When male guinea pigs reach sexual maturity, they do so after three months of age, and when female guinea pigs reach sexual maturity, they do so within two months of age. However, they both have the potential to become pregnant earlier than the aforementioned period.
The gestation period in guinea pigs lasts approximately 59 to 72 days, with an average duration of 65 days.
However, the length of the pregnancy may vary depending on the number of children in the litter (the number of babies given birth to at a time.) Pups are the name given to young guinea pigs.
As a result, the smaller the litter (one or two pups), the longer the gestational period is expected to be. Additionally, a larger litter (approximately 5-6 pups) would result in a shorter pregnancy period. A female can give birth to a maximum of eight pups in a single litter.
What is the best age to breed a female guinea pig?
Male guinea pigs can breed when they are 3 months of age, while female guinea pigs can breed to a lesser extent when they are 2 months of age, despite the fact that some guinea pigs reach sexual maturity earlier than this period.
In order to produce the best results, it is preferable for 3 to 6 month old female Guinea Pigs (sows) to breed with 3-4 month old male Guinea Pigs (boars).
A female guinea pig can have up to 5-6 litters per year, depending on her size. It is possible to have anywhere from one to eight newborn guinea pigs in a litter, though a litter of 2-4 piglets is the most common.
It is true that females should be bred within 3-8 months of reaching sexual maturity.
They would have a more difficult time if they continued to delay because of the fusion of the pubic joints, which is necessary for the natural passage of the newborn outside the mother’s womb.
Males do not consider their age when deciding whether or not to mate.
Keep in mind that if you keep a male and female of reproductively developed age in close proximity to each other, the likelihood of your female pet becoming pregnant again increases. Consequently, it is critical to distinguish between male and female Guinea pigs during the breeding process.
Signs of pregnancy in guinea pigs
There are various signs of pregnancy in guinea pigs. Some of the most common signs include:
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Lumps in the belly:
Similar to the majority of mammals, a pregnant female will have an enlarged belly and a group of aggregated cells (nodules or lumps) in her belly, which are both indications of the growing fetus in her womb.
You will be able to feel lumps in your pet’s belly within the first week or two of pregnancy if you gently touch the abdomen area of your pet. These lumps are an indication of a developing fetus inside the womb.
While caressing their abdomens, exercise caution because pressing too hard may endanger the infants’ lives.
However, lumps that you might consider to be a pregnancy sign could actually be a cyst in disguise (a health condition). So it’s best not to rush things and to have your pet examined by a veterinarian to be sure.
The nodules, on the other hand, will continue to grow until the sow gives birth if she is pregnant.
The progression of pregnancy may result in the guinea pig consuming and drinking more calories and fluids than usual.
Because she is carrying babies in her womb, it is likely that the pregnant sow’s appetite will be heightened.
A female sow’s ability to produce healthy and adequately nourished pups is dependent on her ability to consume more calories. It is possible that mothers will give birth to malnourished babies as a result of their lack of appetite.
If, on the other hand, your guinea pig is eating more than usual, this could be an indication of an underlying health condition, if it is not pregnancy.
A typical guinea pig weighs between 1.5 and 2 pounds. If your guinea pig is pregnant, you can expect the weight of your sow pet to increase on a daily basis as the pregnancy progresses.
It is possible that you will not notice any significant increase in their weight on a daily basis.
However, in order to detect any noticeable changes, their weight should be monitored on a weekly basis.
Following the delivery of the litter, the weight of your pet will be reduced by half compared to their normal healthy weight.
Fortunately, if your pet turns out to be pregnant, you should immediately take him or her to the veterinarian for medical attention and advice in order to avoid any further complications.
As well as this, consult with your veterinarian about the care of your guinea pigs during their prenatal and postnatal periods.
Guinea pig labor
When female guinea pigs experience labor pain and it takes them longer than 15-20 minutes to get out of it, they are almost certainly in need of medical attention, which should be provided as soon as possible.
After all of the babies have been delivered, the placenta will be cut apart or eaten up by the mother herself, which is extremely important for the development of mammary glands, which are responsible for the production of milk.
Babies born prematurely will be fragile and furred, with their eyes completely open. They should not be touched or held for the first few hours after birth.
Remember, a male newborn who is three weeks or older must be separated from his mother; otherwise, he will put the mother’s pregnancy at risk for a second pregnancy.
Female guinea pig pups can be left with their mother for a longer period of time in order to allow them to continue nursing. They would benefit from an additional week of time.
Also, make sure to separate the male pups from their female counterparts, as guinea pigs have been known to breed with their own siblings.
Guinea pig litter
Guinea pigs give birth to an average of 5-6 litters per year. The size of the litter varies. A litter can have anywhere from one to eight pups.
The size of the litter is also determined by the length of the pregnancy. If the gestation period is longer than the litter size, the litter will be small (between 2 and 3 pups), whereas if the gestation period is shorter than the litter size, the litter will be large (between 4 and 6 pups) (5-7 pups).
Perhaps the most common litter size is that of 2-4 babies, but there are other sizes as well.
In order to protect the newborn, they must be breastfed for at least three weeks after their birth. In the meantime, the male pups must be separated from their mother in order to avoid the new pregnancy cycle becoming more complicated.
