Breeding Your Guinea Pig
As you look at your guinea pig, you may feel the world needs more guinea pigs just as beautiful and amiable as yours. In other words, you may be thinking about breeding your pet.
Make this decision carefully, and only after a lot of research and talking with experienced breeders. Breeding guinea pigs is not as simple as it sounds. To safeguard the health of your pet and his or her offspring, you need to be able to handle any situation you encounter. Some questions to answer include:
- Do you have the time to dedicate to breeding? The time you will need to spend with your new babies will increase dramatically.
- Will you be able to afford the costs involved if a veterinarian is necessary?
- Do you have access to an exotic veterinarian?
- If you can't find homes for the new babies, are you willing to keep them? This means more cages, more feeding, and more cleaning. Remember you started with one guinea pig, then you acquired a second one and now you may have a total of four – or even more.
Any breeding should be taken seriously and left to experienced cavy breeders. Breeding should not be performed as a school or scientific project or to allow children to witness the miracle of birth. Too many guinea pigs are left homeless and in humane societies.
The most important aspect of guinea pig breeding is timing: The females (sows) MUST be bred between 4 and 7 months of age. If breeding occurs after this time, serious and often fatal (to both female and young) problems associated with delivery can occur. The pelvis of the sow fuses at an early age, which decreases the size of the birth canal. The young are born very large and will not be able to pass through the canal of an older guinea pig, and delivery of the young will be impossible without a caesarean section. If they are bred early, the sow's pelvis is able to expand under the influence of certain hormones and she will rarely have complications with future deliveries.
Guinea pigs are pregnant for about 2 months and deliver litters of up to three pups. Usually, only two are in a litter.
Male guinea pigs (boars) will show sexual behavior as early as 3 to 4 weeks, but are unable to produce viable sperm until 11 to 17 weeks of age. The boars should be at least 4 months old before breeding.
The young are called pups (not piglets) and are well developed at birth. They are born with their eyes open, fully furred and standing within an hour of delivery. The pups are also able to eat solid food and drink from a bowl within hours to just 3 days after birth, but it is recommended to allow them to nurse for 3 weeks.
If you decided to breed your pet, be a responsible breeder and give them the best care. They are counting on you!