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abyssinian guinea pigs

Abyssinian Guinea Pigs: A Brief Guide

The Abyssinian guinea pig is an adorable breed which is beloved by many throughout the world.

They vary in colour and have a very distinctive coat texture and hair growth which makes it stand out compared to other guinea pig breeds.

In order to get to know them better, here are some facts to introduce you to them.

image wikipedia

  1. The Abyssinian is a non-self variety of guinea pig
  2. It is a classified main breed
  3. It has a short rough coat with tufts called rosettes
  4. It has rosettes in its coat and shades of colour
  5. When being prepared for shows, it does not need as much preparation as other types of guinea pig’s.
  6. It is known as an ‘abby’ to its fans
  7. An Abyssinian should be groomed with a small-bristled brush so that the hair becomes softer
  8. They can be any color
  9. It can breed with any other breed of guinea pig
  10. What distinguishes them is the texture of their coat which is rough and harsh.
  11. They also have a different growth pattern to other breeds of guinea pig
  12. It has a short,rough coat that has a total of eight rosettes on its shoulders, sides, back and behind.
  13. Its rosettes are all well-formed with tight centres without hairs that stick out.they need to be located symmetrically on each shoulder
  14. A typical Abyssinian has a very distinctive look compared to other guinea pigs
  15. They are typically much likely to have more lively personalities than other breeds of guinea pig.
  16. They tend to be quite energetic guinea pigs.
  17. Abbys are a lot more likely to be troublemakers than the smooth haired pigs.
  18. They respond well to being trained
  19. They are very affectionate guinea pigs
  20. They have a reputation amongst their owners for having cheeky and mischievous personalities.
  21. No one really knows what they called Abyssinian guinea pigs as they do not come from Abyssinian, which is the former name for Ethiopia.
  22. They are also renowned for being rather prone to sickness
  23. They are known for being attentive to keeping themselves clean in order to preserve their coat.

Here’s some more detail about them.

How to care for an Abyssinian Guinea Pig

The great thing about Abyssinian’s is that they are easy to groom and can be brushed regularly using a soft brush.

The coat does require brushing regularly and also attention to ensure that fungal infections do not happen. 

They do a great job at keeping themselves clean and do not need to bathed regularly.

They can be fed with a good balanced guinea pig diet of fresh water, hay and vitamin c pellets topped up with a good diet of veggies.

Compared to other breeds of cavy, they prefer not to be handled as much, however that does not mean they don’t like attention and to be fussed over. Regular time with your Abby is essential for building a close bond and good trust between guinea pig and owner.

 The Personality and Temperament of Abyssinian Guinea Pigs

They love to spend time with other guinea pigs and humans and are very comfortable surrounded by activity.

If you have young Abyssinians then they should be exposed to a social environment.

They tend to be more active at night when in the wild, but like other breeds of cavy sleep in short bursts of a few minutes at a time so as to keep alert.

In fact they often sleep with their eyes open so as to be aware of any potential danger.

They are vocal animals and love to chat away especially if given the attention they need or surrounded by other guinea pigs.

The colours of Abyssinian Guinea Pigs

Fore this section I am indebted to the Abyssinian cavy club has some very good guidance on the colours of the Abyssinian.

Brindles have red and black hairs that are well mixed. They are separated into two groups dark brindles and light brindles depending on their shade of hair.

Tortoiseshells tend to have patches of red and black hair with no set pattern.

Tortoiseshell and whites have patches of red, black and white hair in not set order.

Roans have a mix of white and coloured hair. There are also Blue roans who have a mix of black and white hair and Strawberry roans that have a mix of red and white hair.

Selfs are those that only have one solid colour which is usually black or red but can be other colours as well.

Any other colours are those that don’t fit into the above categories.

Showing Abyssinian’s

Abby’s are very popular for showing amongst breeders because they are challenging cavy’s and have a very clear and defined showing standard for breeders to work to.

