being more vocal than other guinea pigs, too, and they typically require extra attention.

As relatively social creatures, they often require the company of other guinea pigs. Many owners purchase two or so guinea pigs to ensure they don’t get lonely during the day. It is possible to keep these guinea pigs alone, but they will require more interaction from their owners.

Typically, these guinea pigs aren’t very shy. They enjoy exploring their surroundings, which usually means that they require less handling or socialization. (That doesn’t mean they don’t need any socialization. However, they don’t need as much as others.) Abyssinians are also playful animals, and they love to run around and play. They tend to be more active than other animals, so you should plan to spend time supervising them out of their cage each day.

Often, these guinea pigs are considered intelligent. They can be trained to perform simple tricks with enough patience. That said, they also tend to get bored easily, which is one reason they require more interaction. You’ll also want to consider investing in more toys for this breed so that they can stay entertained when you aren’t home.

Abyssinian guinea pig with chew toy
Image Credit: Anastasia Mironova, Shutterstock

Do These Guinea Pigs Make Good Pets?

Abyssinian guinea pigs can make good pets for people who are looking for a particularly interactive guinea pig. They tend to be exceptionally friendly and outgoing, making them easier pets for younger owners, too. If you have children, these Guinea pigs may be a good choice.

However, they do require more attention from their owners. They need attention, which can make them somewhat higher maintenance. They also need extra grooming, as their fur can get tangled and matted more easily.

Many people also like these guinea pigs because they have a relatively longer lifespan. That means you can expect more years of companionship with your furry friend. They’re also relatively easy to train, which is always a nice benefit.

Does This Guinea Pig Get Along with Other Pets?

Abyssinian guinea pigs typically get along just fine with other guinea pigs, especially those that are about the same size as them. In fact, they often do best when put with another guinea pig of the same species, as they are exceptionally social. They can also get along with other small pets, like hamsters. However, they cannot be housed with these other animals, as they have different needs.

Of course, a slow introduction is important. Supervise them closely whenever they are with other pets and separate them at the first time of fear or aggression.

Abyssinians can be more wary of dogs and cats. Plus, these animals tend to have a prey drive, which can make them dangerous to keep with guinea pigs. They can coexist to some extent. However, supervision is very important, and you shouldn’t keep predatory animals around your guinea pigs 24/7 (as this can cause chronic stress).

Abyssinian Guinea Pig
Image Credit: Olena Kurashova, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning an Abyssinian Guinea Pig:

Food & Diet Requirements 🥕

Like all guinea pigs, Abyssinian guinea pigs are herbivores and have pretty specific dietary requirements to maintain their health. For the most part, they should consume primarily hay, fresh vegetables, and a small number of pellets.

Hay should be the primary component of their diet. It should make up about 75% of their daily intake, as it provides the fiber they need for their digestive system. It also helps wear down their teeth and is necessary to keep their gut biome healthy. In most cases, timothy hay is recommended, but you can also use a range of other hays.

Fresh vegetables provide around 25% of their diet. They’re a solid source of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Leafy greens are best, including romaine lettuce, kale, and spinach. However, bell peppers, cucumbers, and carrots are also great choices. Iceberg lettuce, avocado, and citrus fruits should all be avoided, as they can be potentially harmful to guinea pigs.

You should also give your guinea pig pellets, but only in relatively small amounts—around 5% of their diet. Choose high-quality pellets that are designed explicitly for guinea pigs. Particularly, ensure that they contain enough vitamin C to meet your guinea pig’s needs, and they should be low in protein and calcium.

Guinea pigs cannot produce their own vitamin C. Therefore, you’ll need to supplement their diet with enough vitamin C to meet their needs. Often, this is done through vitamin C-rich veggies or liquid vitamin C drops.

Habitat Requirements 🏡

The minimum cage size for two Abyssinian guinea pigs (because, remember, they do best in pairs) is 7.5 square feet. For each additional guinea pig, you should add at least 3 square feet more. A larger cage is always better, of course, as it provides more room for your guinea pigs to run around, explore, and engage in natural behaviors.

Choose a cage with a solid bottom. Grates and wire mesh floors can cause sore feet (and potentially lead to serious injuries). Wire mesh can be used on the sides and top of the cage to provide proper airflow. However, ensure the openings are not small enough for your guinea pig to get their head stuck. Don’t place the cage in direct sunlight or drafts, as these can cause extreme temperature variations that your guinea pig may have a hard time adapting to.

Use an absorbent bedding along the bottom of the cage. Don’t use cedar shavings, as these contain an essential oil that can harm their respiratory system (that’s why cedar is so smelly). Aspen shavings and other paper-based options are typically suitable and widely available.

Provide plenty of hideouts in the cage, as well as plenty of toys for them to entertain each other with. Hideouts can be made from cardboard boxes, or you can purchase commercial guinea pig hideouts. You can use a range of different toys, including balls and puzzle toys.

All guinea pigs need their cage maintained to a comfortable range, usually around 65–75 degrees. Avoid placing the cage near a source of heat, like a space heater.

