You might enjoy watching your female guinea pig sweetly nurturing and watching over her offspring, but wee cavy pups, like all living creatures, grow up and usually leave their mother's attentive side. For juvenile guinea pigs, this key time generally comes several weeks after they're born.
When guinea pig babies are born, they require feedings courtesy of Mom's milk. It's important for guinea pig mothers to nurse their youngsters until they're a minimum of 2 weeks old. Weaning at three weeks is actually optimal for growing young guinea pigs. Do not separate the pups from their mothers until they're fully weaned.
Young Male Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs achieve reproductive maturity swiftly. The boys are often capable of exhibiting mating behaviors when they're around 3 weeks old. It might seem bizarre to humans, but when they're mature, they can easily get their own mothers pregnant. Because of that, it's important at this age to split up male guinea pigs and their mothers. The mating attempts of the young males can not only be annoying to the mothers, they can also be detrimental to their health. Pregnancy often takes major tolls on female guinea pigs' bodies and basic well-being.
Young Female Guinea Pigs
Young female guinea pigs clearly cannot get their mothers pregnant, which is why there's no urgent need to separate them from each other. The girls should ideally remain alongside their mothers until they're about 4 weeks in age. When you separate male guinea pigs from their mothers at three weeks, remember to separate them from their female siblings, as well. Just as they can get their mothers pregnant, they can do the same to their sisters. Place male and female guinea pigs into entirely different enclosures.
If you're don't know the sexes of the young pups, you might be able to figure them out simply by looking. Observe the anal areas of the babies. The girls have skin flaps on top of their anuses. These flaps look a lot like the letter "Y" in form. The boys don't have those skin flaps. Instead, they have slender openings in the exact locations. If you've tried checking and still are confused about their genders, get the opinion of a veterinarian. By doing this, you can stop yourself from accidentally placing male and female guinea pigs together -- and stop new litters of babies from appearing. Cavies can be extremely speedy in the breeding department, after all.
- The Guinea Pig Handbook; Sharon Lynn Vanderlip
- Behavior of Exotic Pets; Valarie V. Tynes
- Guinea Pig - Your Happy Healthy Pet; Audrey Pavia
- Guinea Pigs; Tristan Boyer Binns
- SmallAnimalChannel.com: Handling Rules for Newborn Guinea Pigs
- Veterinary Nursing of Exotic Pets; Simon J. Girling
- Veterinary Centre: Guinea Pigs as Pets
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images