For more detailed information on showing Abyssinian’s, here are the British Cavy Council’s show standards

To end with here’s a cute video of a family of Abyssinian’s

A Brief Guide to the Swiss Guinea Pig

The Swiss Guinea Pig is a unique breed of guinea pig that is relatively new compared to other breeds of cavy.

It is a rare breed and a rexoid guinea pig which is a cross between rex and a teddy

The swiss guinea pig is referred to as as a Swiss and a CH teddy when crossed with a teddy.

They originated in Switzerland and then spread throughout Europe.

They are very popular amongst guinea pig breeders because of their wonderfully cute appearance and there are many different breeders of the swiss guinea pig throughout the world.

They are a very recent addition to the guinea pig family having only originated in the last 20-30 years.

The appearance of a Swiss Guinea pig

  • The coat on an adult Swiss teddy is around 6cm long. The ideal length is between 5-7cm in length.
  • They have a puff ball appearance
  • The belly coat is shorter and wavy than the rest of the body.
  • The coat stands up all over the body
  • They have a very dense coat which does not flop
  • They are very large guinea pigs
  • Swiss guinea pigs tend to have their hair grow longer at the back than at the front.
  • They cannot be created by crossing one bred with another.
  • They are not longhaired cavies, merely guinea pigs with hair that stands on end.
  • They do not have the teddy gene at all
  • The are acceptable in any colour and with different markings
  • The coat should be sort and plush with hair.
  • It does not yet have a guide standard as far as showing them is concerned

How to care for a Swiss guinea pig

  • A Swiss guinea pig’s small coat need only be brushed once a week at the most if at all.
  • They do not need keeping clean or regular grooming like long haired cavies do.
  • Their hair does shed and thin out from time to time and so do be observant of that.
  • Just like other types of guinea pig, they should be fed regular hay and water along with vitamin c pellets. You should also feed them a diet of veggies and fruit to give them a good balanced diet.
  • They need to be kept out of the extremes of weather including the cold and the very hot climates.
Peruvian guinea pigs

The Peruvian Guinea Pig: A Brief Guide

The Peruvian guinea pig are a most beautiful breed of guinea pig.

They are extremely hard breed’s to find and so are a bit of a rarity and for those that own a Peruvian guinea pig, they are much loved and enjoyed.

Before we get onto how to care for them and groom them, here are some facts about the Peruvian guinea pig to help get to know them that much better.

  1. The Peruvian guinea pig is part of the non-self variety of guinea pigs.
  2. They are a classified main breed.
  3. They are one of the oldest breeds of guinea pig.
  4. They are native to Argentina, Peru and Bolivia in the Andes region.
  5. The Peruvian has long sleak hair which grows over their face.
  6. They are long-haired rosette guinea pigs.
  7. They are born with short hair that has two rosette.
  8. They have a long fringe that hangs over their eyes
  9. They constantly need their hair trimmed
  10. Their long hair also means that they need grooming and bathing on a regular basis, much more than other breeds of guinea pig.
  11. If their hair is not looked after by the owner it can become matted
  12. When they are bred for showing, their long hair is often kept in curlers called wrappers!
  13. When they are together in their hurds they like to chew each other’s coats which is known as barbering.
  14. They come in all kinds of colours.
  15. The most popular colour of a Peruvian guinea pig is tricolour which is a white, cream and slate colour. Or just two of those three colours.
  16. Their hair can grow up to 50 cm (20 inches).
  17. When they are born, they are born with two rosettes one which grows forward and one which grows backwards.
  18. The hair below the rosettes grows downwards.
  19. As the Peruvian guinea pig grows, the top hair parts and spills downwards.
  20. At birth they have often been mistakenly identified as Abyssinian guinea pigs, so similar are they in appearance to them when they are young.
  21. After 5 months they should become more identifiable as Peruvian.

