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How Long Are Guinea Pigs Pregnant For? (Sexual Maturity & Breeding)

Tim Rhodes
Written by Tim Rhodes Last Updated: May 17, 2022

There aren’t many physical symptoms in the early stages of pregnancy that will let you know your pet is expecting, so let’s see how long are guinea pigs pregnant for before you have baby guinea pigs running around.

The gestation period of a guinea pig can last anywhere from 59 to 72 days and experts believe that the length of a sow’s pregnancy depends on the number of baby guinea pigs she is carrying.

But how old should a guinea pig be before she gets pregnant?

At what age can she first conceive?

What to do if you don’t want to breed your piggies?

There are a lot of things you should know about your guinea pig’s sexual maturity, and how to care for a pregnant guinea pig.

Let’s get started.

Fun Facts About Guinea Pig Sexuality and Breeding

There are many interesting things you can learn about guinea pig pregnancy.

A female guinea pig can become pregnant when she’s only one month old

For this reason, we recommend keeping female and male guinea pigs apart and letting them share the same space only if you want to breed your female guinea pig.

Estrous or fertile phases can occur at any time of year for females, but they are most common in the spring.

The estrous cycle is 16 days long during which a female is viable for approximately 6 to 11 hours, most commonly during the night.

Shortly after giving birth, guinea pigs begin a fresh estrous cycle that lasts only about half a day, so a female can have up to five litters in a year.

Guinea pigs can conceive immediately after giving birth

When a guinea pig is about to start the birthing process, male guinea pigs in the area will congregate and attempt to become the dominant male to both protect and mate with the new mother.

The female experiences a brief postpartum estrus that lasts about half a day, and in the absence of a dominant male, all of the males will attempt to mate with the new mother.

A guinea pig can be impregnated by a neutered male guinea pig

Guinea pig puppies must remain with their mother until fully weaned.

Pups are usually weaned for 3 weeks.

That is the time when you must separate male babies from their mothers because a 3-week old male is capable of fertilizing his mother.

However, if you are thinking about neutering your male guinea pigs, you should know that this procedure can be done just after the young male turns four months old. And, because the surgery takes a few weeks to take effect, even a neutered male can get a female pregnant.

Guinea pigs sometimes eat their babies

Guinea pigs occasionally eat their babies. It doesn’t happen often but it is a possibility for several reasons.

What Should I Do if I Believe My Guinea Pig Is Pregnant?

It’s critical to get your guinea pig to the doctor as soon as possible if you suspect she’s pregnant.

They’ll do a thorough inspection and determine whether you’ll be having guinea pig babies soon.

Veterinarians use several techniques to confirm a guinea pig pregnancy, including:

  • An ultrasound
  • An X-ray image
  • Observing the movements of babies
  • Listening to the heartbeats of the baby guinea pigs

While some guinea pigs give birth naturally and without assistance, pregnancy in guinea pigs, regardless of their weight or age, is risky.

It’s critical to speak with your vet about care during and after the birth of new piggies.

Your veterinarian may recommend a cesarean section or medicines for difficult pregnancies.

You must also know the number of potential newborn guinea pigs in the womb of your pet.

This way, you can be confident that all guinea pig babies have been born and take action if any stay trapped or if your piggy is having trouble delivering them.

What Are the Signs That a Guinea Pig Is Pregnant?

There are several signs that can help you determine whether your piggy is pregnant.

In the early stages of pregnancy, pregnant guinea pigs eat and drink significantly more than usual.

Another indicator is if the expecting piggy begins to prefer fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C.

Your pregnant female guinea pig will gain weight and her abdomen will visibly expand after a few weeks.

Feed the following meals to your guinea pig throughout its pregnancy to keep it healthy:

  • Timothy hay with the addition of alfalfa hay because alfalfa contains lot of protein and calcium, which makes it unsuitable for adult guinea pigs. However, an expecting and lactating guinea pig, and a baby guinea pig need these elements in their diet.
  • Raw and fresh leafy green vegetables
  • Vitamin C-rich fruits such as citrus fruits and kiwi in moderate but regular amounts
  • Commercial pellets fortified with vitamin C of excellent quality

How Long Do Guinea Pigs Stay Pregnant?

