Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Abyssinian Guinea Pig

July 22, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Small Pets

The Abyssinian Guinea Pig

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Abyssinian Guinea Pig!

Would you like a small pet but want something a little more out of the ordinary? An Abyssinian Guinea Pig may be just the small pet you are looking for! These guinea pigs have a very interesting patterning to their fur. They are also known as “Rosette” guinea pigs because they have 8-10 whirls in their fur, which are called rosettes. Popular as show guinea pigs, these are a big hit among many people. Many Abyssinian babies however, do not meet the standards to be shown and end up as pets. I owned three of these guinea pigs when I was growing up and I always thought they were the most beautiful. Other people think their fur just looks wild!

Guinea pigs in general can make great small pets. They are clean, friendly, hardy, and easy to care for. If you make sure to acquire a baby guinea pig, your child can bond with him/her early on and have a great companion growing up. Abyssinian Guinea Pigs make wonderful pets for children. In my experience, these guinea pigs are quite energetic and can be a bit more spunky than some other breeds. But this also makes their personalities that much more endearing. Some can learn to do a few tricks and are smart enough to open their own cages and escape!

Domesticated guinea pigs have been around for a very long time. Records indicate their being kept with humans since around 5000 BC, most likely to be eaten as a food source. Specific breeding most likely began around 1200 AD. Initially they were kept as pets only by the wealthy upper class, but eventually became a favored pet of everyone. Different variations of guinea pig breeds became popular and specific traits were bred for. When the American Cavy Breeders Association was founded, one of the very first breeds they recognized was the Abyssinian breed.

Showing guinea pigs is a specialized hobby enjoyed by many. Ideally, Abyssinian Guinea Pigs should have one rosette on each shoulder, one rosette on each hip, four rosettes across the back, and two rosettes on their hind rumps. This gives a total of ten rosettes. As I mentioned before, many Abyssinian guinea pigs don’t quite make the standards for showing and end up as pets only. Your Abyssinian pet may still be eligible to show though, as long as he/she has at least eight rosettes which are symmetrical. Abyssinian’s come in many different colors and most of these can be shown.

Caring for and maintaining a home for your guinea pig should be relatively simple. Provide a cage large enough that he/she can run around in comfortably. Change out the bedding and clean the cage at least weekly. A good commercial guinea pig food should be offered daily, along with some fresh vegetables (i.e. lettuce and carrots). Water bottles work great for providing water. It is a good idea to provide chew sticks to keep their teeth trimmed. Also keep in mind that guinea pigs do get bored and they do need exercise. For this reason try to schedule in time every day where you can take him/her out of the cage to roam around for a bit.

Abyssinian Guinea Pigs are hardy animals and rarely get sick if they are kept in clean environments and out of drafts. If you are concerned your guinea pig is sick, read about Guinea Pig Illnesses. They are readily available. It should not be difficult to find them at pet stores or online. Guinea pigs are very social critters, so you may want to consider purchasing two to ensure they don’t get lonely.

Have you ever shown one of these guinea pigs? What was your experience with it?

Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Class Pet Showcase: Guinea Pig

August 23, 2011 by  
Filed under All Posts, Small Pets

Guinea Pig

Guinea Pigs are popular pets because they pack lots of personality into a small package. They love attention, and their sounds and actions are quite entertaining! These qualities have led many teachers to consider a guinea pig as a classroom pet.

If you’re thinking about getting a guinea pig for your classroom, it’s important to realize that they are high-maintenance animals. They can’t be left in a small cage day in and day out. They need plenty of space to run around and lots of human interaction every single day. They’re also notoriously messy, so you’ll need to set aside time each day for cleaning up after them. If a child in your class turns out to be allergic to guinea pigs, you may have to make special accommodations or remove the guinea pig from the classroom. Even so, for many teachers, the benefits of a guinea pig as a class pet far exceed the disadvantages.

Children love guinea pigs because they are so active and fun-loving. However, guinea pigs are more appropriate for older children than younger ones. Small children may be too rough with them or accidentally drop and injure them. These creatures are best suited to children aged 10 and up, but they can work for younger age groups with close adult supervision.

Having a guinea pig in the classroom provides lots of educational opportunities. It’s great for teaching kids about responsibility, as you can assign a different child to clean the cage or feed the pet each day. And since a guinea pig’s favorite meal consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s great for encouraging healthy eating. Special education teachers have also found that children with autism or other special needs can benefit greatly from interacting with guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs need a large cage with a solid floor. They also need a thick layer of bedding, which may consist of aspen shavings or manufactured bedding. Their diet should consist primarily of fresh timothy, but they also need a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Toys should be provided to keep them busy during class. Wooden bird toys and cat balls with bells in them are good choices. The cage should be thoroughly cleaned every day.

For a dedicated, animal-loving teacher, a guinea pig can be a fabulous class pet. For your care and attention, you will be rewarded with ample learning opportunities and lots of smiles from your students. The most important things to remember are to provide daily floor time for the guinea pig, keep the cage clean, and provide for its care on the weekends (either by taking it home or allowing students to keep it over the weekend). And don’t forget the fresh fruits and veggies!