Abyssinian guinea pigs are one of the oldest breeds of guinea pigs. They were used in display shows in the past and are still a popular choice among guinea pig owners. But what makes Abyssinian such a popular guinea pig breed? Let’s find out all about them.
Abyssinian guinea pigs are popular for their unusual but attractive rough spiky coat, which forms a pattern known as rosettes. They are more active than other breeds and also carry an outgoing personality that makes them a perfect family pet.
I was so charmed by their personality and appearance that I decided to do further research on them, visit some rescues and watch them closely and also consulted some experts in the community to learn more about them.
When I thought I had learned enough, I decided to pen it down in a definitive guide so that you guys can also learn all about this fantastic guinea pig breed.
So, If you are looking forward to learning all about Abyssinian guinea pig, their origin, appearance, personality, diet, grooming, and more, stay with me till the end of this article.
I shall make sure you have all the basic cleared by the time we end this.
What is an Abyssinian guinea pig?
Abyssinian guinea pigs are one of the oldest and most popular breeds in the community. These guinea pigs have around 6-8 rosette all-around their bodies, which gives them a unique appearance.
They may look like a lot of work when you first look at them; however, they maintain their coat and skin quite well, and apart from some brushing and nail trim, there is hardly anything you have to do.
It is still a mystery of how this guinea pig breed got their name as Abyssinian; however, one thing is sure that they definitely didn’t belong to Abyssinian plateau, which is in Ethiopia.
So, now with all that out of the way, let us learn more about their origin and where they came from.
Abyssinian guinea pig Origin: Where are Abyssinian guinea pigs from?
Guinea pigs originate from the Andes mountain in South America. There was a wide variety of breeds living in the mountains for years, and people of that region used to worship these animals.
Soon, they became a popular food source among pirates & other people who brought them to England and sold them at a premium price. They were first brought to England in the 16th century, where they became popular due to their unique appearance.
Guinea pig shows became quite soon after, and the Abyssinian was the most loved breed among everyone since then. It is also believed that the name
Abyssinian became famous in those days itself. No one still knows how the name for these breeds came into existence; however, everyone has a different story to say.
It is noted that Abyssinians were some of the first breeds that appeared in those days, although there is no concrete evidence to back the facts.
The breed is also among one of the first breeds to be recognized by the American cavy breeders association
So, now that we have learned some basic information about their origins let us move ahead and learn about their appearance.
How does Abyssinian guinea pig look like?
The Abyssinian guinea pigs are loved for their unique appearance. They have a long body and a small face with petals like ears and little tentacle-like mustache around their nose area.
Their coat has some rough spiky pattern called rosettes, which makes their appearance unique. The length of the hair is around 3-4cm, which usually forms the rosettes.
A usual Abyssinian guinea pig has about 6-8 rosettes; however, some showcase piggies even have more than that.
A perfect showcase guinea pig will have two rosettes around the shoulder area and rest four to six around other parts of their body. The rosettes look quite attractive, even if they don’t have any symmetry in it.
Abyssinian guinea pig size: How big are Abyssinian guinea pigs?
A matured Abyssinian guinea pig can grow up to 12 inches in length. The male guinea pigs are always a little longer than a female guinea pig, so you can expect a difference of an inch or two. Also, remember that the size of the guinea pig is dependent upon the age, diet, living environment, and a lot of other factors.
Abyssinian guinea pigs are usually 3-4 inches in length at the time of birth. The average litter size is three, although it can range anywhere between 3-6. The size of the guinea pig is also dependent on the size of the litter.
The young guinea pigs grow rapidly for the first eight weeks and almost get double in size. You can expect them to be around 6-7 inches when they are eight weeks old.
These guinea pigs fill further grow and reach the size of 8-10 inches by the time they hit the 16 weeks mark.
You can not tell the difference in size between a male and female Abyssinian pigs. Moving further, they will grow out a little more until they reach a size of 10-12inches where they hit the maturity mark.
The male guinea pigs would be a little larger as compared to their female counterparts. The rough and long fur also gives the feeling that they are longer than other breeds while the fact is they aren’t.
Abyssinian guinea pig weight: How much do Abyssinian guinea pigs weigh?
An Abyssinian guinea pig can weigh anywhere between 800-1400 grams. While the male Abyssinian can weigh an average of 1200 grams, the female Abyssinian weighs around 1000 grams on average.
