It is very risky! There are many risks with breeding. I have had females that have been rescued from over breeding. It was the result of back to back breeding. It can cause deformation in the pups or loss of pups. Breeding is not only a lot of stress on the female, there's in the possibility of her damaging or breaking her back in the process of birth. She can miscarry or have complications before or during the birth. Are you prepared to rush her to the vet if something goes wrong? Guinea pigs can have cesarean if it is required. Did you a female can get pregnant thirty minutes after giving birth. You must be prepared to separate the male and female. Did you know a female can get pregnant at the age of 3 weeks old and male can get a female pregnant at 3 weeks old. You must be prepared to separate any males.
It can be tricky if you don't know what your doing, if one gets sexed wrong you can end up with more pups than you bargained for. Please note you can always ask someone who knows how to sex for help if you are unsure. A vet or a guinea pig rescue will be able to help.
They have a "i" shape, if you press gently on the front line to get the penis to appear.
They have a "Y" shape.
Guinea Pig Pregnancy, Birth and Pups
Although guinea pig pups may be adorable. There is sadly more problems that can happen then some may realise. Sadly these days a lot more people are breeding more then they used. So I think it is important to get the information out there. Polo's story is just one of many things that can go wrong. I am going to cover those things in this section. This will include guinea pig pup's and mum.
A female guinea pig has a bicornate uterus, this means from the cervix the uterus branches out to a Y-shape. This consists of a left and a right uterine horn. This conformation enables the female to carry an a pup in each of the uterine horn.
Estrous cycle is 15-19 days, the duration of estrous is 1-15 hours. Post-partum estrous is 2-15 hours. Implantation 7 days after fertilisation takes place. Pregnancy gestation is 59-72 days, average of 63 days.
Litter size can vary from 1-6 pups.
Weaning age 3 weeks of age for a male pup, as they can produce sperm from the age of 3 weeks. A female pup can have implantation and become pregnant at the age of 3 weeks.
I think this is the best subject to start with as this is what happened to Polo.
- Mum chewing the umbilical too close to the stomach. Although this is not a common thing, it is not something that is impossible to happen. It treated from the start when the hole is only small the chances of survival is quite high. Sadly left untreated the hole will grow bigger and become infected etc.
- Infection from the umbilical cord, sometimes the mum doesnt always chew all the umbilical/ chew it short enough and if left too long. It can get caught on things and pull at the spot the umbilical cord is and cause infection.
Born with Defects/ Issues
Guinea pig pup's can be born with birth defects and/or with issues. I'm not talking about lethal whites, more on them on the lethal white tab. I'm talking about being born with defects and/ or with issues.
- Defect's this can mean being born with a leg missing, toes missing, extra toes, facial details such as part of the lips, nose or eyes missing. Ears missing or ears not fully developed etc. There is many things that can happen with a pup born with defects. This can also include internally not just externally. This can be caused from a few things. Not the right diet, thats rich in vitamins etc to help mum and pups form. Mum not being treated corrected, handled too much, stressed induced etc.
This can also come with internal issues such as neurological, parts of the inner body not underdeveloped which can result in the pup not being able to survive.
Although Neurological may not be the most common, it can happen. Neurological is caused from a few situations such as trauma, pregnancy toxaemia, hypocalcemia, and bacterial otitis/meningitis. This is an on going condition and can cause seizures, head tilt etc.
Although Club Foot can be looked as a birth defect, there is a reason this can happen in birth. In weather that is high heat can cause limb deformities and abortion. Guinea pig's born with club foot require regularly bandging the legs straight and helping them learn to cope from the age of a pup from birth.
This can happen to mum in situations such as stressed and or trauma induced to the mum. This can also happen if the mum gets an infection or illness through her body causing her to abort the pups to help her gain the strength to have a chance of recovery.
Miscarriage - A miscarriage is when the pup or pups are lost at the early stages of pregnancy. This is usually followed with blood loss and under developed fetuses.
Stillborn - Stillborn or stillborn's are when the pup or pups are lost in the later stages of pregnancy. This is also usually followed by blood loss and partly to sometimes almost fully developed fetuses.
