Teddy Guinea Pig – Things You Need To Know
Teddy Bear Guinea Pigs are one of the latest rising stars in the Guinea pig breeding world because of their amiable personality and fluffiness. But did you know that among the cavy breeds, Teddies need not take a bath at all?
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Teddy guinea pigs are most notable for their rough coats that are evenly short but springy that would remind us of their namesake. Teddy guinea pigs have unknown origins – the only fact so far is that the breed resulted from a genetic mutation that changed their fur texture.
A theory states that Teddy Bears were a cross between American and Abyssinian breeds, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Teddy piggies are thought to possibly relate with the American variety is because of their common gene that produces an upturned “Roman” nose, making their snouts wider and curvier — a trait that is not found in any other breeds.
The roughness of a Teddy’s coat, meanwhile, may be due to Abyssinian ancestry, except that Abyssinians have plenty of rosettes – something which the Teddy does not have.
Teddy bear guinea pigs grow to about 8-12 inches, although the sows (female) are slightly smaller than the boars (male). These cavies live for 4-5 years, although raising them carefully following all the ideal conditions and requirements may allow them to live 7 years or longer.
The Teddy cavy has 2 variants in terms of softness. The wiry or springy coat is favored by cavy shows while the softer coat Teddies are the children’s favorite. A third and uncommon satin variant also exists.
Teddy guinea pigs come in different patterns and colors including black, glossy brown (chocolate), chestnut (red), gold, and various shades of gray. Patterns include self, ticked, bi-color, tri-color, brindle, Dalmatian, Himalayan, roan, sable, agouti, and tan.
Teddy bear guinea pigs are generally quiet, laid back, and warm up to people easily. This good-natured and sweet temperament, their willingness to be handled, their cuddly feel, and their extremely low maintenance make Teddies good pets for children.
Additionally, these little Fuzzballs are smart enough that they can learn commands and tricks if patiently trained.
Teddy bear guinea pigs are quite social and can be kept in same-sex or small groups. They will even happily mix with other breeds; although once in their cages, they will sooner or later exhibit their own additional distinctive personalities, making them fun and interesting to look after.
Getting a Teddy Piggy
There are many ways to get a new pet Teddy Bear guinea pig but the best is to either: 1) adopt from a shelter and 2) adopt from a friend.
Adopting Teddy piggies from a friend who raises their own guinea pigs like family and with love is a good way to acquire a new pet. Your friend will not only advise you on how to properly raise your own cavy, he or she should know already some of your new pet’s personality.
You may be lucky enough to have your friend gift you the Teddy Bear pup, but if you can – and as a token of friendship – you can always offer your bff a token of friendship or a return of expenses for their prior care for your pet.
The reasons mentioned also holds true for guinea pigs adopted from shelters, except that if a shelter asks for a small adoption fee, an additional monetary donation would be the best way of expressing appreciation.
Adoption prices range between $5 and $30 depending on the shelter, time spent, and expenses for the care of the guinea pig. New pet owners usually donate more if the fee is only $5 to ensure that the remaining animals are given due care.
Shelters, after all, give care and medical treatment to the guinea pig before anybody gets them.
There are different kinds of circumstances behind that cavy, and it usually is linked to another cavy’s life. The Teddy you may have gotten could be pregnant – which will give you more than one guinea pig already. Some shelters will ask you to take 2 for a single price – which is already a great bargain since this will help you ensure that your guinea pigs are already comfortable with each other.
There are several rescue organizations throughout the world where you can adopt a new Teddy cavy from. In the US, the Petfinder offers various cavies for adoption and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) that advocates Teddy bear guinea pig placement.
Be prepared for adoption fees if you decide to adopt. This is the shelter’s way to ensure that the animal gets good and responsible pet parents. The fee also covers care and veterinary expenses, as well as to avoid giving pets to people who are buying cavies for reptile feed.
Buying from a Breeder
If you opt to get your Teddy bear guinea pig from a breeder, make sure to acquire from a reputable source. You can find good breeders and healthy breeds at some breeder associations like the American Cavy Breeders Association (ACBA). They also have local clubs and members that you can get in touch with.
Buying from a reputable breeder assures that the price you pay for your new Teddy is definitely worth it since it will ensure you not only of its pedigree or ancestry but also of the health care before you acquired your pet. You will also be assured on how well the mother sow has been taken care of before you bought the pup.
The price of Teddy Bear guinea pigs ranges between $5 and $40, depending on pedigree and ancestry, color, and age; although the standard is usually $20 to $30.
