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How Do Guinea Pigs Reproduce? (Breeding, Complications & More)

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Tim Rhodes

Are you wondering how do guinea pigs reproduce?

When it comes to guinea pigs, breeding is not complicated.

However, it’s crucial to know when the breeding can be done for the survival of both the mother and her babies.

Therefore, the following article shall explore and discuss how and when guinea pigs reproduce and we will give you guidance.

You don’t necessarily have to be a professional breeder to expand the number of your guinea pigs, but caution and knowledge are required.

This article will discuss pregnant guinea pigs, the gestation period of guinea pigs, giving birth, and other topics concerning pregnancy.

How Do Guinea Pigs Reproduce?

The male guinea pigs (also known as boars) are sexually mature as young as two to three months of age.

For female guinea pigs (known as sows), they can mate as young as 2 months of age.

Both the male and the female become more sexually mature the older they get.

When deciding to reproduce guinea pigs, there are some important things to keep into consideration.

In this case, please make sure that there are enough supplies to breed and care for the parents and the guinea pig babies.

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Sufficient Cage Space

Not only for hosting the newly arrived bundles of joy, but to also perhaps separate the adults from possibly breeding again.

Make sure there are enough hay and bedding.

Also, purchase new and more toys if you think there aren’t enough for the parents and the newborns.

Don’t forget, adult guinea pigs still love to play!

Don’t forget also to stock up on water bottles and food pellets, preferably rich in vitamin C.

Clean the cage and its surroundings every day, weekly, and monthly to keep your pets in good health.

Select the Parents Carefully

The sow must be of prime health and, if possible, there should be a parentage check of the parents of both the male and female.

This is to make sure that there are no hereditary diseases or malformations

Select a boar for the sow

The right boar, or male guinea pig, will possess specific traits that make it the most ideal for breeding: it is at least 5 months old when it has reached sexual maturity, with bold eyes and a broadhead.

Some guinea pigs can reach sexual maturity earlier but it is important to separate boars from sows when they are around 3 weeks old to avoid inbreeding

Select a sow for the boar

A healthy female and guarantee equally healthy litters.

Traits to look out for include: bold eyes, proportionate head, and a well-defined muzzle.

The right age to breed a sow is between 4-7 months, the especially first time.

Thus, the female must be below 7 months of age with regards to a first pregnancy in order to avoid complications.

Lastly, select a sow that can have resting time between births as it further guarantees litter quality

Medical check-up

One important step is to then take your selected breeding pair to your trusted and competent veterinarian.

This further ensures that your pet is healthy and eligible to breed

Upon deciding to breed your guinea pigs, especially if one comes from a different environment, a quarantine of two weeks is necessary.

This makes sure that the animals are not infected or ill.

You may quarantine by placing the guinea pigs in different rooms within the home, make sure they do not enter into contact with each other.

This step is not needed if both the guinea pigs are yours

Introduce the pair

Is it time for the pair to meet?

To make this comfortable, allow the introduction to happen in the female’s cage.

If she is not available to mate, she will reject the male by showing her teeth or spraying the male.

Make sure they are alone, with no multiple sows or boars

Breeding cycle

The gestation period for guinea pigs is 59 – 72 days.

A female’s heat cycle lasts between 14-17 days and there is only a 24-48 hour chance window for breeding.

Therefore, do not interrupt the couple

When Do Guinea Pigs Breed?

In order for the breeding to be successful, the female known also as a sow must be fully sexually mature, not too young guinea pigs but not too old at the same time.

Male guinea pigs usually become sexually mature and can mate as early as approximately 3 months of age.

The opportunity window is thus small, but can still work in your favor.

Overall, a guinea pig reaches sexual maturity even in one month.

In particular, the sow needs to be at most 10 months old for breeding, and most importantly, give natural birth safely in order to have a healthy guinea pig baby.

The male guinea pigs, on the other hand, have a more flexible timeframe for the insemination.

However, please bear in mind that after 6 or 7 months of age, birthing is very risky for the female guinea pig as, by the time it reaches 11 months of age, the pubic symphysis is fused.

This, therefore, makes it much harder to give birth naturally.

The Pups

A female guinea pig typically carries her pups between 59 and 72 days, around 2 months.

Numbers-wise, this can vary from one to over ten.

There have been records of sows giving birth to over 17 pups!

