Breeding Guinea Pigs: Step By Step Guide

There could be many reasons for guinea pig owners to breed their guinea pigs (cavia porcellus). Some are breeding guinea pigs to get a profit by selling baby guinea pigs. Some owners may want to share these cute furry animals with their friends or family who are not taking the first step to adopt this furry animal while others just want to have more for them to take care.

It is very important that you get a sound knowledge about breeding before you really try it. Breeding Guinea Pigs is not an easy process as it requires much dedication and the process could be very stressful for female guinea pig.

Even your cavy could face a lot of difficulties during the birth so make sure that you go through this guide thoroughly to get a fair idea about breeding.

Identifying The Gender

Before you prepare for breeding, you should be able to identify your guinea pigs gender. Usually there is a possibility to identify the gender at birth if you know how to say the two sexes separately or what to look but many will wait till the guinea pigs grow up as it is easier to identify.

Both male and female look exceptionally same. So you need to do a physical examination to identify the gender. Hold your pet guinea pig gently as its belly points upwards and towards you. Then gently press the furry coat above its pelvis. If you are holding a male guinea pig, you will see a penis near the anus area. When further pressure is applied gently you will clearly see the testicles if you are holding up a grown up guinea pig.

In female guinea pig you won’t notice any of this and you will observe a Y shaped curvature of skin above the anus area as well as an external urethral opening. You can repeat this procedure several times to make sure and observe carefully to be sure that you don’t miss anything in particular.

Recognize The Risks Of Breeding Guinea Pigs

  • Usually a female guinea pig can give birth few times a year, to be exact four or five times a year. Breeding decreases the life expectancy of female guinea pigs. So you need to monitor the frequency of guinea pigs pregnancies closely.

  • If you delay your female guinea pig’s first pregnancy after it turns to six months old, pregnancy could cause serious birthing complications. If your piggy is on perfect age for its first pregnancy part of her pelvis should split before delivery. About eight months later pelvis would fuse together and a c-section surgery will be needed to reduce the risk to mother and her babies.

  • Pregnancy toxaemia is another serious risk you need to be aware of. Main factors for toxaemia are obesity, stress, less exercise, adult age, having several babies, less consumption of food. This is something you could prevent if you pay attention to your pig and always prevention is better than cure. Signs will not pop up until two weeks due to pregnancy so you can keep your pregnant guinea pig healthy by offering a balanced healthy diet and fresh clean water. Also keep her inside the house or in a place with shelter to protect from colder weather.

Identifying The Correct Age Group For Breeding Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are physically accomplished of breeding from four weeks and they can be sexually matured at the time of ten weeks. Even though young guinea pig is ready, you should not risk your pet to breed as that age is still considered as a young age to breed. Because of this reason young guinea pigs are divided gender wise before they get into the age of four weeks.

Female guinea pig or some called them “sow” should never be in the process of breeding before the age of three months. Three months can be considered as the minimum age to breed and the maximum age should not exceed 2 years of age. Though a sow may remain fertile up to four years of age, pregnancy at this age comes with greater risks.

When considering male guinea pig or boar can participate for breeding when it is eight to nine weeks old. There is no specific age or the pig’s age is less important when it comes to breeding.

The estrous cycle (heat cycle) of guinea pigs is the period of time which female guinea pigs are most fertile and approachable to mating. Every 16 days, female guinea pigs come into heat for 12 hours of time. Spring season can be considered as the peak of pregnancy though they can become pregnant throughout the year.

You can consider as female guinea pigs are gifted because they can become pregnant again as quickly after they give birth. You need to keep an interval between pregnancies at least 3 to 4 months as continuous pregnancies are not healthy to your piggy.

If you have kept your guinea pigs outside it’s not a good idea to perform breeding in winter or cold weather as pregnant mother and later pup or pups will find it very hard to stay warm. Check out our comprehensive guide regarding taking care of baby guinea pigs for more information.

Checklist For Breeding Guinea Pigs

  • If you have a small guinea pig cage you need to arrange another cage which has enough space to keep all your guinea pigs including new born guinea pigs.

  • Provide sufficient comfortable bedding for pregnant sow.

  • Buy toys including chewing toys and hiding holes for your pigs to play and enjoy.

  • Check your guinea pig food storage and make sure that there is enough guinea pig pellet, alfalfa hay and water bottles to offer to your cavies.

Steps In Breeding Guinea Pigs

Choose healthy and perfectly built male guinea pig and a female guinea pig.

Though young sow and a young boar can breed, it is recommended to stay till both of them to be mature. If you are treating your cavies for mites or fleas you need to do these treatments at least a fortnight before their breeding period to avoid any effects from ivermectin on baby guinea pig.

Introduction of boar

There are hardly any issues when you first introduce boar to sow, but watch them closely and make sure they are doing well as a couple. Boar will start making a thrilled sound and walk around the sow in a hilarious stiff-legged action.

Waiting for pregnancy

You can keep both sow and boar together for 17 to 48 days. As sow will come on heat roughly every 16 days there are few chances for sow to get pregnant if she doesn’t get pregnant after first 16 days. When sow is active on her heat cycle, she will be interested in mating about 8 hours.

Separate the couple after the birth

As mentioned earlier, sow can become pregnant soon after giving birth. But it is not healthy and it is not recommended. This phenomenon is called “postpartum Oestrus” and simply means nursing babies and get pregnant at the same time. So it is very important that you separate boar from sow to prevent the immediate pregnancy and look after new born guinea pigs.

Mating Behavior

When guinea pigs are ready to mate they involve in an exceptional mating dance. Male guinea pigs shake their hips sideways and try to impress their ladies. They also do a special vibrating sound which is known as “motor boating”.

If you have a group of guinea pigs the leading male in the group will be the first to mount with a sow. This is very normal among guinea pigs. There is a possibility that when females are in heat period they will mount on each other. If you are looking forward to commence breeding this is the perfect time for you to introduce your female guinea pig to male guinea pig.

When your introduction of female to male guinea pig is a success the process should not take long to take place. If the female guinea pig is interested you can notice that female would curve her back and lift her hindquarters when male guinea pig comes close. If female guinea pig is not receptive she would spray urine on male and act as she is about attack at him. You would also notice showing teeth, biting or snapping at male.

If you notice males mount with each other it can be considered as a sign of aggression. Mounting could last few seconds and happen few times in one hour. This could be the only time you see any violent actions among male pigs otherwise they are quite calm and enjoyable.

Birth Control

As a guinea pig owner if you need to have a pet or two, you need to pick guinea pigs from same gender. If you get two guinea pigs from different sex without knowing, you would turn into a guinea pig breeder. If you really want to have a couple of pets getting two females from a pet shop is recommended because females are more certainly to get along than males.

Final Thoughts

It is very important that you understand this guide is for informational purposes only. We do recommend and do not hesitate to contact a veterinarian if you have any concerns regarding your guinea pig care.

Veterinarians do not recommend or encourage individual guinea pig owners to attempt breeding, but if you are certain that you are up for the task you can give it go.

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