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THE PIG SHED

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE
ABOUT ME
THE PIG SHED VIDEO
PIGGY HISTORY & INFORMATION
SETTING UP HOME
CHOOSING & TAMING YOUR GUINEA PIG
DIET & NUTRITION
PIGGY DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES
THE GUINEA PIG SALON
WHAT'S MY PIGGY?
THE CIRCLE OF LIFE
PROBLEM PAGE
GUINEA PIG INFORMATION
GIRLS ALBUM
THE REST OF THE GANG- RABBITS
THE REST OF THE GANG- CHINCHILLAS
LINKS PAGE

THIS PAGE CONTAINS INFORMATION ON THE REPRODUCTIVE CYCLE OF GUINEA PIGS FROM CONCEPTION TO BIRTH

I absolutely love having baby guinea pigs around because they are so much fun to watch and handle and you cant help but love them. Guinea pigs tend to breed just like rabbits and as long as they are the right age the birth should go perfectly. Make sure that the female is between 12 weeks and 8 months old, this is because the pelvis tends to fuse together when the pig is a year old. This makes the birth a lot more difficult and the survival rate is minimal, as the babies are unable to go down the birth canal with ease.
 
         Sometimes the mother may become so exhausted when this happens that she and the babies could die during birth. Also make sure that your pig is younger than 2 years old if you want to breed her again. This is because she may be too old to breed, causing a lot of stress for her and she may have internal damage. Also make sure that the male is also old enough to breed. This should be when they are about 10 weeks old.

         Firstly if you are planning to become a breeder then you need to find a compatible couple. As long as they dont fight and they seem comfortable together. Introduce them first so they can get to know each other and you are able to observe them closely and if all goes well they should be OK. You may hear a purring noise coming from the male, this is his way of showing off and arousing the female. You may see him mounting her but he isnt actually trying to mate, as they prefer to have privacy rather than someone watching.
 
         The female comes into oestrus every two weeks, this is when an egg is released and embeds itself in the lining of the womb. This lasts for about 15 hours and can also be a very difficult time for the pig. The most common time for a guinea pig to breed is at night, so it is difficult to pinpoint when the birth will take place. One sure sign that copulation has occurred is that you may find a small white piece of waxy material which looks like a piece of poop. Another sign that your pig is pregnant is that she may be drinking a lot more than usual. This usually occurs in the first few weeks of the pregnancy but this may not be the case in all sows.
 
         After about 5 weeks the foetuses will have started to grow and if you gently palpate the sides of the belly, you should feel two or maybe three lumps. She will have also gained a lot of weight by this time.
The average gestation period of a guinea pig is usually between 60 and 78 days. This is the average period because you dont known when copulation occurred. One of the main points to remember is that during pregnancy the guinea pig is very delicate and any excessive movement or handling may cause stress to her and the babies.
         She should also be put on a special diet of fresh fruit, plenty of vitamins and minerals and dried food, which is fresh. Any soiled vegetation or damp food may cause a severe stomach upset for guinea pigs, so make sure that it is fresh.

         At 8 weeks the foetuses will be nearly fully-grown and they will be protruding very prominently from her stomach. You will probably feel the babies moving around quite a lot, especially just before she is due to give birth. This movement is known as the Quickening. Make sure that during this time no harm comes to the pig as the babies are extremely delicate.
         The birth is usually done during the night or when you arent there. From my experience I have had 1 morning birth, 2 afternoon births and the rest have been late night. So I have only got to watch 2 births and I must say that it was one of the most moving experiences of my life.
         The mother will start to make a low grunting sound and keep shifting her weight from side to side and then she will start to push, when she feels the first contraction. The first baby will be born after about 10 minutes. Once the head is out the mother will bend down, take the piglets head between her incisor teeth and pull it out. This in turn would break the amniotic sac of which the minipig is in when in the womb. Sometimes the sac does not break, this can be serious, but the mother should break it when she licks the baby clean.
 
         Unfortunately if the mother is preoccupied with the other young then she may not get to the other in time and he may die. This is why being there at the birth is an advantage as you are able to intervene and help. When the babies are born the mother will come into oestrus straight away, so the dad needs to be taken away as he will be able to mate with her straight away.
         The babies are born Precocial, this means that they come out fully furred, able to walk around, their eyes and ears are open and they are able to eat solid foods even though they are still taking milk from their mother. The milk they have contains Cholostrum, which is needed to provide the minipigs with antibodies, in order to fight infection. If they dont receive this Cholostrum then the immune system will be extremely low and be unable to fight against any infection, disease or illness.
         The average birth weight of a guinea pig is between 50 and 100 grams. Sometimes one of the youngsters born is smaller than the others, this is known as the runt of the litter. This happens when there are three or more piglets conceived. The other piglets receive all the nutrition inside the womb and the runt doesnt. So when it is born there may be a chance that it may be stillborn, although this is highly unlikely. The chance is survival when outside the womb is quite high just as long as they are receiving the correct amount of milk from the mother. I have had three runts in three litters and they have all survived and grown up, but this was due to a lot of monitoring and tender, loving care. I also had a guinea pig who had three piglets and only the runt survived, so it just shows that no matter how small they are, they still try their hardest to survive.
         The piglets are weaned off their mothers milk when they are about 26 days old, this is when they will continue to eat solid foods. I tend to feed my piglets carrots and oranges from when they are a couple of weeks old. This is so they develop a liking for these foods and eat them in the future. Although the dried mix diet that I feed them contains added vitamin C, I prefer to substitute this with the carrots and oranges to make sure that they are receiving enough.
         The age of sexual maturity for a female guinea pig is 3 to 5 weeks and a male is 8 to 10 weeks. I prefer to take my male piglets out at about 7 weeks just to be sure that they dont try to breed with their sister or mother.
         Overall I believe that breeding guinea pigs should be done under the correct circumstances. You should know what you are doing first, so that nothing goes wrong, such as interbreeding too deep into a bloodline. This can cause the babies to come out deformed, which diminishes their quality of life and can be very stressful on the mother. I dont believe in breeding for sale to pet shops as the most common reason for purchasing guinea pigs and other small animals is for young children during the summer and Christmas holidays to keep them occupied. Just like the saying A dog is for life, not just for Christmas this applies to all pets. Once the fun has gone out of playing with the pet and new toys and games come on the market the pet is left for the parents to look after. I personally breed guinea pigs as a hobby and they are all cared for to the best of my ability.