Fanciers and Guinea Pig Pet Parents often advice newcomers and those who plan to get a cavy not to buy from pet stores due to animal welfare issues. If you still choose to purchase from a pet shop, make sure of the following:
- Each species has its own particular area
- Separate tanks for males and females
- Proper litter, substrate, and clean water
- Clean and relaxed pets
- Pets are not too young (Guinea Pigs must be at least 4 weeks old)
- Guinea pigs are not sold
- if sick;
- without asking buyers about current living companions;
- if the cage is too small; and
- if the buyer has questionable nature (i.e. teenagers who may be keeping reptiles and are buying rodents for feed)
If the store-in-charge displays “questionable” attitude regarding pets and pet handling, you may also need to refrain buying from that shop.
Vet and Medical Concerns
Congratulations! You finally got yourself a new Teddy Bear Guinea Pig. Remember that your new pet, though looking like a plushie, still needs proper care and what better way to show this than to first get your Fuzzy a good veterinarian.
Getting a Vet
Teddy Bear guinea pigs are considered exotic pets so make sure that the vet you get specializes in exotics. You may contact your local ASPCA for recommended vets or you may try contacting local vets and ask them for someone who specializes in exotics. You may also look for vets nearest you.
One of the main concerns in getting a vet is the payment plan – something that vets often refuse to work with. Before anything happens, make sure that you have already worked out a way of paying the vet. You can either ensure that the consultation clinic is run by SPCA or that the community clinic is open to the public.
You can also start your own savings beforehand which is a good option for children-parent cavy pet owners since it will teach the child responsibility and basic savings.
Early and Regular Health Checks
One of the first things pet parents ask once their new pet guinea pig gets a vet is “is there a need for my guinea pig to get vaccinated?”
Guinea Pigs, even your Teddy Bear, do not require vaccination. Regular health checks for at least once a year, however, are recommended for your tiny Fuzzball.
Guinea pigs are social creatures so handling them daily should not be a problem. This not only strengthens your bond with your Teddy, it also gives you plenty of opportunities to do your own precautionary check-up.
A healthy Teddy Bear guinea pig will have:
- clear eyes
- clear nostrils
- steady and no raspy breathing
- the proper movement
- even teeth and toenails
- an energetic disposition.
Additionally, since Teddies have a short to medium length hair, it is easy to check their skin condition. A healthy piggy has no injuries, scabs, or unusual skin formation. If any of these are not met and if there are any changes in appetite, activity, and disposition, consult with your vet as soon as possible.
Diet and Feeding
A Teddy Bear Guinea Pig, like all other cavy breeds, is an herbivore. Its typical menu includes cavy pellet, fresh fruits and leafy vegetables, grass, hay, and a substantial amount of water.
Guinea pigs’ bodies do not produce their own Vitamin C so you need to feed them with Vitamin C supplements that are crushed and mixed with the rest of their meal. Do not dissolve the vitamin in water as this will be totally lost and rendered ineffective.
Guinea pigs have limited digestive system which means that they cannot eat heavy vegetable and fruit content. They cannot puke excess food out. Instead, this will give them diarrhea.
To keep them from getting runny behinds, give them coarse and fiber-rich food to help digestion. Go for high-quality, fiber-rich, protein-rich, and Vitamin-C containing pellets.
Fruits and veggies will have to be given in moderation to avoid indigestion. You may need to consult with the vet for any significant or good pellet brands, as well as when your piggy encounters a tummy problem.
Teddy bear guinea pigs also have dry skin, so adding a few unshelled sunflower seeds will help it maintain a healthy complexion.
Timothy grass or hay is highly recommended for your Teddy Bear guinea pig. Make sure that the grass or hay is pesticide free, regardless if it is used for feeding or as chewable bedding. Your cavy must also be trained to eat the grass together with the other edibles and treats during mealtime.
Teddy Bear guinea pigs are creatures of habit so it is important to feed your cavy on a regular schedule to keep it from getting cranky or stressed.
Do not give dairy products, meat, chocolate, lollies, iceberg lettuce, corn, tomato leaves, potatoes, rhubarbs, raw beans, grains, nuts, and anything that has sugar in it because they are bad for your guinea pig’s stomach. Do not give them multi-vitamins as well.
Grooming and Care
Teddy Bear guinea pigs are low maintenance but they still need the occasional grooming to keep them healthy. Grooming period is also the perfect time for you to bond with your cavy as well as do a basic health check.
