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Can Father Guinea Pigs Be With the Babies?

A guinea pig pregnancy is stressful for both the pet and owner.

It is extra stressful for new pet guinea pig owners who have not dealt with a guinea pig pregnancy before.

With stories of other rodent species eating their young, guinea pig owners often wonder if it is safe for male guinea pigs to be around their baby guinea pigs.

As a general rule, male guinea pigs are allowed to meet their babies briefly, but since the babies are with the mother most of the time, you must put the father into a different enclosure. However, this separation is not due to the fear of the father eating the babies but rather for the mother’s safety.

Guinea pig families are complicated, but they don’t have to be.

This article will provide you with all of the information about guinea pig birth, including when to separate the guinea pigs from one another and what to do following the birth of new guinea pig pups.

can the father guinea pig be with the babies

Removing Guinea Pigs After Birth

Separating the Male Guinea Pig From the Mother

The pregnancy of a female guinea pig typically lasts anywhere from 59 to 72 days.

When it is almost time for female guinea pigs to give birth, the male guinea pig needs to be separated from them.

Male guinea pigs can impregnate female guinea pigs in as little as 12 hours after giving birth. 

This is very hard on the body of the mother guinea pig and is quite dangerous for her.

In addition to being harmful to the female guinea pig’s body, it is very stressful for a mother who is nursing her babies to become pregnant again right away.

There is no consequence to the male guinea pig not being around, as the mother guinea pig does all of the work in raising the pups.

Separating the Male Guinea Pig From the Pups

guinea pigs father and pups

While it is safe for the male guinea pig to meet the babies, it should only be done away from the mother for the reasons stated above.

This is tricky because a baby guinea pig needs to be with its mother for the majority of the time.

You should not allow the female baby guinea pigs to be around their father once they reach 3 weeks of age.

Once the female guinea pigs reach this age, they are able to be impregnated, and this is very hazardous to their health.

In the wild, a male guinea pig eats their young if there is a food shortage. 

However, this should not be a problem in captivity as long as you make sure all the guinea pigs are well-fed.

And it’s possible the mother guinea pig may do the same but for other reasons.

Read our post on guinea pig cannibalism to learn more about this behavior.

Separating the Family of Guinea Pigs From One Another

When they are four weeks old, it is very important to separate all of the male guinea pigs from the females.

The guinea pigs are reaching sexual maturity at this age, and the females are likely to become pregnant from their male siblings. 

The young male guinea pigs will also attempt to mate with their mother.

It is best to have a separate guinea pig cage for males and females. 

Be sure to provide large enough enclosures for the animals to live together comfortably.

Even guinea pigs of the same sex will become aggressive if they are kept in cramped quarters. 

The males are usually more aggressive than the females, but they should all be closely monitored to ensure they are getting along.

Caring for the Baby Guinea Pigs

new born guinea pigs

Newborn guinea pigs are very tiny, weighing around 3.5 ounces. 

Despite their small size, a baby guinea pig is born with hair, and it can see and run.

They will nurse from their mother until they are around 3 weeks old, but they can start eating solid food, such as moistened pellets, just a couple of days after being born.

After gaining enough weight, usually when they reach 6 ounces, the baby guinea pigs will stop nursing from their mother. 

At this point, the baby guinea pigs can eat the same food as their parents.

When the baby guinea pigs are around 2 or 3 weeks of age, it is important to start carefully handling them. 

At this age, the young guinea pigs will start to form bonds with humans.

Handling them at such an early age will help them learn to enjoy being held, making them much better pets.

Neutering and Spaying Guinea Pigs

Neutering and spaying guinea pigs may seem like the obvious way to prevent pregnancy among them, but unfortunately, many complications are involved.

The surgeries are very expensive for guinea pigs, and there are many drawbacks to consider.

Neuter and spay surgeries cause a lot of stress in guinea pigs, and not all of them can handle the medical procedures very well, sometimes resulting in their death.

While it may seem like a hassle to have separate cages to keep the guinea pigs separated, it is a much easier and safer way to avoid pregnancy.

Guinea pigs, much like other rodents, are very avid breeders. 

A female guinea pig can deliver more than five litters in a year, with each litter having at least 3 baby guinea pigs.

We cover neutering guinea pigs in more detail in another post if you want to learn more about this.

What Should You Do If You Think Your Guinea Pig is Pregnant?

If your female guinea pig has been around a male and you suspect she may be pregnant, you should take her to the vet for a proper pregnancy diagnosis.

Exotic vets can diagnose pregnancy in guinea pigs in several ways.

The veterinarian will likely perform an ultrasound on your sow to look for signs of babies in the womb. 

If the pregnancy is more advanced, it is possible to feel or see the babies moving.

X-rays may also be used to detect a guinea pig pregnancy.

pregnant guinea pig xray

If your female guinea pig is eating much more than usual, this may also be a sign of pregnancy, as she will have to eat more food to support her growing babies. 

Related: When do guinea pigs stop growing?

By the end of her pregnancy, a sow will almost double her weight.

It is vital to take your female guinea pig to the vet because her pregnancy might come with complications, especially if she is over a year old and has never been pregnant before.

Ideally, sows should be older than 4 months but younger than 7 months of age for their first pregnancy. 

