Have you recently bought a pet guinea pig? If so, you are probably wondering about what will happen if you introduce them to a member of the opposite sex.
Breeding guinea pigs can be a complicated process, and like every pet owner, it’s important that you find out everything that you can about the mating habits of your pet guinea pig.
How Frequently Do Guinea Pigs Mate?
Domestic guinea pigs can mate throughout the year.
Unlike other small animals, such as squirrels that only mate during a specific period of the year, guinea pigs have a year-round breeding season.
Guinea pigs tend to reach sexual maturity very fast as well. A male guinea pig will fully mature within 56 to 70 days.
In the case of female guinea pigs, these animals reach sexual maturity within 67 days.
Depending on the age of your pet, you can determine whether they are sexually mature and ready to reproduce.
The average gestation period of a female guinea pig is between 59 and 72 days. If you factor in this period, then it will allow your guinea pigs to mate at least three to four times every year.
Female guinea pigs are in estrus (the period during which they are fertile and ready to engage in sexual activity) three to four times a year as well.
The length of this period is sixteen days long. This also determines the frequency of their breeding cycles.
The average lifespan of a guinea pig is 8 years. If you consider the number of times these animals breed on an annual basis, then you can expect them to mate at least 24 to 32 times during their lifetime.
Guinea pigs have also been known to live for as long as 14 years. Depending on the length of their life, the frequency of their mating sessions can increase or decrease.
What are the Breeding Habits of Guinea Pigs?
When it comes to breeding, guinea pigs can exhibit monogamy as well as polygamy. This mostly depends on how they are housed.
For example, if you have placed multiple males and females in close vicinity of each other, then you can expect them to have multiple mates.
These animals usually mate at nighttime. Before a mating session occurs, you can expect the following to happen:
- The male guinea pig will smell the genital area of a female guinea pig
- A female will showcase her receptiveness by arching her back and lifting her hindquarters
- The male guinea pig will then ‘mark’ the female with their scent (urine is used for this)
- The male guinea pig will seek to protect the female against other males (this is mostly observed in situations where a single female guinea pig is housed with multiple males)
Things pan out very differently if a female guinea pig is not receptive to a male’s advances.
In this case, the female will communicate her rejection by spraying the male with urine.
She will then proceed to lunge at him, back up, and then hit his face while baring her teeth.
On average, a female usually gets pregnant for the first time when she is 175 days old.
Pregnant females tend to have a distended abdominal area. Like humans, they show a marked increase in their food and water intake during this period (usually by 2 or 3 times).
If your guinea pig is pregnant, avoid making any changes in their immediate environment. This will increase their stress, and they may stop eating or drinking.
Guinea pigs do not make any arrangements prior to the labor and birthing process. Females go into labor for 10 to 30 minutes.
There is an interval of 5 to 10 minutes between each pup being born. While giving birth, the female will sit up and hunch or squat.
The litter size produced can have 1 to 8 offspring. In most cases, you can expect a female to give birth to 3 babies.
A female guinea pig will care for her babies only to a limited extent. She will nurse them for 2 to 3 weeks until weaning.
If your guinea pig has given birth, make sure you handle the newborn babies very carefully.
When a guinea pig is 2 or 3 weeks old, it will begin to develop a bond with you and will become more receptive to physical contact.
Do Female Guinea Pigs Experience Complications During Pregnancy?
If your female guinea pig is only 5 to 6 months old, then you can expect a smooth pregnancy and birthing process.
Pregnancy gets complicated as the age of the guinea pig increases. The maximum age for a smooth pregnancy resulting in natural birth is 10 months.
If you breed guinea pigs that have crossed the 10-month mark, then certain structural changes will prevent the female from giving birth naturally.
The most significant change is their pubic symphysis getting fused after 10 months and preventing them from giving birth naturally.
If your guinea pig ends up getting pregnant in spite of being 10 months or older, then you will have to consult your vet for performing a cesarean section on them.
A pregnant guinea pig can suffer from a variety of medical conditions as well.
These include calcium deficiency, abrupt hypertension, uterine prolapsed, and inflammation of breast tissue.