The weight of the guinea pigs is dependent upon various factors, including the diet, living environment, etc.
A newborn Abyssinian guinea pig can weigh anywhere between 70-110 grams. The weight of the newborn Abyssinian is dependent upon the size of the litter and some other factors.
The Abyssinian guinea pigs grow rapidly during the first eight weeks; thus they put a lot of weight early on.
You can expect the weight of a male guinea pig to be around 500-500grams on an average while the female guinea pig would weigh anywhere between 420-450 grams on average.
After the quick growth phase, the growth of the guinea pigs plateaus as they hit the maturity mark.
You can expect a male Abyssinian guinea pig to weigh around 1000-1400 grams on an average while the female ones weigh around 900-1200 grams.
Keeping track of weight
The weight of the guinea pig is one of the most significant and earlier signs of diseases in them.
You need to keep track of their weight from day one when you get them. Try to maintain an excel sheet or a notebook to keep track of their weight.
|Usual change, Nothing to be concerned about.
|Should lookout for other symptoms.
|Reach a vet immediately.
Please note that guinea pigs can hide the symptoms of sickness for long and until it gets quite severe, so make sure you don’t ignore the weight loss as something big could be on the way.
You can learn more about weight loss in guinea pigs from our in-depth article.
Abyssinian guinea pig colors
Abyssinian guinea pigs are available in a variety of colors and patterns. Tricolors, Himalayan, roans are some popular choices to go with. Some other colors and patterns are:
|A single color all over the body: Black, Chocolate, White, etc.
|Blocks of two solid colors(Usually black & Brown, White & brown).
|A mix of lighter and darker colors that blends in.
|White body, red eyes with black/brown nose, ears, and feet
|Blaze on the face with a white band around the neck, chest, and belly.
|White color body with black or darker color spots on it.
|A solid color belly followed by a mix of colored hair. Each hair has two shades of color in it.
|White color fur with red eyes.
Above is the list of some popular colors and patterns of Abyssinian guinea pigs. There is a lot more variation of these available in the world today.
However, these are some of the most common ones which can be found around your area.
Abyssinian guinea pig life span: How long do Abyssinian guinea pigs live?
Abyssinian guinea pig typically lives around five years on an average. While some have lived for over seven years as well, but those are rare case scenarios.
If we provide the right diet, a pleasant living environment & take good care of them, they can live a pretty long life comfortably.
If you want to learn more about the lifespan of guinea pigs in general and how you can improve the same, you should read our article: How long do guinea pigs live, and how can we improve their lifespan?
Abyssinian guinea pig personality: Do Abyssinian guinea pigs make good pets?
Abyssinian guinea pigs have a different personality than other guinea pigs. They are more active, vocal, playful, and also carry an outgoing personality.
They are social and friendly with other cage mates as well as their owners. While some of them enjoy being cuddled and petted other don’t, you might have to look out for the same.
They also have an outgoing personality; thus, they are easier to train than other breeds. Their appearance and such a charismatic personality made them a popular show guinea pigs in the past.
They are also calm and gentle so that you can have them for your kids as well. However, make sure there is someone elder to supervise and look after the guinea pig as well.
It would be best if you never let your kid do all the job as it can be fatal for your guinea pigs.
Abyssinian guinea pig care
Abyssinian guinea pigs require a medium level of care as compared to other guinea pig breeds.
They are not like peruvian guinea pigs that have really long hair that requires daily care, nor are they like American guinea pigs that don’t need any grooming at all.
They fall somewhere in between; thus, there are a few essentials which you need to look out for to make sure your guinea pigs remain healthy and live longer.
Just like other guinea pigs, they need good food, habitat, and different basic needs to live healthily.
Apart from that, Abyssinian guinea pigs also need some regular grooming to make sure they look picture-perfect every day. So, let us learn more about their diet, habitat, and grooming in detail.
Abyssinian guinea pig diet: What do Abyssinian guinea pigs eat?
The diet of Abyssinian guinea pigs should consist of 80% hay, 15% fresh vegetables, 5% pellets, and some occasional treats.
The significant portion of their nutrients come from hay, while the rest is supplemented through vegetables and pellets.