One curious detail about ababy guinea pig is that they are born precocial.

What does this mean?

Well, they are already born with fur, teeth, and are just as active as the adults.

In fact, as soon as they are born they are already running and squeaking actively.

They are nursed in the first days for colostrum but they can also enjoy adult guinea pig food like pellets or hay.

Pregnancy And Birth

Guinea pigs mate for life in the same pair bond.

After around 18 days, investigate whether the female is pregnant.

A vet is recommended for pregnant a guinea pig but you can also verify and see the pregnancy yourself.

When you are breeding guinea pigs the litter size, if it is going to be a large or small litter often depends on the genes of the males and the female pregnant guinea pig.

Typically signs include:

  • Distended abdomen
  • Increased water and food consumption; a sow can eat thrice her average amount while pregnant

Once it has been determined that the sow is pregnant, here are tips on how to care for pregnant guineapigs to ensure the gestation and giving birth are serene and smooth:

  • Don’t change the page layout
  • Reduce stress exposure
  • Handle the pet the least possible, possibly none towards the end of the gestation
  • The boar can be left close to the sow for comforting
  • Leave the pair alone from other guinea pigs during the pregnancy

When birth is approaching, please monitor your pet carefully and alert the veterinary.

Guinea pig labors are short, lasting an average between 10 to 40 minutes and typically without complications.

Please allow the sow to clean and groom her guinea pigs’ babies and don’t interrupt this bonding cycle.

It’s important for guinea pig mothers to nurse their youngsters until they’re a minimum of 2 weeks of age.

It is also advisable to not handle the litter and the sow for at least 24 hours, after which you are encouraged to handle the newly arrived guinea piglets to help them socialize and get used to human presence and contact.


During the pregnancy, the sow will eat thrice more times of what she usually eats.

It is important that you frequently restock food and water for the mother guinea pig in order to have a safe and healthy litter.

Once the birth has occurred, you need to continue feeding the guinness pig mother a rich diet.

More rations alfalfa hay and food pellets are needed, especially when the mother is nursing.

This can guarantee health for the mother and improvement of her milk production, meaning an optimal start and diet for her litter.

Bear in mind, that the mother can wean her litter of young guinea pigs at 2 or 3 weeks of age.

However, the pups are able to eat solid food even at the tender age of five days.

In case a mother rejects a pup, make sure there is solid food rich with vitamin c and water available and it may be able to eat.

Possible Complications During The Pregnancy

When the sow is bred at 5-6 months, the odds for a successful pregnancy are high and there are lower risks of complications.

However, if you breed at a later age, whether this was intended or by sheer accident, there might be a need for a C-section because of her pubic fusing in order for the babies to survive.

Other pregnancy complications may be triggered by the health conditions of the mother.

Pregnancy toxemia in a guinea pig occurs because of many factors and they may be obesity, large litter size, loss of appetite and losing weight, not exercising enough, environmental stress, etc.

Dystocia is a condition that can be common in a certain animal species and it is basically slowing down the process of delivery because of the stiffening of the tough fibrous cartilage which joins the two pubic bones.

Guinea pigs have trouble with vitamin C intake and, therefore, depend on it with its food.

The moment there is a deficiency the health complications kick in such as hair loss, bleeding of skin and gums, arthritic pain, and, in the worst case possible, a miscarriage.

Furthermore, low calcium levels, eclampsia, uterine prolapse, and mastitis are also seen in late-aged pregnant female guinea pigs.

Therefore, please monitor aspects like appetite, activity, and stool, and if there is anything unusual or different contact your local veterinarian.

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General Warnings

First and foremost, do not breed your guinea pig just for entertainment purposes.

The process can be stressful and damaging to your pet, even killing it if you are not careful enough.

Unfortunately, guinea pig females do have high mortality rates because of pregnancy ketosis, a metabolic issue where the pet gradually poisons herself, and if not caught in time, can cause death by blood poisoning.

Furthermore, the babies of the mother can at times be too big and cause major complications, please make sure to monitor carefully.

A c-section can not only be traumatizing for a small pet but can also be killed during the surgery process.

Lastly, remember to have a clear idea of what to do with the babies or at least make sure you have sufficient space until you can possibly find a new owner for them.

Again, this depends on what you are envisioning.

Nonetheless, if you stick to the age breeding suggestions, then you will not encounter any issues.

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