BABY HELP! Encourage Disinterested New Mother?

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Post   » Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:22 am

QUESTION/HELP NEEDED: (Back story is below, if you need to understand the history here) I have a sow who is a first-time mother, and she is showing almost no interest in the one baby, who was born last night. She runs away from the baby, and I have not seen the baby nurse at all. The baby is clumsy, and struggling, but she is making every effort to run after the mother. She is following her mother around the cage, but (again) I have not seen her nurse or get shown any attention by the mother. The mother is trying to stay on the opposite side of the cage from the baby. What can I do to encourage the mother to show interest? Please help! The baby seems healthy but weak, and I have warmed her up by holding her inside my shirt, but the baby needs her Mama!

[BACK STORY: This sow has been underweight, and she was getting a little bit thin, and I've been trying to help her gain weight by changing her diet and weighing her. Recently, she did gain weight, which I attributed to the new diet regime. I didn't even know she was pregnant, nor did I think she could be. I have several female piggies, and only one boar whom I adopted but *I was told that he was neutered.* He has never shown a lot of interest in the females, and he is a small runt, and he is housed separately. But I have children, and they must have allowed them together at some point, because last night the sow in question gave birth to just one baby! It's been years since any of my guinea pigs have had babies, as I do not breed them, and only keep neutered boars (or so I thought.)]

Side Question: Just one baby is unusual, in my experience. Do you think she is waiting to give birth to another baby? How can I tell?


Post   » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:37 am

HAPPY UPDATE: The mother (Squeakerella) has turned a corner and is now showing interest in the baby.

I had to make a change that helped her. I noticed that Squeakerella kept going to one corner of her cage, and attempting to "dig" obsessively. (This is not a normal behavior for her.) This led me to believe that she felt the need to create some sort of nest or protected area there for some reason. (She already had several areas like this in her cage, but she was not going to them.) I put a spare plastic "igloo" type hidey over the corner where she kept trying to dig. She immediately purred, and went inside the igloo. The baby followed her in, and at first Squeakerella didn't want to be in the igloo with the baby. But within about 2 minutes, she started grooming and cleaning the baby inside the igloo (which she hadn't done before.) They have not left the igloo for 15 minutes, and it appears that the baby is also nursing.

Squeakerella had a complete turnaround after getting into the igloo in the area of the cage where she had the nesting instinct. Apparently, her need to create the protected nest was even more overwhelming than her instinct to care for the baby. So, one tip I'm learning from this is to observe the sow, and see if she is exhibiting signs of having to meet other instinctual needs. Try to help her get those needs met, and then she may have "room" in her mind to care for the baby!

I will write with an update later.


Post   » Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:41 pm

I'm glad the mom is nursing and caring for the baby. I had two moms pregnant at the same time, by a male we had been told was female, and who gave birth within 24 hours of each other. Neither of them had any trouble bonding with their babies, so I wouldn't have been much help.

If the male you have is older than several months, it should be obvious whether he is neutered or not. We neutered ours as soon as we realized he was male and that our sows were pregnant. If he is neutered, perhaps it was a recent thing before you got him. Guinea pig sperm must be some of the hardiest stuff on the planet because it can stay viable within the "ductwork" of male up to 3 or 4 weeks after having been neutered. He could still impregnate a sow several weeks after having been neutered. Of course, if it had been that recent, you should have been able to see some evidence of surgery.

The difference between a neutered and intact adult male is pretty obvious. Intact males have sacs that often drag the ground. Neutered males do not. A male that has been neutered young will also not grow as large as an intact one. Ours was neutered at around 5 or 6 months and now he is the same size as all the intact females he lives happily with. (I have six all together.) His two sons, which we re-homed with a friend so we could stay in contact with them, stayed intact and they grew to a huge size compared to dad.

A neutered male (assuming it's been a month or more after the procedure) can still "do it" but there won't be any babies.


Post   » Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:45 pm

Oh, and you need to make sure both your mom and baby have extra calcium and vitamin C for awhile. In one of our moms, the babies (she had four) depleted a lot of calcium from her bones and the heads of her femurs broke off either before or during delivery. Her bones and the rest of her body had been robbed of nutrients by the developing babies and she was a lot weaker than she should have been for quite a while. We also had to do surgery on her. She now has no hip sockets and only cartilage connects her leg bones to her spine, but other than the fact that she lies down in a "funny" position, you'd never know she had that condition. She runs and jumps and climbs ramps just as fast as all the others.

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Post   » Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:26 pm

There are links to pics of neutered boars from this page:


Post   » Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:51 pm

JX4 Thank you for your replies, and sorry for my belated response. I've owned a lot of piggies in my lifetime, and this boar is much smaller, and has much smaller "boy parts" than any of the other males I've owned. For that reason, I easily believed that he was neutered. He's now over a year old, and he's smaller than either of my full-grown sows. In any case, he was able to father a baby, so he's definitely not de-sexed entirely--and I don't know if he may have been operated on, but it wasn't successful or what, but now that I know he's fertile, he will not be with the girls again!

I will make sure to offer extra calcium, vitamin C, and other nutrients to all the piggies, so we don't have any accidents due to vitamin deficiency! Thanks for the tip.


Post   » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:03 pm

Poor little guy. My male was easily mis-identified as female because he had ambiguous genitalia. He looks like a male now (even neutered), but when he was younger he did look female until his testicle sac dropped. He had the classic X shape and everything. He passed that "ambiguous genitalia" trait onto a few of his offspring. One of the boys looked exactly like his dad and one of the girls looked more like a boy than a girl. It was difficult even for a guinea pig-savvy vet to sex them when they were just 3 weeks old, but he did so correctly, thank goodness.

It sounds like your little guy may have been operated on by someone who didn't get everything, or he could just have the DNA for being small like that. If you do get him properly de-sexed, he may be able to go in with the girls if you should desire to do so.

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