How to care for a Peruvian guinea pig

Peruvian guinea pigsIt can be sometimes difficult to determine which end of a Peruvian guinea pig you are looking at, because their hair grows so long over their eyes

The Peruvian guinea pig is one of the hardest to be kept as a pet because of their massive hair growth

Brushing a Peruvian should be a daily activity.

image: wikipedia

They must live in a tidy environment every day, so their hair does not pick up unwanted debris.

Their hair should be fanned out and grow out evenly

Feeding a Peruvian guinea pig, is not different to feeding most guinea pigs. They still require timothy hair, vitamin c pellets and a daily supplement of veggies and fresh water to keep them healthy.

Try and bathe them weekly using normal guinea pig shampoo, and make sure that they are dried off quickly.

Just like other guinea pig breeds, they also need their nails trimmed on a monthly basis to prevent them from curling into the footpad.

Grooming tips for a Peruvian guinea pig

When a Peruvian’s hair starts to drag along the floor, its time to trim their hair.

Use a fine comb as they can get among the hair more easily than a baby brush

The ideal time is to groom them every few days, but once a week at a minimum should suffice.

They may react when you brush through their hair, but be persistent

Don’t put the scissors too close to their skin.

In order to cut it, get some hair between your second and third finger at end of their hair and begin to trim around the piggie.

Try and keep them distracted whilst you do this, with some fresh veggies

Take care whilst cutting around their backsides to ensure you don’t cut their genitals.

You may have to be flexible as to which side you cut as they may move around a lot. But be persistent and make sure you trim all around your Peruvian.

Trimming their front is tricky and may require holding more closely.

Trimming their hair will ensure they are more comfortable especially in the warmer seasons.

Once you are sure that the hair isn’t going to drag along along the floor

If their does mat, then cut it out with scissors as it will get quite uncomfortable for them.

Texel guinea pigs

Texel Guinea Pigs: A Brief Guide

In this post, we are looking at the beautiful Texel guinea pig. A wonderful cross-breed guinea pig which is relatively new on the scene as far as guinea pig breeds are concerned.

Before looking at ‘how to look after them’ and ‘grooming tips’, here are some facts about the Texel guinea pig to introduce you to them.

    1. The Texel guinea pig is a non-self variety of guinea pig.
    2. They are a main classified breed
    3. A Texel guinea pig has a long coat the flows back over the body.
    4. Its coat is distinctive because of its curls
    5. The Texel originated in England in the 1980s when a Silkie guinea pig was crossed with a Rex guinea pig
    6. It was recognised by ACBA in 1998
    7. To be recognised officially as a Texel guinea pig, curls of the guinea pig should be wound in a corkscrew and need to cover the whole body, this includes the stomach
    8. Texel guinea pigs are usually obtained from breeders or rescues and not regular pet stores.
    9. They are a high maintenance guinea pig, and are not recommended as a first guinea pig
    10. Texel’s need a good deal of time spent grooming them.

How to care for a Texel Guinea Pig

As mentioned earlier, Texel guinea pigs are require quite a lot of care because of the amount of hair they have.

They need attention in these ways;

  • Their hair needs keeping off the floor because it will drag and pick up excrement.
  • Texel’s can get hay and bedding stuck in their hair and so this requires checking on a daily basis.
  • They especially need their hair trimmed short regularly around the anus to stop excrement from building up in the hair.

Texel guinea pigsTexel guinea pigs are prone to ear wax build up and scurfy skin much more than other guinea pigs so beware of this.

They don’t need to be bathed any more regularly than other piggies. So once a month will do fine for them.

They also need their nails trimmed  on a monthly basis as with other guinea pig breeds.

Texel’s also have the same diet as other guinea pigs, so feeding the timothy hay, vitamin c pellets, and fresh water along with a varied veggie diet will do them good.
Image: Wikipedia

Texel guinea pig grooming tips

Texel’s needs regular grooming due to the nature of their hair.

By trimming their hair you are keeping them more comfortable, maintaining a good standard of hygiene, and reducing the chances of infections. Their long hair naturally soaks up pee which is not good for them.

