Abyssinian Guinea Pig
The Abyssinian (also known as an “Aby” or “Abby”) is one of the oldest breeds of guinea pigs. The Aby is recognized by its symmetrical rosette (hair radiating symmetrically from a center) and erect ridge patterns on its body and head. The number of rosettes can vary, but to be shown, an Abby must have at least eight (10 are preferred), and they must be clearly defined. The Abyssinian also has a mustache of raised fur around its nose. Their fur is coarse and Abyssinian guinea pigs can be found in a multitude of colors and color combinations.
South America is the land of origin for all domesticated guinea pigs. In fact, they were so valuable to South America that some of the ancient tribes worshiped this animal. (Of course, they also eat them, so beware when you go to South America) The first Abyssinian reached Europe during the late 16th century and the rest is, as they say, history.
Most Aby owners consider their pets to be rather “mischievous” which just makes them a lot more fun to have around. They tend to find trouble faster than other breeds, but they also seem to like humans more than other breeds.
They also require a bit more work due to their longer hair (which also tends to pick up pieces of debris as they scoot along the floor). Be sure to remove any tangles when you brush them out every day or two. The Abyssinian Satin has the same appearance as an Abyssinian, but with a satin sheen to the fur. Like the Abyssinian, it must have a pattern of rosettes and ridges, and possess a minimum of 8 rosettes in order to be shown professionally.[bt_taglinebox style=”top” width=”500″ font_size=”12″ text_color=”#5b5b5b” title=”Choosing a Brush” title_color=”#259b9a” align_center=”no” bgr_color=”#f6f6f6″]An Abyssinian should be groomed with a small-bristled brush so that the hair becomes softer.[/bt_taglinebox]
Abyssinians can be found in a wide variety of colors.
- Tortoiseshells: have patches of colors. They usually have black and red spots around the body but rarely have symmetrical patterns.
- Brindles: have a well-distributed mix of black and red hairs and can be separated into two different sub-categories: light brindles and dark brindles. Their exact classification really depends on how much red or black they have and the shading of the coat.
- Roans: have a mottled coat that are mostly white (or shades of white). They are generally classified as Strawberry Roans or Blue Roans. The Strawberry Roan has red and white hairs while the blue has white and black hairs.
- Selfs: only have a solid color that range from completely white to completely black.
Improper diet is the leading cause of illness in these pets. Be sure you’re feeding them a high-quality pellet food that is specifically designed for the breed, such as Oxbow Cavy Cuisine Adult Guinea Pig (Timothy Based), 10-Pound Bag. Commercial guinea pig pellets should make up the bulk of your pet’s diet as they are nutritionally complete, easily found at pet supply stores, and made from plants, seeds and veggies. Guinea pigs need to be fed twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
Research the needs of your guinea pigs as they all require different things. Fresh fruit and raw vegetables should be offered to your guinea pig each day, as they make great chews and your guinea pig needs plenty of things to chew on as their teeth grow continually.
Guinea pigs need fresh hay available at all times. Timothy hay makes a good edible choice and can be found in the form of cubes or loose bags of hay.
Guinea pigs need at least eight square feet of floor space in their cages. They must have solid flooring as wire flooring can injure paws and break legs. Since guinea pigs are “prey” animals, they have two responses to a threat: Freeze in place or run away. This is why it’s very important that your guinea pig be able to move quickly without fear of being caught up on a wire. Your guinea pig will chew, so avoid cardboard boxes and be sure to inspect cage periodically.
Paper or pine bedding should be provided to allow your guinea pig plenty of comfortable nesting. Clean the cage at least once a week (twice a week is better) to remove any soiled bedding, food, or droppings. Each week, you’ll need to remove the old bedding, scrub the cage with warm water and rinsing thoroughly. This will help reduce odor and eliminate possible health problems.[bt_taglinebox style=”top” width=”500″ font_size=”12″ text_color=”#5b5b5b” title=”Bedding” title_color=”#259b9a” align_center=”no” bgr_color=”#f6f6f6″]AVOID cedar shavings as they contain phenols which can be toxic to your guinea pig.[/bt_taglinebox]
Abys are quite easy to train, which makes them very attractive to guinea pig owners. While they are very personable animals, they are tend to be a bit mischievous as well, so keep a close eye on them while they are out and about. Never leave them unattended or take them outside without watching them like a hawk (or it’s likely a hawk will get them).
Abys are very smart and anxious to learn, so be sure you keep them mentally stimulated with plenty of toy, raw blocks of wood they can chew on, and offer plenty of ways they can get exercise. They are very sensitive to heat and cold, so be sure you keep them in an area that is away from windows and near a consistent form of heat or air-conditioning, without having it blowing on them.
Learn more about Guinea Pigs
- Caring for your Guinea Pig
- White Crested Guinea Pig
- Texel Guinea Pig
- Coronet Guinea Pig
- Silkie Guinea Pig