Guinea pigs are large rodents that don't have tails, and their fur can come in a variety of textures and colors. Teddy guinea pigs are a specific breed with coarse, short fur that doesn't require much grooming. They are slightly smaller than the main species and tend to be very friendly and docile. They require a moderate amount of care, though it is fairly straightforward. Their housing is relatively easy to set up, and their diet should be available at most pet stores.
Common Names: Teddy guinea pig, teddy bear guinea pig, teddy cavy, teddy bear cavy
Scientific Name: Cavia porcellus
Adult Size: 10 to 12 inches long, weighing 1.5 to 3 pounds on average
Lifespan: 4 to 8 years
Teddy Guinea Pig Behavior and Temperament
Teddy guinea pigs generally spend their days playing, eating, and sleeping. They're most active during the day but also sometimes move around at night. Guinea pigs are social animals and should ideally be kept in same-sex pairs or small groups. Keeping females together is the better option, as males sometimes will fight. Moreover, keep your guinea pigs away from other household pets to avoid any stress and injuries.
Guinea pigs also typically enjoy interaction with people, especially when handled from a young age. They can be skittish at first, though they are usually not aggressive and rarely bite. They’ll generally bond with the people who care for them the most, and many come to enjoy petting, being held, and cuddling with their owners. They also might squeal with excitement when they see their favorite people.
They are largely quiet animals, but they do have a range of vocalizations that they use to communicate their moods. For instance, they might make a purring sound when they’re content.
Plan to spend a few hours each day giving your guinea pig attention and letting it out of its enclosure for exercise and mental stimulation. In addition to daily feedings, you’ll also have to allot some time each week to clean the enclosure.
Teddy guinea pigs stretch around 10 to 12 inches long on average and weigh between roughly 1.5 and 3 pounds. The females are usually slightly smaller than the males.
As a general rule, guinea pigs should have as large of a cage as you can fit and afford. Remember this will be their primary area for exercise unless you’re able to let your guinea pig out of its cage and safely monitor it for most of the day.
A cage for one guinea pig should be at least 30 by 36 inches. For two guinea pigs you’ll need one that’s at least 30 by 50 inches. Guinea pigs typically don’t climb, so a height of around 18 inches should be fine. Cages with a plastic base and wire walls and top are ideal because they allow for good air flow. Just make sure the flooring is not wire, as this can harm a guinea pig’s feet.
Within the cage should be a nest or some other type of guinea pig-sized shelter, which you can find at many pet stores. Also, include some guinea pig toys for play and chewing.
Keep your guinea pig’s habitat away from drafts and direct sunlight. Also, don’t put it in a high-traffic area with lots of movement and loud noises, as this can be stressful.
Specific Substrate Needs
Add around 2 inches of dye-free paper bedding to the bottom of the enclsoure. Avoid pine and cedar beddings, as they can be harmful to a teddy guinea pig's respiratory tract. Change the bedding weekly when you wash down the cage with mild soap and water.
What Do Teddy Guinea Pigs Eat & Drink?
Teddy guinea pigs eat a plant-based diet. Provide an unlimited amount of timothy hay every day. This aids digestion and helps to wear down their continuously growing teeth. You can use a special feeder called a hayrack in the enclosure or simply lay the hay somewhere accessible.
Then, feed a commercial pelleted guinea pig diet. Make sure the pellets are fortified with vitamin C, as guinea pigs can’t produce that on their own. Follow the package label for how much to feed, and confirm that with your vet. Fill a small ceramic bowl with a day’s worth of pellets in the morning, and then dispose of any eaten food the next morning before that day’s feeding.
You can offer fresh fruits and vegetables to supplement the hay and pellets. Consult your vet for the proper quantity, as this can vary based on such factors as size, age, and activity level. Some options include kale, carrots, zucchini, and blueberries.
Finally, always provide clean water for your guinea pig. Using a water bottle attached to the enclsoure is best, as it’s easy to keep sanitary. But until you’re sure your guinea pig is drinking from the bottle, also include a small water dish. Refresh the water daily.
Common Health Problems
Teddy guinea pigs are prone to a few health problems, including:
- Respiratory diseases: These are often bacterial infections that can cause difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, and more.
- Skin parasites: Parasites, such as mites and lice, can affect guinea pigs and might cause itching and hair loss.
- Dental issues: Overgrown teeth and other problems in the mouth can cause difficulty eating, drooling, weight loss, and even sinus infections.