For the first couple of days, the mother will breastfeed the babies, and then they will be introduced to solid food.
Once the young ones begin to consume solid food, the sow will instruct them on how to urinate and poop by licking the bottom of their feet on a regular basis.
There’s no doubt that the mother guinea will feed her stool to her babies because it’s believed to contain certain bacteria that are considered to be beneficial to the digestive system of the young ones.
False pregnancy in guinea pig
Female Guinea pigs are prone to developing the false belief that they are pregnant, which is a common occurrence in animals.
The psychological behavior that leads them to believe that they are pregnant when they are not is known as deluding behavior.
Phantom pregnancy, also known as false pregnancy, is a common misconception that occurs when guinea pigs are in their ovulation period and become pregnant.
As a result, your pet will experience increased hunger and mood swings due to hormonal changes, and he or she will need to be handled with the utmost care and generosity.
Although this false belief will dissipate after a period of time, approximately 20-25 days, it is best to avoid it.
Why you shouldn’t breed your guinea pigs
Self-induced breeding by the owners may not be as efficient and healthy as the normal one initiated by the guinea pigs themselves.
However, if a female of age more than 10 months is bred for the first time, than the severity of pregnancy increases and thus putting in danger both the mother and the child.
Avoid standard delivery by them if above 10 months and bred for the first time since birth. Better opt for cesarean by a vet to get the pups out.
But unlike other animals, the C section in guinea pigs is very likely to be unsuccessful even when performed by an expert.
Is breeding guinea pigs dangerous?
Surely not, if females are bred during the age of 3-8 months.
Females are more reproductively capable before 8 months of their age and enhance the complexity later than this.
Most of the mammals undergo pubic symphysis, and so does the female guinea pig. It increases the mortality rate either of the mother or the child.
When is a guinea pig too old to breed?
As we know already, age is a matter of concern while breeding guinea pigs.
Females become reproductively active as young as of age 2 months, whereas the males achieve sexuality of age 3 months. It is better to breed a younger female guinea pig then their later counterpart.
Precautionary, the female guinea pig must not be above 10 months of age.
Mating later than this age would result in complications due to the fusion of pubic joints, which allows the smooth passage of the babies through the birth canal and could be life-threatening.
Guinea pig breeding issues
If bred between 3-8 months, there is a relatively good chance of having a pregnancy with very few complications.
However, delaying further might cause various complications, which we already have discussed so far.
If you have not paid enough attention to appetite, kind of stool, the requirement of various vital nutrients needed for pregnancy, then it might result into medical conditions such as low calcium(hypocalcemia), toxemia(poisoning of blood due to the bacterial infection), discharging of body fluids, etc.
These are specific issues that would be faced and need medical assistance.
Why you should spay or neuter your guinea pigs?
Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures that are used to remove the reproductive organs of a male or female pig.
It is recommended that guinea pigs be spayed or neutered in order to avoid pregnancy or to deal with any reproductive organ dysfunction.
Despite the fact that male spaying is more preferable than female spaying due to the ease of surgery,
Aside from this, spaying your female pig will ensure that she does not breed with any males until she has reached a certain age, as well as preventing pregnancy complications, which can be life-threatening in many cases.
Additionally, it is done to avoid uterine cancer and lump formation in the mammary glands of females, as well as to prevent testicle infection in males.
On a more lighthearted note, neutering will also allow you to keep an eye on the population of these tiny creatures.
Guinea pig breeding principles
Consider the following principles before breeding your guinea pigs:-
- Be sure about the age of the female guinea pig before mating. The mother should at least be of 2-8 months of her generation.
- Keep the pregnant mother in a different cage to ensure her well being and safety.
- Check the cage regularly to see the signs of any discharge or bleeding.
- Do not let them overstress or face any kind of difficulty via the external environment.
- Allow them to interact with other female guinea pigs to give them the pleasure of companionship.
- Make available enough food to eat and water to drink during the whole time of pregnancy.
- Feeding a mix of alfalfa-based diet during pregnancy and right after birth could help supplement the calcium need.
- Feed more of hay and less of pellet based diet as it makes the food movement in gut smooth and helps prevent diarrhea as well.
- Comfortable bedding and changing of the same from time to time.
- Avoid holding them from either sideway of the abdomen as it might cause miscarriage.
- Preferably lift them with one hand on the bottom and others on the upside. Do not squeeze too hard.
- Be kind to the mood swings and the other physiological behavior.
- Do visit the vet periodically to know the if’s and but’s of the pregnancy and learn if there is any complication regarding the same.
- In general, the labor will last for 5-15 minutes. In case if it lasts longer than 15-20 mins then do not delay further to reach the vet.
- Avoid interaction of the mother with the other male guinea pigs for weeks after delivery, because getting pregnant again in succession is not healthy for them.
- Leave the mother with her pups alone for the few days undisturbed.
- Also, provide proper bedding and solid food to the mother for nurturing her baby.
- Lastly, remember to separate the male guinea pig from their mother and female siblings two weeks after they are born, to avoid difficulty at the beginning of a new cycle.
- And most importantly, take appropriate care and heed to their needs and demands. Precisely saying, be present for your pet.