The breeding of guinea pigs is not an easy task for new owners to undertake.
You must know when they’re gestation and how to care for them. Also, at what age does their sexual maturity come about and when females are in the middle of their heat. You must even know how to care for piglets.
Sexual Maturity and How to Identify Their Age
The exact age for a male to reach sexual maturity is not as relevant to know about compared to the female guinea pig. Male guinea pigs can reach their sexual maturity as early as a month old. However, the most common age for them to reach sexual maturity is around three to four months old.
Sometimes they can take longer, but they are usually ready to impregnate a female in three to four months. The male guinea pig does not need humans to promote them, reaching sexual maturity.
On the other hand, the female guinea pig has many restrictions against her if you want to impregnate her. First, a female guinea pig will reach sexual maturity around two months of age.
Then the female guinea pig must enter into her heat or estrous cycle, and this typically only lasts about 16 days. During the 16 days, the female guinea pig is usually fertile for about 6 to 11 hours and usually at night.
You’ll be able to tell that a female guinea pig is in heat when she pushes her rear end into the air and throws her spine downwards. This doesn’t happen only in the presence of males; it will also happen if she is alone or in the presence of other guinea pig females. The female guinea pig can go into heat at any time of the year, but the most common time is spring.
If She’s Not in Heat
If a male is bothering her to have sex, but she is not in her heat cycle, she will become aggressive and try to bite him. Female guinea pigs will also urinate on males and smack their faces in an attempt to make them leave her alone.
When the take when the mother guinea pig is done giving birth, make sure there are no males around her. Even within the first 12 hours, the female guinea pig can get pregnant again. Getting pregnant so soon after birth could severely cause distress to her body and deprive her of the healing time she needs. She will also not be able to have enough time to gain back the nutrition she lost creating her first litter.
Pregnant Guinea Pigs and Proper Diet
When a female guinea pig is pregnant, she will need more vitamins and minerals in her diet than before. Guinea pigs are prone to scurvy because they cannot make their own vitamin C. So, you’ll need to add extra vitamin C foods into her diet. You can also add it to her water. But vitamin C water must be refreshed every day.
Warning about Guinea Pig Pregnancy
One crucial aspect that you must know about a guinea pig’s pregnancy is that if she does not get pregnant within the first ten months of her sexual maturity, it can be much harder and more painful to get pregnant and give birth after the ten months are up. This is because there is a bone in her pelvis that fuses if there have been no pregnancies.
If a guinea pig becomes pregnant after ten months, it may need a C-section in order to deliver the babies successfully. You will have to take your female guinea pig to a veterinarian to do this.
Pregnancy and Birth
When your guinea pig becomes pregnant, it will take about ten weeks for her to give birth. Typically, the most common amount of piglets she will give birth to is 3 to 5. But she can also give birth from 1 to 6 piglets at a time.
When the female giving is actually in labor, each birth will take about 5 to 10 minutes, and the entire labor process takes about an hour. The mom guinea pigs will be exhausted after she is done and will require soft food and water. The new mother guinea pigs will eat the afterbirth.
Although it is sad to see, do not be surprised if your guinea pig gives birth to stillborn piglets. It is prevalent for them to have stillborns and miscarriages. This is true even when they’re at the perfect sexual maturity age, which is around six months, and their rate of stillborns increases after its 10-month window.
What to Know about the Piglets
When her piglets are born, they will look and act already like they are adults. They can walk, and they’ll have their teeth and all of their fur. They can make noises. Even a few days after they are born, they will begin to eat hay and soft pellets. But they will require drinking their mother’s milk until they are three weeks old or 21 days.
Guinea pigs don’t make nests or homes for their baby piglets. The piglets are born with all their facilities and can start being independent within hours of birth. But it is best to separate a guinea pig and her piglets from other guinea pigs if you have them. Baby piglets are easily injured and can be stepped or trampled on. Plus, the mother guinea pig will have more time to recover and will look after them better if she’s alone.
- It is very difficult for regular people to breed guinea pigs
- This process should be left to the professionals.
- For females to be fertile, they must be in their heat cycle. This lasts about 16 days.
- Female guinea pigs should have one litter around the sixth-month mark of their life.
- If they have a litter after ten months, they will need a caesarian section.
- They will need a caesarian because their pelvic bones will fuse and make natural delivery impossible.
- Stillborn and miscarriages are common in guinea pigs.
- Piglets can start eating hay after two days.
- They can be completely weaned off their mother’s milk after two to three weeks.
- Baby piglets are easily injured by other guinea pigs.