Guinea pigs are a popular "first" pet for children because they're easy to care for and have lovely personalities. If you're considering getting a Guinea pig, the Teddy Guinea Pig is a great choice for their temperament and cuddliness.
Characteristics of Teddy Guinea Pigs
The Teddy Guinea pig gets their name from their coat which makes them look like a little living Teddy bear. Compared to other Guinea pigs, the Teddy is slightly smaller, weighing between one-and-a-half to three pounds when fully grown. The largest they will grow is about one foot long. Another difference between the Teddy and other Guinea pigs is their "Roman nose" which is wider and curves upward.
The Teddy Guinea Pig Coat
The Teddy Guinea pig's coat comes in black, brown, chestnut, gold, gray, red, orange, and white, as well as patterns made up of two or more of these colors. The fur has more hair than any other of the pet Guinea pig breeds and feels dense and plush. It has been described as feeling like a bottle brush where the hair seems to "stand up" and stick out from the body rather than lay flat against it. There is also a satin variety of the Teddy Guinea pig where the coat has a glossy shine to it. They don't need a lot of regular grooming care other than a weekly brushing to keep their fur clean. They also need to have their ears cleaned regularly with a warm damp towel as they have a tendency to build up wax.
Teddy Guinea Pig Temperament
The Teddy Guinea pig is known for being very friendly and love snuggling with people. They are generally calm and tolerate handling very well. They do best with other Guinea pigs so if you are considering one, get at least a pair and you can mix one Guinea pig breed with another. In fact these pets are so social that some do well with other pets for company such as rabbits, other small rodents and even cats and dogs that are Guinea pig-friendly. Teddy Guinea pigs, as well as all types of Guinea pigs are social creatures and will thrive the most when they have at least one other animal companion to be with since humans cannot spend 24 hours a day with them.
Health Issues of Teddy Guinea Pigs
A Teddy Guinea pig can live about four to eight years, though some have lived up to age 11. Like all small pet rodents, Teddy Guinea pigs are susceptible to bacterial and viral respiratory problems. These usually result from a dirty environment or stress or both. If you notice your pig's eyes or nose with a discharge, sneezing or difficulty breathing, get them to a veterinarian right away. Other common health conditions to be aware of are:
- Teddy Guinea pigs are at risk for developing ear infections which makes regular ear cleaning important. Signs of an infection include a bad smell from their ears and tilting of the head.
- Teddy Guinea pigs can also have skin issues, particularly dry skin compared to other breeds. They should not be bathed more than three times a year and a shampoo made specifically for them is necessary. They also can get skin parasites such as ringworm.
- Pododermatitis or "bumblefoot" is a condition that affects a pig's feet. It's the primary reason for avoiding cages with wire bottoms. This can be a painful health problem and make it difficult for a Teddy Guinea pig to move.
- Scurvy occurs from a lack of vitamin C. If you feed your Guinea pig a pellet diet made for the species, this should cover their vitamin needs. Signs of scurvy include poor coat condition, lack of appetite, diarrhea and painful movement.
- Urinary tract infections are common to all Guinea pigs. If you notice them having trouble urinating or a lack of appetite and lethargy, see a vet immediately.
How to Care for a Teddy Guinea Pig
Caring for a Teddy Guinea pig requires some daily and weekly commitments, but overall it's not onerous. This makes them a good choice for a pet for a child, or for someone with a busy schedule or small apartment who wants animal companionship.
Choosing a Cage for a Teddy Guinea Pig
A wire cage is the best choice for a Teddy Guinea pig as it allows for ventilation and easy cleaning but make sure the bottom of the cage is not made of wire. This is important to protect the pigs' feet. The minimum cage size for two pigs is 7-½ square feet though larger is better. Keep in mind when looking for a cage that many are too small despite what's listed on their packaging. Try to get the biggest cage you can fit in your home space. The Humane Society of the United States recommends these minimums:
- 30" x 50" for two Guinea pigs
- 30 x 62" for three Guinea pigs
- 30" x 76" for four Guinea pigs
Teddy Guinea Pig Diet
A Teddy Guinea pig should eat a high quality pelleted diet made specifically for Guinea pigs. Make sure the diet you choose is fortified with vitamin C. They also need a regular supply of Timothy hay to chew on as it's necessary for their digestive system to work properly. You can also provide them with a moderate amount of treats to supplement their diet. This can include fresh vegetables like chopped green leaf, red leaf, or romaine lettuce as well as carrots and green peppers. They can also get small amounts of chopped fresh fruit like apples, blueberries, bananas, oranges or strawberries. Because fruits are high in sugar, these treats should be small and given sparingly. Make sure your pig also always has access to fresh, clean water in a water bottle.
Enrichment for a Teddy Guinea Pig
Teddy Guinea pigs are very intelligent and providing them with toys and items to chew will help keep them happy. They also can be clicker trained to do fun tricks, and this is an excellent way to bond with your pigs. They enjoy time outside of their cage to explore daily but make sure you are supervising them so they stay safe. They also should have a cage large enough for them to move about and get exercise during the day. Providing them with lots of places to climb and hide in can increase their daily physical activity.
Getting a Teddy Guinea Pig
If you love the idea of getting a Teddy Guinea pig, they are not a rare breed to find. They can be found from pet stores and in rescue shelters as well as from specialty Teddy Guinea pig breeders. Expect to pay around $25 to $30. Certain colors and patterns may cost a bit more. To find a Teddy Guinea pig breeder, visit the American Cavy Breeders Association website.
The Cuddly and Gentle Teddy Guinea Pig
The Teddy Guinea pig is an excellent choice for a small pet that doesn't have extreme care requirements and can do well in a small apartment. They are great with children, but a person of any age can enjoy spending time and cuddling with these plush little pets. Just make sure you provide them with an adequate size cage and get at least two to make sure these social creatures don't become lonely and stressed when you're away at work or school.