Newborn baby guinea pigs: what to expect? | Guinea Pig Den

Newborn Baby Guinea Pigs: What to expect? (it’s not what you think)

When we discovered that our guinea pig was pregnant we had so many questions about newborn baby guinea pigs and what to expect once they were born. 

If you are a new guinea pig parent or have an unexpected pregnancy like we did, you too may have lots of questions about newborn baby guinea pigs.

We sure did!

In this article we’ve answered some frequently asked questions about newborn baby guinea pigs like:

Guinea Pig Pregnancy

Whether you have a surprise guinea pig pregnancy or a planned one, there are a few things you will want to prepare in advance to make sure you are ready when your newborn baby guinea pigs arrive.

Newborn baby guinea pigs: what to expect? | Guinea Pig Den

How to prepare for baby guinea pigs?

Here are some things we had to think about when we found out our guinea pig was pregnant:

  • Diet – What should our pregnant guinea pig eat?
  • Cage size – Will the baby guinea pigs be able to escape?
  • Bedding – What bedding should we use?

The first thing we thought about was:

What should our pregnant guinea pig eat?

We adhered to the following recommended feeding guidelines for pregnant guinea pigs:

  • Unlimited hay
  • Commercial guinea pig pellets
  • 2 – 3 cups mostly green, leafy vegetables 
  • Occasional fruit – too much sugar can lead to obesity
  • Vitamin C supplement
  • Fresh water

REFERENCE: Lake Shore Pet Hospital

RELATED: CLICK HERE to read about our unexpected guinea pig pregnancy and how to tell if your guinea pig is pregnant.

The next thing we considered was:

Will the baby guinea pigs be able to escape the enclosure?

It is important to consider the space between the bars of your guinea pig cage.

You don’t want them to escape!

Most guinea pigs cages are designed for adult guinea pigs with a one inch space between the bars. This is just enough space to allow the guinea pigs to escape. 

We found the following cage on Amazon that worked really well. CLICK HERE to check the price.

The Midwest Guinea Pig Habitat is the recommended size (minimum of 8 square feet) and has deep sides around the edges that make it difficult for the baby guinea pigs to crawl out of.

Place the cage in a quiet, draft-free area your home that is out of direct sunlight.

Finally, we wondered:

What bedding should we use?

We read that the bedding needs to be changed daily. We used fleece bedding which we spot cleaned throughout the day by removing poop and leftover food.

At the end of the day we removed the fleece bedding, washed it and replaced it with a fresh fleece liner.

Guinea Pig Delivery

How do I know when my guinea pig is ready to give birth?

It can be hard to tell when your pregnant guinea pig is going to deliver her babies because unlike dogs and cats, they do not prepare a nest. 

The average guinea pig gestation is 59 – 72 days. We kept a close eye on Theo as her due date approached.

Lake Shore Veterinary Hospital offers the following helpful advice: “If you touch her belly a couple of centimeters ahead of the anus, you will be able to feel that the pelvic bones have spread apart. Once they are one to two finger-widths apart, it won’t be long until birth.”

Can guinea pigs die from giving birth?

Guinea pigs can typically handle labor and delivery without intervention; however, guinea pigs can die during the birthing process. 

How long does it take for guinea pigs to be born?

Guinea pig babies are born quickly. All of the babies are usually born within 30 minutes once labor begins. Each birth is spaced out every 3 – 5 minutes.

What happens after guinea pig delivery?

Following delivery, your guinea pig mama will be exhausted and hungry.

She will naturally clean up the area around her: lick the babies clean, bite off the umbilical cord and eat the placenta. 

This served a purpose in the wild to prevent predators from finding the newborn baby guinea pigs.

It was fascinating to watch our new mom clean up after her newborn baby guinea pigs. She checked each one of them and licked them clean immediately following their birth. 

Newborn Baby Guinea Pigs

What do baby guinea pigs look like?

Guinea pig babies are born looking like mini versions of their mama.

A typical guinea pig pup weighs between 60 and 115 grams and measures close to 3 to 5 inches long. 

Newborn guinea pigs have fur and are born with their eyes open. They are able to see, hear and move around once they are born.

They look a little bit awkward as they begin to move around.

This was the most surprising thing to me!

I thought they would be born helpless and look like baby rats or hamsters with no fur and their eyes closed.

What are baby guinea pigs called?

Baby guinea pigs are called pups just like baby dogs.

When baby guinea pigs grow up the males are called boars and the females are called sows.

Just like adult pigs!

Even though they share similar names, guinea pigs do not belong to either the dog or pig family. Rather, they belong to a rodent species called cavies. 

How many babies do guinea pigs have?

The average guinea pig litter is 2 to 4 pups. The size of the pups is often relative to how many pups there are in the litter. The larger the litter, the smaller the pups will likely be.

Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Babies?

