How to Look After Your Pregnant Guinea PigDr. Bobby Ortiz M.V.B
Female and male guinea pigs are sexually reproductive by 2 and 3 months of age. If you decide to breed your guinea pigs, ensure the female (sow) is under 8 months old for her first pregnancy. The older they are for their first pregnancy the more serious problems with delivery can occur, due to fusion of their pelvic symphysis. Females should be first be bred between 5 and 8 months of age, and males should be 34 months old when first breeding.
Pregnancy usually lasts around 63 days. The larger the litter, the shorter the term of pregnancy, and vice versa.
It’s important to know what to expect from your pregnant guinea pig so you can ensure they are given the proper care and treatment. In this blog post, I’ll explain symptoms of pregnancy, how to look after your pregnant guinea pig, and what happens next.
Dr. Bobby Ortiz, M.V.B.
Dr Bobby Ortiz, aka 'Dogtor Bob', is a small animal and exotic veterinarian based in Dublin. He has a strong interest in Small Mammal (rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets) and Reptile medicine and surgery.
He grew up in a family of avid animal lovers, which led him to work as an Aquarist at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific in California. It was there he decided he wanted to become a vet, and specialise in exotic animals, that needed the same care and medical attention that dogs and cats are given.
He lives with his wife and Brittany Spaniel Bodhi, and has dreams to build a new tropical marine fish tank in the near future!
Symptoms of Pregnancy
If you suspect your guinea pig might be pregnant, there are a few signs to confirm, such as :
- They have recently been in contact with an unneutered male. Male guinea pigs, known as ‘boars’, are sexually active at 3 weeks of age, but they are not able to go through a neutering procedure until they are 4 months old. Males and females must be separated until the procedure can be done, but if they come in contact beforehand, they are almost guaranteed to mate.
- She is gaining weight. Another sure-fire way of telling if your guinea pig is pregnant or not is that she is gaining weight. If you are weighing her daily you will notice her gaining a few grams of weight early on each day. By the time they are ready to give birth, they may have doubled in weight.
- Feel for bumps. With one hand, gently and without too much pressure, feel the sides of your sow. If there are piglets, you may be able to feel little lumps.
- Increased appetite. If you notice you refreshing her hay and refilling her water bottles more often than usual, your sow may be having babies. If you feed your guinea pig pellets, fruits and veggies, she may favour the food rich in vitamin C while pregnant, as they need an increased amount of this nutrient during this time.
If you notice these symptoms, I recommend taking your guinea pig to your vet so they can confirm or deny the pregnancy and provide care advice going forward. Gestation usually lasts 68 days on average.
The Birthing Process
Most guinea pigs give birth during the day. It will take around five minutes to birth each pup. Each pup will have its own amniotic sac. The mother usually removes and consumes it afterwards. It is best not to interfere with the birthing sow unless it is an emergency. Labour should not last longer than 20 minutes; if it goes beyond this, she may need medical attention.
When the sow has finished giving birth, she will eat her placenta.
Unlike most new-born animals, guinea pig piglets will be fully furred and have their eyes open. They will be able to eat solid food within a few hours of birth.
After Birth Care
While a sow has a litter of piglets, make sure she is given a broad range of all her usual foods. Her piglets will learn from their mother and become familiar with what foods she eats and foods they should eat. It is important they are introduced to a wide range of foods so they do not become fearful when they arrive to their new homes.
The sow will be at risk for some medical complications in the few days after giving birth, so it is important to monitor her closely. It usually takes up to three weeks to wean the piglets. The baby males must be separated by the time they are at most three weeks old.
Any More Questions?
If you have any concerns regarding your guinea pig’s health, I recommend you consult with your local veterinarian. For more on feeding and caring for your guinea pig, speak to a member of the Petmania team in store today.