|Colors:||Rosetted, tricolor, solid, tortoiseshell|
|Temperament:||Highly social and playful but can be slightly skittish|
The Sheba Guinea Pig is commonly known as the “Sheba Mini Yak,” due to its close resemblance to that animal, and is also sometimes referred to as the “bad hair day” guinea. Their shaggy coat gives them a striking and instantly recognizable appearance, and they are one of the few long-haired breeds of guinea pigs that don’t require constant maintenance, as their hair grows slower than others. This breed originated in Australia in the 1960s and is a cross between the Peruvian Guinea Pig — known for its long, beautiful coat and often bred as a show guinea — and the short-haired Abyssinian guinea, one of the oldest recognized breeds. This unique cross has yet to attain a formal standard among breed registries and is not officially recognized by the ACBA.
Even without its official registry recognition, it is a well-known and sought-after guinea, with a lovable and playful nature.
3 Little-Known Facts About Sheba Guinea Pigs
1. They don’t come from Guinea
Despite their name, guinea pigs don’t come from Guinea but originate from the Andes region in South America. This particular breed of guineas originated in Australia, from a combination of the long-haired Peruvian and the short-haired Abyssinian, first bred by Wynne Eecen, founder of the NSW Cavy Club.
2. They chew their coats
Some Sheba Guineas will incessantly chew their own and their companions’ coats, no matter how much hay you give them. This can be mitigated somewhat by playing with them so they don’t get bored.
3. Their coats keep growing
While short-haired guineas’ coats do not constantly grow and some long-haired guineas coats can grow almost 2.5cm a month, Sheba’s coats are somewhere in between. They are not officially classed as long-haired, but their hair does keep growing, albeit slowly. This means they don’t require the constant maintenance that long-haired guineas do.
Things to Know When Owning a Sheba Guinea Pig
Food & Diet Requirements🥕
The food that you give your Sheba guinea will greatly affect its hair and skin health. Guineas, like humans, cannot make their own vitamin C, so they need to be given it daily. Good-quality pellets are the ideal food for all guineas, as they contain all the nutrient and fiber requirements needed. Occasional vegetables and greens are also a great addition to a guinea’s diet, but fresh fruit is high in sugar, which is not good for guineas and should be given sparingly.
You should avoid commercial foods that contain seeds and nuts as a daily staple — these should only be given as occasional treats. Even though most commercial guinea pellets include high-fiber hay, fresh timothy hay should be provided at all times.
No matter the breed of guinea pig, regular exercise is important, and an exercise wheel is not good for guineas, as it can damage their back. Sheba guineas in particular are social and should ideally be kept in pairs. They also need a great deal of play and stimulation, as boredom can cause them to chew on their own or their companions’ fur incessantly. A big enclosure that gives them the freedom to run around in is ideal, with regular play sessions outside the cage.
Unlike other long-haired breeds, Sheba guineas’ hair grows slowly, so they don’t need a huge amount of maintenance. Their fur is fairly coarse and has rosettes that give its hair that scruffy look. The fur length will seldom get below their feet, but they have a unique fringe of hair that falls in front of their eyes and nose.
Health and Conditions 🏥
Too much fruit or vegetables can cause obesity and diabetes in your guineas and can easily be fatal. Too much wet and sugary foods can also cause diarrhea, which can quickly lead to dehydration.
Sheba guinea pigs are a fairly robust breed but are susceptible to minor health conditions. These include ingrown nails, which can become infected if not trimmed, and pneumonia, if they experience constant and rapid changes in temperature.
A guinea that does not have sufficient vitamin C in its diet can suffer from vitamin C deficiency, which can lead to an unhealthy coat that could eventually result in hair loss and a compromised immune system.
- Also See: How to Litter Train Your Guinea Pig
Sheba Guinea pigs are highly social and have a scruffy personality. They are curious and gentle and low maintenance, making them perfect pets for children. Their active nature means they need a large amount of room in their cage to run around in and play, and they are more vocal than most other breeds.
That said, most people will rarely have enough time to give guineas the social interaction and play they need, so they should always be kept in pairs or more. This will always result in a healthier and happier guinea in the long run. A Sheba guinea is a great choice for a first-time guinea owner.
Featured Image: Pixabay