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Abyssinian Guinea Pig

By | Last Updated: 30th June 2020

The Abyssinian guinea pig is an adorable breed of domestic cavies popular for its unique coat and outgoing personality. Abyssinians typically have an even number of rosettes, with the show-quality specimens having eight or ten swirls of hair, including two on their shoulders, two on their hips, two on their rump, and two or four on their back.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig

It is perhaps one of the oldest breeds of guinea pigs. Although its name is derived from Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia), it did not first occur there. Like most guinea pigs, it is believed to have evolved in South America. It was brought to Europe in the 16th century and was later imported to the US as exotic pets. The Abyssinian is among the first guinea pig breeds to be acknowledged by the American Cavy Breeders Association (ACBA).

Basic Information

Kept As:Show cavy, indoor/outdoor pet
Suited For:First-time owners, families with children, seniors, singles
Origin:South America
Temperament:Affectionate, outgoing, very friendly, loving, loves attention from its owners
Lifespan:5-8 years
Association/Clubs:Abyssinian Cavy Club
Breed Standard:British Cavy Council American Cavy Breeders Association

How Big do They Get

Size: 8-12 inches long

Weight: 2-3 lbs

Height: 9-13 inches

Width: About 10-14 inches

Black Abyssinian Guinea Pig
Tricolor Abyssinian Guinea Pig

What do They Look Like

Fur Length: About 1.5 in long

Fur Texture: Short, dense, rough, with straight ridges; evenly spaced rosettes, which stand well open

Color: Self (any solid color, including red, and black), roan (white and black; red, white, and black; white and red), brindle, tortoiseshell, any other color such as red, white, and chocolate tricolor

Care Level

Make sure to keep their cage in a place where they have access to fresh air, sun, and shade. In addition to changing any wet, soiled bedding, you may use a mixture of water and distilled white vinegar to clean the cage every week thoroughly.

Cage Size

You may keep your Abyssinian guineas in a cage measuring 30 X 62 X 20 inches with a floor space of about 1872 square inches. Roomier enclosures help keep them more active and lessen their chances of developing diabetes, heart diseases, and ovarian cysts.

Red Abyssinian Guinea Pig
Baby Abyssinian Guinea Pig


Since the Abyssinians are prone to diabetes, it is important that you provide them with the right diet. Make sure that their regular diet includes 80% timothy hay, 15% fresh leafy greens and vegetables, and 5% vitamin C enriched pellets. Talk to a veterinarian to find out which veggies they can eat or avoid.


They do not need as intense grooming as some of the long-haired breeds, but special care is occasionally needed because of their unique rosettes. You may brush its coat 2-4 times a week with a soft-bristled brush to prevent tangles. Be sure to brush in a direction away from the center of the tufts. You may trim their hair when they grow too long and bathe them if their coat gets dirty or smelly.


Give your Abyssinians toy balls, paper towel rolls, or cardboard boxes to play. You may keep them entertained by stuffing paper lunch sacks with fresh herbs and hay or hiding treats under shredded copy paper. You may also allow them to run in a safe predator-proof place outside their cage.

Brindle Abyssinian Guinea Pig
White Abyssinian Guinea Pig


Abyssinian guinea pigs are available from local breeders, and their price typically ranges between $15 and $75, depending on their breeding and color. The average annual cost of keeping them is about $1,500-$2,400.


Abyssinians are moderate shedders, but they will shed more during springtime and early summer. To minimize their shedding, gently brush them regularly.

Did You Know

  • The Abyssinian cavy was quite popular as an exhibition or show animal in England during the Victorian Era.
  • Breeding of two roan Abyssinians is discouraged because they produce offspring that have genetic problems associated with the white gene.

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