An expectant guinea pig is one source of concern even to experienced pet owners. This is because the strain and pressure implicated puts at risk the life of a female guinea pig.
In reality, close to 20% of expectant sows die while giving birth. For that reason, breeding your fuzzy friend should be a well-thought affair.
Nonetheless, if your little friend becomes pregnant, get ready to sufficiently support them throughout the process. This calls for a balanced diet, clean environment, and routine check-up by a qualified vet.
Behavior During Pregnancy
Depending on the age and the health status of your sow, pregnancies evoke a whole load of impediments. Common pregnancy complications include metabolic imbalance, difficult birthing, and postpartum issues like seizures.
It is worth noting that female guinea pigs can get pregnant at four weeks old. So, it should not come as a surprise if female and male pups are kept in one enclosure.
The first noticeable sign on a pregnant sow is an increased appetite. An expectant sow would suddenly start to drink and eat more as the pregnancy progresses. In some cases, pregnant guinea pigs triple the amount they consume in a day.
Remember that a cold climate triggers a guinea pig’s appetite. Thus, an increased desire for food may not always indicate pregnancy.
Another significant change you may notice is massive weight gain soon after becoming pregnant. For instance, a 2 Ibs sow may augment up to 4 Ibs by the end of the pregnancy. This is because piglets typically add up to almost the same size as the mother.
Whether pregnant or not, it is wise to monitor the weight of your pets. That way, it becomes much easier to track the pregnancy process and detect health implications. Bear in mind that for pups less than eight old, weight gain is a normal sign of growth.
All in all, if you notice extreme weight gain on your female pets, feel the tummy gently to detect any pregnancy signs. It is possible to make out fetuses 12 weeks after conception. By gently squeezing the tummy area, you may feel different-sized bumps.
Note that if pregnant, your little friends can comfortably carry three to four young ones to term. Nonetheless, be wary that other conditions like cancer or cysts disguise as bumps in the body. Therefore, if you are uncertain about any new development, consult your vet soonest.
Signs of Labor
In most cases, a guinea pig’s mother’s instincts do not kick in immediately. During the last pregnancy stages, pregnant piggies tend to overeat. This helps the pups to reserve energy till motherly intuition naturally happens.
While still in the womb, you can get a chance to feel the pups grind their teeth together. Before going into labor some guinea pigs produce grunt sounds. Yet, they may emit a similar sound after the baby comes out.
Although some pregnant guinea pigs become excessively lazy during the last few days, others behave normally to the last day. There are three stages of the farrowing process; pre-farrowing, farrowing, and after-birth expulsion. Pre-farrowing happens 10 to 14 days before the delivery day. Mostly, it starts with vulva swelling and teat enlargement.
Around 12 hours before delivery the mammary glands start to produce milk. This is easily detectable by squeezing the teats. Also, one may observe a mucous discharge from the vulva. Sometimes, small particles of fecal matter or meconium appear in the discharge. Most likely, the substance is the first stool coming from the piglet inside the womb. It is also an indication that the first stage of labor is happening.
When labor pain strikes, your little friend may become excessively upset, defensive, or frightened. Usually, a normal labor process lasts not more than 10 minutes. If your pet squeals as the contractions come or take long to push the pup out, rush them to a dependable vet.
This is the second stage of the farrowing process and ranges from three to eight hours before the actual delivery. If you have previous pregnancy documentation, compare the prior birth experience. Mostly, guinea pigs deliver during the day and rarely at night.
During the process, the sow squats on all its limbs. An uncomplicated birth process takes not more than 30 minutes. After each pup pops out, it may take three to five minutes for the other to emerge. Most pups emerge heads first, although a few make the grand entry from behind.
Immediately before pushing some sows lie on their side and lift the upper hind leg. Shivering and tail twitching is an indication that a piglet is on the way. Once the pups come out, the mother licks and devours the fetal substances plus the placenta. Generally, this happens after the last little one makes its way out.
The release of the placenta is the third and final farrowing stage. On average, the process lasts around one to four hours.
Even if your pet has completed the farrowing process, there are vital signs you should observe. Does she appear calm or grunts and call out to her piglets? Has the shivering and leg movement ceased?
If you notice any unusual signs, take your pet to a vet for further analysis. Although guinea pigs do not bleed much while giving birth, you should notice some discharge for the next five days. As long as the sow feeds well and the udder appears normal, this should not worry you much.
How to Care for Pregnant Guinea Pig?
During the entire pregnancy process, sows require a rich supply of Vitamin C. It is recommended that pet owners should double the quantity up to 20 mg per day.
For an effective process, ensure that your pregnant sows consume fresh veggies and fruits hay each day. Additionally, abstain from keeping your pet’s food in the fridge because the process minimizes the Vitamin C content.
Note that your guinea requires a balanced diet more than ever. Therefore, feed them with enough fresh hay, commercialized pellets, and clean water.
Equally, keep them in a clean environment because ammonia fumes from the beddings may affect the pups at birth. Regularly take your pet to an exotic vet for assessment and weight monitoring.
At What Age Can Guinea Pigs Get Pregnant?
Young female pups reach maturity at around two months and can effectively bear life. Naturally, they have narrow birth canals. As they grow, the opening fuses and becomes a stiff bony bridge.
When pregnant the pelvic area relaxes due to the hormonal changes. Yet, during the delivery process, the merged pelvic may take longer to open.
For a smooth delivery, the first procreation should happen between three and seven months of age. On the other hand, boars should be at least 34 months old before mating.
Normally, the pregnancy period lasts between 63 and 70 days. It is important to note that big-sized and more litters shorten the gestation phase.
Do Guinea Pigs Care for Their Babies?
Some sows take up caring for their young ones right away after birth. Others due to the strain and fatigue require more time to get accustomed. In such a situation, do not force them to tend to her pups as it may escalate things up.
Remember that the young pups have wide-opened eyes from birth. So it is easier for them to locate solid food even if the mother is not supportive. Sooner when the motherly impulse slowly sinks in, they may take up their maternal role.
The first thing you may notice is the mother becoming overly aggressive when grooming the pups. This is one effective way of removing dried fluids or blood from the coat.
If she excessively bites and attacks her babies, keep her in a secluded place before reintroducing the pups back.
Do You Separate a Pregnant Guinea Pig?
Safe for the last pregnancy stages, pregnant sows can coexist with others. Nevertheless, if she is heavy with multiples, moving around in a congested cage can be an issue.
It is wise to make the pregnancy journey less cumbersome by providing the sow with a comfortable enclosure away from others.
Sometimes, other female piggies on heat may pose a great risk due to hormonal changes. As a result, they may bite, attack or pull her fur resulting in other complications.
On the other hand, keeping a pregnant sow with boars poses a greater danger. Apart from injuring your sow, they may attempt to mate or impregnate her soon after birth.
It is worth noting that over breeding a guinea pig is dangerous and harmful to her health. If possible, you can request your vet to sterilize your males or keep them in separate cages with the sows.
Usually, a guinea pig delivery process is a bloodless and speedy course. Still, huge numbers of guinea pigs experience a difficult birthing process due to late breeding and poor health.
Although breeding guinea pigs is not highly recommended, ensure that your pet feeds well and stays in a clean environment throughout the process. That way, you get assured of a thriving litter and healthy mother.