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Caring for Orphaned Guinea Pigs

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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For most people, guinea pigs are cute squeaky pets. Just having one is enough. But for some, breeding guinea pigs becomes an interest. For those people interested in breeding guinea pigs, how to care for orphan babies should be considered. Another consideration is the necessity to breed a female guinea pig for the first time before 7 months of age. If the first litter is born after 7 months of age, the pelvis is likely to have calcified and will not be able to expand to allow the babies to pass. If a litter is born before age 7 months, the pelvis has been expanded and future litters should pass without trouble.

Newborn guinea pigs, called pups, are fully furred with eyes open and able to stand shortly after birth. Even so, they cannot fend for themselves and should be nursed for at least 5 days. Guinea pigs make the best mothers and give the pups the best chance at survival. If the mother is unable to nurse due to illness or death, place the orphans with a foster guinea pig mother if at all possible. If this is not an option, hand raising is necessary. Be aware that people are not the best substitutes for guinea pig moms. Orphan raising can be difficult and unrewarding.

Orphans should be fed from an eyedropper or pet nurser within the first 12 to 24 hours of life. Feed every 2 hours around the clock for the first 5 days. At that time, feedings can be reduced to every 4 hours. Over the course of the next 2 weeks, feeding times can gradually be less frequent.

Feed the orphan pup equal parts water and evaporated milk. Be aware that many pups not receiving sow's milk in the first 3 to 4 days of life do not survive.

Offer guinea pig pellets soaked in water from the first day of life. At around the second day of life, the pup may begin nibbling on the food. Continue offering milk despite eating solid food until the pups are weaned at 21 days.

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