Fresh fruits are also a great way to spice up their diet and throw in some extra nutrients. Commercial treats are served sparsely to bring some change in taste as well as to spoil our piggies. LOL!
We have an in-depth article written about the guinea pig diet, where you can learn more about their diet plan in detail.
Hay is an essential part of any guinea pig’s diet. It provides guinea pigs with much-needed fiber, some calcium, phosphorus, and protein.
There is a large variety of hay available for your guinea pigs; however, only Timothy or Orchard hay is the best suit for the nutritional requirement of our guinea pigs.
This hay has the right balance of fiber, calcium, and protein needed by the guinea pigs. Some other hay-like oats hay and alfalfa hay can be served in small quantities when your piggies are young.
However, it should not be a significant part of your guinea pig diet. They contain some exceptionally high calcium content in it, which can be bad for your guinea pig’s health as the extra calcium can lead to bladder stones in guinea pigs.
I personally prefer a mix of Oxbow and small pet select hay for my guinea pigs. These might cost a little premium, but I can rely on these brands that what I am getting is good quality hay.
Some cheap brands can give you hay at a more affordable price, but they tend to mix other types of hay-like alfalfa, etc. to bring the cost down.
Also, since hay is the primary food for your guinea pig, I personally believe you should not mess around with it unless you want a bigger vet bill.
Rest, there are other brands and tractor supply hay also available if you’re going to go for it. I have also written a complete guide on hay for guinea pigs, where I have discussed different types of hay, their nutrients, benefits, and hazards.
I have also considered storing and serving grass to your guinea pigs. Feel free to check it out if you wish to learn more about hay for your guinea pigs.
Vegetables should also be a part of the daily diet for your guinea pigs. It not only brings a change in taste for your guinea pigs but also provides them with much-needed Vitamin C and other nutrients required by our guinea pigs. Guinea pigs can’t produce their own vitamin C; they need a diet rich in Vitamin C to fulfill all the need of the same.
Lack of Vitamin C often leads to scurvy in guinea pigs.
It is recommended to serve at least a cup of vegetables daily to your guinea pigs. You can divide it into two-time slots and serve half of it at a single go.
Most experts recommend serving at least 5-6 different types of vegetables daily. However, make sure you serve a mix of high vitamin c and low to medium calcium vegetables to your guinea pigs.
Veggies like Bell peppers, Cilantro, Lettuce can be provided daily to our guinea pigs while other veggies like Tomatoes, spinach, carrots, zucchini, cucumber, kale can be served sparsely over the week.
Mix two leafy vegetables with three other veggies to create a healthy mix for your guinea pigs.
Please note: If you want to introduce a new vegetable in your guinea pig’s diet or change their current diet then you should do it very slowly. The digestive system of our guinea pigs is really sensitive and any rapid change can easily set it off-balance. Thus, go slow and steady!
Pellets account for the rest 5% of the remaining diet. For some guinea pigs, pellets play a vital role in their diet.
As some are picky eaters and don’t like to eat veggies like bell peppers & cilantro which possess high vitamin C. So, for such guinea pigs, Vitamin C fortified pellets are really important.
Pellets can provide guinea pigs with fiber, vitamins, and other minerals, which they usually can’t get otherwise. Thus, adding pellets to your guinea pig’s diet is helpful.
However, make sure you serve only the needed quantities at once. Most experts recommend serving 1/8-1/6 cup of pellets to your guinea pigs daily.
The consumption may depend on the diet and age of your guinea pigs. You can refill the bowl whenever you feel necessary. Your guinea pigs are not going to munch all the pellets anyways.
So, go ahead and refill it whenever you clean the cage or serve them veggies. Make sure you don’t overfill the bowl as your guinea pigs are going to toss over the pellets or decide to pee or poop on the dish for no reason.
Treats are also useful to spice up the diet of your guinea pigs. Some owners do use them as a positive reinforcement for training their guinea pigs.
In any case, make sure you limit the serving of these to once or twice a week only. You can either serve fresh fruits or commercial treats to your guinea pigs.
Commercial treats are available in a wide range and variety; however, not all of them are safe for your guinea pigs. While some are healthy and safe, others contain some forbidden ingredients in it.
I usually go with Oxbow natural treats with bell pepper and timothy hay. They are one of the most trusted brands out there. Also, this particular treat is perfect for our guinea pigs as it contains traces of Bell Peppers and hay and less sugar as compared to other options out there.