A Teddy piggy’s coat is short and thus, does not tangle up, but it still requires weekly brushing to remove debris that may irritate its skin. Use a thin or slick brush, like a rabbit brush – but avoid cat slicker brush and those with harder bristles as they may hurt the little Fuzzy.
Clean your cavy’s grease glands as well by using a soft bristle brush. Doing so will not only remove dirt but will also help distribute oils on its coat.
As already mentioned, Teddy guinea pigs have drier skin compared to other breeds, so bathing is not necessary. Bathe them at most 3 times a year – preferably if your cavy is an outdoor type which can sometimes get too messy. No need to bathe if your pet is a neat homebody.
Use medicated shampoo recommended by vets as well as warm water when you bathe your Teddy Bear guinea pig. If it so happens that your pet is having a mischievous streak after a recent bath, spot clean the dirty part with a damp cloth. There is no need for it to have sand baths.
Teddy bear guinea pigs build up a lot of ear wax in their ears because of the ears’ shape, thus needing a bit of help in ear cleaning. Use a warm damp towel and gently wipe off the wax. In case there is hardened and difficult gunk to remove, soak the wax in mineral oil for a bit before wiping it off.
Teddy piggies need the occasional nail and teeth trim. A vet would be the best option for your cavy’s first nail care so you can observe how it is done and up to how long it should be.
Teeth trims can be done by providing your pet a chew toy or furniture and Timothy straw bedding or no-sawdust wood shavings (except for pine, cedar, and other evergreens). This is important since uneven and excessively long teeth will give your Teddy Bear guinea pig feeding and hygiene problems, not to mention another nerve-wracking trip to the vet.
It is important to follow a grooming schedule to lessen your pet’s anxiety. Use distractions such as nibbles and treats when brushing and cleaning your Teddy piggy in order to reduce its anxiety. Train it to get used to grooming as young as possible so that it gets less stressed as it grows older.
Cage and Hygiene
Teddy bear guinea pigs, like other breeds, require a good environment to stay healthy. Because they are generally energetic, they need a large-sized cage with plenty of space for them to popcorn, explore, and show their distinctive personality.
Cage and Accessories
The recommended minimum cage size for Teddy guinea pigs is 76cm x 91cm or 0.7sqm floor space (30in x 36in or 7.5 sq.ft.), with an additional 0.3sqm (3.23 sqft) for every additional guinea pig.
The average temperature within and outside the cage has to be around 25-30 °C (77-86 °F), with enough ventilation to prevent high humidity. If the cage is placed outdoors, it has to have a shed that would protect your cavy from direct sunlight, strong winds, and rain.
The cage flooring must be guinea pig-friendly – wire floors are not advisable as these may cause your cavy paddlefoot. Walls and a portion of roofing (for outdoor cages) are recommended to be wired to provide your pet a lot of mental stimulation but the gaps have to be small enough to prevent them from escaping as well as prevent larger animals from getting in.
A good bedding for guinea pigs must be made of any material that your Teddy Bear guinea pig cannot or does not chew. Or if it does, make sure that the bedding material will not make your Teddy sick and the bedding itself will not get destroyed right away.
Because of this, paper is not a good bedding or flooring because despite its absorbency, it can be chewed off. Straw is also not a good option because of its poor absorbency.
The topmost in the list is Timothy hay, which acts as gnaw toy, food, and bedding in one. It not only keeps your Teddy piggy happy and content, it will help your pet’s digestion since it allows the breeding of good bacteria in your cavy’s tummy.
You may use dust-free wood shavings or you may also use fleece. Lately, cavy pet owners are into fleece flippers which are beddings with paper towels at the bottom that allows you to do daily spot cleaning without so much hassle.
Attachable bottle feeders and ceramic dishes for each guinea pig are also must-haves in the cage, as well as toys and accessories to keep your pet occupied.
Baby guinea pigs under a year old, as well as pregnant and nursing sows are to be given alfalfa hay. Do not give alfalfa to the rest of the cavy group though, since its high nutrient quantity might overwhelm their tummy and give them gastrointestinal problems instead.
Definitely, do not give Teddy Bear guinea pigs an exercise ball or wheel. This will restrict their feet and back, giving them more pain than enjoyment. Guinea pigs are grazing types that prefer open spaces so it is better to let them bask and popcorn on an expansive cage floor.
