Pregnancy in guinea pigs (part I)


The pregnancy of the guinea pigs lasts an average of 68 days although this average can be altered due to the age of the female, the size of the female, the size of the litter, the feeding during pregnancy. Normally a litter of a young can be extended more than a litter of 4 or 5 young since the uterus of the guinea pig being fuller, holds less. On the other hand I must say that we have had litters of two offspring whose pregnancy has lasted 68 days and, recently, we have had a litter of three offspring whose gestation has lasted 70 days. I tell you, it is a subject subject to many variables but, it is usual for the pregnancy to last between 65 and 72 days according to all the documentation we have consulted.

What makes us eat our heads trying to find out if our guinea pigs are pregnant is that, usually, until 4 or 5 weeks the pregnancy does not begin to be evident and, sometimes, until the “kicks” of babies are not noticed , we cannot be 100% sure if our guinea pig is pregnant or is simply thicker. These animals by their nature tend to be tummy and sometimes this characteristic leads to confusion (I say it from my own experience).

Symptoms of pregnancy: most pregnant females begin to drink more water than usual after the second or third week of gestation. About half of the pregnancy the belly hardens since its muscles are prepared for the load that comes on top of it (it is necessary to take into account that sometimes the guinea pig gets to double its initial weight during pregnancy, especially in young guinea pigs starting from a lower weight than adults). Another symptom in some pregnant females is that very soon, they complain when you try to catch them or touch their belly. All these symptoms may or may not occur, guinea pigs are not robots with instruction book and each, just as they have a different character, show a different symptomatology before this "special" state.
When the pregnancy is nearing its end it is time to check the opening of the pelvic bones.

These begin to separate approximately 10 days before delivery although we know of cases in which it has occurred long before and others in which they have been opened 4 or 5 days before delivery. It will be important, therefore, to know where and how we locate this opening. You can see where to locate the pelvic bone in the scheme below and, as to how to palpate them it is simple: it is not necessary or take the guinea pig (we are talking about the final stretch of pregnancy and the less we manipulate the voluminous future mom, the better what better), we simply immobilize it with one of our hands so that it does not move and we pass the index finger or heart of the other hand below the back of the guinea pig, between the hind legs. With the finger we touch the area that is just in front of the genital area (which would correspond to the pubis in humans) and pressing very lightly we will notice a single bone “---” (in case the separation has not begun) or either two bones separated by a major or minor opening depending on the proximity of the birth "- -".

When the pelvic separation is 1 to 2.5 cm (varies depending on the guinea pig), it is only expected to wait for babies to be born in 1 to 3 days.

Another thing that takes away the dream of guinea pig breeders: EL PARTO. And I say it literally takes our sleep away. Every time we have a guinea pig about to give birth, towards the 67th day of pregnancy, I start sleeping with an ear alert to any sound in case my collaboration is needed to achieve a happy ending.

The usual thing in guinea pigs is that childbirth is “like sewing and singing” but, sometimes, first-time mothers have a problem and, because they get scared or lack of instinct, let them lose the first litter by not cleaning the babies newborns and break the amniotic sac right away so they can breathe. Luckily, in the second birth everything usually goes on wheels.

What takes away the dream of the birth of guinea pigs is that it is asymptomatic, that is, a guinea pig about to give birth, will be eating and drinking as if such a thing until, suddenly, it will stand still, it will make a small groan accompanied by a contraction and that's it, the machinery is running. Sometimes, the first contraction already causes the head of the first offspring to come out although sometimes two or three more contractions are needed but, if you are lucky enough to attend a guinea pig delivery, you will see how easy everything is. If you are there, you will not need to intervene. Do it only if you see that, after the birth of any of the offspring, the mother does not see or ignore it for a few seconds, if so and the offspring has been wrapped in the amniotic bag (usually so), without fear, with your fingers Breaking the amniotic bag at the mouth of the mini guinea pig, this will automatically start breathing. Surely the mother will see her right away and start cleaning her like a hysterical until the second baby is born (if any). Normally a few minutes pass between baby and baby but sometimes two babies are born in a row and the mother only goes to one of them so our intervention will be necessary so that the other baby can breathe while waiting for her cleaning shift. If you see that when you break the bag, the baby does not start breathing immediately take it and give it a little shake, it is usually enough to make it react.

In an interval of 10 to 30 minutes, all the litter's offspring are usually born and a sign that there will be no more babies is that in the mother's last contractions, she expels the placentas, one per baby. The placenta looks like a piece of red meat that the mother almost always eats on instinct (it will help her regain strength and eliminate clues and odors from childbirth).

If you see that the birth does not progress or that the mother suffers excessively and the babies are not born, do not hesitate, call your veterinarian because the life of the mother and the babies is at stake.

Fortunately, the vast majority of births run smoothly.

There are deliveries with blood and deliveries almost completely clean but, in any case, after a couple of hours, the mother, the children and the place of birth will be unimpaired thanks to the eagerness that the female puts into cleaning everything.

IMPORTANT: if you do not want your guinea pig to get pregnant the same day you stop, you should have it separated from the male since most females have postpartum heat and it is not beneficial for the animal to have two consecutive pregnancies and more while is breastfeeding

For those who want to see a birth, here are photos of one of the last deliveries I was lucky enough to attend.

Feeding guinea pigs during pregnancy

A particularity of the guinea pigs is that they cannot synthesize in their body vitamin C or ascorbic acid and therefore, it is essential that in their diet there is a sufficient contribution of this vitamin (see the section of special foods of Cunipic for guinea pigs). Normally an adult guinea pig needs about 10 mg / kg of ascorbic acid, and about 30 mg / kg in guinea pigs during pregnancy.

To supply this lack of vitamin, you have to feed with vegetables and fruits such as spinach, parsley, beets, tomatoes, peppers, kiwis, oranges ... or mixed in the water at a rate of 1g / L, taking into account that in 24 hours lose more than 50%

It should also be taken into account that in aqueous solutions, vitamin C deteriorates in the presence of metals, dirt from water and / or heat. Therefore the water must be changed daily.
Apart from all this we must feed the guinea pig with a special feed for guinea pigs.

Guinea pig gestation

Gestation lasts between 59 and 70 days, the normal average being 63 days.

In the last 10-12 days, the mother's pelvic bones will begin to separate and prepare for childbirth.

After 63 days she will give birth to a litter of between one and nine puppies.

The usual thing in guinea pigs is that childbirth does not lead to problems. But sometimes, new mothers may have complications, either because they get scared or because of a lack of maternal instinct. They can lose the first litter by not cleaning newborn babies or by not breaking their amniotic sac right away so they can breathe.

If there is a puppy that the mother has not seen, we will break the amniotic bag at the height of the mouth and if we see that it does not react, we give it a little shake.

In the following article we will continue with this topic, with very important aspects and care during the pregnancy of guinea pigs.

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