Phantom pregnancy is a condition where a female shows the pregnancy symptoms, but actually, they are not pregnant. It is a common problem in dogs and rabbits, but what about our guinea pigs? Can guinea pigs have phantom pregnancies?
Yes, a guinea pig can have phantom pregnancy, even after being spayed. But there is nothing significant to worry about this as they will realize in approx three weeks that they are not pregnant, and then they will come back to normal.
At this stage, your guinea pig will need empathy and support from you. During this time, her hormones will be extremely inconsistent. It is also possible that you have to handle mood swings, elevated hunger, and unusual behaviors.
What is false pregnancy in guinea pigs?
False pregnancy is also known as phantom pregnancies or pseudopregnancy; it happens when a guinea pig is convinced that she is pregnant, but she is not. It is common in any female guinea pig of breeding age.
According to a guinea pig, there is no difference between phantom and genuine pregnancy. She will behave like she is pregnant, although she is not.
What causes phantom pregnancies in guinea pigs?
It’s a misconception that is developed by the guinea pig, which lasts for approx 20 days. In some cases, it may last a little longer or shorter.
When female guinea pigs ovulate, she believes that she is pregnant, although she is not. Overstress can also be a reason for phantom pregnancies.
Let us understand this broadly.
- Overstressed: If a guinea pig gets stressed, they may ovulate, and then they create a misconception that they are pregnant. There are many ways your guinea pig can be stressed. For example: Loud noises, Fear of predator, etc.
- Separated from a bonded friend: Guinea pigs can get stressed if separated from their bonded partner as they are very accustomed to their presence, and sudden vanishing of their partner can make them come into stress.
- Taken to the vet: Guinea pigs don’t enjoy medication and health checkups. A trip to the vet can definitely cause stress in your guinea pigs.
Will spaying prevent phantom pregnancies?
No, spaying will not prevent phantom pregnancies. Even after spaying guinea pigs can experience phantom pregnancies. However, there are many health benefits of spaying your guinea pigs.
Spaying a guinea pig won’t make her less attracted to the male; even an unneutered male will still mount a spayed female, which can result in phantom pregnancy.
So, we can say that spaying does not help prevent false pregnancy but it does provide health benefits to our guinea pigs.
What to do with the nest if your guinea pig have phantom pregnancy?
It would be suggested you not do anything with the nest.
Because if you try to remove the nest of guinea pig, there are chances that they might get upset and stressed.
Getting stressed can then lead to many problems in our guinea pigs.
Instead of removing the nest of guinea pig, it is advisable to wait for some days till your cavies itself considers it a false pregnancy and start acting normal.
How can u tell if a guinea pig is pregnant?
When a guinea pig experiences false pregnancy, they react as they are genuinely pregnant.
It also gets painful for us to decide by looking at their behavior because they have all symptoms which are there in pregnancy like mood swings, and overeating.
So, deciding about pregnancy on the basis of their behavior is not possible. Let’s discuss specific real pregnancy symptoms:
- Ballooning belly: When any female produces a baby, their belly gets to expand. So is with the female guinea pigs; when they get pregnant, they have an enlarged stomach.
- Eating more: It is prevalent to eat more at the time of pregnancy as there are 4-5 pubs inside guinea pigs stomach. The hunger level of your guinea pigs also increases as they require more food because they are eating for 4-5 babies.
- Mood Fluctuations: Even the sweetest guinea pig will become more volatile. Pregnancy leads to massive mood swings, which are the reason for anger in guinea pigs.
- Nesting: Whenever a guinea pig is pregnant, she will prepare a nest. Whenever you see your guinea pig carrying hay in her mouth for making a nest, you can consider it as a sign of pregnancy.
It will be challenging to determine whether she is pregnant or not, as she will have the same behavior as natural pregnancy.
She will engage in this behavior for at least 20-30 days, and after this, a phantom pregnancy comes to an abrupt halt, and guinea pigs return to normal.
There is an alternate way to check whether your guinea pig is pregnant or not.
You can move your finger around her belly, and while doing that, if you feel little lumps, then consider your guinea pig as pregnant.
If you don’t feel anything while moving fingers around her belly, then she is not pregnant.
How long does a phantom pregnancy last?
Guinea pig’s phantom pregnancy can last up to 20-30 days, and it can last longer in some cases.
Pregnancy is not so easy for guinea pigs. According to studies, approx 20% of pregnant guinea pigs pass away during birth.
