New additions to your guinea pig family are always exciting!
Yet, just like any other animal, there comes a time for these cute babies to strike out on their own.
Guinea pigs usually stay with their mothers until their three or four weeks old. However, baby guinea pigs don’t leave until they’re fully weaned from their mother. Owners typically separate male guinea pigs from their mothers at three weeks old.
If you’re wondering how long to keep your mother guinea pig with her babies, read on!
We’ll cover everything you need to know about your new litter.
How Old Are Guinea Pigs Before Leaving Their Mother?
After the birthing process, newborn guinea pigs spend time with their mothers.
During this time, guinea pig mothers nurse their pups and offer them protection until they can live independently.
Guinea pig pups quickly reach maturity, so you won’t have to wait long.
A guinea pig baby can show mating behaviors at about three to four weeks of age.
Since males can get any female guinea pig pregnant once they reach maturity – including their mothers – they’re weaned and taken from their mother at three weeks old.
Make sure to separate your male guinea pigs from females in their litter too.
A female baby guinea pig doesn’t pose this same threat to its mother.
They aren’t separated as quickly and typically stay with them for about four weeks of age.
How Can You Tell How Old Your Guinea Pig Is?
Not everyone has their guinea pigs from the moment they’re born or a record of their history.
So, if you aren’t sure, how can you tell how old a litter is?
The most reliable method here is to turn to a vet. As an expert, they can give you an accurate estimate.
Signs you have a guinea pig under a year old include the presence of little pearly teeth and slightly see-through nails.
As they get older, their nails turn yellow and grow stronger.
If a healthy guinea pig weighs less than 18 ounces, you have a guinea pig younger than three months.
Once guinea pigs reach adulthood, it’s a bit harder to tell. However, duller teeth tend to belong to older guinea pigs.
How Do You Separate a Baby Guinea Pig from Its Mother?
First, it’s crucial to leave your guinea pig baby with their mother for at least the first two weeks when they rely on them for nourishment.
Three weeks is the ideal time to remove male guinea pigs to avoid accidental pregnancies, but female guinea pigs can stay an extra week.
The first step in separating the baby guinea pigs from their mother is weaning them from her.
This means they can take in a sufficient amount of nutrients independently without their mother’s help.
It’s safe to remove the babies from their mothers and into individual guinea pig cages.
How to Sex a Baby Guinea Pig
Since it’s so important to separate your litter properly when it comes.
As such, it’s important to know which members of the litter are female and male.
Start by carefully laying your baby cavies on their back to make it easier to see them.
Don’t forget to wear gloves and handle these adorable animals with the utmost care.
You’ll want to work quickly too.
If you keep the babies on their backs for too long, it will distress them.
There are a few ways to sex guinea pigs.
If they seem to bulge out, you likely have a male guinea pig.
If you notice a distinct “Y” shape in the animal’s genital area, you have a female guinea pig.
The help of a vet or guinea pig expert can help quickly resolve any confusion if you aren’t sure from your analysis.
Do Baby Guinea Pigs Miss Their Mother?
Guinea pigs need to stay with their mother until they’re weaned because the mothers offer food from birth up to this point.
After this, it’s rather natural for them to leave their mother and their litter.
While they may have an adjustment period when they grow old enough to leave their mother’s side, you probably won’t notice them exhibiting lasting sadness from parting with their families.
How Long Does It Take for Guinea Pigs to be Fully Grown?
While guinea pigs are old enough to leave their mothers and reach sexual maturity at about three to four weeks, they aren’t considered full-grown adults yet.
A guinea pig is considered a full adult when it’s done growing.
For most guinea pigs, this milestone hits at about six months old.
Before they reach six months old, their growth isn’t constant.
While you’ll see them grow rapidly in the interval between their birth and adulthood, this rate of growth with slow down at about 14 weeks after birth.
When a domestic guinea pig is full-grown, they’re about 10″ to 12″ inches long and weight between 1.5 and 2.6 pounds.
Learn how to help guinea pigs gain weight safely.
This is significant growth compared to the average 3-6″ inch length most baby guinea pigs are born at.
What Age Can Guinea Pigs Be Sold?
If you have pregnant guinea pigs, you might not want to house the whole litter.
In this case, you might sell or rehome the litter as they reach the appropriate age to do so.
There are a few requirements for guinea pigs to meet before being ready for adoption.
Namely, they need to be fully weaned and can eat solid food on their own.
This usually happens around the time your guinea piglets reach eight weeks old.
In general, it’s a good idea to consult a guinea pig vet or animal clinic to help evaluate the guinea pigs before adoption.
They can make sure both guinea pig moms and babies are on the right track in the interval between birth to their successful rehoming.
If you are a new guinea pig owner or are thinking about getting one, read our other article on how soon can you hold your new guinea pig to find out more.