Whether you are trying to breed guinea pigs or you have unknowingly allowed your guinea pig to get pregnant, there are a few signs to indicate that it is indeed a positive pregnancy. We will talk about these and also a few other things you might need to know about guinea pig pregnancy.
Guinea Pigs Can Get Pregnant Early and Easily
Guinea pigs mature early in many ways. When they are born, they are born with hair, teeth, and the ability to walk around. They can even eat solid food shortly after birth.
Guinea pigs can especially sexually mature early for animals. Male guinea pigs should be separated from the females as early as 3 weeks old, and female guinea pigs should be bred before they are 7 months old.
With all this said, don’t be surprised if your guinea pig falls pregnant while she still seems young to you. Also, don’t be surprised if she gets pregnant right after giving birth, as female guinea pigs go into heat right after they give birth.
When is the Best Age to Breed Guinea Pigs?
If your wish is to breed your guinea pig, the best time to breed is before your female turns 7 months old. Before this age, your female guinea pig still has the ability to widen her pelvis right before birth.
After 7 months, this function does not work as well. So, when it’s time to give birth and your piggy’s pelvis can’t get bigger, she and her babies can die from birth complications, unless a cesarean is performed.
6 Signs Your Guinea Pig is Pregnant
Now that we’ve answered some basic guinea pig pregnancy questions, we’re going to go through the signs of pregnancy in guinea pigs. Early on, there aren’t many, but if you know your piggy’s habits well, you might be able to tell.
1. Your Female Guinea Pig Has Been in Contact with an Intact Male
Probably the most telling sign of pregnancy in your female guinea pig is being in close contact with an unneutered male recently. Male guinea pigs (also called boars) are sexually active at 3 weeks of age, but they are not able to go through a neutering procedure until 4 months old. This means that males must be separated from females until the procedure can be done.
Keep in mind that a boar can get a female (also known as a sow) pregnant even after being neutered. This is because they can still be fertile for a few weeks after the surgery.
2. Gaining Weight
The first physical sign of pregnancy will be weight gain. You may not be able to tell right away just by looking at your guinea pig, though. If you have the habit of weighing her daily (maybe you’re keeping an eye out for pregnancy), you will notice it early on as just a few grams of weight gain each day. But by the time they are ready to give birth, they may have doubled in weight.
3. Eating and Drinking More
Of course, weight gain happens when your guinea pig eats more. This may be one of your first indicators of pregnancy. If you give your piggy a varied diet of pellets, fruits and veggies, she may favor the vitamin C-rich ones while pregnant, as they need more of this nutrient during this time.
Another sign of pregnancy is drinking more water. You may notice that you have to refill the water bottle more often than usual, and this could mean little ones are on the way.
Take care that your guinea pig doesn’t eat too much and gain too much weight during pregnancy. Toxaemia is common in guinea pig pregnancies, and overweight sows are more at risk. This can happen in first and second pregnancies.
4. Larger Abdomen
At first, you won’t be able to tell the difference in your pregnant guinea pig’s growing belly. Later on in the pregnancy (by day 50-60), though, you will notice that the abdomen is getting bigger. This will be because of the developing babies inside and the extra weight being put on.
5. You Can Feel the Babies
Sometimes in pregnant guinea pigs, you can actually feel the miniature piglets forming inside of the mother. With one hand and without applying pressure, gently feel the sides of your sow. If there are piglets, you will be able to feel little lumps. This can also be done by gently holding your piggy by the shoulders with one hand and feeling her belly with the other.
If you do feel lumps, it would be wise to take your guinea pig to the vet to check for pregnancy. If she is not pregnant and has lumps, it could mean a serious health problem. Either way, it’s a good idea for your vet to check it out in either case.
6. Widening Pelvis
Hours before birth, and if your guinea pig is younger than 7 months old, her pelvis will widen in order to give birth to the babies. It should get at least an inch wide, maybe wider. Like we previously mentioned, if your sow is older than 7 months, you will need to take caution and likely have your guinea pig go through a cesarean section.
Now that you are almost sure your guinea pig is pregnant, you will need to do a few things to make sure she has a healthy and smooth pregnancy:
Take Your Guinea Pig to a Vet
The first step when you suspect pregnancy is to take your piggy to a vet that specializes in small rodents. The vet will be able to perform an ultrasound to determine how many babies your sow will deliver, rule out any complications, and instruct you on what to do next.
Provide Quality Food and Lots of Water
Pregnant piggies will need lots of food and water. In addition to refilling her water bottle with fresh water daily, you will need to provide her with nutritious food like grass hay, leafy veggies, fruits rich in vitamin C, high-quality pellets, and, if you’d like, lucerne hay for an extra protein boost.
Separate Her from the Males at Birth
Once the babies are born, it’s a good idea to separate the dad from the mom and babies right away. This is because your sow can get pregnant almost immediately after birth, which would mean back-to-back pregnancies for her and could be hard on her health.
Also, the babies reach sexual maturity early too, so it’s possible for the dad to impregnate the female babies. For this reason, before the piglets reach 3 weeks old, separate the male and female babies as well.
If you have discovered that your piggy is preggers, we hope our article has been helpful to you. Although guinea pigs can have more complicated births, if you follow your vet’s instructions, you will be sure to have a healthy mom and babies by the time the birth rolls around.
Featured Image Credit: Miroslav Hlavko, Shutterstock