Yes, guinea pigs sometimes eat their babies. During our research we learned that there are two possible reasons why: 

  1. Malnourished – not getting enough to eat of the right kinds of food
  2. Back to back pregnancies – due to nutrient deficiencies 

This was one question that had me really worried.

I didn’t know how we would handle it if Theo rejected her babies or even worse ate her young!

Thankfully, she had an uneventful pregnancy and birth and did not eat her babies. 

Baby Guinea Pig Care 

What do baby guinea pigs eat?

Baby guinea pigs are able to digest solid food soon after birth; however, the majority of their required nutrients will come from their mother’s milk.

It is important to make sure that the pups begin nursing within the first few hours of birth.

They will nurse every two hours for the first three weeks. 

Guinea pigs mature quickly and will begin to nibble the hay, pellets and veggies fed to their mother within 24 hours. 

We noticed our guinea pig babies began to eat mama’s food within a few days of birth.

As they grow, baby guinea pigs will require extra calcium to help their bones develop properly. Calcium can be found in alfalfa hay or alfalfa-based pellets, timothy hay and oranges.

Do newborn guinea pigs drink water?

Guinea pigs need fresh water daily. Make sure that your guinea pig babies are able to reach the water bottle sipper.

We placed an additional water bottle in the cage so that it was low enough for the babies to reach it. 

Guinea pigs need fresh water daily. 

Change the water daily. Thoroughly clean and disinfect the water bottle at least once per week. 

Make sure that your guinea pig babies are able to reach the water bottle sipper. 

We placed an additional water bottle in the cage so that we could position it low enough for the babies to reach it.

Is it okay to touch baby guinea pigs?

Yes, it is okay to touch your new baby guinea pigs.

Be quiet and move slowly around baby guinea pigs. When you touch them be soft and gentle.

Do not disturb your guinea pigs when they are sleeping or nursing.

How long before you can handle baby guinea pigs?

It is perfectly fine to handle your new guinea pigs within the first week. Interact with baby guinea pigs early and as often as possible so that they become used to humans. 

At first your guinea pig baby may seem afraid when you pick him up.

Watch carefully for signs of stress or discomfort. Put him back with his mother if he becomes vocal or squirmy.

It may take some time for him to become comfortable with you. Just like with taming older guinea pigs be patient and consistent. 

RELATED: CLICK HERE for tips on how to tame your guinea pig (step by step guide).

To pick up your guinea pig move slowly and gently pick him up with two hands. One under his chest and one under his bottom. Hold him against your chest to help him feel secure and safe. Talk to him with a soft voice and pet his head. 

When you pick them up secure one hand beneath the stomach and one under the bottom and hold close to your chest.

If your guinea pig becomes restless or starts to squeak loudly  it is a sign that he is ready to go back to his cage. 

How long do guinea pig babies stay with mom?

Newborn guinea pigs should be kept with their mom for at least 3 weeks. 

In our research, we could not find a definitive age when guinea pigs are declared adults; however, they reach sexual maturity by four weeks of age.

When to separate baby guinea pigs?

Prepare to separate the male and female baby guinea pigs by at least three weeks of age. 

To do this, we learned it is best to wean the males by removing them from their mom and sisters cage at three weeks and moving them to a separate cage. This is necessary to prevent pregnancy.

The female pups can be weaned the following week at four weeks of age. 

By six weeks of age baby guinea pigs are self-sufficient and fully weaned. They have learned quite a few life skills from their mother and are ready to go to their new homes.  

How do you tell if a baby guinea pig is a boy or girl?

It can be difficult to tell the difference between male and female guinea pigs under three weeks of age. 

If you are unsure, it is best to consult with a veterinarian to help determine the sex of the pups. 

We were stressed out during this time because we did not want to have another unexpected guinea pig pregnancy. 

At three weeks of age it was still hard for us to tell the difference between the males and females. 

We knew for sure that we had one male and two females, but it was still hard for us to tell with the fourth guinea pig.   

Here is how to tell if your baby guinea pig is a boy or girl: 

  1. Hold your guinea pig securely and gently turn him / her over.
  2. Look quickly because guinea pigs are not happy being held this way. 
  3. Male guinea pigs have a donut-shaped opening. If you push gently on their lower abdomen the penis may appear. 
  4. Female guinea pigs have a Y-shaped opening close to their anus.

RELATED: CLICK HERE for more information on how to determine the sex of a guinea pig.

What are some cute guinea pig names?

Coming up with a cute guinea pig name is a lot of fun, but can be tough.

There are so many names to choose from!

We spent some time coming up with cute guinea pig names for our babies and decided upon the following; Moose, Aspen, Moon and Finn!

RELATED: CLICK HERE for 99 cute guinea pig names to help you choose.

Newborn Baby Guinea Pig Summary

We hope you found this article helpful about what to expect when expecting newborn baby guinea pigs!

Caring for baby guinea pigs can be a rewarding experience if you know what to expect. 

What’s your experience with newborn baby guinea pigs?

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. 


Theo and Remmy

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