Chew toys, on the other hand, may be okay to give – but not frequently. Consider them as occasional treats for your Teddy piggy to chew on to keep their teeth well-trimmed. Just make sure that they are not made of pine, cedar or any of those evergreens that may emit toxic substances. And definitely no plastics!
Hay racks are good add-ons for guinea pig cages. They keep the hay as intact as possible and prevent soiling.
Teddy Bear guinea pigs, like other cavies, are messy eaters. They do not mind sitting and laying their waste inside their food bowls. Choose a ceramic bowl that is small in diameter; just the size of your piggy’s back height to prevent your pet from pooping and peeing inside.
Use drip-feeding water bottles rather than water bowls for your cavy for less waste. Do not forget to provide fresh water every day.
It is recommended to clean the cage at least 2 times a week, although some pet parents prefer to do spot cleaning while others do a house clean every 3-4 days. The point is – the cage must not smell, and cleaning must be scheduled to keep your cavy from getting stressed.
There are several ways of cleaning the cage. Some owners line newspapers underneath the bedding for an easy roll-up clean; others remove beddings with a dustpan; still, others use cleaning flaps.
Once the soiled beddings are removed and disposed of, disinfect the entire area with a 50% solution of white vinegar to remove the excess smell. There is no need to use any synthetic cleaning agents as these may be toxic for your cavies.
Teddy Bear guinea pigs are energetic, so daily exercise is a must to keep them from becoming lethargic, lazy and obese which can shorten their lifespan. An occasional play and exercise activity will not only help you bond but will also keep your cavy happy and alert.
An easy way to get your Teddy Bear guinea pig some exercise is to take it for walks with a leash. You can also let it graze on pesticide-free lawns using large portable playpens. Just make sure your cavy is always attended as it might have a run-in with mischievous neighborhood cats.
If you plan to let them be handled by kids, make sure that both the Teddy Bear guinea pig and your child are under supervision to prevent improper handling, anxiety breakouts, and injury from happening.
Breeding, Pregnancy, and Nursing
Teddy Bear guinea pigs can breed as early as 8 weeks (about 2 months). To keep them healthy and less stressed, it is recommended that male and female Teddy piggies should be at least 6 months old before you allow them to breed.
Gestation or pregnancy period among Teddy Bear cavies is around 9-10 weeks. During this time, make sure your pregnant sow is getting optimum nutrition and extensive support for a future successful delivery.
Monitor your Teddy Bear sow’s relationship with her cagemates during this period to check if she is doing well with them. If she is not, then she has to be separated. Your Teddy may be in a good company with other sows as they may actually take care of each other even after giving birth.
There are cases when your Teddy guinea pig will have hormonal issues during the mating period which are characterized by crankiness towards cage mates which will lead your pet to chase or fight even those closest to it. This can even extend during pregnancy for your sow.
If this happens, separate your cranky Teddy using a different cage, or, if the cage is more than enough to house everybody, put a wire or transparent divider that will separate them but will still allow all piggies some form of communication.
Separate a boar and sow pair once you find out that your female Teddy Bear guinea pig is pregnant. Your boar might still try to mate the preggy piggy which can be stressful for the female.
This separation will also have to continue until the mama cavy has successfully weaned her pups. Reuniting the pair during the nursing period might impregnate the sow which will keep her from giving proper care and nutritious milk to her babies.
Teddy Bear guinea pigs can safely and independently deliver an average litter of 3-4 pups, but there are cases when the guinea pig will have too many pups in a litter that she gets too exhausted to clean all of them and gnaw off their umbilical cords.
You can help your mommy piggy by gently getting rid the birth sacs off each of the pup’s head and cutting the umbilical cord. Use a soft and clean towel for wiping sacs and sterilized scissors for snipping cords. Ensure each baby is alive and breathing by rubbing them gently before carefully returning to the Teddy Bear sow.
Remove the soiled beddings carefully so that your Teddy Bear sow can focus on her pups once every pup is cleaned. You may observe the mother boar on how she tends to her pups, but do not interfere and allow her to groom and nurse her pups her way – unless she is literally biting or attacking her babies.
If she bites or attacks them, remove the babies and reintroduce them only when the sow has already composed.
To help the mother Teddy Bear recover from exhaustion and keep her healthy, give her alfalfa hay as well as extra treats and vegetables. Pups are already born fully developed so even with their mother’s milk, they can enjoy with their mama piggy all the nutritious food that they truly need.
Check your litter’s gender. To avoid any in-breeding that might be a risk for the occurrence of congenital defects, as well as to ensure your females’ optimum health, separate the male Teddies from the females after 3 weeks, which is the maturity period for pups.
