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Who can resist a cute little cavy?
If you haven’t seen a baby guinea pig before, go ahead and search Google Images. There are thousands of photos specifically intended to melt your heart and make your children beg for one. These docile little creatures tug at the heartstrings of the most hardened anti-pet person. They are the perfect pets for our kids. Now, I can’t imagine life without their entertainment and companionship.
Let’s dig into some facts about guinea pig babies in this article.
The basics of the babies
A cavy pregnancy cycle is really quick, lasting only 59 to 72 days.
Following delivery, mom will lick her newborns clean, then eat the afterbirth to activate her mammary glands.
She then nurses for about three weeks, at which point it’s safe to introduce a normal guinea pig diet.
Baby guinea pigs are technically referred to as “pups,” and are most commonly born in litters of two to four.
A newborn is only about 3.5 ounces but comes out furry and ready to scurry.
Your role with baby piggies
Newborn pups are immediately able to see and walk around their cages, and oh how you’ll want to cuddle these cute little cavies, but resist the urge!
They shouldn’t be touched for at least a week, and they’ll need to be close to mom for nursing for three weeks.
Once they’re weaned it’s game on, and your extraordinary patience is generously rewarded, because it’s very important that weaned pups are held often for proper human socialization. Let the lovefest begin!
Keep in mind that genetically, guinea pigs are prey animals, It isn’t natural for them to be picked up, held, or snuggled.
A hand reaching down from above looks a lot like a hawk claw to their genetic memory, and it takes lots of training for your piggy to love to be loved on.
Please keep that in mind, and be very gentle when initially reaching in to pick them up.
Starting the socialization process early (3 weeks) is really important, and if you’re diligent, your little piggies will grow to think of you as a tall, hairless family member.
What Would Your Mother Say?
Post birth, don’t forget to take mom’s feelings into consideration, she’s been through a lot.
She’ll be tired and sore from giving birth, and should be left alone to recover for three weeks.
While recuperating, she also needs to begin nursing her cubs, which requires a calm environment. Take note that it will typically take about twenty-four hours for her to begin producing milk, so don’t worry if she doesn’t begin feeding her pups immediately.
Be considerate of her insecurities, it’s only natural if she acts a little protective of her little cubs.
Don’t be surprised if she’s more skittish and rumbly than normal. That’s one of the reasons some believe it’s best to delay socializing cubs until they’ve been weaned.
Just remember, mom wants her quality cub time too, and unfortunately there won’t be an overabundance to be had.
Cubs in the cradle
Relish every moment of your cub’s childhood, because it’s over in a flash.
Cubs reach sexual maturity at astonishingly young ages. At only three months, male cavies reach puberty and are ready to prowl. That’s a lot of testosterone in a little guy with twelve weeks of life experience, so take reasonable precautions.
Get them out of the co-ed dormitory before they have an opportunity to make an irresponsible decision.
Female cubs (technically referred to as sows) reach reproductive age at only two months old.
So it’s best to separate your indiscriminate little bull from sissy sooner rather than later.
The outcome isn’t just unpleasant to imagine, it’s a serious health hazard for the sow.
Their little bodies are still growing, and the stress of early pregnancy may significantly reduce their lifespan.
Raising guinea pig pups is an unforgettable experience for a family to share. Remember, there’s a huge difference in what to look for if they’re born at home versus bringing them home from the pet store. Pet store cavies are weaned, and of reproductive age, so make sure you take their sexes into consideration. If they’re born at home, just remember the facts and pointers that we’ve emphasized and you’ll do great!
The most important fact to keep in mind about pups is not only will they make you a hero in the eyes of your little ones, but they’re adorable, and will quickly scurry their way into your heart.
Live Science – Guinea pig facts
Merck Manual Veterinary Manual – Breeding and Reproduction of Guinea Pigs