How long does it take a guinea pig to have a baby? Well the gestation period is usually between 59 and 72 days with an average of 65 days. If the female is pregnant with a large litter then the gestation period will reduce.
So if your female is pregnant with a litter of 6 babies then the average gestation period is 67 days. If she is only carrying 1 baby then the average gestation period is 70 days. If this is the first time for a female to be pregnant then her little will tend to be smaller than if it is not a first time pregnancy.
How easy is it for a Guinea Pig to get Pregnant?
A female guinea pig is a sow and a male guinea pig a boar. It is pretty easy for a sow to get pregnant when she is in her heat cycle. The heat cycle lasts for around 16 days and she will only want to mate with a boar for 8 hours over this period.
It is usually not difficult to spot a sow in heat. During this period she will elevate her bottom by curving her spine downwards on a regular basis. If she lives with other sows then it is not uncommon for a female in heat to try and mate with other females by trying to mount them.
A lot of sows get pregnant very quickly immediately after giving birth to their litter. It is best to move your pregnant sow to a quarantined area so that you can avoid this. Sows that get pregnant immediately after birth will find it difficult to protect the second litter so separating them from the boars prior to birth is always a good idea.
If you are interested in breeding guinea pigs then there are a number of steps that you can follow which will maximize your chances of success. Before we get into the steps it is important for you to understand that there are risks with guinea pig breeding. There is a high mortality rate for pregnant females.
You need to be serious about breeding guinea pigs. It is not something to do for fun as it can be a big risk for your female guinea pig. Also think about where the baby guinea pigs will end up after they are born. Are you going to keep them or will you find homes for them. If you have any doubts about this then don’t breed guinea pigs.
Get your Supplies together
You need to plan ahead and have everything ready for the arrival of your new guinea pig pups. It is best if you have two separate cages as you will want to separate the male pups from the female pups.
Both of these cages need to be equipped with bedding and you will need pellets and hay as well as water bottles and food bowls for the new arrivals. Consider adding toys to each cage as well to keep the pups entertained.
Carefully choose the breeding Guinea Pigs
You will want to check the history of both the male and female guinea pigs that you are considering for mating. Two healthy guinea pigs will more than likely lead to healthy pups. So where possible check the parentage of both guinea pigs for signs of hereditary diseases etc.
Make sure that the female guinea pig is the right age for breeding. A guinea pig is sexually mature one month after they are born. Check to ensure that the female is younger than 10 months (7 months is better) as this is best for a natural birth. It doesn’t matter too much what age the male is.
When you are looking for a male guinea pig then go for one that has a bold eye and a broad head. A male guinea pig is suitable for mating once they reach five months old so ensure that they are not younger than this.
For a good female mate choose one that has a bold eye, a good head shape and a good muzzle. Make sure that the sow is at least 4 months old as this is best for breeding. For a first pregnancy the female should be between 4 months and 7 months. If a sow has previously given birth then make sure she has had adequate rest before becoming pregnant again.
Have the health of both guinea pigs checked out by a vet before you mate them. It is very important that both are free of mites as this can affect the pregnancy. If you are going to mate two guinea pigs from two different homes then keep them apart for at least two weeks to ensure that there are no health issues and no mites.
Introduce the breeding pair
After selection and health checking you can introduce the pair to each other. They are unlikely to hit it off straight away so be patient and wait a few days. Use the cage that the female usually lives in for the introduction as you do not want her to go through the stress of a new environment.
Be sure that you only keep the one chosen male and female in the same cage. Males can fight each other over females and other females will just confuse everything. Keep the two guinea pigs together most of the time.
When the female is in heat do not disturb the two breeding guinea pigs. There is only a small window of opportunity for the female to get pregnant. Take really good care of both of the guinea pigs and make sure that they know you care about them.
After 18 days have passed you need to check if your female is pregnant. This is simple to do but we recommend that a vet verifies this as they are the only ones who can be 100% sure. When a sow is pregnant her abdomen distends and she will eat and drink more.
What should you do if your Guinea Pig is Pregnant?
Once you confirm pregnancy you need to ensure that she experiences the minimum of stress. It can be a good idea to leave the male guinea pig with her in the cage for comfort. You need to really look after her and ensure she has the right amount of food and water and that you clean the cage regularly. Remove the male before the birth.
Check that your female is in good health during pregnancy. Perform a daily check on her and weigh her as well as checking for any signs of illness. Check her nose, eyes and ears to ensure they are not crusty and make sure there is no thinning of her coat.
A pregnant female will gradually gain weight. The amount of weight gain depends on the litter size and her individual characteristics. Remember that a pregnant female will eat a lot more so check to see that she is eating properly.
If you see that she hasn’t eaten for 12 hours then call in the vet. Also if you spot any signs of illness or think that the unborn pups have stopped moving then get her to the vet as quickly as you can. It is better to be safe than sorry.
How do you know that your Guinea Pig is about to give Birth?
The birth day and time for a guinea pig is a bit trial and error. You know that the average gestation period is around 65 days so be prepared from 59 days onwards. A female guinea pig will not show any external signs that she is ready to give birth. Nor will she make any preparations of her own for the birth so you need to be ready.
Sometimes you will see a widening of the pelvis when she is ready to give birth. Have some medical supplies on hand for the birth. Make sure that you have a syringe because you will need to use this to clean the mouths of the new pups. It is also a good idea to let your vet know when the birth is likely so that they can be on standby.
Labor is usually a very short process for guinea pigs taking between 10 and 30 minutes. If the labor goes beyond 30 minutes then call your vet immediately. Do not touch the female when she is in labor and do not have a crowd in the room. Just have one person responsible for her care.
If the sow has more than one in the litter then each pup should be born in 5 to 10 minute intervals. The female will sit up and then squat by hunching over to give birth. Be sure to call your vet if there are any signs of complications such as the female emitting distress calls, longer than 15 minutes between each birth or signs that she is bleeding excessively.
How long does a Baby Guinea Pig need to be with its Mother?
Newborn guinea pig pups need their mother’s milk for initial feeding. You must leave the pups with their mother for nursing for a minimum period of two weeks. We recommend that you wean the pups from their mother after three weeks as this is the optimum time. Never separate a pup from their mother until fully weaned.
As soon as the female has given birth she will want to clean all of her pups so make sure that you leave her alone to do this. This is essential for minimizing the risk of bacteria transmission. A new mother will also want to massage her pups to assist them with breathing. If you prevent this from happening then the pups could die.
Do not handle the mother or the new pups for a full day after they have been born. After this it is a good idea to handle them so that they get used to humans. After the birth ensure that the mother continues to get good food and plenty of it. She will need this to perform nursing. The quality of her milk will be much better if she has a rich diet and plenty to eat.
A full day after the birth you need to conduct an examination of the mother and all of her pups. If you have any concerns then contact your vet. Perform examinations of the mother and pups a couple of times after this to ensure all is well.