Apart from those commercial treats, fresh fruits are also a great way to go. Fruits like apple, orange, grapes, kiwi, strawberries, etc. are rich in Vitamins and minerals, which makes them a healthy choice as well.
However, most fruits also contain some natural sugar in it, which can be bad for your guinea pig’s health. Thus feed it in small quantities once or twice a week only.
I personally feed the commercial treats and fruits on alternate. Say, I gave them a piece of fruit on Wednesday, then the next treat(Oxbow) they get will be on Sunday. Avoid feeding it frequently to avoid health issues like obesity, diabetes, etc.
Abyssinian guinea pig habitat
So, now that we have learned in brief about diet for our Abyssinian guinea pigs, let us move towards habitat for them.
The essential need for a guinea pig is its habitat. It consists of the cage or enclosure, bedding, food bowls, water bottles, toys and hiding spaces for your guinea pigs as well.
So, let us begin by checking out the cage for your Abyssinian guinea pig.
Abyssinian guinea pig cage
cage or enclosure is the most basic requirement for a guinea pig. Most new guinea pig owners make the mistake of buying a smaller pen then what is required, and hence, they have to spend extra to get it later.
I want to warn you to avoid such mistakes. Yes, guinea pigs are caged animals, but they can’t live in a tiny cage. They need at least 8 sqft space to live healthy and happy.
Since your guinea pigs are going to spend most of their time in their cage, it is essential to have a pretty large pen set up for them. They must have a place to eat, sleep, and exercise.
You should add some hiding space, food bowls, and water bottles also. However, make sure you don’t clutter the cage too much as it can limit their movement and cut down their exercise area as well.
Most pet store cages are not enough for your guinea pigs. You should either buy a MIDWEST cage or A DIY C&C cage for your guinea pigs.
These cages provide your guinea pigs with adequate space and a pleasant living environment, which is a must. The placement of the pen also plays a vital role while housing a guinea pig.
The cage should be placed in a well-ventilated area, away from drafts and direct sunlight. If possible, install a heating unit or a cooling unit nearby to maintain a stable temperature in your room.
If you live in a cold area where the temperature drops pretty low, getting a heater is an absolute must.
Abyssinian guinea pig bedding
bedding is another significant part of your guinea pig’s enclosure. It plays a vital role in keeping your guinea pigs comfortable and healthy. The bedding also helps with the following things:
- It keeps the floor dry by absorbing all the pee, thus keeping the cage clean and odor-free.
- The bedding also covers the floor, thus protecting the feet of your guinea pigs from the hard or wired bottom.
- It provides some additional insulation for your guinea pigs.
There is a wide variety of bedding available for your guinea pigs. While some works like a charm, others are harmful to your guinea pigs.
You must always ensure that the bedding is guinea pig safe before using it in your cage. Some of the most popular choices of litters include fleece, aspen, paper, hemp, etc.
Most owners prefer fleece over other bedding options as they are easy to maintain, costs less in the longterm, and keeps the cage odor-free.
Abyssinian guinea pig food bowl and water bottle
Some other essential supplies for the cage includes the food bowl, hay racks, and water bottle for your guinea pigs.
The food bowls are imperative to serve pellets and vegetables for your guinea pigs while the hay racks make sure that hay is not spread throughout the cage, and thus, you have to do less maintenance.
Always make sure you get a bowl that doesn’t tip over easily. Guinea pigs often tip over their food bowl for no reason, and that can definitely be fun for them but not so much for you.
I also use a hay rack to make sure all the hay is intact and is not spread throughout the cage. This ensures that the pen remains clean and easy to maintain.
The next essential component of the cage is a leak-proof water bottle. A healthy guinea pig can drink anywhere between 50-300ml of water every day.
Thus, you must make sure your guinea pig has access to fresh and clean water at all times. Also, make sure your water bottle doesn’t leak because a leaky water bottle can soak the bedding entirely and make your guinea pig feet weight, which can lead to serious health issues in the longterm.
Choco nose water bottles are by far my top choice for my guinea pigs. They work exceptionally well and doesn’t drip at all if you maintain them well and set it the right way.
There is a lot more you need to learn about providing water to your guinea pigs. I would recommend you go through our in-depth guide on the water for your guinea pigs.
