As a popular pet for first-time owners and kids, guinea pigs are commonly picked as pocket pets, but did you know there are different types to choose from, such as the teddy guinea pig?
Also known as cavies, the teddy guinea pig is known for a dense coat, making them akin to a teddy bear. This makes the breed okay for people who suffer from allergies yet still want to take care of a furry friend.
It also lessens the maintenance since they don’t shed a lot.
If you want to consider the teddy guinea pig as your first pet, read on our guide below to know more about this breed and what to expect, how to feed it, and much other information.
In this way, you’ll easily know the basics and take good care of your little furry friend without much hassle.
- Breed Origin
- Physical Appearance
- Temperament and Behavior
- Teddy Guinea Pig Training and Habitat
- Caring for a Teddy Guinea Pig
- Health and Problems
- Family-Friendly Breed?
- Finding a Teddy Guinea Pig
So how did the teddy guinea pig came to be? Well, it all starts with a little accident. Due to a certain genetic mutation, our furry friend eventually developed a denser and shorter coat as compared to other guinea pigs.
Perhaps it’s also common knowledge that guinea pigs are often known as “lab rats” and are, thus, used for experiments in the past.
Usually, changes in their coat and skin are due to reactions to products that will be used for human consumption or topical use, and that’s why they will only mostly have physical reactions.
In 1978, the American Cavy Breeders Association officially recognized the teddy guinea pig as part of their breed lineup.
Let’s look at what makes the teddy guinea pig different from the other breeds:
- Height: up to 1 foot long
- Weight: 1 1/2 to 3 pounds
When it comes to appearance, the Teddy guinea pig is known to be a bit smaller than most guinea pigs in size. That’s why they tend to be more popular for kids due to that characteristic.
Another physical difference is that their Roman nose has a more upward look and a wider appearance when you compare them side by side with other guinea pig breeds.
Coat Color and Style
A teddy guinea pig will mix any of these colors: white, orange, brown, black, gray, gold, red, and chestnut, or just a plain color. When it comes to texture, it has a dense coat, meaning that the teddy guinea pig will have thicker fur than the other regular breeds.
Additionally, aside from the fact that they have a dense coat, the teddy guinea pig also has more upright fur. Instead of laying flat as most guinea pigs do, each hair stands up.
Moreover, there are certain variations of the teddy guinea pig that has a bit more glossy coat than the ordinary one.
Temperament and Behavior
What can we say about the teddy guinea pig with their temperament and personality? Here are key points:
Well, for starters, they are people-pleasing little furry friends. They love to go around and snuggle with you, and that’s a great plus point if you want a very affectionate pet around the house.
This also means that they are good for beginners who aren’t very used to working around with pets, especially guinea pigs.
However, like most pets, you do need to keep them company. They shouldn’t be left alone in the house without someone, even a pet, because they were hardwired to be social creatures.
If you need to leave the house for some reason, make sure someone is left to take care of the pet or have a trusted pet companion be there for them.
Good with other pets
Aside from that, if you also have other guinea pigs in the house, it is okay to put them in the same cage, and they won’t feel alienated or anything.
That’s just how friendly they are! If you have a regular guinea pig or one of the other breeds, know that it is okay to mix the teddy guinea pig.
Moreover, if you also have other similar pets, such as rabbits, rodents, dogs, and cats, as long as they are properly-trained for mingling along with guinea pigs and similar pets, we bet they will be great friends or at least get along just fine.
Among the other guinea pigs, they tend to be the most social of all.
They tend to be sociable and kind towards pets and humans, but they also like to play on their own. That’s also why they need a big space to roam around and have physical activities and maybe other toys lying around.
Teddy Guinea Pig Training and Habitat
If you want to get the best out of your teddy guinea pig, you should start with a well-ventilated cage. In this case, consider a wire cage because it allows you to see them (and likewise they see you), so it promotes a sense of bonding.
Teddy guinea pigs are recommended at least 7 1/2 square feet of size for two of them. A larger space is much better, but if you don’t have space for that (e.g., for a small room, dorm, apartment, or condo unit), that’s the minimum space that you should get for them.
Make sure that their bedding is cleaned properly and regularly. You can either use fleece or paper bedding, depending on your preferences. Both of them have their pros and cons.
Whichever cage setup you choose, they should have something to do within the cage. Even if they don’t have a lot of space, you can give them toys to climb around and explore.
Because teddy guinea pigs are pocket rodents, they are extremely trainable. You can teach them tricks whether outside or in the house but make sure they have sufficient room to do so.