Rejection of a Pup
This is a topic i would strongly like to cover as it is something that happen. It happens more often then some might think. A mum reject's a pup when her instincts tell her to, this is just mother nature telling her to do so. Because guinea pig's are prey animals it's in there natural instincts to do what they can to protect themselves and there herd. If there is a weak link they cut the ties early. This doesn't always mean the pup doesn't have a chance of survival. This just means that human intervening is required. This will require hand feeding every 2-3 hours around the clock for the first 3-4 weeks of the pups life. Sometimes this can be successful and they can survive. Sometimes a pup is born with too many issues and does not survive no matter how hard we try to find for them.
This is something can happens a lot more often then some may be aware of. Mum's birth there pups and can sometime's get distracted during labour and focusing on one baby for too long etc. There is only a small window of time for the sack to be broke so the pup can breathe its first breathe in the world and adapt to life out of the womb. If someone is present for the birth of a guinea pig and this does occur it only require a small and careful tear to the sack. Most of the time mum will notice and take over. Sometimes it requires needing to full intervention. Unfortunately if no one is present and the sack does not get broken without air, the pup will sufficate and pass away.
Although this may sound quite extreme for a guinea pig, this is something that does need to be done in a few situations. Dystocia, pelvic doesnt open/ separate, pup is sitting too high, labour doesn't start, pregnancy goes over due date. Situation's like these is when we need to intervene and the pregnant sow will require a cesarean,
Ketosis or better known as Pregnancy Toxaemia, can occur when a guinea pig's body produces too much ketones, an otherwise normal byproduct of metabolism.
These underlying factors include:
Loss of appetite during the end stages of pregnancy.
- Which leads to low blood sugar levels.
Dystocia is a difficult birth, usually it is caused by a large or awkwardly positioned fetus. This is from smallness of the maternal pelvis or can be from failure of the uterus and cervix to contract and expand normally.
Hypocalcemia is a condition occasionally seen in pregnant or nursing sows and the a breed known as satin. This cause is something that may or may not be known. Although this caused from the result of low blood calcium levels. Getting calcium from the bones, the kidneys and intestines helps raise the blood calcium levels back to normal.
Hormones can cause guinea pig's different kind of behaviour such as ripping out there fur. This is due to the imbalance of hormones being produced while pregnant, signs of fur ripping can also be a sign of stress or discomfort. This can also cause them to barber (rip fur) from another guinea pig such as a cage mate or even turn aggressively on there cage mate while pregnant or once pups are born.
Ovarian cysts are nonfunctional, fluid-filled cysts the usually develop spontaneously around the ovaries throughout the female guinea pig’s reproductive cycle. Cysts are associated with elevated hormones, such as estrogen. Which usually leads to irregular reproductive cycles, persistent heat, hair loss, and infertility.
Crusty nipples, this can be caused by a number of things such as fungal infection, problems with feeding pups. This can also be an indication that there could be a hormonal problem due to Ovarian Cysts.
There are many issues that can occur when breeding guinea pig's. It is important to be aware of these situation's that can occur when breeding. It is best to know when to get to a vet and get help your guinea pig or guinea pig's before it becomes fatal. Breeding is incredibly risky for a guinea pig. As they are fragile creatures, it is strongly advised not to breed. If doing so, it should not be done more then once a year.
Excessive bleed is a sign on pregnancy ccomplications. It should be monitored and seek vet help. This can occur more often then not. It is important to be wary and keep an eye out for this throughout the birthing process. It's better to avoid this, by not breeding.
Dead On Arrival
Sadly baby guinea pig's can be born dead on arrival more often then you would think.
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This is how Polo's story goes, there's not alot to it. But I still think we can learn from it. Polo was found on gumtree via an ad. The people who went and brought her were handed her and had no idea that she was different. They thought she was a normal 3 1/2 week old guinea pig. Before, i continue i would like to add 3 1/2 weeks old is way too young for a female to be taken away from mum. Should be at least 6 weeks before leaving mum. Enough facts, continuing the story the people who got her and the other three females they had purchased as a family for themselves and there kids. They were dirty, so they decided to go through and bath them all. Upon bathing Polo they noticed a hole in her stomach. Not knowing what to do and unsure of why this had happened they reached out to me and I said I would take her on and help her as they were unsure of how to treat it etc. She came to me, I made arrangements for her.