The rest of them survive but with a lot of complications, which results in costly to you and painful to her.
Guinea pig’s pregnancy lasts about 9 to 10 weeks. Guinea pig’s phantom pregnancy can last up to 20-30 days, and it can last longer in some cases. The timeline of false pregnancy vs. genuine pregnancy plays out as follows:
|Day||Genuine Pregnancy||Fake Pregnancy|
|1||The unspayed guinea pigs mates with an unneutered male and is impregnated||In this case, the guinea pigs ovulate due to stress and consider that she is pregnant|
|7-12||She will start eating more and more as she is eating for 4-5 babies||In this case, she will eat more and become aggressive towards other guinea pigs|
|15-18||The tummy starts getting swollen and might have small bumps.||No change in guinea pigs tummy|
|20-25`||A Guinea pig will start making the nest. The guinea pig will stockpile hay and blankets||A Guinea pig will start making the nest. The guinea pig will stockpile hay and blankets|
|30-38||The nesting process begins, the guinea pigs start resting and relaxing in her nest||The guinea pig will start losing interest in nesting and will come back to its normal behavior.|
|50-60||The guinea pig will give birth.||Your guinea pig till now has forgotten everything related to her phantom pregnancy.|
Guinea pig phantom pregnancies treatment
We will suggest you make your guinea pig comfortable when she is experiencing a false pregnancy.
You can make her comfortable by offering them food and mostly hay. They will eat some hay, and others will be used for making a nest. Try not to disturb your guinea pig as that time she will be irritable and territorial.
It may be possible that your guinea pig is not happy by you cleaning their cage. However, you still have to do it to maintain proper hygiene, as the unclean environment can lead to significant issues to your guinea pig.
How to reduce stress in your guinea pigs?
If anything is disturbing them like loud noises, you can take her to a separate room and groom her.
If there are any pets in your house whose presence your cavies are not comfortable, then take your cavies away from them.
Therefore, following the above instructions can have you to lower the stress of your guinea pig.
Guinea pig keeps having phantom pregnancies
Phantom pregnancies are not common in guinea pigs, but if she faces false pregnancies, you will need to find out why. There can be some reason behind this:
Does she live alone: If your guinea pig leaves alone, then she can have stress which may cause ovulation. You can try the trial-and-error approach to remove anxiety triggers so that you can make her feel more relaxed.
Does she have a partner some of the time? Separating bonded guinea pigs can cause stress to them, which can also lead to ovulation.
Can phantom pregnancies be prevented in guinea pigs?
Spaying a guinea pig at an early stage can keep her hormones under control and somehow reduce the chances of stress-based ovulation.
Although it is not possible in guinea pigs to stop false pregnancy, even if your guinea pigs leave alone, she can experience phantom pregnancies. Still, there is nothing to worry about as she can resolve it on her own.
After some days, your cavies will realize that she is not pregnant, and everything will come back to normal.
- Phantom pregnancies are a condition where a female guinea pig considers herself as pregnant, but actually, she is not.
- Overstress is the leading cause of phantom pregnancies. When a guinea pig takes stress, she ovulates and then considers herself as pregnant, but she is not.
- Spaying is not a permanent solution to phantom pregnancies but has many health benefits for guinea pigs.
- Phantom pregnancies last about 20-30 days in the guinea pig.
- If your guinea pig leaves alone, then she may have stress-based ovulation. Try to apply a trial and error approach, which helps to remove anxiety and makes your guinea pig calm.
- Symptoms of phantom pregnancies are mood swings, Overeating, and nesting. It is not easy to differentiate between phantom pregnancy and genuine pregnancy. After some days, your guinea pig will herself realize that it is a false pregnancy and will start behaving normally.
- We suggest you not destroy the nest of guinea pigs as they may get upset and scared by this kind of action, instead of destroying net wait for some days so that she considers it a false pregnancy.
- There are many ways to lower the stress of your guinea pig-like grooming them, giving them an environment they are comfortable with.
- Spaying at an early age can keep her hormones under control and reduces the chances of stress based ovulation.
- Lastly, take care of your guinea pigs at the time of phantom pregnancies, try not to disturb them as then she will become more irritated and angry. Only pick her up when necessary.
Sources: Guinea Pig Breeding, Ectopic pregnancy in animals, Guinea pig models for translation of the developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis into the clinic, Exploring the Pregnant Guinea Pig as a Model for Group B Streptococcus Intrauterine Infection