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.