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what is a baby guinea pig called?
Baby guinea pigs are called pups, not guinea piglets. But, confusingly, adults of the species retain the traditional pig nomenclature. Males guinea pigs are called boars, and females are called sows.
They don’t come from Guinea.
In fact, guinea pigs originate from the Andes region of South America. The ‘guinea’ in their name is a bit of a mystery. One theory is that they were first brought to Europe by Spanish explorers in the 1500s via Guinea in Africa, so people thought they came from there, or that it could be a corruption of ‘Guiana’, an area in South America.
How Many Babies Do Guinea Pigs Have?
Lots of small animals (think rats and rabbits) have reputations for being prolific breeders. And guinea pigs are quite fertile little creatures too!
Guinea pig litters can contain up to eight pups, but two, three or four is more usual. The largest guinea pig litter recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records contained a whopping 17 pups!
How Often Do Guinea Pigs Have Babies?
Although they are able to conceive year-round, springtime is the peak window for baby guineas appearing on the scene. After birth, Guinea pig sows can become pregnant again within hours.
Since their gestation lasts just 59-73 days, a female guinea pig is capable in theory of bearing five or even six litters a year. However, this would put a huge amount of strain on her body and her mental stamina. So it is not good practice by caring breeders.
Do Baby Guinea Pigs Need Water?
In general, baby guinea pigs get all the water they need from their mother’s milk until they are weaned. After about three weeks, you should separate male babies from their mother and sisters.
Caring for Guinea Pigs
Try to house your guinea pig in the largest cage possible. The bigger the better! The rule of thumb is at least 4×4 feet for a single pig. Stay away from glass aquariums as they don’t provide the best ventilation for your pet. Never keep your guinea pig outside; they prefer an indoor home with a stable temperature between 60 and 80 degrees. Whether they’re playing or trying to sleep, a baby guinea pig loves to escape out of the limelight and hide away in their own little spot. Having a hideaway will make them more comfortable!
Your guinea pig should eat mostly pet store bagged food that’s formulated just for them. This food will have almost everything they need to live healthily. Supplement that food with special treats such as strawberries or some veggies! They’ll want to be your best friend! Always ensure they have fresh water.
HABITAT AND DIET
Savanna to scrub. Cavies are found across the South American continent, in open areas ranging from moist savannas to thorn forest and scrub desert. They live in low elevations right up to 16,000 feet (5,000 meters). It’s almost any port in a storm for the cavy—grasslands, forest margins, swamps, and rocky areas are all home, sweet home to some cavies. Their range runs from Venezuela to southern Patagonia, but they are not found in western Chile or most of the Amazon River basin.
Anybody home? If cavies don’t “dig” their home, they find the home of other wildlife that have moved out. They den at night in burrows that they have excavated or that other mammals have abandoned. Some also find shelter in dense vegetation, in rock crevices, or under brush piles.
A day in the life. Cavies are terrestrial and colonial, active during the day (diurnal) or during early morning and evening (crepuscular). These social rodents are herd animals and stick together when feeding or grooming. Quite expressive, guinea pigs communicate via chirps, purrs, rumbling, and squealing.
A link in the chain. Cavies certainly play a role in keeping their ecosystems running—they mainly eat plant material, but are prey for various mammals, birds of prey, reptiles such as anacondas and caimans, and even humans. Guinea pigs’ meat is a part of people’s diets in some areas of South America. The rodents’ docile nature also makes it a common subject for research.
Eat those greens. Cavies chow down on whatever vegetation they can find—grasses, leaves, and fruit. At the Zoo, the guinea pigs’ diets include greens, root vegetables, and hay. Veggies, hay and high-fiber herbivore feed are on the menu for capybaras and maras.
What food will kill a guinea pig?
Make sure you do not feed your guinea pigs the following foods (this is not an exhaustive list): cereals; grains; nuts; seeds; dried beans, corn, and peas; buttercups; garden shrubs (such as hemlock or privet); lilies of any kind; sweet peas; nightshade; oak; avocado; onion grass; onions; potato tops; mushrooms; …
Size & appearance
Guinea pigs are tailless rodents that weigh between 1.5 and 2.5 lbs. (700 to 1,100 grams), according to the Animal Diversity Web (ADW). Their compact, cylindrical bodies range from 8 to 10 inches (20.3 to 25.4 cm) long.
Their ears are small and petal-shaped and their eyes are set on the sides of their heads. They have small, triangular mouths, which contain 20 teeth. Like other rodents, their teeth grow continuously, and Guinea pigs must chew or gnaw constantly to keep them from growing too long.
According to ADW, there are 13 commonly recognized types or breeds of guinea pig: American, American satin, Abyssinian, Abyssinian satin, Peruvian, Peruvian satin, silkie, silkie satin, teddy, teddy satin, texel, coronet and the white crested. These breeds are characterized by differences in hair color, hair texture, the sheen of the pelage and the color patterns of the pelage.
Guinea pigs reach sexual maturity at around 3-4 months of age. If young males and females are housed together, they should be separated by this age, otherwise they are likely to breed. After about eight months of age, the female guinea pig’s pelvic bones become more tightly fused, and if she has not had a litter by that time, giving birth can be more difficult. Sows give birth to 2-4 fully developed, relatively large, fully furred offspring with open eyes and the ability to eat solid food (although they will still nurse). These large babies have a hard time getting through the pelvic canal unless the mother’s pelvic bones are relatively immature and malleable or mobile.
These large offspring also predispose the mother to a life-threatening condition called pregnancy toxemia. This is a metabolic disorder causing the pregnant female to have low blood calcium and high blood pressure. It manifests as loss of appetite in the early stages, deteriorating to muscle twitching and coma.
Prompt veterinary attention can save affected animals, but the likelihood of developing the problem can be reduced by providing the pregnant animal with plenty of water and high-calcium greens during pregnancy. Ideally, all pregnant guinea pigs should be checked by a veterinarian to try to prevent pregnancy-related problems.
The average gestation period for guinea pigs is 63 days. If gestation continues over 70 days, the guinea pig should be seen immediately by a veterinarian, and it is likely that the entire litter will
be stillborn. As with many rodents, the female guinea pig will be able to mate within a few hours of giving birth but should not be allowed to; she needs time to recover and replenish her metabolic reserves before becoming pregnant again. If your guinea pig has a large litter (over three or four piglets), consider fostering one or more of the piglets to another sow (female), since guinea pigs have only two nipples to suckle their offspring. This is something to discuss with your veterinarian.
They only sleep for short periods.
What Do Baby Guinea Pigs Sound Like?
Guinea pigs make eleven different call types. They use them to form social bonds and initiate mating, attract the attention of herd members over great distances, communicate sadness, and sound the alarm. And baby guinea pigs are capable of joining in from a very young age.
You might also notice they squeak in distress when you take them away from their mom. If this happens, pop them back in with her, and visit again later.
Guinea pig fact file
Guinea pigs, also known as ‘cavies’, are social animals with a compact, rounded body shape, short legs and no tail. They originate from the grasslands and lower slopes of the Andes Mountains in South America. There are different breeds and varieties of guinea pig, with a wide range of colour and coat lengths.
Here are some more top guinea pig facts:
- Typically guinea pigs live for 5-6 years, but some may live longer.
- Guinea pigs are active up to 20 hours per day, and only sleep for short periods.
- they are highly social – in the wild they live in close family groups of 5-10 guinea pigs, though several groups may live in close proximity to form a colony.
- Guinea pigs need a high fibre diet supplemented with vitamin C, as they lack the enzyme needed to synthesise vitamin C and can only store it for short periods.