If their hair is not washed, then it can matt very easily so washing it on a monthly basis will keep it maintained well.

Texel owners recommend keeping the hair around its backside much shorter as the longer hair can get wet very easily from urine and cause disease and infection.

As mentioned above, trim their hair short around the backside and around the sides.

To trim their hair you can use safety scissors or hairdresser scissors. However, electric clippers are the most effective way of doing it cutting their hair as they allow you to get a good cut that scissors can’t do.

Brush their hair regularly. A wired tooth comb is the best brush/comb for the job.

Running your fingers through their hair regularly will get rid of any tangles and they love it as well.


sheltie guinea pigs

Sheltie Guinea Pigs: A Brief Guide

Sheltie guinea pigs are wonderful beautiful piggies who are beloved by owners and breeders worldwide.

They were first bred in the United Kingdom and their popularity has since spread. They are often know as Silkies or Shetland’s’ depending on where you live.

So as to properly introduce you to them, here are some useful facts about them to help get to know them better.

sheltie guinea pigs

    1. The sheltie is a non-self variety guninea pig
    2. It is a long haired version of the smooth-haired guinea pig
    3. It is a main classfied breed
    4. It has no rosettes
    5. It has a long tain
    6. Its hair sweeps back from its face
    7. Unlike the peruvian it doesnt have hair that sweeps over its face
    8. A sheltie is born with short hair
    9. Once the sheltie is born, the hair starts to grow very quickly
    10. Breeders who show sheltie’s usually wrapper the hair and give lots of care and attention to its coat.
    11. It is also known as a silkie due to its very silky long coat
    12. Its coat does not naturally part along its back, unlike that of a Peruvian guinea pig

image flickr

How to care for a Sheltie guinea pig

They obviously need feeding well, and so the regular guinea pig diet of timothy hay, pellets, water, supplemented by veggies will do nicely for them.

Getting the sheltie used to hair brushing is something which needs to be started early in their lives.

Doing regular brushing when their hair is not tangled will help keep their in good shape.

Bathing can be tricky with a Sheltie as they are sensitive to being bathed. You can spot clean them though.

Owners can ‘butt-bath’ them though which is just bathing their backsides to wash away excrement. This should be done every few weeks.

Guinea pigs love to groom themselves, but unfortunately the Sheltie is unable to keep up with this because of their hair, and so will need regular assistance bathing and grooming.

The personality and temperament of a Sheltie guinea pig

Sheltie guinea pig’s are known for being very gentle and supple creatures.

They are also quite laid back in character, and when of first meet them they may come across as quite timid, but as they warm to you, you will see more of they’re true character.

Tips for trimming and cutting the hair of a sheltie guinea pig

Did you know that a Sheltie’s hair can grow at a rate of 2.5 centimeters (about an inch) per month? (Source: Peter Gurney’s “What’s My Guinea Pig?” (TFH Publications, 1997)).

Trimming a Sheltie’s coat on a regular basis is really important, it can quickly grow out of control and can affect their quality of life.

Here are some tips for trimming their coat’s.

    • Regularly trim the coat around the backside and belly to stop the hair being soaked in urine
    • They are sensitive about being groomed in particular from behind the shoulders
    • The trick to trimming a sheltie coat is to layer cut it so that the rear end doesn’t become soiled at all.
    •   For male shelties, trim as much as possible around the rump. This is because when they excrete, the faecies get stuck in the hair and in the anus, which is unhealthy and uncomfortable for the poor Sheltie. Older males often have trouble excreting so is will also help aid them.

A great video on the subject is the one below, which is detailed explanation of trimming a Sheltie’s hair.

Himilayan guinea pig

All About The Himalayan Guinea Pig

In our series on guinea pig breeds, we look at the himalayan guinea pig in particular the  breed type, appearance, specific care considerations, and showing requirements that it has.

The Himalayan is a fantastically beautiful piggie breed known as the siamese cat of the guinea pig world and pretty common compared to other breeds.

