The Abyssinian Guinea Pig

The Abyssinian Guinea Pig is not your typical Guinea Pig. His coat gives him a very distinct, even exotic, appearance. The fur forms unusual whorls also called rosettes. The fur pattern usually has eight to 10 rosettes. Four rosettes run down the back, one on each hip, one on each shoulder, and two located on the rump. This pattern can vary and many pet store Abyssinian’s only have four rosettes. The typical length of their fur is 1.5 inches long. Where each rosette meets is a ridge which makes the little cavie look a bit scruffy and like he is having a bad hair day but he is still adorable.


Colorations of the Abyssinian Guinea Pig

One of the most appealing qualities of the Abyssinian Guinea Pig is its wide color variations. The fur colors range from white, yellow, orange, black and brown. Each rosette can have a different color pattern or combination.


There are four color classifications:



  • Brindles: There are two types of brindles, light, and dark. Brindles have an even distribution of black and red fur across their bodies
  • Tortoiseshell: The tortoiseshell has red and black spots that occur repetitively all over its body.
  • Roans: Roans appear either as strawberry or blue. Strawberry roans are a mixture of white, red, or orange. Blue roans are a mixture of white and black hairs which makes their coat appear bluish or gray.
  • Self: Self is one solid color.


Roan Abyssinian Guinea Pig Genetics

Roans have an unusual genetic makeup and cannot be bred with each other or deformities may occur. They must only be mated with other colorations to prevent birth defects.


The Abyssinian Guinea Pig is Known for its Cleanliness

One of the key features of the Abyssinian is his cleanliness. His thick coat requires only minimal care because the little guy keeps himself clean and tangle free.


Abyssinian Make Perfect Pets

The Abyssinian is an ideal pet for children or adults. They have a friendly personality and are gentle little creatures. One of the most endearing characteristics of the Abyssinian is his ability to get into mischief. He loves to clown around. They are also extremely intelligent and will come when called or return to their cage unassisted. Some can even learn to sit in command.


History of the Abyssinian Guinea Pig

The Abyssinian is believed to have originated in the Northwest regions of South America. Ancient tribes in the area appear to have worshiped the small rodents. Around 5,000 BC, they started being kept as pets. The breed was also noted to be in the Caribbean in 500 BC. It is believed that Spanish sailors brought the small animals from

South America to Spain and perhaps parts of Africa. There are records of domestic cultivation of the guinea pig that dates from 1547 AD.


Origins of the Abyssinian Guinea Pig’s Name

The exact origins of the name ‘Abyssinian’ remain obscure However, some theorize that the small rodents received the moniker because they were carried to Europe on slave ships for the pet trade. The small animals were probably marketed as coming from the  Abyssinia region of North Africa because that was a common destination for the slave ships. Guinea, Africa was also a slave ship port so it is widely believed that is how the name ‘Abyssinian Guinea’ was derived. They may also have been called Abyssinian to give them an exotic appeal that set them apart from the typical cavie. The small animals carried a high price tag and became favored pets of the wealthy. They quickly gained popularity across Europe and are well documented in literature from 1837 to 1901.


Facts about the Abyssinian Guinea Pig

The Abyssinian Guinea Pig is as interesting as he is darling.  Here are a few facts about the small cavie:



  • Average Lifespan is 5 to 7 years.
  • Measures 23 inches long when fully grown.
  • They stay awake and active for 20 hours a day.
  • They can breed at three to four weeks old.
  • Males reach maturity before females.
  • The gestation period is 9 to 11 weeks.
  • One in five females die during pregnancy or birth.
  • Females over 8 months old should not be bred.
  • Litter size ranges from one to six with three being the typical number.

Personality of the Abyssinian Guinea Pig

The Abyssinian is known for his mischievous behavior and trainability. They have a mind of their own and like to get into things. However, they also listen intently to their owners and can be taught basic commands such as come and sit. They form a strong relationship with their owners and genuinely appear to enjoy interacting. When young, they can be a bit hyperactive but as they mature they tend to mellow a bit. As a pet, they are cuddly, lively, and gentle.


How to Take Care of the Abyssinian Guinea Pig

The Abyssinian is relatively easy to care for and makes an ideal first-time pet for a responsible child or adult.


How to Take Care of Your Abyssinian Guinea Pig

The Abyssinian Guinea Pig is not particularly harder to take care of than a typical guinea pig breed. However, they don’t particularly need specialized care as other pets do; for example, baby guinea pigs are usually already developed when they are born so they don’t usually need to be nursed intensively.


Here is some information on how to  take care of the Abyssinian guinea pigs:



  • Food: The Abyssinian diet should include grassy hay, which should make up about three-quarters of their diet. Ideally, you should also add fresh fruits and veggies to their daily allowance. They can also be fed guinea pig pellet and fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Water: They should have fresh water at all times. Usually, they will drink about five ounces per day.
  • Vitamin C: Guinea Pigs require abundant Vitamin C. They can get this key vitamin from food sources or commercially balanced guinea pig pellets. Without adequate Vitamin C, they can contract scurvy.
  • Grooming: Their fur should be brushed often to remove loose fur and prevent tangles.
  • Bathing: The Guinea Pig only requires bathing if they get dirty. Use a mild soap when bathing.
  • Diseases: They are prone to diabetes and ovarian cysts so if your pet should show any signs of illness you should take him to a veterinarian for a full checkup.
  • Cage: Ideally, the cage should measure at least 7.5 sq. ft. The cage, water bottle, toys, and cage litter will usually cost around $200. However, they also need a large area to run around to receive adequate exercise.
  • Toys: They love toys to play with like small balls or things they can chew on. All toys should be non-toxic. They can also use exercise wheels.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig Expenses

The small cavies usually cost between $10 to $75 depending on the quality and where you purchase him from. In general, you can expect to spend between $20 to $40 per month for food, litter, and toys.


The Abyssinian Guinea Pig is a loving and sweet pet. He requires only minimal care but with proper treatment and attention, he will flourish.



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