Abyssinian guinea pig toys & hiding spaces
Being a prey animal guinea pigs are always scared for their lives, and when confined in a limited space like a cage, it can be extremely stressful for your guinea pigs not to have a space to hide when they feel frightened.
Whether it’s your cat or a predator or just a storm outside, anything can cause stress to your guinea pigs, and thus, having a lot of hiding spaces in the cages makes them feel more like home.
They can run towards hiding when they are scared, which reduces stress and makes them feel secure. I personally use some fleece hideouts and snuggle sacks in the cage so that my guinea pigs can hide and be comfortable as well.
Having a lot of toys is also equally crucial for our guinea pigs. Toys act as a mental stimulant for our guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are active and smart animals; thus, they need something to interact or play with to keep their minds busy.
If their mind is left idle and not stimulated well, they might suffer from boredom and depression in the longterm. There are a lot of varieties of toys that are available in the market.
Abyssinian guinea pig grooming: How to groom Abyssinian guinea pig
Grooming your Abyssinian guinea pig can be a little tricky as compared to other short-haired guinea pigs breed.
The regular grooming routine for an Abyssinian guinea pig includes nail trimming, brushing, grease gland cleaning followed by occasional bath and hair cut.
The grooming is not as intense as other long-haired guinea pig breeds; however, their coat does require some extra care to keep up with their appearance. So, let us move ahead and learn in little more detail about grooming your guinea pigs.
Abyssinian guinea pig brushing
Brushing is one of the most routined grooming tasks you need to look after if you have an Abyssinian guinea pig. Yes, they don’t have super long or curly hair; however, brushing does help in maintaining their fur.
When you brush your guinea pig, the extra hair, debris, and dead skin get removed, making the coat feel clean and smooth. Brushing also helps prevent tangles of hair all-around their rosettes.
Brushing an Abyssinian guinea pig can be pretty straightforward. Just take a soft bristle brush and brush from the nose towards their rump.
Remember, you always want to brush in the direction of fur growth. Do make sure you don’t go too hard, or you may end up hurting your guinea pig.
Also, remember they will not enjoy brushing around their rump area, so be a little gentle and keep them engaged when you are brushing them.
Giving them a piece of carrot usually does the job.
Abyssinian guinea pig nail care
The nails of Abyssinian guinea pigs need a monthly trim. Just like other breeds, their nails grow pretty quickly and are really sharp. So, do make sure you give them a regular trim.
Some guinea pig owners often neglect the nail trim or avoid it because they feel it isn’t straightforward to do so. However, that can lead to serious health issues, including a foot infection, thus make sure you do it regularly.
I can understand it can be tough for a new owner to do so. In such a case, you can either ask a vet to do it for you and learn by watching them or get a good nail clipper, ask a friend for help and get going. Here is a useful video to learn about it:
A quick tip: You can hold your guinea pig by wrapping them in a towel and put their paws above a flashlight. By doing so, you will be able to see the veins now make a cut by keeping a small margin, and you are good to go. If you, by mistake, end up injuring the vein and the blood starts coming out, apply some cornflour and press the nail and it shall stop in no time.
Having a good quality nail clipper can make a lot of difference so watch out for that.
Abyssinian guinea pig grease gland
Have you ever noticed a peculiar smell in your guinea pigs(especially in males)? The smell can be because of their grease. Guinea pgs secretes a greasy substance from their back portion in their rump area, which is called the grease gland.
They use the grease as a mating call or to mark their territory. If your guinea pigs have an active grease gland, they may produce the grease pretty frequently.
The grease can leave a strain on your cage as well as leave a bad smell behind as well. Cleaning their grease gland once in a few weeks can make a difference in the same.
If you find your guinea pig has an active grease gland, then do make sure you clean it regularly.
We have an in-depth article about grease glands and how to clean it. You can learn more about it from that article as well.
Abyssinian guinea pig haircut
Abyssinian guinea pigs may need some small haircut every now and then. You will not have to go through and trim their fur completely, but just a few spots here and there.
Sometimes they can have uneven hair length, while some hair might grow longer others may stay small. So, giving them an occasional haircuts does the job.
You can use any hair thinning scissors to make the cut. Do make sure you are careful while trimming so that you don’t end up hurting your guinea pigs.