Lets find out more about it…

Breed type

  • The Himalayan guinea pig is a non-self variety of guinea pig.
  • It is a main classified breed

himalayan guinea pig

Appearance of Himalayan Guinea Pigs

  • It is an albino guinea pig which develops pigment on its feet, nose and ears which are called points. These develop during the first months of its life.
  • The Himalayan guinea pig is a pointed pig which basically means that it has a white body that has darker highlights that are either chocolate or black on the feet, nose or ears.
  • After it is born, it takes several months for the darker points to grow to the correct density.
  • The darker points appear on the nose, with the colour growing to between the eyes as well as onto the whiskers.
  • On the Himalayan guinea pig the feet and ears are a matching colour
  • On their feet, the colour does not go back as far as the heels
  • It is commonly known as the Siamese cat of guinea pig breeds
  • It is a fairly common breed of guinea pig

Caring for Himalayan Guinea Pigs

  • They really do not like direct sunlight and need to be housed under shade
  • Like all guinea pigs, they need to be fed regularly with a diet of timothy hay, fresh veggies and water.
  • They are susceptible to the weather and need to be kept under good temperature conditions.
  • The colour of their points will fade if they are knocked and by bright light and hot weather
  • Their colour changes in accordance to the temperature of the climate where they reside.
  • In contrast, their points will form and grow in cold weather
  • In addition, the points will often also fade with age, with frights or any illness

Showing Himilayan Guinea Pigs

For this section, I am indebited to the Bluezak stud site for information on Himilayan showing requirements

They are very popular with breeders for show because of their appearance and ease of care.

They are exhibted in two colours which are  Jet Black and Rich Milk Chocolate

When they are exhibited for show, the following are the standard requirements.

Head – needs to be short and broad with a profile that gently curves. A muzzle that is of good width and is rounded at the nostrils.

Eyes – need to be large, bold and bright, with good width between them. They should be coloured with black or rich milk chocolate and denser at the base of the ear. Should have bright red eyes.

Ears – they need to be large, drooping and with good width between them

Body – need to be short, cobby with good with across shoulders and body. Should be a pure white colour and not have any body pigment.

Fitness – need to be fit and of good substance, with lots of good firm flesh.

Size – need to have a good size appropriate to their age

Markings – need to be sharply defined dark and even points on face, feet and ears that are clearly marked from its white body colour.

Smut – it needs to be prominent and wider at nostrils. should be pear-shaped and carried up between the eyes. It should be sharply defined and coloured intensely in a rich milk chocolate or black colour.

Coat – Should be soft , clean and not have any guard hairs at all.


skinny guinea pigs

A Brief Guide to Skinny Guinea Pigs

Skinny Guinea Pigs are one of the most extraordinary breeds of cavy.

Their distinctive appearance is one of great fascination for animal lovers and the general public world wide.

They are a very new breed compared to other breeds and have some clear distinctives compared to their cavy cousins.

Lets dig a little deeper to find more about them.

Where Skinny guinea pigs come from?

skinny guinea pigsThe extraordinary-ness of Skinny guinea pigs begins with how they were created.

  • The skinny came from a cross breed of haired guinea pig and a hairless lab strain.
  • They came about as a result of laboratory testing at the Institut Armand Frappier in Montreal, Canada in 1978.
  • They most likely were the descendants of the pink-eyed white Hartley lab guinea pigs who were being tested at the laboratory.
  • A mutation called IAF Hairless spawned which was sent to Charles River Labratories in 1982 located in Boston, Massachusetts, USA to be tested on.
  • In 1986 the hairless guinea pig came into the hands of breeders who started to cross-breed it with rex and teddy pigs.

What skinny guinea pigs look like?

  • Their body has a very full appearance
  • They have soft rubbery skin
  • You cannot make out their ribs or spine in their appearance
  • They are available in many different colours and patterns.
  • Their skin is smooth with wrinkling around the neck and legs
  • They have hair on their feet, legs and muzzles
  • They closely resemble the baldwin guinea pig
  • They are born almost hairless then grow the hair on their legs, feet and muzzles as they grow older.

