Putting a male with your female guinea pig is the first step toward having a litter of babies. After they’ve been together a while, you may start to wonder if your female is pregnant. But, how do you know?
The following provides you with guidance on how to tell if your guinea pig is pregnant. Plus, learn how to take care of your pregnant guinea pig, the length of its gestational period, and the typical size of a litter. Get all of the information you need to take the best possible care of your furry mother-to-be.
When Are Guinea Pigs Sexually Mature?
Male and female guinea pigs become sexually mature at different times. Male guinea pigs reach sexual maturity at three months whereas female guinea pigs are sexually mature at just two months old.
It’s important to be aware of when a guinea pig is sexually mature. This gives an owner the opportunity to separate male and female guinea pigs they don’t want to breed.
What Are the Signs a Guinea Pig is Pregnant?
A bigger appetite is one sign a female guinea pig is pregnant. She is increasing her food intake to nourish the baby guinea pigs growing inside her. As females progress in their pregnancy, she may eat three times the amount of food she ate when she was not pregnant.
Weight gain is another indication a guinea pig is pregnant. You can monitor your guinea pig’s weight by putting her on a small kitchen scale. If the scale has a flat top, put a light cloth over it to make the guinea pig feel more secure standing there. Keep a hand on your pet so there’s no risk of it falling. Record her weight each week to see if there’s a gradual increase.
A quick way to check your guinea pig’s size is to look down at her while she’s moving around the cage. A pregnant guinea pig’s sides are going to curve outward. They’ll continue to stretch outward as her pregnancy goes on. If you have trouble seeing any changes, compare your potentially pregnant female with another female that’s not pregnant. The pregnant female’s sides will curve out much further than the non-pregnant guinea pig.
If you want to record your pet’s pregnancy, take a picture of her each day. That way, you can look at your collection of photos after she has her babies to see how much she changed during pregnancy.
Keep a close eye on the movements of your pet. A pregnant guinea pig may walk or run a little awkwardly to accommodate the new weight on her body. You may see her avoid jumping or popcorning. This is going to be all the more obvious if she was a very active female before she was pregnant.
If your guinea pig allows you to touch her, use your fingers to gently examine her sides and stomach. Avoid putting any pressure on her body. If you feel lumps under your fingers this is a sign the female is pregnant. If you feel movement in addition to lumpiness, that’s a clear sign she is pregnant. Keep in mind that not all pregnant guinea pigs want to be touched. So, if she runs away, hides, or growls at your hands entering the cage, move them away immediately.
A change in behavior is another indication of pregnancy. A female who is expecting babies may not be as playful or social as she was before pregnancy. She is feeling tired and focusing her energy on nourishing her babies instead of playing and running around.
A veterinarian can give a definitive answer on whether a guinea pig is pregnant. A vet will do a quick physical exam and listen to the guinea pig’s abdomen with a stethoscope. An owner may even get some input from the vet on how far along she is in the pregnancy.
How Long is the Gestational Period?
The gestational period of a guinea pig is from 59 to 72 days. It’s difficult for an owner to pinpoint the exact number of days a guinea pig will be pregnant. But, knowing the gestational range for this pet is useful in making an estimate.
Taking Care of a Guinea Pig During Pregnancy: What to Consider
Pregnancy can be a stressful time for a guinea pig. One way to care for her during this time is to put her cage in a quiet area. Consider putting her cage in a room away from the most active area of the home. Being in a quiet environment helps a pregnant guinea pig keep her stress levels low.
Many owners wonder whether they should keep other guinea pigs in the cage with a pregnant one. The decision depends on the behavior of the female.
If a pregnant guinea pig seems short-tempered or irritated with a male or other females in the cage, then it’s best to separate them for a while. If you need to separate her from other guinea pigs, leave the pregnant guinea pig in her familiar habitat. Putting her in a new cage is likely to cause her more stress.
If other guinea pigs in the cage seem to be pushing at the female or otherwise bothering her, go ahead and take them out of the cage.
Give the pregnant guinea pig a little more food than usual. As mentioned, pregnant guinea pigs need more sustenance as they move toward giving birth. Leafy vegetables, as well as a constant supply of hay, are both essentials for a pregnant female. Be sure to give her a fresh supply of water each day, too. She is going to drink more water during her pregnancy, so it should always be available.
You may be tempted to pick up a pregnant guinea pig. After all, she’s just so cute! But it’s best to avoid picking her up. Due to her growing body, she’s going to feel particularly vulnerable when being held. So, unless it’s absolutely necessary, keep your pregnant guinea pig in her cage. But, definitely continue to talk to her and pet her throughout her pregnancy. She will appreciate the reassurance.
What is the Typical Litter Size?
There’s no reliable way for an owner to determine how many guinea pigs a female will have. Generally, guinea pigs have two to four babies per litter, but they can have up to eight.
When a guinea pig has eight or more babies it’s almost certain that not all of them will survive. With so many babies competing for milk, not all of the young are going to receive enough nourishment from their mothers.
Are Newborn Baby Guinea Pigs Helpless?
Some animals are born blind and deaf making them completely dependent on their mother as newborns. Alternatively, baby guinea pigs are born with their eyes and ears open. They even have fur as newborns!
Baby guinea pigs have tiny claws and are able to move around quite a bit. However, they usually stay near their mother because they nurse for the first few weeks of life.
How Should I Care for Baby Guinea Pigs?
Well, the mother guinea pig does the bulk of the work for the first six weeks of a baby’s life. She nurses them for at least three weeks. As they approach six weeks old, they begin to eat solid food.
An owner should keep the cage as clean as possible without disturbing the mother and her babies. Cleaning one small portion of the cage at a time is the best way to get the task done.
Avoid picking up any of the babies until they are at least four weeks old. A baby guinea pig’s body is very fragile. So, picking one up before it’s a month old puts it at risk for injury.
In addition, an owner should continue to give the mother leafy vegetables and hay along with traditional guinea pig pellets. The mother needs to get her strength back after carrying her babies, giving birth, and nursing.
Once she starts to wean her young, make sure there’s enough hay and leafy veggies for everyone to try out their chewing skills.
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