Newborn Guinea Pigs – What You Should Avoid

newborn guinea pigs

Congratulations are in order; momma guinea has just given birth to a litter of pups. You’re surprised to see the little ones born with the ability to see, hear, and move around.

It seems they aren’t really that delicate at all – or are they?

Guinea Pig Baby Facts

These babies become alert very quickly, born able to see. Labor normally only takes all of 30 minutes.

In the animal kingdom, many species aren’t born so capable, able to see and hear, move around, and eat. This makes your little cavies unique. 

Why are they born so quickly this way, while others aren’t? What makes them so special, can you handle them, how do you ensure a good delivery, and what should you avoid?

Let’s answer all of these questions, and more, below.

How Big is a Newborn Guinea Pig?

A newborn guinea pig might weigh around 3.5 ounces or 100 grams. Normally, they could be 3-6 inches long. 

The standard litter can range from one to six little pups, with an avg. of 2-4. The larger the litter, the smaller the pups (as a general rule), so ideally you wouldn’t want too many pups born at once.

If the litter is too large, the mama guinea pig might become exhausted and fail to care for all of her babies.

Unlike dogs or cats, baby guinea pigs are born with their eyes wide open, able to eat food with tiny teeth. Your little pigs still shouldn’t stray from their mother for the first 3 weeks.

Guinea pig babies with mother

Are Newborn Guinea Pigs Born with Hair?

Yes, newborn guinea pigs have hair.

Newborn guinea pigs are born with hair, along with a full set of open eyes and tiny teeth able to eat solids. You can see this after the mother cleans her pups off, severing their umbilical cords with her teeth.

Why are newborn guinea pigs born so developed, while other species might not even open their eyes until a week or more after birth? The answer is actually simpler than you might think.

Imagine the competition for survival, bearing in mind the environment these animals were born in. From an evolutionary position, it might benefit an animal to be born ready to move, able to see the world and flee from predators. 

Humans today don’t need to worry about predators devouring their helpless children, while shorter pregnancies may give that mother wolf a better chance to feed and hunt herself. Her children are hopefully safe in their dens with either father or mother and don’t need to hunt.

Where did they come from, and how would that impact childbearing?

South American Incans domesticated guinea pigs around 3,000 years ago (supposedly), keeping them as pets and food, with the occasional sacrifice. The difference between now and then comes in that domestication; you won’t find the original species existing in the wild anymore.

Today’s cavies are mostly selectively bred for human- desired traits, having very little to do with what’s best for survival. No one really knows where the first cavies came from.

Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Babies?

Though it is pretty uncommon, guinea pig mothers do sometimes eat their babies. As a pet owner, you’ll want to offer supervision to make sure this doesn’t happen. 

A mama pig might eat her young in situations of severe hunger or malnutrition. For a caretaker, the easiest way to avoid this tragedy is to ensure your guinea is properly nourished.

Thankfully, it’s pretty rare for a mama pig to eat her young.

If a boar (male) thinks a baby doesn’t belong to him, he might kill it. Simply place the male in a separate cate/enclosure after mating to avoid this.

If you want to be scientific, the male might simply have the instinctual urge to preserve his genetic lineage. Some other animals, like lions, will do the same thing.

Guinea Pig Babies Just Born – Handling 101

You can’t help but be surprised how tiny these fellows are; surprised they can move about at all. They look so delicate you’re afraid to even touch them.

Is it ok to touch these little baby guinea pigs? What about your kids? 

Should you do anything about the male guinea pigs you’ve got? 

How do you make sure they’re eating properly, and what will you do if they aren’t?

Can You Touch Newborn Guinea Pigs?

Carefully handling a newborn guinea is fine during the first week, as long as plenty of time is allowed for the mother pig. Too much handling too quickly can disrupt the mother-child bonding process.

Remember, your little piggies will need their mother to nurse, and warmth is also extremely important. Worst case scenario, the mother might actually reject her baby.

When and if you do actually handle your newborn, be sure to move gently and carefully. Be sure to approach head-on so the little one can see you coming.

Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before handling the littles. You’re left with growth, feeding, maturity, and general behavior after this point. 

Tiny baby guinea pigs

What do you do with Newborn Guinea Pigs?

What in the world do you do with such tiny, delicate creatures? How do you ensure they survive at all, let alone grow these first few weeks?

Ideally, you should let mama guinea pig have as much contact with her little ones as possible. Not only will they need to nurse, but they also need to stay warm (not too warm) and continue to bond.

Though the mother shouldn’t reject them just because you’ve handled your littles, a father might. Newborn cannibalization is pretty rare, but you should separate any adult males just in case.

Newborn guineas can meet the fathers under your close supervision, but only if the mother isn’t around. 

You always want to be sure and separate the adult males and baby pigs once they reach 21 days. The father can impregnate the young females, devastating their delicate little bodies.

You should also separate any male and female babies once they reach four weeks because the little males will also mate, causing just as much harm to those tiny bodies.

Aggression is always possible with the males, so provide close supervision.

Any human children might want to play with these adorable creatures but think hard about allowing them to. Any veterinarian would likely tell you not to allow children to handle the delicate baby pigs. 

Baby Guinea Pig Food

What do these little ones eat, anyway? How in the world are you going to ensure quality nutrition to both mother and pups?

Baby guinea pigs should continue to nurse from their mothers at least for the first five days. Like humans, cats and dogs, and most other animals in general, a mother will pass vital nutrients and bacterial defenses through her milk.

Hand raising guinea pigs?

The mother will probably be feeding her babies herself, even though you might not see it. You can check for round, full-looking bellies, a normal chatty vocabulary, and physical activity to be sure.

If the mother isn’t available, look into specifically designed milk replacements, like Critical Care brand nutritional powder or simply diluted, canned condensed milk.

Cow’s milk isn’t good for them, but they’ll tolerate goat’s milk. You can use a mixture of half milk half water.

Guinea pigs will gain important bacterial resistance from eating their fecal pellets. Some sources advise you to mash a cecal pellet in the mixture to offer some of the bacteria necessary for healthy digestion.

It’s normal for a guinea pig to eat his or her pellets, digesting food a second time. Cecal pellets are softer pellets containing many B-complex vitamins. Without these, a pig will become nutritionally deficient.

Ensure all of your bottles and syringes are clean, washed before and after every use. 

If you’re still unsure, simply give your veterinarian a call and he would be glad to offer advice. In fact, a mother refusing to feed her young is very uncommon, and any first-time caretakers should consider contacting either a vet or an experienced breeder who’s seen this problem before.

Baby Guinea Pig Safety

Once you see them, you’ll notice how delicate these babies truly are. This is one reason why small children shouldn’t handle them.

A fall from only a couple of feet could prove to be fatal. 

If your baby doesn’t want to eat from the syringe, resist the urge to force-feed. Simply wet the little one’s lips, repeating the process several times.

To recap the point above, be sure to always separate the fathers from mothers and young, and always separate brothers from sisters prior to 21 days.

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