Young guinea pigs around the house is an exciting time. Whether you’re fostering, ended up with an accidental pregnancy, or bred deliberately, it never gets old. Caring for you guinea pigs means adding a few things to your cage setup and routine, in any case.
Following birth, young guinea pigs will start nosing around. Unlike other rodents, guinea pigs are born with their eyes open, and their hair grown. After their mother gives them a quick cleaning, they start interacting with their surroundings.
It’s important to keep youngsters in their cage. In the interest of caring for your young guinea pigs, you need to ensure they cannot get through the cage bars. At Guinea Pig Center, plexiglass set around the outside of the cages prevents the piggles from slipping through the bars. Remember, if a little guinea pig can get its head through the bars, it can get the rest of its body through.
Your mother guinea pig will do the lion’s share of caring for the young guinea pigs. Regardless of litter size, she will nurse them for the first two to three weeks of their life. She will also teach them how to be guinea pigs and interact.
It’s crucial to ensure the mother guinea pig has access to unlimited calories during this time. Since she is supplying milk, she is still eating for herself and the whole litter.
Food and Water
Young guinea pigs start nosing around pretty immediately after birth. Within a few hours, you may see them working the water bottle. They may also get into the food dish, though they rarely start eating on their first day.
As they grow day by day, the youngsters will take more food and water. As this happens, they also rely less on their mother’s milk. By weaning time, they will be ready to move onto a full diet. There are special diets available for guinea pigs under six months if you would like to ensure the absolute optimal nutritional balance.
Hand Rearing Young Guinea Pigs
Unfortunately, sometimes young guinea pigs need to be raised without the benefit of a mother. This circumstance requires you to devote time to around the clock care. If you are unable to provide this care, you should reach out to a local small animal shelter.
For this process, you will need a towel, milk, a small vessel, and a hot water bottle. There are special formulas for young guinea pigs you can buy, or kitten formula will do in a pinch. Place the young guinea pig on the towel to ensure warmth, and then offer the milk/formula in a small vessel, such as a teaspoon. Repeat every two hours, including overnight. You will need to do this until the young guinea pig moves to solids. A hot water bottle surrounded in a towel may be necessary for the guinea pigs’ cage for warmth.
The other thing you’ll need to do for the first three to four days involves a cotton swab. Using the cotton swab, stimulate the young guinea pigs’ genitals. This stimulation will prompt the guinea pig to release their bladder and waster pretty immediately, so make sure you’ve placed the young guinea pig somewhere you don’t mind getting dirty.
Hand rearing young guinea pigs is intensive but rewarding. If you can keep the young guinea pigs warm and fed, your little piggles will be okay. Hand reared piggles also tend to form a close bond with their caregiver.
It’s essential to sex young guinea pigs at the two-week mark. Guinea pigs become sexually capable a little after the three-week mark. At that point, pregnancies are incredibly dangerous. It’s important to know and plan for the separation of the litter.
Sexing guinea pigs requires some practice, and you may want your local small animal vet to confirm your observations. Gently flip the guinea pig over and observe the button structure on their rear end. Male cavies have a bulge, while female cavies do not. Your guinea pigs will find this process uncomfortable, so move quickly and watch for squirming.
When to Separate
While having all the little guinea pigs in one place is tempting, you will need to separate out the male guinea pigs. Since guinea pigs are sexually mature at around the three-week mark, that’s when the boys need to be moved to a separate cage. Male guinea pigs have no problem impregnating their mother or sisters. You genuinely do not want that type of inbreeding to occur.