Abyssinian Guinea Pig

Last Updated: August 31, 2020

Length: 8-12 inches
Weight: 800-1400 grams
Lifespan: 5-7 years
Colors: Brown, black, albino, roan
Temperament: Social and friendly with an outgoing personality. Calm, gentle, and easy to train
Best Suited For: Families with children, families with several pets

The Abyssinian Guinea Pig is an interesting animal that is unique among the guinea pig population. They have a long body with a small face. The fur is usually around three to four centimeters long and forms a rough spikey pattern referred to as rosettes. These rosettes give the guinea pig it’s unique look, and each pig usually has six to eight rosettes spread over its body.

They originate from the Andes mountains of South America, and the Abyssinian Guinea Pig became a popular pet around the sixteenth century and is one of the first breeds recognized by the American Cavy Breeders Association. Male guinea pigs are an inch or so longer than females.

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Abyssinian Guinea Pig – Before You Buy…

Energy
Trainability
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

What’s the cost of an Abyssinian Guinea Pig?

Most Abyssinian Guinea Pigs will cost between $15 and $75 depending on the color and breeding history of the pig.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig
Image Credit: Jean, Flickr

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3 Little-Known Facts About The Abyssinian Guinea Pig

Here are a few facts you should know about the Abyssinian Guinea Pig

1. They are available in a wide range of colors

Abyssinian Guinea Pigs come in a plethora of styles. Solid colors are available in many shades, and there are many other styles like roan, tortoiseshell, Himalayan, Dutch, Dalmation, and many others.

2. Abyssinian Guinea Pigs are different than other guinea pigs

Abyssinian Guinea Pigs are much more vocal than ordinary guinea pigs, and it may take time to get used to the noise they make. They are also more active and playful than a typical guinea pig, and they seem to enjoy the company of people more as well.

3. Abyssinian Guinea Pigs can have up to eight rosettes on its body

These rosettes are a result of the natural way the coat falls on the guinea pig in a bent, cowlick style that gives the animal it’s a unique look. These rosettes do require care in the manner of combing or brushing, or painful tangles can develop. A show pig will have two rosettes over the shoulders, and the rest spread over the body.

Abyssinian on keyboard
Image Credit: joannafotograf, Pixabay

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Temperament and Intelligence of the Abyssinian Guinea Pig

The Abyssinian Guinea Pig has an easy-going and friendly temperament, and many describe them as kind and gentle. They are highly intelligent and easy to train to perform simple tasks and tricks.

Are Abyssinian Guinea Pigs family-friendly?👪

Yes, Abyssinian Guinea Pigs love to play, and they love the attention they get from children. Most enjoy being pet and gently combed and will provide countless hours of entertainment for your child. They don’t require too much space and are easy to keep up maintain.

Will my Abyssinian Guinea Pig get along with my other pets?

Yes, the Abyssinian Guinea Pig is an amiable animal that has no trouble sharing its surroundings with others. In many cases, it will even cuddle up and snuggle with its cage mates. Of course, you want to keep any cats out of reach, but other than that, you should have no trouble raising the Abyssinian Guinea Pig alongside other animals.

An Abyssinian Guinea Pig
Image Credit: Ilyusha isakov, Wikimedia Commons

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Things to know when owning an Abyssinian Guinea Pig

Let’s go over some of the most important things to consider before you purchase your Abyssinian Guinea Pig.

Food & Diet Requirements 🥕

Abyssinian Guinea Pigs require the same diet and have the same dietary restrictions of any other guinea pig. Timothy hay is the most essential, and you should provide unlimited amounts of fresh, clean, slightly green hay. They also require plenty of vegetables, and you should feed them about one cup per day. You should supply mostly dark green vegetables, but you can also supply a few colored vegetables like carrots to boost vitamin C. Your hamster will also require ¼ cup of pellet food per day. This pellet food needs to be high quality fortified with vitamin C. It shouldn’t contain any preservatives or artificial colors.

Fruits are a treat. Too much fruit can cause digestive issues, so you can only give it sparingly.  High-quality fruits like strawberries are best and will add vitamin C to your pet’s diet.

