Many animals have been reported to leave their young right after birth. While some do stick around to nurse their young for some time, yes, it might not sound so motherly, but it is a harsh truth. So, as a curious guinea pig lover, I did some research, and the answers were fascinating for me.
Do guinea pigs nurse their young? Yes, female guinea pigs do nurse their young for a few weeks after birth. While the baby boars can be separated in just three weeks once they are fully weaned, the baby sows can remain with the mother for up to 4 weeks from the time of birth.
Some guinea pig moms have their maternity care kicked in as they give birth while others take some time before they take their responsibility.
Once you ensure that all the baby guinea pigs are healthy, it is best to leave them with their moms.
You might feel that the mom is unattentive towards them, but it is entirely natural.
It might take up to 24 hours before some mom starts nursing their young.
How do guinea pigs care for their young?
Once the maternity instinct of mother guinea pigs kicks in, she will continue to nurse their young for at least two weeks.
Cleaning Her Young Ones
After she gave birth to all the young ones, she will start nursing by cleaning them all clean.
The mother guinea pigs will eat the afterbirth and clean the fluids from there fur.
This is an essential step as the chemicals in the afterbirth helps in developing the mammary glands of the mother so that she can start producing milk for her young ones.
She will also bite off the umbilical cord to complete the process of cleaning.
Feeding and nurturing the young ones
As the babies are born, they are capable of eating solid food right from the birth although their mother will feed them with milk for first 2-3 days.
She will then start to train them to forage and eat solid food.
Once the babies start eating solid food, they stimulate them to urinate and defecate by cleaning and licking their bottom a few times a day.
She will also teach them a lot of other stuff during this time phase.
She will also produce a softer stool for her babies which they will consume.
This is important as the stool will contain some beneficial bacteria needed by the digestive system of the young guinea pigs.
She will continue to nurture her children until they are capable of feeding themselves.
How long do guinea pigs nurse their young?
Guinea pigs usually nurse their young for at least two weeks.
By then the young guinea pigs are capable of foraging and eating some solid food apart from mother’s milk.
While the boars should be separated by they are three weeks old, the sows can remain with the mother for one more week.
Feeding and nurturing by the mother guinea pigs is a must in those early days so that the babies stay healthy and active.
Never separate the babies from their mother until they are two weeks old.
Can the father guinea pig be with the babies?
No, the father guinea pigs cannot be with their babies at any cost. Living the father with their babies in the cage is a high-risk factor to consider.
He can be dangerous for the babies as well as for the mother guinea pig as well. Let us discuss in detail about some possible problems:
Aggressive towards the babies:
Some boars have an aggressive personality, and living the newborn guinea pigs with such a father can be fatal.
The father may not recognize them as his offspring and can get territorial and end up attacking them.
Although it might not be the case always with all the boars, it is best to keep them separate rather than taking such a risk.
Some species of rodents can eat their newborn offspring.
While the male species have a higher chance of such an act, so keeping them away from each other, especially in those early days is a wise decision to make.
Although such an action is not reported more than a few times among guinea pigs, still the chances are always there, so it is best to avoid such circumstances.
Learn more about guinea pigs cannibalization from this resource here.
Female guinea pigs are highly susceptible to get pregnant right after they give birth to a new litter.
A new estrous cycle shortly after they give birth which increases the chances of back to back pregnancy in them.
It is recommended to keep the males separate to avoid such circumstances as the mother will not need the help of male guinea pig in taking care of their offspring.
Also, if the male mates again and makes her pregnant then it can have a significant toll on her health as back to back pregnancy have a severe health impact on female guinea pigs.
When are guinea pigs weaned?
When guinea pig babies are born, then they require nursing for at least the first two weeks.
Mother’s milk in those early stages provides them with much-needed nourishment which they need for healthy growth.
Mother guinea pigs will teach their young kids to eat solids during that phase starting from the 3rd day.
Separating a baby boar is crucial during the three week period as boys can get matured pretty early.
Boys are capable of exhibiting mating behavior once they are three weeks old. So, the chances of them making their mom pregnant are pretty high.
Thus, the optimum age for separating the boys from their mother would be the 3rd week.
Young sows can live up to 4 weeks from the time of birth with their mother.
Since they cannot make their mother pregnant, it is safe to leave them with their mother for one more week of nourishment.
Also, make sure you separate young sows with their brothers as they can even mate with them and make them pregnant.
Baby guinea pig basic diet
Baby guinea pigs can eat solid food after being nursed for two weeks.
Although baby guinea pigs are capable of eating solid food from day one, once you separate them, it is essential to keep up with the proper diet, so they get enough nutrition.
Alfalfa and timothy hay, Guinea pig pellets are the way to go to provide your guinea pigs with essential nutrients like calcium and fiber.
Introducing vegetables and fruits in a young guinea pig’s diet can be a challenge.
As they may not understand what to do with them, but eventually they will figure it out and come to grab their piece of treat soon.
DO GUINEA PIGS EAT THEIR YOUNG?
Yes, guinea pigs might eat their young. Although this is a rare scenario as compared to other rodents like mice and hamster who are known for cannibalization nature when it comes to newborn babies.
Sometimes back to back pregnancy in mother can make her stressed out and restless and she can get into such hideous task just like it happens with a hamster.
Although guinea pigs are calm animals and the chances of something like that happening is pretty low.