Do you have the joy of welcoming a litter of baby guinea pigs? Congratulation ! But such an event can also cause concern … You may be wondering if you will be able to do what it takes to make babies well. Are you wondering if you will be able to meet their needs and take care of them, or when they become old enough to be separated from their parents and live independently? Don’t panic, let’s take things in order …
Baby guinea pigs at birth
Unlike mice that are born naked and blind, baby guinea pigs are well armed to take on the outside world and flee from predators if the situation so confronts them. It is therefore very beneficial for those who take in baby guinea pigs: except for a problem, there is no not much to do !
From birth, their eyes are open, their body is completely covered with hair and their paws are equipped with claws. If they are healthy, they are also immediately able to coordinate their movements. Equipped with teeth, they can even feed on solid food from the 2nd day. They will only do this if they have solid food available. Otherwise, breastfeeding is expected to last between 3 and 4 weeks.
As the mother’s womb is not infinitely extendable, the more children there are, the more their respective weight drops. Most of the time, everything goes well: the litter has between 3 and 4 babies and the weight of each is between 70 and 80 g. But a female guinea pig can give birth to up to 8 young. If this is the case, the mother will have to be helped by feeding the most puny.
What is the optimum weight for a baby guinea pig?
A baby guinea pig must weigh a minimum of 50g to be viable. It is quite possible to take the babies to weigh them. Just wait until they are dry to touch them. Beyond the weighing at birth, it is useful to do it daily to ensure their good growth, at the same time and under the same conditions, in order to obtain exploitable curves.
They must be handled calmly, with confident gestures and by speaking softly. They may well be trained and capable of autonomy, their development will be better if they are not stressed.
Can we feed baby guinea pigs?
As with human beings, the milk produced by the mother the first days is very rich in colostrum which is intended to stimulate the functioning of the immune defenses of the little ones. The mother has only two breasts, but you never observe a fight between the members of the siblings to go and help themselves before the others.
If all goes well, the little ones’ weight gain is constant and regular. Be aware that the mother does not always produce milk right away: it may take 24 hours to come. But beyond that, if the production of milk is delayed longer, we must not wait to react. If the mother runs out of milk, then you need to take over and feed the babies yourself.
It is important to watch the mother’s weight as well. Breastfeeding babies takes a lot of energy. If she is losing weight, her diet should be enriched with oatmeal or ripe bananas.
Give vitamin C right away!
You know: the guinea pig does not synthesize vitamin C. Indispensable for the proper development of the organism, this vitamin must be provided in the animal’s diet, even for babies, and from their first day of life. A lack of vitamin C causes growth retardation, difficulty in moving, paralysis of one or more limbs, dental malocclusion, etc. These are just a few examples, the list of consequences of vitamin C deficiency is actually much longer than that!
To correctly dose the amount of vitamin to provide to baby guinea pigs, count 2 mg per day per 100 g. If the baby weighs 50-100g, give 2mg of vitamin C, 100-200g, give 4mg, 200-300g, 6mg, and 300-400g, give 4mg. From 500 g, 1 g is sufficient. We must not neglect the mother! For her, in her situation as a lactating female, it takes 60 mg per day for 1 kg.
The most practical and the most precise in terms of dosage, is to use a syringe to dispense it in liquid form to babies. If you have any doubts, we would like to point out that this is a syringe without a needle because with it, you would injure the animal. The manipulation consists of placing the tip of the syringe on one side of the guinea pig’s mouth, in the gap between the incisors of the premolars (the diastema). The syringe should never be pushed deep into the guinea pig’s throat, as this may suffocate it.
When can babies be separated from their mothers?
We have already mentioned it above: breastfeeding is expected to last between 3 and 4 weeks. The separation date will be different if the babies are male or female. You must therefore be sure of your gender identification! In both cases, however, the condition sine qua non separation from the mother is that babies weigh at least 300 g, 350 g being preferable.
For male babies, the risk is that they will breed with their mother, with a high probability of birthing babies that are malformed due to inbreeding. It is advisable to separate them from the age of 3 weeks, but this can wait a few days depending on their weight and their ability to feed themselves.
Female babies can stay by their mother’s side as long as you don’t notice any tension or fight. If you want to part with the little ones, it is best to wait until they are 4 weeks old.