Younger sows are more prone to vitamin deficiencies when pregnant. 

Older sows are at risk of their pelvis not being able to expand enough while giving birth.

There is a high mortality rate among older guinea pigs giving birth for the first time. 

If your guinea pig has a high-risk pregnancy, it is ideal for the birth to be carried out under a veterinarian’s supervision.

Toxemia in Pregnant Guinea Pigs

It is important to carefully monitor your guinea pig’s diet during pregnancy to ensure she does not gain too much weight.

Obese guinea pigs are more prone to toxemia during pregnancy, which often leads to death. 

While toxemia occurs most often during pregnancy, it happens because the guinea pig is obese. 

pregnant guinea pig

This means both obese male and female guinea pigs are at risk for this disease.

Toxemia happens anywhere from the last 2-3 weeks of pregnancy to the first week after birth.

Some common symptoms of toxemia include:

  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite or thirst
  • Clumsiness
  • Coma

Once the guinea pig is in a coma, death usually happens within 5 days.

Toxemia is caused by too many ketones entering a guinea pig’s bloodstream. 

Ketones are a byproduct of metabolism, but if the body is flooded with more ketones than it can process, this causes ketosis, otherwise known as toxemia.

In addition to obesity being a factor in developing toxemia, there are several other reasons it occurs. 

Some of these reasons include:

  • Low blood sugar levels due to a lack of appetite late in the pregnancy
  • A lack of exercise towards the end of the pregnancy
  • Being pregnant with a large litter size

Your veterinarian will need to run a complete blood panel, blood count, and urinalysis to properly diagnose toxemia. 

This is done because the symptoms of calcium deficiency often overlap with the symptoms of toxemia.

How Do You Keep Your Guinea Pig Healthy During Pregnancy?

You should do a few things for your guinea pig during her pregnancy to ensure the experience goes as smoothly as possible for her.

Reducing your sow’s stress is the most important thing because too much stress during her pregnancy will lead to a higher risk of illness.

To minimize your sow’s stress, do the following:

  • Reduce her exposure to any loud sounds or bright lights
  • Keep her out of direct sunlight
  • Keep handling her to a minimum, especially during her last 2-3 weeks of pregnancy

You should also be monitoring your pregnant guinea pig’s food and water intake to ensure she is getting enough to eat but not too much to become obese.

Regularly check your sow for signs of illness, such as eye or nose discharge or patchy fur. 

You should also weigh her to make sure she is gradually gaining weight.

Grooming should be limited to brushing during your sow’s pregnancy, with baths being avoided altogether.

You also want to make sure your guinea pig is getting enough exercise while she is pregnant.

Following these simple steps to care for your guinea pig will keep her happy and healthy throughout her pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Can father guinea pigs be with the baby guinea pigs immediately after birth?

After the female guinea pigs give birth, it’s usually safe to let the father be with the baby guinea pigs. However, it’s important to keep a close eye on things. Some guinea pigs may be curious or protective, while others may not show much interest. Just make sure that the male guinea pig isn’t being aggressive, and if you have any concerns, it’s best to separate them for a bit.

Q. Do father guinea pigs play a role in caring for a baby guinea pig?

While the female guinea pigs are usually the primary caregivers, some father guinea pigs may also display protective behavior towards their babies. Although they may not contribute significantly to their care, they might show interest in the baby guinea pig. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on their interactions to make sure the guinea pig babies are safe and sound.

Q. When is it safe to allow the father guinea pig with the babies without supervision?

When your guinea pig babies reach around 2-3 weeks old and start moving around more confidently, you can think about letting the father interact with them without your supervision. Just keep an eye on them and make sure everything is going smoothly. And if you notice any problems, don’t worry; just be ready to separate the guinea pig babies from the father again.

Q. How do I reintroduce the father to the babies if they were initially separated?

If you’re looking to reintroduce a father guinea pig to his babies, it’s best to start slow and steady. First, try placing the father’s cage near the babies so they can get used to each other’s presence without any direct contact. Keep an eye on their reactions, and if everything seems calm and peaceful, you can gradually move on to supervised interactions before fully reintroducing them. Remember to take it one step at a time and be patient; it’s all about creating a safe and happy environment for everyone involved!

Q. Does a father guinea pig eat its babies?

It’s actually quite uncommon for a father guinea pig to eat its babies. Guinea pigs, even the males, are typically very nurturing and protective parents. However, there may be certain situations where they exhibit unusual behavior due to stress or health issues, which could potentially lead to aggression towards their offspring.

Q. Can a baby guinea pig eat the same food as parents?

If you’re taking care of baby guinea pigs, it’s important to know that their dietary needs are a bit different from adult guinea pigs. While they can eat similar foods, they require a diet that’s high in hay, along with some fresh veggies and a small amount of pellets. Hope that helps!

Father Guinea Pigs Safely Coexisting with Their Babies

Taking care of guinea pigs involves observing how fathers interact with their newborn guinea pig babies. Fathers can be with their babies as long as they are watched closely. Although they are not as involved as mothers, some fathers can be protective. However, it is important to be careful because stress, aggression, or health problems can cause problems. To make sure both the parent and babies are safe, it is important to watch how they interact, slowly reintroduce them if necessary, and separate them if needed. Understanding these things will help guinea pig families live happily together.

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