FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Frequently Asked Questions
"Do guinea pigs bleed during their reproductive cycle?"
No. If you see any bleeding, see a vet to determine the cause and get treatment.
"Do sows need any special care when they're pregnant?"
A good diet and exercise are extremely important. Review the general guidelines for a standard healthy diet. As delivery approaches and your cavy increases in size, handle her very carefully or not at all.
Pregnant cavies can develop serious medical problems like pregnancy toxemia and hypocalcemia. Some contributing factors are malnutrition, stress, obesity, fasting, dietary changes, large fetal load, heat stress, and lack of exercise. Do all you can to reduce the risk of these diseases. Read MORE
"What should I watch out for after the birth?"
It is vitally important that you get an accurate scale and weigh each pup and the mother daily (at a regular time) after the birth for several weeks to ensure they are healthy and thriving.
WICharlie writes: "The last litter born in our rescue (a little 4 month old girl came in hugely pregnant) had five babies. Because I was weighing, I figured out by the fourth day that one little baby was showing failure to thrive. I was able to save her life by giving her an hour alone with mom (once in the morning and once in the evening). Had I not been weighing daily, that baby would have died from malnutrition...
That same little momma developed a terrible mastitis and infected abcess when the little ones were 13 days old. She required several weeks of specialized care to get her through. So be aware that complications can develop later, even when a birth goes well. A watchful eye (and daily weighings) will help to keep everyone healthy."
"When can I hold the new babies?"
You can hold the new babies right away. The sow will not reject them if they have been handled. Handling new babies often will allow them time to get used to you.
"What do I feed orphans or pups that are not gaining weight?"
These pups need hand feeding to survive. Read the hand feeding tips for pups.
Pregnant guinea pigs, new mothers, and pups have similar requirements. Provide a standard healthy diet. Pups may benefit from extra alfalfa (most pellets are alfalfa based so this is not necessary). See the general dietary guidelines. JHand's weight gain records on a group of pups may also be helpful in determining if your young cavies are having problems.
"When should I separate the males from the females?"
Male pups: The ideal age to separate the male pups from the female pups and mother is at 3 weeks of age. This will ensure the male pups have the maximum benefit of companionship and can more naturally wean from the mother, while also preventing accidental pregnancies should the pups mature early. Since 24 days is the earliest brother/sister pregnancy of which the author is aware, three weeks seems a reasonable date to remove the males. In rare circumstances, an owner may choose to leave a very sick boar with its mother to aid its recovery.
Female pups can be housed with the mother. Male pups often appreciate the companionship of a relaxed older male. The responsible cavy owner will choose to house their guinea pigs with same sex guinea pigs or may consider neutering the male(s). Read Cavy Spirit's page on neutering for more information. Remember, all surgeries carry risks and it is safer not to neuter.
Male pups of unknown age: Weight and behavior may help you decide when to separate the males. Males will begin mounting behavior ("practicing") within a few weeks of birth. Frequent mounting by a larger pup (perhaps 250 grams or more) may indicate he is at or over 21 days and should be separated. Since there is a wide variation in birth weights, weight alone is not a reliable method to determine the age of a pup. Consider also how well the pup is eating and drinking on its own and whether it seems to have been weaned by the mother already.
Adult males: Separate the male from the female before the birth. The female will go into estrous shortly after giving birth. Back-to-back pregnancies are extremely hard on a female cavy and not advised.