Abyssinian guinea pig bath
Abyssinian guinea pigs won’t require any routined bath until the vet recommends it. Your guinea pigs can groom themselves pretty well, and you need not get into and do anything for them.
They like to keep themselves neat and clean. However, if you don’t have a well-maintained cage, your guinea pig might get dirty. Sometimes the poop and food particles can get stuck in their coat, which can make them smell bad as well.
Under such circumstances, you might need to bath them. Bathing your guinea pig is relatively simple, and you don’t need anything fancy to bath them.
We have a full detailed article about how to bath them and when you should bath them, which you can refer to for more information.
Where to buy Abyssinian guinea pig?
Abyssinian guinea pigs are readily available in most rescues and breeding centers. Avoid getting one from a local pet shop as those are not the healthiest one out there.
There are a lot of rescues around the US and UK; if you search for some online or enquire around your area, you can easily find one. I would encourage you to visit some of the rescues and see what’s available out there.
If you could find something for your liking, go ahead and get one from there. It’s a great help for the rescue as well as the community as a whole.
Always make sure you lookout for the signs of healthy guinea pigs before you choose one. Some of the most common symptoms to look for are:
- Active and moving around
- Eating their food properly
- Solid and usual poop
- Soft and smooth looking fur
How much do Abyssinian guinea pigs cost?
Abyssinian guinea pigs cost you anywhere between 15$ to 100$ price range. You can quickly get an Abyssinian guinea pig from a rescue at 20$-40$ price range.
However, the cost can go significantly high up to 50$-80$ on an average if you get them from a professional breeder. Some showcase Abyssinian piggies are also sold for above 100$ depending upon how good their appearance is.
You also need to consider that these are prices for a single guinea pig, and you need to get at least a pair for them to live happily.
Do Abyssinian guinea pigs shed?
Yes, Abyssinian guinea pigs do shed a little more than other guinea pig breeds. They tend to shed more during the spring or late summer to prepare for the summer heat.
Getting rid of extra fur helps them in maintaining their body temperature in the summer heat. I would recommend daily brushing during the shedding phase to avoid messy situations around the cage. It also helps in maintaining the good health of their coat.
If you want to learn more about shedding in guinea pigs, we will encourage you to read our in-depth guide on it.
Are Abyssinian guinea pigs hypoallergenic?
No, Abyssinian guinea pigs are not hypoallergenic. In fact, no animal with fur, coat, or feather can cause allergy to human beings.
The hair is not the only cause of the allergy, even dander, saliva or urine can trigger the same.
If you want to learn more about guinea pig allergy and how to live with it. I would recommend you to check out our article on the same.
Are Abyssinian guinea pigs rare?
No, Abyssinian guinea pigs are one of the oldest and most common guinea pigs out there. However, if you are looking to get a perfect showcase guinea pig with some fantastic rosette, then it might be a different scenario altogether.
How many rosettes do Abyssinian guinea pigs have?
A regular Abyssinian guinea pig has 4-6 rosettes in general. However, some showcase guinea pigs do have up to 8 rosettes.
Are Abyssinian guinea pigs cuddly?
Yes, Abyssinian guinea pigs are quite cuddly. They have an outgoing and social personality, which makes them an affectionate family pet.
Are Abyssinian guinea pigs smelly?
No, Abyssinian guinea pigs are not smelly in general. If your guinea pig is stinking, then it is either due to poor cage maintenance or due to some health issues in them. You should look out for the cause and fix it immediately.
Are Abyssinian guinea pigs easy to take care of?
Yes, Abyssinian guinea pigs are more or less easy to take care of kind of breed. Yes, they do need some extra grooming(brushing), but more or less, their other needs are pretty similar to other guinea pig breeds out there.
Sources: Abyssinian guinea pig, Biology of the Guinea Pig, Housing Guinea pig colony, Guinea pigs housing, Petsaver guinea pig guide, Guinea pig care, GUINEA PIG GENERAL CARE GUIDE, The effects of lowering the bath temperature, Weight Loss in Guinea Pigs, THE DEPLETION OF VITAMIN C, Discussion with a vet, The Journal of Nutrition, NCBI, NCBI, Journal of animal health, Petmd, The Effects of Diet on Anatomy, Physiology, and Health in the Guinea Pig.