Authored by Douglas Mefford in Pets
Published on 01-12-2010
While the actual breeding of guinea pigs is not a complicated process, there are some things of vital importance to keep in mind. If you are going to breed your guinea pigs they must be in excellent health as there is still an approximate 20% chance that the sow or piglets will die during the birthing process. You must be aware of the age of the sow you are going to breed. A female guinea pig must be bred before she is six months old to prevent the pelvic bones from fusing. If this is allowed to happen then a subsequent pregnancy will kill the female as there will be no room for the pups to pass through the birth canal.
Sufficient cages and space are required for breeding guinea pigs. While the male and female can be kept in the same cage for about a month to insure the female is pregnant, he will need to be separated after that. This serves a two-fold purpose. While the male will not intentionally kill newborn pups, they can be in danger from being stepped on or rolled over. It is also possible for a female to be re-inseminated only a few hours after giving birth. For the sake of good health the female should be allowed several months of recuperation between litters.
A couple of sure signs that the female is coming into estrus can be observed in her behavior. If she is caged with other females she may continuously mount them while giving off a purring sound. Stroking your female guinea pig will produce the “Lordosis posture”. This behavior is where the female will flatten herself out ad raise her tail for better mounting position. You can expect this behavior about every other week with the estrus cycle lasting only a day or two.
A normal gestation time is about 70 days. During the last few weeks, the female will put on a great deal of weight as the pups reach birthing size. You will need to supplement her diet with extra water and Vitamin C. When born, baby guinea pigs are already fully furred and will begin feeding on solid foods within a day or so. The mother guinea pig only has two nipples to provide milk nourishment even though the average litter size is three pups with twice as many pups possible.
The new pups should be weaned at four weeks. At this time you will also need to determine the sex of the pups and separate the males. This is because guinea pigs can become fertile by four weeks of age and the males should be prevented from breeding with their mother or their sisters. While a female guinea pig can become pregnant at four weeks, it is very hard on them while very young and can easily cause fatal complications.
Another major consideration when attempting to breed your guinea pigs is the genetics of the animals involved. Guinea pigs are very susceptible to inbreeding problems and no close relatives should ever be bred together. Some of the sure signs the genetics are too close involve pups that are all-white, have crooked, barely functional teeth, and will often have their eyes fused closed.