Make sure you monitor your guinea pig’s appetite to avoid these problems. You can also keep an eye on her stool and level of physical activity.
If you believe that your guinea pig is behaving in an unusual manner or showing signs of illness, make sure you take her to a vet for a medical checkup.
Should You Breed Guinea Pigs at Home?
- Difficulty in finding a good home for the newborn guinea pigs
- Reduction in the lifespan of female guinea pigs due to breeding
- The danger of encouraging breeding in guinea pigs when the female is more than 8 months old. A guinea pig that has already crossed the 10-month mark without getting pregnant may not be able to deliver babies via labor. Once again, this is because of the changes that occur in its pubic symphysis.
How Can You Prevent Guinea Pigs from Mating?
If you are looking for a safe, easy, and inexpensive way to prevent mating among guinea pigs, then we suggest you do not keep male and female guinea pigs in the same cage.
If this is not an option then, you can consider neutering male guinea pigs and spaying female guinea pigs.
This will effectively prevent any mating sessions.
Neutering a male is generally simpler than spaying a female.
However, both procedures require a good veterinarian, so make sure you get in touch with an experienced vet, who has performed these procedures numerous times.
Caring for a Neutered/Spayed Guinea Pig
A neutered or spayed guinea pig will require special care after its surgery.
You must keep them in isolation, away from other guinea pigs, while they recuperate.
This can be done by transferring them to a different cage during this period. Make sure this cage is sterilized properly.
If the guinea pig is exposed to dirt or bacteria, they could risk developing an infection.
You can purchase an anti-bacterial spray to clean the cage. You can also create a homemade antiseptic solution consisting of distilled white vinegar and warm water.
In most cases, people use wood shavings or paper to create a bed for their guinea pigs.
This is unsuitable for guinea pigs post their surgery. Instead, you can use towels to build a small bed for them.
These should be changed two times every day. Do not use any straw or hay for their bedding, as well. This can cause irritation.
You must also monitor the diet of your guinea pig while they recover from their surgery. Make sure they are eating and drinking as they normally do.
You can provide them with fresh vegetables, hay, and pellets.
Feeding them with hay is particularly important, and you need to make sure they get constant access to this food type.
You can purchase soft hay, which is easier to consume. Feeding them tough and elongated hay may not be suitable at this point.
Supplying your guinea pig with extra vitamin C can be helpful for their recovery as well.
This can be in the form of vegetables, such as capsicum, kale, or mustard spinach. These can help boost the immune system of your guinea pig.
Make sure you check on your guinea pig frequently during the day. In some cases, a guinea pig’s condition may deteriorate after surgery.
This can be due to their ruptured incision. In other cases, a lump may form around the incision. These incidents can lead to an infection.
Make sure you get in touch with your vet immediately if you believe your guinea pig is showcasing signs of illness.
Let’s Sum It Up
Guinea pigs tend to mate 3 to 4 times a year. However, their breeding season is not limited to a particular period.
These animals reach sexual maturity fairly quickly. A female guinea pig usually has her first pregnancy when she is 175 days old.
The age of the guinea pig will determine how smoothly the birthing process goes.
Young guinea pigs that are less than 10 months old will not experience any complications during their pregnancy, and you can expect a normal birthing process.
However, if your female guinea pig is older than 10 months, then you should avoid breeding them.
These guinea pigs will not be able to give birth naturally and will require a cesarean section instead.
These surgeries can be complicated, and you should avoid putting the life of your guinea pig at risk.
You can also take steps to prevent your guinea pigs from mating after a certain point.
This includes keeping males and females in separate cages or getting your guinea pig spayed or neutered.
In most cases, veterinarians recommend that you avoid breeding your guinea pigs altogether.
This can create problems for you as well as your pets. If your guinea pig does end up getting pregnant, then make sure you take extra care of the female and try to make things easier for her.
You must also pay special attention to the newborn guinea pigs and ensure they are cared for.
Most importantly, if you do not have room for the newborns, then make sure they go to a good home with responsible pet owners.
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