How do Skinny pigs behave?

  • Skinny pigs have much the behaviour of other guinea pig breeds.
  • They are generally very well behaved and affectionate animals.
  • Like other guinea pig breeds they thrive with company and prefer to be around other cavies. If not they require the attention of the owner for  a few hours a day.

How to look after Skinny Guinea Pigs

Firstly, check out this cool video here

  • Their average lifespan is 4.5 years but tend to live up to  5 – 6 years with proper care. There are Skinny guinea pigs that have lived to be 7 years old.
  • Skinny guinea pigs do not need to bathe often because they need the protection of the oils that their bodies produce.
  • When they are bathed they do need particular attention, here is a great guide  here
  • Watch for the hair growing around their eyes which could be painful for them, and move it in a different direction if needed
  • As with other guinea pig breeds, keep their nails short to save the scratching sensitive skin.
  • They drink and eat a lot more to keep themselves hydrated
  • They do enjoy their furry heads stroked
  • They prefer temperatures in the range of 75 to 79 degrees farenheit
  • They need to be housed indoors for the majority of the time as they need the warm  because of their lack of coat
  • Although their skin is exposed, they still have a good immune system. However, their skin still needs protection from sunlight and disease.
  • In fact, they cannot be exposed to sunlight at all
  • They tend to eat more than other breeds because of their need to generate heat from their body so will have a tendency to munch away all day.
  • Owners need to take regular care of their skin because of lack of protection from fur.
  • Use material such as fleece or towel to create a soft bed for the skinny guinea pig and avoid sawdust and anything with sharp edges or with a coarse texture for the cage surface or their bedding.
  • Change all bedding frequently at least every other day to control the spread of disease. Bedding that is soaked in urine can be especially painful for the skinny guinea pig.

Further reading is recommended at Guinea LynxMargaret’s hairless guinea pigs and rodents with attitude who have extensive guidance on the handling of skinny guinea pigs.

rex guinea pig

14 facts to help you get to know the Rex guinea pig

The Rex Guinea pig is a lovely variety of guinea pig which is amazingly cute.

If you are looking for some information about the Rex, then here are 14 facts to introduce to this remarkable variety of cavy.

  1. rex guinea pigThe rex guinea pig is a main classified breed
  2. They are a non-self variety cavy. The non-self variety of guinea pig is divided into three sectors which are coated, long-haired and marked. They come in all kinds of different colours and appearances.
  3. They can grow between 20-45 cm in length
  4. They have dense woolly hair that stands up on end and ears that droop down over a large head
  5. The style of their hair is caused by a gene that is recessive which causes it to be coarse and curly and not to lie smooth.
  6. Their guard hairs are short which means the coat does not go flat,  instead it curls and stands in an upright manner
  7. The coat hair is not more than half and inch in length. This is the same lenth as the whole of its coat.
  8. Rex guinea pigs do not have any rosettes in their fur.
  9. There are also longer haired varieties appearing as well that have wavy hair.
  10. The rex has been bred in most different colours and also cross-bred with other hair types as well.
  11. They come in many different colours such as brown, white or agouti. There are all kinds of variation of colour when it comes to rex guinea pigs.
  12. They are often mistaken for teddy guinea pigs. A rex tends to have a harsher coat than a teddy guinea pig whose coat is much softer. A rex also has curly whiskers and a teddy has straight whiskers. They are genetically different and it is said that if you breed them together you will get neither a rex or a teddy but probably an American short haired guinea pig.
  13. They are great starter guinea pigs as the hair of the rex guinea pig does not require that much maintenance of cleaning unlike long haired varieties.
  14. The rex guinea pig also has a very good temperament and loved to be handled and stroked and so are very good for children to look after, providing they are handled in a gentle way.