A Beginner’s Guide to the Abyssinian Guinea Pig

A Beginner’s Guide to the Abyssinian Guinea Pig

The Abyssinian guinea pig is an easily recognizable breed of guinea pig because it always looks like it has a bad case of bed-head. Aside from having a really unique coat, this is a great pet and is a very popular choice among both children and adults. For those who want a pet that is relatively easy to maintain, lively but not hyperactive and unmanageable, then the Abyssinian guinea pig may be good option to consider. The following descriptions serve as a guide to those who want to learn more about the Abyssinian guinea pig and how to care for this animal.

Physical Traits

As mentioned earlier, the Abyssinian is a breed of guinea pig that is most widely known for its fur. This little guy genuinely looks as though he has been given a full-bodied noogie! The fur is dappled with patches of fur that look as though they have been exposed to high winds. These patches are called rosettes. Believe it or not, there is actually a pattern in the placement of these rosettes. Most Abyssinian guinea pigs have them on the shoulders, across the back, and on the hips. Ideally, there should be a total of ten rosettes although a guinea pig with at least eight rosettes aligned in a symmetrical pattern is still eligible to compete in shows. For individuals who simply want an Abyssinian as a pet, the count and placement of the animal’s rosettes will likely be a trivial consideration. Abyssinians come in a variety of colors, some even being multicolored. Those that are multicolored are especially popular because the rosettes create a marbled or tie-dye effect.


When it comes to the temperament and the personality of the Abyssinian, prospective owners may be lured by this breed’s easy lovability. Although most domestic guinea pigs are considered fairly laid-back, the Abyssinian breed seems to be a little easier to get along with humans–or friendlier, if you will. Owners of this breed report that the Abyssinian seems to be the rapscallion of the guinea pig world. It seems that this breed is a little more mischievous in nature, but not so much that they are unpleasant to have around. This breed can be quite hammy and are happy to learn tricks and perform comical actions in order to elicit attention and praise from human family members. Abyssinians thrive on attention but as with any animal, guinea pigs should be allowed alone time when they require it or during moments when they aren’t feeling very sociable.

Housing and Exercise Requirements

In order for a guinea pig to be truly happy and to have a good quality of living, he must have an appropriate house. Owners will be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking out a cage, as the standard metal bars and plastic flooring are a thing of the past. Guinea pig cages now come with a variety of options, including multiple levels, built-in exercise equipment, tunneling, and windows. The cage should be large enough so that the guinea pig can walk and turn around freely without bumping into the walls of the cage. It is worth considering the fact that guinea pigs are sociable creatures that are happiest when they are with others of their own kind. Consider getting at least two Abyssinians to ensure that loneliness and depression don’t become an issue.

The cage should be lined with bedding material such as newspaper or hay. Do not use pine or cedar wood chips as they are harmful to guinea pigs. The housing should include a food tray, ideally one that is fixed to the wall of the cage to prevent it from tipping over. A water bottle should also be provided. Some cages come with a litter box and while a guinea pig may certainly be trained to use this device, it does take a lot of patience and dedication on the owner’s part.

Dietary Guidelines

Guinea pigs should be fed pelleted food in order to get all of their basic nutrients. Most pelleted guinea pig food is nutritionally complete, which means that the animal’s diet does not have to be supplemented with additional foods. Ideally, a guinea pig should be fed once in the morning and once in the evening. As a snack or treat, one may offer fresh fruit or vegetables to a guinea pig. Good options are grapes, carrots, corn, and pears. One must be sure to thoroughly clean the food dish after using it to feed fruits and vegetables to the guinea pig in order to reduce the chances of harmful bacteria infecting future meals. The guinea pig should have 24-hour access to water. His water bottle should be emptied, rinsed, and refilled with fresh water on a daily basis.

Tips for Proper Handling

While the Abyssinian guinea pig isn’t any more fragile than other breeds of guinea pig, it still requires special considerations when it comes to handling. Begin handling guinea pigs from a very young age so that they are familiar with human touch and welcome it. Rather than simply picking up a guinea pig, first test whether it wants to be handled. This can be done by gently stroking or scratching its back. If the guinea pig shakes or turns away from the contact then it should be left alone. If no opposition is made then it is okay to pick up the guinea pig. Use both hands to support the guinea pig’s body. When the guinea pig begins to fidget or tries to wiggle out of a person’s hands then it is trying to signal that it wants to be returned to its cage.

It can take a bit of time to get used to the intricacies of owning and caring for a guinea pig, but an observant owner will soon pick up on the preferences of his/her pet. The animal will come to trust and respect an owner that allows it to decide when to be held or to engage in social contact. Forcing this kind of activity when it is clearly not reciprocated by the guinea pig can cause the animal to resent his owner or humans in general.