You can try clicker training them and then giving treats as a reward. You may also put some chew toys if you don’t have a lot of time to play with them. This is so that your teddy guinea pig(s) will be kept busy and less destructive when you’re away.
Caring for a Teddy Guinea Pig
You must know how to take good care of your guinea pig so that they will return the love equally in the later years. Here are some basics on how to groom your guinea pig and also attend to them in other aspects.
A key feature of a teddy guinea pig is that they have dry and sensitive skin, which also means that bathing them too much is a no-no.
They rarely need to be bathed, and the maximum amount you can bathe them in a year is just 3 times – talk about low maintenance!
When it comes to bathing them, however, you should use a particular shampoo that is formulated for dry skin (and for pets, especially guinea pigs). Make sure that the water is warm to avoid getting your pet feeling cold and sick later on.
The teddy guinea pig only needs to be brushed weekly, unlike the other breeds. That’s what makes them a good pet for first-time owners and for those who don’t want a high-maintenance guinea pig for a pet.
The brushing is only done to help them get rid of the loose hair, which will eventually end up as pet dander around your couch and cause allergies and sneezing to people.
As with other guinea pigs, they also need regular ear cleaning to avoid wax buildup. You can do this by using a warm damp towel and start slowly and gently.
Timothy hay is a staple for every guinea pig, and that includes the teddy variation. Always keep in mind to be careful what you feed to your teddy guinea pig because they are prone to certain digestive upsets such as diarrhea.
Timothy hay should make up about 90% of their regular daily meals because hay is known not to cause diarrhea, even when eaten in large amounts.
If you also do want to give them non-boring food, such as veggies, fruits, and pellets, you should keep a balance and make sure that they are safe.
Read online articles or ask your vet first before feeding a certain food to avoid causing digestive upsets since they have a sensitive stomach.
From time to time, treats in the form of fruits and veggies are okay because they do have vitamins, minerals, and the like. The only problem is that when they are eaten in excess, they could result in bloating and weight issues.
Therefore, you should only give them such treats sparingly.
Like most pets, guinea pigs are not meant for most human food, so don’t give them chocolate or ice cream. Processed foods, such as meat, jams, and dairy products, are also not recommended because of their high sugar content.
Highly-acidic foods are also too difficult for their tummies to digest.
Aside from that, they are also not very good with potatoes, corn, meat, rhubarb, beans, iceberg lettuce, and the like. If you aren’t so sure, you can talk to your vet or a fellow guinea pig owner about what to feed (and not feed) your furry friend.
You’ve probably heard of the hamster wheel, and your guess is right – like hamsters and similar rodent pets, they need exercise.
Even with their small bodies, they will get overweight if you don’t get them moving around. Like all guinea pigs, Teddy guinea pigs love to jump up and good around, so they need a lot of space and time to do just that.
By being physically active and occupied, they will get healthier in the long run, and they won’t get destructive when bored. If your guinea pig doesn’t have a wide cage to run around, apartment dwellers and condo unit living people need not worry.
There are plenty of toys in the market today that allow guinea pigs to climb, roll, and perform other silly acts while moving their muscles.
Health and Problems
A teddy guinea pig’s life will last about 4~8 years, depending on the way you treat them, their genetics, and their living conditions. If you’re lucky, they might reach up to 11 years old with proper care.
With that said, the teddy guinea pig is not excused for being prone to certain health problems. I believe taking note of some following tissues would support you well in its overall health management:
- Ear infections – As mentioned, teddy guinea pigs are commonly liable to get ear problems, so cleaning ears regularly is essential.
- Skin problems – They have dry skin, so they are prone to irritation. Always use a pet-friendly shampoo that’s formulated for their dry skin.
- Pododermatitis – This occurs in teddy guinea pigs that live in a cage with wire bottoms, so make sure you have a well-lined cage for them.
- Scurvy – They are also at risk for lack of vitamin C, affecting their coat condition. You can give them supplements in their diet.
- Urinary tract infections – They may have problems controlling their urine and may even have a loss of appetite. You can consult your vet if such happens.
When it comes to being around children, they are good with them due to their extra social, fun, and cuddly personality. That’s why if you want to have a family pet for your kids, a teddy guinea pig makes an excellent choice for them.
Finding a Teddy Guinea Pig
Fortunately, the teddy guinea pig is a popular breed, so you’ll find them in nearly every rescue shelter that has guinea pigs if you want to adopt.
However, if you want to find babies from breeders, make sure you are prepared for a slight change in price depending on the color.
Moreover, whichever method you choose, you should always ask about the pet history, visit their living quarters, and ask any necessary questions regarding the guinea pig when it comes to health, behavior, diet, exercise, and the like.