There’s something exciting about guinea pigs giving birth. You’re seeing new life come into the world. Plus, it’s a lot simpler than puppies or kittens. The first time, it’s all excitement, but you’re not sure what to expect.
As with humans, you will not notice much change in a female guinea pig’s physique during the first couple weeks of the pregnancy. Overall, guinea pigs may gestate anywhere from 8 to 10 weeks, depending on how many pups they have. Also remember the older a guinea pig is, the harder this is on her body.
During gestation, your pregnant guinea pig must have access to increased amounts of food and water. She’s growing little pups, and that takes a lot of energy. If possible, allow unlimited access even after your guinea pig gives birth.
Preparations for a Guinea Pig Giving Birth
There are a couple of things you can do before your guinea pig gives birth to make the experience more comfortable. As you know, guinea pigs are suited to dwelling in burrows. When you put together her cage, your guinea pig had a house or log that mimicked that feeling. However, now she is too wide to fit inside.
This issue can cause some anxiety in your guinea pig since there is now no enclosed space for her. To solve this problem, drape an old towel over one end of the cage. This covering should block as much light as possible from that cage section. The cloth covering supplies a safe feeling for your guinea pig giving birth.
Another thing you need to do is ensure as stress-free an environment as possible for your guinea pig giving birth. You may want to move any guinea pigs she lives with to another cage, especially if they appear to be getting on her nerves. This stress reduction makes the birthing process more comfortable.
The last alteration to the cage environment is ensuring the pups cannot escape the cage once they’re born. At Guinea Pig Center, removable Plexiglas inserts prevent the pups from getting through the chicken wire. It’s important to remember that if the baby guinea pig can get their head through something, the rest of their body fits too.
Additionally, you will want a small animal veterinarian, preferably one with after-hours availability. Complications can happen during birth, and failure to act may result in the female guinea pig giving birth dying.
The Birth Process
Generally, guinea pigs give birth during daylight hours. Labor is typically a fast onset affair, and your guinea pig may squeak when it starts. For guinea pigs giving birth, labor is visible if you observe the pig’s sides.
Guinea pig births are generally fast affairs, with the first pup appearing within five minutes of labor commencing. After the first pup, your sow should deliver in a rapid sequence. It’s best you do not interfere or alter the birthing environment unless you see something life-threatening. This circumstance includes if labor lasts longer than 20 minutes, at which point you should call the vet.
The mother guinea pig giving birth will typically clean up pups both between contractions and immediately following the end of labor. You should not touch the babies during this process.
What to Expect Post Birth
Guinea pig pups are born with their eye open and with all their fur, unlike many other rodents. These pups are therefore more curious than their relatives. Typically, within an hour of birth, guinea pig pups are nosing food dishes and playing with water bottles. After about four hours, you can gently interact with the new piggles provided you do not squeeze them or let them jump.
The guinea pig who gave birth will nurse the pups even though they get into the real food. Weaning usually occurs around three weeks, at which point it is essential to separate the males out before they impregnate their siblings or mother.
Please consult your vet if you plan to breed a guinea pig, especially if she is older than six months.