Exercise 🐹

All guinea pigs need plenty of exercises to stay healthy. The RSPCA says your guinea pig will be active 20 hours a day and only sleeping for a few minutes at a time. They can become bored quickly in a small cage. The Animal Humane Society recommends an enclosure with a minimum size of 24 inches by 35 inches.

Guinea pigs don’t climb in nature, and they don’t require a lot of platforms. Open space is preferable to anything else, and sometimes ramps can clutter and reduce space. The exception is a little hiding place where they can go if they feel overwhelmed. This hiding space is usually under the raised feeding platform.

Training 🎾

Abyssinian Guinea Pigs are smart and easily trained. Training helps engage your pet in exercise and will help you and other family members bond with the animal. Training is easy and only requires saying a word over and over and supplying a treat when they perform the trick. Here is just a  sample list of tricks your Abyssinian Guinea Pig will learn.

Abyssinian
Image Credit: joannafotograf, Pixabay

Use the litter box

Start by placing the litter box in the cage with hay and some fecal material inside. If you see the Abyssinian guinea pig using the litter box, give them a treat. After a few tries, they should learn the game and use the litter box consistently.

Stand up

Another trick you can train your Abyssinian guinea pig is to stand up. To teach them this trick, hold the treat over their head while repeating a meaningful word like “Stand” until they stand up to get the treat. Do this twice a day, and in a few days your pet will stand on command

Come when you call them

Guinea pigs learn to associate a word and an action with a treat. If you continually say a word, like their name, while coaxing them to perform a simple action, like come to the door, and treat them when they complete the job, they will catch on quickly. This method works for teaching them to roll a ball, walk through a hoop, and countless other tricks.

Grooming ✂️

Abyssinian guinea pigs have longer hair, so naturally, they are going to require special care. They are not as high maintenance as other long hair guinea pigs, but they will require an occasional bath, shampooing, and nail trimming. They will also need frequent combing to help prevent knots and matted hair. Brushing also helps remove dead skin cells and promotes blood flow in the top layer of skin.

Be very gentle when grooming your Abyssinian guinea pig. It’s easy to pull their hair and hard to tell if you are hurting them. Some people find that it helps to give them a treat while grooming, so they don’t try to get away.

Health and Conditions 🏥

The Abyssinian guinea pig is a fairly healthy animal that usually lives about five years, with some pets living as long as seven years. They do have some common ailments you should watch out for, though, and they include the following afflictions.

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Pneumonia

VCA Hospitals warn us that pneumonia is one of the biggest health risks facing your guinea pig. Many pets carry the bacteria that causes it inside them for many years. Pneumonia symptoms include not eating, discharge from the eyes and nose, and breathing trouble.

Diarrhea

Abyssinian guinea pigs have a sensitive gastrointestinal tract that’s easy to throw off balance. Sometimes even a slight variation in food can cause an imbalance that produces uncomfortable gas and diarrhea in your pet. If your pet appears to be dehydrated or is losing weight, it could be a sign of diarrhea.

Scurvy

Another common problem in all guinea pigs is a condition called Scurvy, which is caused by a lack of Vitamin C in your Abyssinian guinea pig’s diet. A guinea pig’s body cannot make vitamin C, so you will need to supply it to prevent this disease from occurring. If you notice your pet has a rough coat, is experiencing bouts of diarrhea, refuses to move, or has swollen feet, these could be symptoms of Scurvy.

Urinary Problems

Abyssinian guinea pigs are prone to getting bladder stones, which can lodge in the urethra and cause great pain and even death. Bloody urine, a hunched position, and small, frequent urination are all signs of urinary problems requiring immediate veterinary attention.

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Summary

We hope that you have enjoyed reading over our close examination of the Abyssinian guinea pig. These small animals make great pets for children and adults, and they are unique enough to demand immediate attention from any visitors. They require a little maintenance, but no more than a dog or a cat, and they are a great way to introduce your children to the world of pet ownership. We’re sure you will be glad for the time you share with your Abyssinian guinea pig.

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Featured Image: Olena Kurashova, Shutterstock