Birth and childhood of the nimble rodents

The guinea pig birth is usually quite quick and uncomplicated. Guinea pig babies are precocial, which means that shortly after their arrival in the world, the little ones scurry happily through the enclosure. However, you should still keep a close eye on your animals to make sure everything is okay with them and separate the males from the females in good time. Otherwise inbreeding and unwanted offspring can occur.

Guinea pig babies are precocial and are born almost fully developed – Shutterstock / schubbel

Guinea pig babies are precocial and are born almost fully developed – Shutterstock / schubbel

Female guinea pigs are ready to mate about every 14 to 18 days and are fertile for about eight to twelve hours. The goat then runs after his chosen one, dances around her with swaying steps and courts her favor with what is known as brommseln – a cooing sound. If he is successful, the female lifts her buttocks, the male rides on – and about 10 weeks later the guinea pig is born.

This is how guinea pigs give birth

A litter usually consists of two to three babies, but only children or up to six siblings can be born at one time. In very rare cases there are more than six, but then the little ones often don’t survive and it’s also a heavy burden for the mother. Shortly before the birth, the expectant guinea pig mom chooses a quiet corner of the enclosure. She doesn’t build a nest, but sits down and spreads her legs so that the little sea piglets can be born.

The mother takes five to ten minutes for each new arrival, pulls each baby out individually by the head, cuts off its umbilical cord and frees it from the egg skin. Only when one piglet is outside does she take care of the next one. At the end there is a so-called afterbirth, which the mother eats up together with the membrane. Guinea pig babies get their set teeth in the womb and open their eyes about two weeks before birth. They already look like finished guinea pigs when they see the light of day, only that they are much smaller.

Guinea pigs need company.  So if you want one, you usually get two – Image: Shutterstock / Miroslav Hlavko
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12/17/2013 – 5:38 p.m

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Possible complications of guinea pig birth

Make sure your guinea pig has a few days of rest before birth and the opportunity to withdraw at any time. It is best to have the father of the little ones castrated after fertilization, then you do not have to separate the Meerli group. Unfortunately, an uncastrated buck cannot stay with the mother, otherwise she could be inseminated again shortly after birth, which would be a great burden for her. In addition, a nice new home has to be found later for every guinea pig baby if it cannot stay with the family.

Pregnant pigs can suffer from so-called pregnancy toxosis. Take your mom-to-be to the vet immediately if she turns on her side during pregnancy or just before her due date. Complications can also occur in very young mothers under six months and older mothers over a year. If she is too young, the babies may stun. If she is too old, her pelvis has started to ossify, which can lead to miscarriages, among other things. If you have any doubts or concerns, contact your veterinarian with confidence.

How guinea pig babies develop in the first few weeks

At birth, guinea pigs weigh between 60 and 100 grams. Only children are usually slightly larger and heavier than multiples. Healthy piglets gain three to four grams a day in the first six weeks – it is best to check this every day with a kitchen scale. If the little ones do not gain enough weight by the third day of life at the latest, this is an indication that they are not being breastfed enough or are ill. You may then have to feed them something else, for example cat milk without taurine. The Minimeerlis are suckled for three weeks, after which they are weaned. They also eat the adult food right from the start, but should not be given watery vegetables such as cucumbers or lettuce to the same extent. Slowly get used to it later.

At the age of three weeks, the bucks can produce new offspring, even if they are only fully sexually mature a few weeks later. Therefore, check the sex of the guinea pig babies early on by gently pulling the abdominal skin above the genitals towards the head. A long line with a dot above it that looks like an “i” can be seen on bucks. In females, the letter “Y” is recognizable. At three weeks, place the male babies with their father or have them spayed early.

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