The gestation period of a guinea pig can last anywhere from 59 to 72 days.

The length of a sow’s pregnancy depends on the number of baby guinea pigs she is carrying.

Is it Easy to Give Birth to a Guinea Pig?

Unfortunately, all guinea pig pregnancies are risky.

Both the mother and newborn guinea pigs have a significant mortality rate.

Some of the dangers of giving birth include:

Toxaemia (pregnancy ketosis)

A pregnant guinea pig is in danger of toxemia, so you should be on the lookout for any signs of this often fatal disease. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Tiredness, silence, weakness, depression
  • Appetite loss
  • Breathing problems

This is a potentially fatal condition that has been observed in some pregnant guinea pigs in late pregnancy or within a few days of birth.

Obesity (>800 grams), fasting (not being fed adequately), whether it is the first or second pregnancy, a change in diet, stress, and heredity are all risk factors.

Dystocia

Dystocia, or difficult birth, is another issue to watch out for in pregnant female guinea pigs older than seven months of age.

It occurs due to uterine inertia, pregnancy toxemia, or because fetuses that are too large to pass through the pelvic canal.

Because of the stiffening of the pubic symphysis (a junction of thick fibrous cartilage between the two pubic bones of the pelvis) when a female guinea pig reaches adulthood, breeding her after she reaches 8 months of age is be extremely risky.

Sows who reach adulthood without having had a previous pregnancy may be unable to give birth normally.

Besides, you should know that cesarean sections in guinea pigs are rarely successful, even when performed by an experienced veterinarian.

How Do I Know a Guinea Pig Is Ready To Give Birth?

Now that you know how long a guinea pig pregnancy lasts, and that giving birth to baby guinea pigs is not easy, let’s see the indicators that your guinea pig is about to give birth.

  • A guinea pig about to give birth will most likely isolate herself
  • She may remain still in her cage, oblivious to your comments or attempts to engage her in play
  • The female is conserving her energy in anticipation of giving birth and caring for her young
  • This little animal’s body may generate a hiccupping action when it goes into labor.

This indicates that your guinea pig is having contractions and that the birth is progressing. Don’t try to touch the female if this happens.

She’s in the middle of giving birth, and your hand in the cage puts the babies in danger.

What Should I Do When Baby Guinea Pigs Are Born?

The litter size can range from one to eight guinea pig pups, but three or four babies in a litter is more frequent.

The mother begins to nurse the babies right after they are born.

While you cannot help the mother wean her babies, there are a few things you may do to assist her in her new role.

Every day, provide your pet with nutritious food (a small amount of lucerne hay every few days as it’s an excellent source of calcium, leafy greens, and veggies high in vitamin C such as bell peppers) and clean water.

She can give her baby adequate milk whenever they need it since she eats good meals.

Wait at least two weeks before you attempt to hold the babies because their bodies are very vulnerable.

Final Thoughts

Guinea pigs reach sexual maturity early in their lives so male and female guinea pigs should be separated as early as 3 weeks old.

The gestation period of a guinea pig can last anywhere from 59 to 72 days depending on how many babies she’s carrying.

Shortly after giving birth, guinea pigs begin a fresh estrous cycle that lasts only about half a day.

Individual pet owners should not attempt to breed guinea pigs, according to experts, for two very important reasons:

  1. It can be difficult to find homes for young guinea pigs with loving and conscientious pet owners.
  2. Female guinea pigs’ lifespans are frequently shortened by breeding.

Yet, if you want to breed your guinea pig, the optimal time to do so is before she reaches the age of seven months.

Your guinea pig can still broaden her pelvis before giving birth if she is younger than this.

So, if your piggy’s pelvis can’t grow any bigger when it’s time to give birth, she and her offspring could die from birth difficulties unless a cesarean is performed. Even with a cesarean section performed by an experienced vet, the mortality rate of female guinea pigs and their babies is quite high.

Author

Tim Rhodes
Tim Rhodes

Hi there! My name is Tim Rhodes and I'm a guinea pig enthusiast through thick and thin. My mission is to teach others useful tips and tricks about these cute creatures. When I'm not writing, I enjoy kickboxing and work as an animal trainer.

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