Have you ever wanted a teddy bear? For most of us, we know that we always did. But how about a teddy bear that is alive? Sounds impossible, right? But what if I told you that it’s true!
Well, of course I will be lying if I say that a stuffed hand-stitched piece of fabric can actually come to life by magic. What I mean is there is a certain animal that is really cute and resembles our favourite stuffed toy so much, that it is almost like a living teddy bear. What is it? It’s the Teddy guinea pig.
The Teddy Guinea Pig is a breed of guinea pig with many features similar to the American guinea pig breed. However, it also has many distinctive features making them worthy of calling them unique. Just like other guinea pig breeds, the Teddy also has interesting facts about their history, and has a great personality. Here are some things you need to know about them:
History and Origin
Guinea pigs, as a whole, have been living in the world for quite a long time. They were said to have started off as wild nocturnal animals in the rocky and grassy regions of South America. They survived in families or groups consisting of about ten members and live underground. The animals were said to be primarily domesticated by ancient tribes in the areas of South America now known as Peru and Bolivia. They were domesticated around 2000 BC. They were kept as food for the tribe but some of them may have been kept as pet for their families. This became a known trend to the area and was discovered to have many uses. They were given as gifts by tribesmen to other tribesmen and children during important celebrations such as weddings. The animals will then be treated as pets and be kept inside the house with the freedom to run around. Guinea pigs were also used as an important apparatus on ancient medicine. They were used by tribe doctors to diagnose a suspected disease. As a tradition, they are rubbed all over a sick person’s body and then when it squeaks, the animal is believed to have found the affected area. This show the importance of the guinea pig on ancient tribes’ everyday lives.
When the Europeans reached the Americas on the 16th century, they started bringing the guinea pigs to Europe. Then, they will sell the animals to the richest people on the area and with Queen Elizabeth being one of them; the rodents became one of the most popular pets in the European regions. The name “guinea pig” might have been taken from the probable belief that the pets were brought from Guinea since during those times, the ships that came from South America might have stopped at Africa.
It was probably because of the European influence to other countries today that the guinea pig specie became a very famous pet to adopt, especially because of its wide variety of breeds. The Teddy guinea pig is actually one of the new breeds of guinea pigs and it is believed that the certain sub-specie was created through genetic mutation, which is the alteration of its DNA; and the Teddy’s case, the changing of the properties of its fur and other parts.
The name guinea pig is somewhat peculiar to be labelled to the rodent since guinea pigs didn’t actually come from Guinea nor they are pigs. As said on the earlier part, the name might have come from the assumption that the animals came from Guinea in Africa. Of course, the statement is still unproven and the origin of the name is still a mystery. Aside from that speculation, there are more theories to where the name came from. Oxford dictionary tells three of those theories. The first is that the name was given because of its resemblance to the Guinea Hog, a pig coming from Guinea. The second one was that “Guinea” was used to describe a faraway unnamed land. The third one is said to be the confusion between the words “Guinea” and “Guiana” (a region in South America). There are more theories to where the name comes from but we’ll stick to these four because they seem to be the most reasonable.
The more interesting part of the Teddy guinea pig’s name, however, is the name “Teddy”. This name came from the breed’s similarity to stuffed toys and teddy bears. If we observe the Teddy guinea pig, we will see that it has a coat similar to the teddy bears’ and has a nose that is the same with some toys.
Basic Facts and Needs
The Teddy guinea pig is a bit smaller than the average guinea pig. Its lifespan is about 4-6 years, with some extending up to 7 years, which is a bit shorter than the typical guinea pig breed. The typical Teddy guinea pig can already breed in eight weeks but it is recommended that both the male and female should be at least six months old before breeding. The time period for the guinea pig’s pregnancy is about nine to 10 weeks. The average litter size is 3 or 4. This type of breed, same with other guinea pigs, needs guinea pig pellet for food. They also eat on fruits, leafy vegetables, and some types of grass. They also need considerable amount of water. The breed is most prone to diseases that are caused by deficiency to nutrients like Vitamin C, and the most common of these diseases are scurvy and respiratory illnesses. They also need a good shelter, with a large size, and correct temperature at about 25-30 degrees Celsius. They need to do certain activities and exercises, too, because when they don’t =, they will likely be unhealthy. The typical exercise is the usual guinea pig wheel and letting the guinea pig free on a clean spacious area to run around. It is also great to train a Teddy as exercise and bonding between the pet and the owner.
Appearance and Features
Teddy guinea pigs have a beautiful appearance that complements their resemblance to teddy bears. An example of this is the rough coat covering their bodies which has more hairs contained than the common guinea pig breeds. The coat they have is alike to the Abyssinian guinea pig’s coat but is much shorter and doesn’t have rosettes. The typical Teddy’s hair is thick and coarse (wavy and rough). Another distinctive feature of the Teddy guinea pig is their nose. They have a Roman nose (a nose turned upward and is curved), which is noticeably wider when we differentiate it to other guinea pig breeds. The color of the breed’s coat may vary from the following colors: orange, white, black, brown, gray, and red. The most common patterns of their coats are either a single visible color, a combination of two colors that makes up a single hue, spots, stripes, and many other patterns.
The Teddy guinea pig, as a whole is very similar to the American guinea pig breed. A reason for this is the two breed’s appearance. They both have a very almost nose structure, which is the Roman nose. The identifiable difference between the two is that the Teddy has a shorter hair (and is frequently described as “wiry”) and thicker fur.
The personality of the Teddy guinea pig is described as adventurous and playful. They are curious about the stuffs around them and are very sociable with other guinea pigs and also their human companions. Their personality is comparable to the Abyssinian’s. The two are described as very energetic, extroverted and fun-loving and they are two of the more active breeds. They also love to be cuddle and be cuddled with. They are very lively and enthusiastic when it comes to activities and exercises. For that reason, it is great to give them a bit of a time outside to play and interact with the environment around them.
Caring for the Breed
Guinea pigs should be given foods rich in Vitamin C like fruits, vegetables, and supplements that are allowed so that they can be protected from certain common diseases. Teddy cavies need to consume hay grass in a daily basis. They should also be fed pellets regularly, and the breeder should choose pellets that are suitable for the pet’s age.
- Grooming and Hygiene
Teddy guinea pigs don’t particularly need to be bathed often. The recommended times on bathing them is only once every 6 months. To bathe them, the breeder should have a shampoo that is intended to be used by small animals. Teddy guinea pigs need to be brushed often, at least weekly. The brushing should be gentle and only for purposes of removing lice and fixing the hair. They should also be regularly cleaned in the grease glands and the ears.
Teddy guinea pigs need enough space for their cages (about 7 square feet) so they could run around freely. They also need equipments in their cages such as beddings, toys, and food containers. Their cages should be cleaned regularly to prevent them from acquiring dangerous diseases.
- Guinea Pig Show
Guinea pig shows are great opportunities to show off the beautiful appearance and personality of the Teddies. These shows consist of judges that look at the appearance of each pet and decide which one is the most ideal guinea pig. Teddy guinea pigs are considered to be one of the most popular contestants on these shows. An ideal Teddy guinea pig has a fairly dense fur, clarity of its color pattern, rough coat, and its weight matches its age. If you feel like your Teddy can pass these qualifications, give them a chance to participate in guinea pig shows.