How to Tell if My Guinea Pig Is Pregnant - Physical Signs and Behaviors
Given the speed and ease with which guinea pigs reproduce, it is not uncommon for owners to have doubts about whether or not their guinea pig has become pregnant. Whether you are breeding guinea pigs or you have unknowingly allowed your guinea pig to get pregnant, there are certain signs that indicate a positive pregnancy.
This AnimalWised article will explain how you can tell if a guinea pig is pregnant and the changes the guinea pig goes through during pregnancy.
Guinea pig behavior during pregnancy
Before the physical signs start to show, pregnant guinea pigs often exhibit unusual behavior. This includes being grumpier and more aggressive than usual. They may also refuse to be manipulated and be less active than usual.
You will also notice that your guinea pig eats more. This is because she is increasing her food intake to nourish the baby guinea pigs growing inside her. As females progress in their pregnancy, they may eat up to three times the amount of food she ate when she was not pregnant. If you give your pregnant guinea pig a varied diet of pellets, fruits and vegetables, you will notice that she will prefer the vitamin C-rich varieties, as it needs more of this nutrient during this time.
Pregnancy in guinea pigs is also associated with increased water consumption. You may find that you need to refill their water bottle more often than usual.
If you want to know why guinea pigs often choose foods rich in vitamin C, do not miss our article The Importance of Vitamin C in Guinea Pigs.
How do I know if my guinea pig is pregnant?
Besides behavioral changes, guinea pigs also undergo physical changes. As with every pregnancy, the mother's body undergoes significant physical changes in preparation for giving birth, rearing, and caring for her newborn. If we want to know if our guinea pig is pregnant, we can look for the following signs:
- Weight gain: this is the first physical sign of pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses, we will notice that our guinea pig's belly appears larger. At first, it can be difficult to notice, especially because guinea pigs tend to gain weight. However, if you regularly weigh your guinea pig, you will notice that it is gaining weight steadily and may even double in weight by the end of the pregnancy.
- You can feel the piglets: Sometimes with pregnant guinea pigs, you can even feel the miniature piggies forming inside the mother. In the weeks leading up to birth, if we gently place our hands on their belly, we may notice small movements or small lumps. If you feel lumps, but they do not move, you should take your guinea pig to the veterinarian to be checked for pregnancy. If your guinea pig is not pregnant and has lumps, this could mean a serious health problem.
- Changes in the shape of her body: She will eventually take on a distinct pear shape because her body is preparing to give birth, and her pelvis is widening. She should reach at least an inch wide, if not wider.
- Changes in the breasts: The breasts will enlarge and lengthen a few days before birth in preparation for lactation.
As a general rule, remember that not all pregnant guinea pigs want to be touched. So if they run away, hide or growl when your hands enter the cage, you should take them away immediately.
Do not miss this other article if you want to learn more about how to properly care for a pregnant guinea pig.
Pregnancies in guinea pigs
Once we find out if our guinea pig is pregnant, it is important that we know how long a guinea pig pregnancy lasts. It can last from 56 to 74 days and during the birth, usually 1 to 6 piglets are born. The piglets are already able to feed themselves, but still need to drink breast milk during the first month.
On the other hand, it is also important to know that from about 10 months, the pelvic bones of guinea pigs solidify and form a rigid structure that prevents vaginal birth. For this reason, we cannot allow females older than one year to mate unless we can prove that they have given birth before. If a guinea pig that has never given birth vaginally becomes pregnant after 10 months of age, it is very likely that she will die while trying to give birth. If this is the case, you should consult your trusted veterinarian to perform a cesarean section in order to safe both, the mother and the babies.
Read this other article if you want to learn more about the oestrus cycle in guinea pigs.
Is it necessary to separate the pregnant guinea pig from the male?
If you have a pair of guinea pigs, it is important to separate the male from the pregnant animal before birth and especially afterward. Not only to not disturb the mother and young, and because a newly born female can immediately become pregnant again.
This is because as soon as the female gives birth, she becomes fertile again, and the male can mount her immediately. The guinea pig has lost energy during pregnancy and will continue to do so during lactation, so another pregnancy without an adequate recovery period is not recommended.
For the same reason, babies must be separated from their mother and sisters after the month of nursing. Guinea pigs reach sexual maturity very early, around 2-4 months of age. From this time on, they have a continuous estrus every 16-18 days.
Like we said, if you plan to keep the babies, you should keep them separate. Setting up a guinea pig cage is not so easy. Size, arrangement of items, or the best type of substrate are some of the common questions you need an answer to if you want your guinea pig to be well taken care of. Continue reading step-by-step guide to setting up a guinea pig cage.
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