Please be careful when buying guinea pig's off gumtree. This is a very uncommon thing for a guinea pig to have a hole in there stomach. But its not uncommon for someone to sell on a guinea pig that is sick. Polo required ongoing vet care and a lot of time and care. She started to make progress but sadly did not survive. Please share this link and getting this out there helps. Polo will live on to help educate others.
This hole was caused due to mum chewing the the umbilical cord to close. At the start it would have been a small hole that if treated from the start would have most likely taken a week to recover from. Due it being left untreated for weeks before coming here. The hole had continued to grow over time and become infected and she could have had a high chance of surviving.
Please note, Polo was wearing a jacket to keep her bandage etc on. I do not condone dressing up guinea pig's. It is not safe, this is for her health to prevent scratching etc and she was being watched.
Photo's of her stomach will be at the bottom of this page if you wish to see, be warned it is gruesome.
Polo was undergoing intensive care, this required regular flushing of the wound with saline and big syringe with pressure to flush it. She also needed treatment to the wound. She required antibiotics to help to the infection, pain relief to help with the pain. Regular change of the dressing and redoing the bandage. Monitoring her regularly to make sure her bandage stays on etc and redoing bandge if required. Regular crittacare feeds to keep up her fluids as well and food intake. It was still important to keep her gut moving as that is very important for a guinea pig. Even if she was eating a little of her pellets and some of her water, this was still importnat while she is was in this condition.
Update - 8-12-21
Polo seems to be a real fighter despite everything she is going through to help her recover. She has not complained and been well behaved most of time. Okay well the bandage and jacket part seems to be a bit of fight with her legs resisting a little. But she stayed still when being flush and having the wound treated. She took her antibiotics and pain relief with no issues, enjoyed her crittacare feed too.
Tomorrow she goes to the vet for the next step on what needs to be done. For now, she is doing okay considering what she is going through.
Update - 9-12-21
Polo is doing well, smell has started to become very minimal. It's barely a smell anymore. She had her vet appointment, vet has said continuing to flush it with saline and applying makuna honey with the jelonet and wrapping it in vet wrap. Continue with antibiotics and pain relief. They say that because she is soo young, putting her under is extremely risky. Chances of surviving are very small, continuing to do what i am doing is the best option. Although it will take months for her to recover with regular ongoing care and regular vet checks etc. She will make a recovery. She is continuing on her antibiotics and pain relief to help with reducing infection and helping with pain.
Update - 13-12-21
It has been a little crazy the past few days and I would have liked to have done an update sooner. Polo is still going well, she is continuing to take her antibiotics and pain relief like a good girl. She is also continuing to enjoy eating her crittacare. She is still quite full of life and fight. Regular flushing of the wound and redressing/ wrapping in bandaging is helping. She is starting to show quite an improvement for being here just over a week. The wound is starting to have new skin grow over, which is a great sign. She is being very spoilt, she has her own bed I made for her and she is in the air conditioning keeping cool.
Update - 16-12-21
Polo is starting make some great progress with her recovery. Her wound is healing really well and progressing a lot faster then expected. I have added the progress photos below and will try and keep it updated. It has already become a lot less deeper then it was to begin with. It also has a new layer of skin slowly forming over and is slowly closing in on itself. Added a photo for today in the recovery progress photo's below.
She is starting to try and eat a little bit on her one. Which is a great sign, but still requires a regular crittacare feeds throughout the day/night. She is still eating her crittacare really well and taking her antibiotics and pain relief like a good girl. Her poos are looking a lot healthier and there's more of them too. She is gaining weight and grown a little bit too. She continues to be spoilt and in the air conditioning. Polo has another vet appointment next week to check her progress.
Rest In Peace Polo
After a strong fight and signs of great improvement, Polo was found peacefully sleeping forever on the morning of the 18-12-21. Left in complete shock and feeling lost without her regular feeds and wheeks for attention. She may be gone, but she will never be forgotten. Polo's page will remain for those to see these things can happen with pups and birth. This page will contain information on pregnancy, birth and pups. Polo's story will continue to be available to read, her memory will live on.