Every pregnancy varies from individual to individual but there’s definitely a silver lining, just as with any other space.
Not only will we dive deeper into how you can actually find out if your piggy might be pregnant and how you can take steps and precautions towards their delivery date.
Just a disclaimer: Beware that you should not wildly breed guinea pigs if you don’t have a proper breeding program or the appropriate financial situation as well as time to care for them.
Let’s dive in.
How to Tell if a Guinea Pig is Pregnant
Guinea pigs are without a doubt cute, and baby guinea pigs climb twice as high on the cuteness ladder.
There is, however, a thin line between sounding heartwarming and scary when people say the words ‘guinea pig pregnancy’. Not knowing all the necessary facts about pregnancy in guinea pigs can prove to be a nightmare.
Female guinea pigs sexually mature as early as 2 months of age. The length of the estrous cycle is 16 days. Those fertile periods can occur during any time of the year, but most frequently during spring.
Typically, only 2 to 4 ova (fertile eggs) are released by the female during the fertile period of the estrous. Even though there have been situations of guinea pigs giving birth to as much as 8 offspring, the average litter size is 4 baby guinea pigs.
The largest noted litter numbered 14 guinea pigs.
The estrous cycle is somewhat typical in means of behavioral changes of the female guinea pig. In the presence of a male, the female changes her back (spine) which she arches downwards.
The male on, the other hand, will put on his manly display but will still approach the saw with a lowered head.
Loud squeals are a sign that she accepted him. If not, the female guinea pig will most likely bite or urinate on the male.
Okay, they mated – now what to look for?
Guinea pigs tend to express every little change in their body. They interact with voices and gestures to show you everything they feel.
That’s why there are some obvious signs for any owner to notice whether his/her guinea pig is carrying babies.
The baby guinea pigs can be physically felt 2 to 4 weeks into pregnancy.
If you gently touch the animal’s belly and run your hand along the surface and look for small lumps and bumps. In most cases, the small forms are a sign of guinea pig pregnancy.
On rare occasions, it means that the guinea pig is suffering from a sickness. In both cases, your pet needs to be seen by a vet.
One more way to detect guinea pig pregnancy is the smell of the pet.
Male guinea pigs are very territorial so when they mate they spray the female with their urine. That’s because they don’t want other males to approach her.
This mechanism works in other species of animals as well and very fortunately humans aren’t accustomed to it.
Pregnant Guinea Pig Behavior
Pregnant guinea pigs tend to eat a lot more since they no longer eat just for one individual.
As a species, they also increase their food intake in the winter. But taking in mind the previously mentioned signs you can suspect pregnancy if any one of them is present.
Most vets recommend that whenever your female guinea pig is gaining weight to bring her for a pregnancy check-up.
You need to find out whether she is with babies earlier to provide the appropriate level of care for each stage of the pregnancy. Negligence and ignorance can prove to be fatal for the mother and the babies.
Make the habit of repeatedly measuring your pet’s weight, at least twice a month. It’s a great way to predict and control diseases as well.
Pregnant guinea pigs get visually larger in the abdominal area. In time, it will be a bit harder for them to move, but this is of little or no significance.
Any apparent change of behavior in means of lethargy, anorexia, or depression can be a sign of sickness.
How Long Is Pregnancy In Guinea Pigs?
The gestation period in guinea pigs varies between 59 and 72 days. The average period of pregnancy is approximately 65 days. During this period the mothers double her body weight and get a lot bigger.
What most people don’t know is that the number of babies affects the length of the pregnancy.
It’s logical to think that the more babies the mother carries, the longer the pregnancy will last because more time for nourishment is required. Well with guinea pigs it’s the opposite.
The pregnancy of the guinea pig will be shorter if there is a larger litter size.
A new estrous cycle in saws can begin very shortly after giving birth. If there are male guinea pigs present at the time of birth, they will compete between themselves to mate with the mother and protect the newborn guinea pigs.
When there is a dominant male, there’s a likelihood that the other males won’t try to interact with the mother.
Pregnant Guinea Pig Stages
There 3 stages in guinea pig pregnancy:
How long your guinea pig has been for is a question only a qualified veterinarian can correctly answer to.
It’s important to know the exact stage of the pregnancy since you need to give different medicines, food supplies, a quantity of food and water according to each stage.
The early stage consists of the first few days after mating. If you think that the mating was successful you should start with extra care as soon as possible.
During the early stage change the usual hay with Alfalfa hay. This type is rich both in protein in calcium, two things she needs a lot at the moment. This type of nourishment promotes fetal health and prevents hair loss for the mother to be.
Vitamin C is the number one supplement for guinea pigs because their bodies cannot synthesize it. Vitamin C supplements should be given orally at a regiment of 10 mg a day. Enriching the guinea pigs’ diet with kale, broccoli, green peppers, and parsley is also advised.
Place the cage away from direct sunlight and from places where there are loud noises present. Implement patterned feeding, drinking, and outdoor regiments.