Illnesses and Injuries to Look Out For
Teddy Bear guinea pigs may be hardy little critters but they still need all the care to ensure they avoid injuries and illnesses. It is definitely worth knowing all the potential health problems our Teddy cavies can have:
Vitamin C Deficiency-Related Illnesses
Because all guinea pig breeds cannot make their own Vitamin C in their bodies, they have a lot of Vitamin C deficiency-related health issues – among them respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.
There are 2 types of pneumonia in guinea pigs – one is caused by bacteria, while another by a virus. Symptoms for both include lethargy, affected appetite, milky or mucus discharge from the nose and eyes, and crackling or raspy breathing.
Bacterial pneumonia causes characteristic frequent sneezing fits, but its treatment is more possible and cheaper with anti-bacteria unlike the viral one.
Do not self-medicate your sick Teddy Bear cavy. Visit the vet first for treatment and always separate your pet from its other cage mates so that the rest will not get contaminated. Clean and disinfect the sick piggy’s area carefully as frequently as possible to ensure that the poor critter does not get any more stressed. Allow the poor little Fuzzball plenty of rest.
Maintain preventive measures through regular but thorough cleaning of the cage for the remaining Guinea pigs and give every one of them a good serving of Vitamin C during meals.
Vitamin C is especially needed among older Guinea pigs. Lack of it increases their risk of acquiring cancer which appears in two forms – treatable skin tumors that grow on the skin and internal cancer cells which are non-treatable or are highly expensive to remove.
Lack of Vitamin C is also related to urinary tract infection among Teddy Bear guinea pigs. Check if your guinea pig appears depressed, has reduced appetite or hunches when attempting to pee. If you spot these symptoms, visit the vet so that your pet may be given antibiotics or surgery.
Dental problems are also related to Vitamin C deficiency. Lack of this vitamin could give your guinea pig scurvy as well as tooth abscesses that can trigger other forms of infection.
On the other hand, your Teddy Bear cavy can still get teeth problems even if it gets proper Vitamin C. If it is not given enough Timothy hay and other chew toys, its incisors or front teeth get excessively long and acquire malocclusion or teeth misalignment that keeps it from chewing properly and at the same time drool a lot.
Slobbering and difficulty in chewing can cause Teddy Bear guinea pig injuries that may lead to infection, so it is better to consult with the vet to have the excess teeth length filed away.
Gastrointestinal and Hydration Concerns
Teddy Bear guinea pigs, like other breeds, have sensitive tummies. They cannot throw up unlike bigger animals; instead, they get diarrhea symptoms for all gastrointestinal problems, which results in dehydration. If you see your guinea pig suffering from fluid poo, consult the vet immediately.
Your Teddy Bear cavy can also get dehydrated due to heat stress. Do not put your cavy in hot areas since this could make it sick.
Putting Teddy Bear cavies outdoors increases the chance of them getting lice and mites. Do not give your piggy anti-flea medication because it may contain toxins against your cavy. Instead, visit the vet for proper medication such as prescribed anti-flea shampoo to treat against flea and an anti-louse powder or spray to counter all the lice.
Note that both mite and lice are contagious so it is better to treat all your Guinea pig pets at once and have all the other pets checked for preventive measure.
Ringworms are also another type of parasite you need to look out for in your Teddy Bear. Symptoms may be difficult to spot for longer haired breeds but your cavy may experience hair loss, skin crusts and scabs on the face, head and ears, and even other parts of the body.
Have the vet check and prescribe oral or topical anti-fungal medication.
Hygiene and Exercise-Related Problems
It has already been mentioned that Teddy Bear guinea pigs need regular ear cleaning. Neglecting to do so may cause the ear infection that is characterized by an odorous smell from their ears. Visit the vet who will give your cavy an antibiotic as well as a good ear cleaning session.
As your Teddy Bear guinea pig grows older you will also need to consider more its weight and exercise, as well as other health concerns.
Guinea pigs that lack exercise grow obese and may suffer pododermatitis or bumblefoot. For a healthy piggy, this is usually caused by faulty flooring, exercise wheels, and balls, as well as dirty cages. Bumblefoot causes painful infection to the poor cavy’s foot which can cause lameness.
Visit the vet for treatment of the affected guinea pig. Meanwhile, ensure the den floor is flat with no holes, the beddings clean and regularly changed, and the cage properly tidied and disinfected.