Guinea pigs are a fun, easy-to-care-for pet for apartments, classrooms, and houses alike. If you find yourself in a position where one of your guinea pigs is expecting some babies of her own, you may be wondering just how many a guinea pig can have?
A guinea pig can have a litter of pups anywhere between 1 and 8, but they most typically birth around 2 to four. After a gestation period between 55 and 70 days, guinea pig babies are born with hair, the ability to walk almost immediately, eyes open, and a full set of teeth.
If you have a guinea pig that is expecting its own litter of pups, it can be such an exciting time as your brood expands and a bit more fun is added to the bunch. However, as it is with taking on any additional pet, it can be rather nerve-wracking not knowing just exactly how many guinea pig pups are on the way. Continue reading to find out all you need to know about litter sizes of guinea pigs and how you can care for both mom and babies during pregnancy and after birth.
How Many Babies Do Guinea Pigs Typically Have?
For those of you who have both a male and female guinea pig living in the same environment, it is highly likely that at some point, the female will become pregnant. This may have been an intention of the owners, or it could come as a complete surprise, however, a litter of pups is on the way regardless. This may be exciting for the owners, but it can also cause concern when wondering just how many babies a guinea pig can actually have.
Guinea pigs can have anywhere from 1 to 8 babies in the same litter, making the gap rather large when trying to gauge just how many pups your guinea pig may be expecting. However, beyond 4 is typically a very large number of pups, and the most average litter will usually range between 2 and 4 pups. No matter the size of the litter, the mother guinea pig will be able to care for them with ease as long as she is supplied ample food and water.
How To Tell if a Guinea Pig is Pregnant
Lucky for guinea pigs, they are typically robust and hearty rodents whose chunky physical appearance is one of the reasons they are such a beloved pet. However, if you own a female guinea pig and are looking for signs of pregnancy, how is it possible to verify whether or not the weight on her is normal or actual pups. If you are wondering how to tell if your guinea pig is pregnant, take a look below to find some tell-tale signs.
To tell if your guinea pig is pregnant or not can be difficult in the early stages of pregnancy, but one of the most obvious give-aways is that the female guinea pig’s appetite and water intake will increase quite drastically. If you notice that all of the sudden your female guinea pig is eating double or even triple her normal food intake, it could be a very early sign that she is expecting a litter of pups, therefore, be sure that she always has plenty of food to available.
After the early stages of pregnancy pass, you will begin to notice that the abdomen of your female guinea pig is gradually expanding. Once you notice her abdomen swelling, as gently as possible, run your finger along her sides and check to see if you can feel the developing pups. If you are able to feel any bumps or movement, you will know immediately that she is pregnant. Towards the end of pregnancy, her abdomen will clearly portray she is pregnant due to its size.
How Long is a Guinea Pig’s Gestation Period?
Just as with any other living creature, there is an amount of time that spans from conception to birth that is called the gestation period. If you have discovered that your guinea pig is pregnant, you may be wondering how much time you have before the pups make their grand arrival, however, you may not have as much time as you would like. Guinea pigs have a relatively quick gestation period, but just how quick is it?
A guinea pig’s gestation period ranges anywhere from 55 to 70 days, giving you just around two months to prepare for a cage that will be a bit more crowded. Although a guinea pig’s gestation period is relatively short, there is one factor that will determine whether or not your guinea pig will deliver at an earlier or later point within the gestation period: the number of pups she is carrying.
As previously discussed, at the end of pregnancy, you should be able to clearly feel the pups within the mother’s abdomen by gently rubbing your hands along her sides. If you would like to have a better estimate of when your guinea pig may deliver, gently take your hand and try to feel for multiple pups. If there is only one, it is likely she will deliver much later (around 70 days), but if there are multiple, she could deliver much sooner (around 55 days).
How to Care for a Pregnant Guinea Pig
Before you welcome a new litter of pups into the world, your pregnant guinea pig may need a bit more care than normal to maintain a healthy pregnancy and nurture healthy babies. Although guinea pigs are relatively simplistic when it comes to care, when you find out that your female guinea pig is pregnant, it is important to change diet and overall care just a bit in order to accommodate her needs and the needs of the pups.
To care for a pregnant guinea pig, one of the first things you can do is supply her with enough food to satisfy her seemingly endless appetite. For most pregnant guinea pigs, they will eat and drink two times their normal intake, but for those carrying larger litters, they can eat and drink up to three times as much as their normal amount. Do not let this increase alarm you, but allow your guinea pig to eat as she needs in order to maintain her weight and healthy babies at birth.
When it comes to food, you also want to be sure that you are giving your guinea pig quality food items that will keep her and the babies as healthy as possible. Your guinea pig should be fed a variety of nutrient rich foods such as fresh, leafy green vegetables, small servings of fruits that are rich in vitamin C, high-quality commercial pellets, and grass or grass hay. As well as food, always be sure that there is more than enough water for her to drink.
How to Care for Newborn Baby Guinea Pigs
Now that you know how to care for a pregnant guinea pig, you may be wondering what exactly you need to do once the pups have arrived. Having such small babies to look after may seem intimidating, but for the most part, the mother will provide everything they need as long as you are still giving her proper food and water to keep up her milk supply for nursing. Although mom will do most of the work, there are a few things you can do to help aid their growth.
To care for a newborn baby guinea pig, one of the most important things you can do is ensure that the cage stays clean and that you handle them as gently as possible when cleaning the area. As far as food consumption goes, baby guinea pigs will nurse solely for two days, then will nibble here and there on wet food until they are six weeks of age. Once they reach six weeks, they will completely wean from their mothers and should then be fed as an adult would be.
Outside of cleanliness and food, it is also important to handle the baby guinea pigs once they reach two or three weeks of age. By gently handling them at an early age, they will become better familiar and bonded to humans, which will cause them to accept the feeling of being held. Mothers are not opposed to this and babies quickly become acclimated to the process. Be consistent as the more they are handled, the better they behave.
Appearance and Behavior of Newborn Guinea Pigs
Now that you know how to care for a newborn baby guinea pig and are confident in your abilities to aid the mother in her new role, you might be wondering what exactly these new little pups are going to look like upon their arrival. Being that a guinea pig is considered to be a member of the rodent family, it would be easy to believe that a baby of such an animal would be rather unattractive, but that is not so.
When guinea pigs are born, they are actually born with a full coat of hair and healthy pink skin beneath it, normally weighing around 3.5 ounces. They are also born with their eyes open and the ability to walk and run around almost immediately after birth. Guinea pig babies are essentially miniature versions of their adult counterparts, making them a rodent baby that is as adorable when it is first born as it is when it is fully grown.
As far as their behavior goes, when they are first born, the babies will be relatively calm as they acclimate themselves to their new environment and nurse. However, within a few days or even hours, they will begin to explore the area and move about freely with their eyes wide open and their legs ready to run. They imitate the same gentiles and curiosity that other adult guinea pigs possess, making them a very easy pet to have along with other adults.