Do it every day at the same time routinely. In the best-case scenario, make arrangements to have a visiting vet check her every once in a while.
The middle stage is up until the seventh week of pregnancy. During this time the sow needs to be weighed weekly. Gaining weight at a regular pace is important.
Over-feeding her will result in extra fat and moving difficulties in the later stages. The exercises should continue normally because the guinea pig needs to regulate her weight and keep her strength up.
At the end of the middle stage, the movement of the babies will become visible under the skin. Near the end restrain yourself from picking the animal up. When it’s utterly necessary make sure she has the support of her hips.
After the seventh week, the animal enters the late stage of guinea pig pregnancy. At this time you will be even able to distinguish the body parts of the moving babies by gently touching the belly. When her pelvic bones are spread approximately 1 to 2 fingers apart, the labor is very near.
You can sense the distance between the bones by gently positioning your finger on the belly just a few centimeters from the anus.
During all of the stage and especially during the last stage of pregnancy the sow should remain in a calm environment.
You should observe the behavior of the other guinea pigs as well. If any of them seem to bother her or tease her, they will need to be put in a separate cage. Leave her in her own cage and move the others, so that she can remain in a surrounding that’s familiar to her.
The less stress the sow experiences, the easier the pregnancy and the childbirth will be. Pregnant guinea pigs aren’t accustomed to building nests, yet any type of clean soft bedding will do just fine.
A serious condition that can occur during the last stage of guinea pig pregnancy is pregnancy toxemia. Usually, the occurrence is 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after giving birth.
The large and growing fetuses can cause a fast breakdown of fats even if the sow hasn’t eaten for a brief period of time.
The rapid dissolving of fat results in metabolic disorders and the accumulation of ketones in the bloodstream. When the metabolic product reaches harmful concentration in the blood most obvious symptoms are:
- Poor appetite
- Difficult breathing
- Lack of coordination
- Lack of muscle control
- Poor or no appetite
- Muscle spasms
Commercial urine strips can help you measure the presence of ketones in her urine in the last few weeks of the pregnancy.
Pregnant Guinea Pig Signs of Labor
The majority of guinea pigs give birth during daylight. As she goes into labor she will release out a cry.
Her body will be positioned in a down-squat on all four legs. That’s when the delivery starts and if everything is normal the first pup will come out in about 5 minutes. It takes about 20-30 minutes for the whole litter to be delivered.
There is a 3-5 minute interval between each baby. Stillbirth isn’t totally uncommon and you should remain calm.
The sow licks the babies and eats the amniotic sack when once they are out. Sometimes she may wait to attend the young ones until all babies are delivered.
At the end of the process, the placenta emerges and the mother eats it as well. The pups are born with open eyes and covered in fur. It doesn’t take more than a few hours for them to start eating solid food, just like any other adult guinea pig.
Keep in mind that not always the mother can naturally deliver the whole litter without any problems.
There are numerous medical reasons why giving birth can go wrong. Sometimes it’s the uterus lacking contractions; sometimes it’s a pup ending up stuck in the birth canal.
If the process isn’t over in 30-40 minutes or there is an abnormally large interval between delivered pups one may suspect a problem.
Even though you can assist the birthing by yourself, it’s always better to leave it to licensed professionals. Sometimes even surgery must be performed to save the mother’s life.
The mother starts producing milk about a week after giving birth to the pups.
The milk provides some very important nutrients for the babies. However, even without the mother’s milk baby guinea pigs can survive feeding only on solid food. Guinea pig mother lactates for 2-3 weeks.
When is a Guinea Pig Too Old to Breed?
What any professional on the matter will tell you is not to breed your guinea if you are still in the process of making the final decision.
The age of the sow plays a huge row in making the decision. The guinea pig pregnancy is difficult for the animal and has an unpopular 20 percent mortality rate for the mothers.
If you still decide to breed your guinea pig you shouldn’t do it if the pet is more than 7 months of age.
The birth canals of these animals are very narrow. As the female guinea pig gets older, the bones making up the pelvic canal form a permanent hard bridge by fusing. The canal is fully fused by the 7-8th month of age both in unbred female and male guinea pigs.
When a guinea pig is pregnant the pelvic canal stretches as a result of hormonal secretion. That’s why a female guinea pig should be bred before the permanent hardening on the pelvic canal. Only this way, serious delivery problems can be avoided.
What is the Best Age for a Guinea Pig to Get Pregnant?
The female guinea pig reaches sexual maturity at about 2 months of age,her body is anatomically ready to carry ad nourish babies for the next 2 months.
That’s why the best age for a guinea pig to get pregnant is between 4 and 7 months of age. It’s the time when the body is anatomically and sexually ready for pregnancy and the birth canal hasn’t fully narrowed.
As mentioned above, you should make sure you have the knowledge, time, financials to properly guide your guinea pig through that and consider not breeding at all if any one of these requirements isn’t fulfilled.
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that this isn’t medical advice and if you assume there might be a health-related issue, you should contact your vet.