Guinea pigs are adorable bundles of joy that are wildly popular among pet lovers. Their excited squeaks, the way they zoom around in their cages, and even their insatiable fondness for food – it’s kind of hard not to fall in love with these tiny furballs.
Sometimes, they even surprise us with mini versions of themselves! But how do you know whether your precious pets are on their way to becoming parents?
There are 6 ways to find out whether your guinea pig might be pregnant:
- Consider Any Recent Contact with a Boar.
- Take a Look at Their Eating and Drinking Patterns.
- Check for Weight Gain.
- Observe Changes in Behavior.
- Feel Around for Babies in the Abdomen.
- Seek a Veterinarian’s Examination.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each of these 6 ways in more detail, so that you can be prepared for when it’s time to welcome some grandbaby piggies! At the end of it, you’re going to be the Dr. Dolittle of guinea pig pregnancies! Let’s jump right in, shall we?
At What Age Do Guinea Pigs Usually Get Pregnant?
Have you ever wondered at what age it is that your guinea pigs can actually start getting pregnant? Well, brace yourself because it’s much earlier than you might think. Female guinea pigs (called sows) reach sexual maturity at 4 weeks of age and can technically give birth as early as 3 months old!
Now, a quick side note – just because they can get pregnant at that age, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Most experts agree that the ideal pregnancy age for guinea pigs is between 8 and 12 months so that they have enough time to grow and mature.
This is why it’s important to notice the signs of pregnancy in your guinea pig so that you can prepare accordingly.
Fun Fact: Did you know that guinea pigs are also called ‘cavies’? This comes from their Latin name – Cavia porcellus. A single guinea pig is called a ‘cavy’.
6 Ways to Know Whether Your Guinea Pig Is Pregnant
So, you’re getting a strong suspicion that your guinea pig might be expecting. To help you get to the truth of whether you’ll soon be hearing the pitter-patter of tiny guinea pig feet, here are 6 methods you need to follow.
1. Consider Any Recent Contact with a Boar
Sometimes the best clue is right in front of you – has your female guinea pig spent any time recently with a male (also called a boar?) If she’s been sharing a cage or play space with a boar, there are chances something could have happened.
Boars are sexually active by the time they’re 3 weeks of age and cannot go through a neutering process at least until 4 months. Unless your sows and boars are separated during this period, there are high chances of pregnancy taking place.
Note: Even after neutering, a boar can still impregnate a sow. This is because it can take up to 6 weeks for the procedure to take effect. So do keep that in mind!
2. Take a Look at Their Eating and Drinking Patterns
Pregnancy can really make someone hungry, and guinea pigs are no exception! If you notice that your sow is eating and drinking a bit more than usual, it could be a hint of babies on the way.
However, don’t assume that just because she’s eating more, that she’s pregnant. It could be due to cold weather, a growth spurt, or maybe she’s just really hungry!
3. Check for Weight Gain
A telltale sign of pregnancy is gradual weight gain as the babies get bigger and the sow consumes extra food. Sometimes, you can even tell just by looking at your guinea pig that she’s become much bigger.
However, the best way to keep track is to purchase a small pet scale and weigh her weekly. Keep a written record so you can see if there is a pattern of weight gain. This way, you’ll know whether there is any indication of a pregnancy.
Did you know: By the end of their pregnancy, guinea pigs almost double in weight. The piglets themselves can make up more than half of the mother’s weight!
4. Observe Changes in Behavior
Guinea pigs are naturally social and playful creatures. If you notice that your sow has become a bit more reclusive (or even cranky), it might mean that she’s carrying a litter. Another tell-tale sign is if she’s begun to gather hay and started creating a cozy corner inside her cage.
These are indications that your sow is preparing for motherhood, and it’s their natural instinct to prepare for the arrival of their little ones. As the sow gets further along in their pregnancy, you will likely notice them lying around a lot, as the extra weight makes it tiring for them to move around.
5. Feel Around for Babies in the Abdomen
This is not for everyone, so approach it with caution. If you’re someone who’s gentle and has prior experience handling guinea pigs, you can lightly feel around your sow’s belly to feel for tiny lumps.
Similar to humans, guinea pig babies also move around while inside their mother’s belly. You might even be able to feel a kick or two there as they approach the end of their pregnancy.
6. Seek a Veterinarian’s Examination
Of all the ways you can use to check whether your guinea pig is pregnant, this is perhaps the best (and wisest!). Make sure you take your sow to a vet who is experienced with exotics for an expert opinion and health check.
An examination or ultrasound from the vet can confirm the pregnancy and even give you an idea of how many babies to expect. They can even offer you guidance on how to care for your sow and her babies.
While it should be noted that none of these methods (except the vet visit, of course) are a surefire way to tell whether your guinea pig is pregnant, it sure does give you a head start when planning ahead.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
While we’ve tried to cover a lot of the vital information when it comes to guinea pig pregnancy, we’re sure you might still be having a few more doubts. Here are some of the most common questions we get asked often on this topic.
Q. 1. How long will my guinea pig be pregnant for?
A. The duration of guinea pig pregnancy is anywhere between 59 and 72 days, which on average is about 65 days. However, this can vary depending on the sow’s health, eating habits, number of babies in her litter, and so on.
Q. 2. How many babies do guinea pigs usually have at one time?
A. Usually, guinea pigs will have a litter of around 2-4 babies. However, it can also range anywhere between 1-6 pups. In a year, the average sow can birth up to 5 litters.
Q. 3. What do baby guinea pigs eat?
A. Baby guinea pigs will be able to eat hay, guinea pig pellets, and tiny amounts of vegetables. They usually watch what the adult pigs are eating, and then learn what is safe to eat and what is not.
It’s a great idea to feed them alfalfa hay when they’re young since this type of hay has a higher calcium content to help them grow and develop. It’s also a good idea to offer them higher-calcium vegetables to provide more nutrients while they are growing.
Guinea pigs are so full of wonderful surprises and the arrival of their little ones can be a joyous moment for everyone in the family. While it’s always an exciting time, it’s also important to be aware of what you need to expect.
Trust your instincts and make sure you do what’s best for your cavies. And if you’re ever in doubt, always go to your vet. Here’s to happy and healthy pets all around!