A month ago, my aunt’s two guinea pigs had baby piggies after accidentally being left with a male.
The litters consisted of two and three babies each.
Because of this, I realized I’ve never seen someone’s guinea pig give birth to a single baby.
Even though cavies typically have a handful of babies at a time, it is normal for them to only give birth to one. A litter will be as small as one baby guinea pig or as large as eight. No matter how many pups your guinea pig gives birth to, provide them with a healthy diet and early socialization.
Next, we’ll cover baby guinea pigs more in-depth, including the reproductive process, caring for the new mother and babies, and preventing pregnancy in the future.
How Many Pups Per Litter Does a Guinea Pig Have?
Litter sizes for guinea pigs vary between one and up to eight babies or pups.
However, the average litter size is three to four baby guinea pigs.
A first-time mother will have a litter on the smaller side than mothers who have had multiple pregnancies.
So yes, a cavy can have only one baby guinea pig at a time.
They usually have multiple, though.
Each newborn guinea pig’s weight is around 3.5 ounces (100 grams), making this an adorable little family.
Unlike kittens or puppies, baby cavies are born with open eyes.
They also have developed claws and a full body of fur.
Guinea Pig Pregnancy and Birthing Processes
How a Guinea Pig Gets Pregnant
Guinea pigs get pregnant the same way as all other mammals but at a very fast rate.
They have a short lifespan of four to eight years, so they need a short reproduction cycle.
Female cavies will reach sexual maturity at only four to six weeks old, while males reach it a little later at eight to nine weeks old.
If a male and female who have reached sexual maturity are left together, they’ll mate, and the female will become pregnant.
Pregnancy lasts 65 days, with a typical range of 59 to 72 days.
These short pregnancies mean a single guinea pig can give birth to up to five litters in just a year.
Multiply by three pups per litter, and you get 15 newborn cavies.
Left unchecked, two guinea pigs could turn into hundreds of animals in a short amount of time!
|Female Sexual Maturity||4 to 6 weeks|
|Male Sexual Maturity||8 to 9 weeks|
|Gestation Period||59 to 72 days|
|Litters Per Year||Up to 5|
How to Tell if Your Sow is Pregnant
It will be hard to see any noticeable changes for the first few weeks of your cavy’s pregnancy.
She’ll gain weight from the babies growing inside her as it progresses.
Touch her sides, and you’ll be able to feel the little piggies moving around.
If you’re unsure if she’s pregnant or not, your vet can verify it for you.
Read more about how much weight pregnant guinea pigs gain.
What Is the Birth Process?
A sow’s labor will make any human mother jealous.
Her total labor time should be done in 20 to 30 minutes, or about five minutes a pup.
If your guinea pig’s labor takes longer than this, she might need an emergency vet visit to ensure nothing’s wrong.
Each pup will be delivered in separate amniotic sacs in normal birth.
The mother will remove the amniotic sac and free the baby to let it take its first breath.
She might also eat the highly nutritious sac, which is normal behavior.
If the mother guinea pig hasn’t removed the sac from any of the babies after she’s finished delivering, carefully apply light pressure with something sharp to mimic her teeth.
Caring for Your Guinea Pigs After Birth
Remove the Boar and Any Male Babies
Unfixed males and females should never be kept together unless you’re attempting to breed them, but it is especially important to remove mature male cavies from sows who have just given birth.
Guinea pigs are like bunnies; you’ll end up with a pregnant guinea pig in no time.
If a boar is with her, she may become pregnant again.
Not having a break between pregnancies is risky.
Her body has already gone through the stress of one, and she needs time to rest and recover.
Males left in the cage also pose a risk to the newborn pups.
He’ll display mating behavior, and babies may get in the way of what he wants.
As soon as the babies are weaned off their mother’s milk, which typically takes two to three weeks, remove any males.
If you keep them together longer than this timeframe, make sure they’re separated by the time they reach sexual maturity at eight to nine weeks.
Taking Care of the Babies
Babies drink their mother’s milk for the first two to three weeks of life.
It is essential to keep them all together for this period, as they could develop issues from being separated too early.
The mother’s milk is packed with healthy vitamins to prevent you from getting sick guinea pigs.
Without it, the babies are more prone to bacterial infection and respiratory infections.
Learn when to take guinea pig babies away from their mothers in our guide here.
They’ll start eating solid food within a few days.
A little bit of weight loss right after birth is normal, but it should stop within a few days.
Ensure you’re providing clean drinking water, a balanced diet of nutrient-rich food pellets, hay or grass, and cavy-friendly fruits and vegetables.
Fresh water from a clean water source is key for these little ones.
They need to stay hydrated.
After the first few weeks of age, begin socializing them to get them off to a good start.
Hold them, play with them, and introduce them to people and even other friendly animals.
Caring for the Sow
A new mother’s wild instincts will cause her to clean up her surroundings to prevent a predator from tracking her.
Even in her cage in your safe home, she’ll eat the baby guinea pigs’ placentas and potentially bloody bedding.
To help her reduce her stress levels, remove any soiled bedding and add fresh bedding if needed.
Giving birth is exhausting and drains nutrient reserves.
Ensure she has a healthy diet with extra nutritious vegetables and extra vitamin C if necessary.
A lack of vitamin C is bad for the mother, but it also transfers to a potential vitamin C deficiency for the babies.
If you normally feed your guinea pigs Timothy hay, consider providing alfalfa hay to help her recover.
Alfalfa hay has more protein and calcium, which she and the baby guinea pigs will need.
Preventing Pregnancy In Guinea Pigs
We spay and neuter cats and dogs, but can we do the same for guinea pigs?
Technically yes, but it’s riskier and more expensive.
Cavies are small and considered exotic animals for pets, so finding a vet qualified to spay or neuter one is harder.
Like your other furry friends, neutering is typically easier than spaying, but they both carry risks.
It’s much easier, not to mention cheaper, to prevent pregnancy by keeping your male and female guinea pigs in separate cages.