- Eye issues: Guinea pigs can get eye infections, such as pink eye, as well as scratches and other issues.
- Tumors: Older guinea pigs more commonly develop various tumors compared to younger guinea pigs.
- Bumblefoot: Also known as pododermatitis, bumblefoot is a foot infection that can be caused by a wire cage floor, poor sanitation, obesity, or injury.
- Scurvy: If your teddy guinea pig doesn't receive enough vitamin C, it can develop a condition called scurvy with symptoms that include weakness, difficulty moving, and lethargy.
- Bladder stones: Guinea pigs can develop bladder stones that make it difficult to urinate and might need to be surgically removed.
Some guinea pigs can learn to use a litter box with some training. Select a litter box that your guinea pig can easily get in and out of, and fill it with a different bedding from what you have in the rest of the enclosure. If possible, add some soiled bedding as well. Position the litter box in a spot where your guinea pig often receives itself. Treat it whenever you see it exploring the box and anytime you catch it relieving itself in the box.
If your guinea pig instead picks a new spot to relieve itself, try moving the box there. You also can get a second box if your enclosure has the space. While there are no guarantees to this process, eventually your guinea pig might come to see the box as its toilet.
Daily exercise is essential to help prevent obesity and other health issues in teddy guinea pigs. Let your guinea pig out of its enclsoure for at least a few hours a day to explore in a secure room. Make sure to keep cords and other potentially hazardous objects out of its reach, and always supervise it outside of the enclosure.
Also, to prevent your guinea pig from getting lazy, it can be helpful to put its food and its sleeping area on opposite sides of its habitat. That way, it has to get up and move around whenever it wants a bite to eat. Cages with multiple levels accessible via solid-floor ramps also are helpful to promote physical activity.
Brush teddy guinea pigs weekly with a stiff brush or comb. Hair trimming typically won’t be necessary thanks to their short coat. Their hair should be plush and a little coarse when well groomed. Guinea pigs also periodically need nail trims, as they don’t naturally wear down their nails like they would in the wild. Your vet can show you how to properly trim nails.
Baths typically aren’t necessary for guinea pigs unless they have skin problems (such as parasites) or get something embedded in their fur.
Your primary regular costs for a teddy guinea pig will be its food and bedding. Each month, plan to spend around $40, though this can vary based on the varieties you choose, how large your enclosure is, and how many guinea pigs you have. You'll also have to occasionally replace worn items in the enclosure, such as nests and toys, which cost around $10 to $20 on average. In addition, always make sure to budget for routine and emergency veterinary care.
Pros & Cons of Keeping a Teddy Guinea Pig as a Pet
Teddy guinea pigs can make for adorable, friendly, entertaining, and cuddly pets. They also are fairly quiet and don’t take up a lot of space. However, because they are social animals, it is best to have more than one, which adds to their care and cost. Plus, they are prone to a variety of health issues and need a vet who specializes in them.
Similar Exotic Pets to the Teddy Guinea Pig
If you’re interested in similar exotic pets, check out:
Otherwise, check out other small animals that can be your new pet.
Purchasing or Adopting Your Teddy Guinea Pig
Teddy guinea pigs aren’t as commonly seen in pet stores as other guinea pigs. But you should be able to find them through a reputable breeder. Rescue groups also might sometimes have them, especially guinea pig-specific rescues. Expect to pay between $15 and $40, though this can vary based on age and other factors.
Check with local exotic animal veterinarians to help you find a reputable teddy guinea pig breeder or rescue group. You’ll likely have more of a selection if you go through a breeder. Ask to see the animals first before bringing one home. Look for a guinea pig that’s alert and in good body condition. Make sure it’s being housed in a sanitary environment. If possible, ask to handle it if the seller has already worked on taming.
Make sure to keep multiple guinea pigs with members of the same sex to avoid becoming an accidental breeder yourself. Some vets also can spay and neuter guinea pigs.
Does a teddy guinea pig make a good pet for kids?
A teddy guinea pig can be a good pet for older children who are careful and gentle with the guinea pig's handling.
Are teddy guinea pigs hard to take care of?
Teddy guinea pigs require a moderate amount of care and attention, though their housing and diet needs are relatively straightforward.
Do teddy guinea pigs like to be held?
Many teddy guinea pigs can learn to be comfortable with handling, and some even become quite cuddly, especially with familiar people.