Be sure to clean out your guinea pig’s cage regularly. Droppings and uneaten food can lead to bacteria growth and, eventually, disease. Be sure to disinfect the cage regularly and replace the bedding as necessary.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig

Exercise & Sleeping Needs 🐹

Abyssinian guinea pigs are pretty active, so you should plan on providing them with plenty of exercise. They should have at least 2 hours of unsupervised playtime outside of their cage each day if not more. They should be able to engage in natural behaviors like running and jumping. Interaction is also important, as they tend to be rather social.

Ensure that the play area is safe and secure. Remove all hazards like electrical cords, toxic plants, or small objects that your guinea pig may mistake for food. Your guinea pig should always be supervised when outside.

Guinea pigs are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. Usually, they will sleep for two longer stretches at night and during the day. However, they will also take several shorter naps. They sleep a lot—often up to 18 hours a day. Be sure they have a comfortable, safe sleeping area within their cage, such as a cozy hideout.

You should allow your guinea pig to sleep undisturbed during their sleeping periods. While you may want to interact with your guinea pig, they also need undisturbed sleep.

Training

Most people don’t think about training their guinea pigs. However, they are actually exceptionally trainable animals with patience and consistent practice. Many guinea pigs can learn a variety of different tricks, which can help make them more.

Select a quiet area for training that’s as distraction-free as possible. Avoid areas with lots of noise or movement, as these may scare or distract your guinea pig. You want to choose a time when your guinea pig is awake and active, often around sunrise or sunset. Preferably, they should be calm and relaxed.

Training sessions should be kept fairly short, as guinea pigs don’t have very long attention spans. Gradually increase the duration as your guinea pig progresses. Make the training enjoyable and aim to end on a high note. Stop while you’re ahead before you or your guinea pig gets frustrated.

Positive reinforcement typically works best. Reward your guinea pig’s desired behaviors with treats and gentle attention. Be cautious with providing too many treats, as these can make your guinea pig gain too much weight.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig
Image Credit: fonats, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

Abyssinian guinea pigs need regular grooming to maintain their beautiful coat. They can easily get tangles and mats, which can cause discomfort and even skin infections. Once grooming problems stack up, they can be challenging to fix. Therefore, it’s important to stay ahead of mats and similar grooming issues.

Your guinea pig’s coat needs to be brushed about every other day. Start early and use positive reinforcement to teach your pet to be calm during grooming sessions.

Brush their coat in the direction of their hair. Use a soft bristle brush to remove loose fur and detangle any knots that have developed. Pay special attention to your guinea pig’s rosettes, as these can easily tangle up. Use a small comb to detangle them as necessary.

Most guinea pigs also need their nails trimmed, usually every 2–3 weeks. You can do this yourself at home, as it’s pretty straightforward. Purchase special, tiny trimmers for this purpose. Your guinea pig’s dental health should be taken care of by their hay, which should wear their teeth down naturally. You can also provide chew toys made of wood or other hard materials.

Lifespan and Health Conditions 🏥

These guinea pigs are pretty long-lived, usually living around 5–7 years. However, their lifespan can be affected by many different factors, including diet and genetics.

Like all guinea pigs, Abyssinian guinea pigs are susceptible to certain health conditions. Respiratory infections are particularly troublesome and relatively common across all guinea pigs. These infections can be caused by either viruses or bacteria, and they can be contagious between guinea pigs.

Dental problems can occur if you don’t provide the proper diet. Their teeth continuously grow, and they have to chew on hard materials to wear them down. If this doesn’t occur, their teeth can become overgrown.

Minor Conditions
  • UTIs
  • Skin Infection
Serious Conditions
  • Dental Problems
  • Respiratory Problems

UTIs are common in guinea pigs, though females tend to get them more than males.


Male vs. Female

There are a few differences between the males and females of this breed. Males are often larger than females, though not necessarily by much. It’s also possible to find males that are smaller than females.

Some temperament differences may occur, too. However, these are much less set in stone than the physical differences. Some claim that females are quieter and more social. Males tend to be a bit more dominant.

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3 Little-Known Facts About Abyssinian Guinea Pigs

1. Each has unique rosettes.

The whorls of hair are one of the unique things about this breed. Each individual has unique whorls of hair, and there is no predictable way that these whorls are placed on a particular guinea pig.


2. They’re pretty vocal.

These guinea pigs are known for being more vocal than other breeds. They tend to communicate with each other through squeaks, chirps, and whistles.


3. Abyssinian Guinea pigs are easier to train.

Most people don’t think of guinea pigs as easy to train. However, these guinea pigs can easily learn basic commands (and even more advanced ones). Training is recommended to make them easier to handle.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig
Image Credit: Lipatova Maryna, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Abyssinian guinea pigs are incredibly unique due to their whorls of hair that occur all over their body. They’re also very friendly and outgoing, making them a great option for those interested in a more interactive pet. However, this also means that they need more interaction. Their whorls also tend to get tangled, so they tend to need more grooming than other guinea pigs.

This breed can make a great pet for the right family. However, it’s important that you know exactly what you’re getting into. Most also recommend purchasing at least a pair of these guinea pigs, as their social nature means that they do best when kept with a companion.


Featured Image Credit: Tettania, Shutterstock

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