How Many Babies Can a Guinea Pig Have? The Astonishing Facts About Your Pet’s Reproduction

In 1992, a guinea pig called Casperina set a new Guinness World Record by birthing a litter of nine healthy baby piggies. Litters that size are highly unusual but left unchecked, cavies can reproduce at an astounding rate. Whether you’ve adopted a pregnant guinea pig or are considering breeding your pet, it is natural to want to know how many piggy pups to expect.

Guinea pigs can produce between one and eight pups. Litters of two to four are more common. Sows can have up to five litters per year and are ready to mate a few hours after giving birth. It’s best to breed female cavies before they’re eight months old to avoid birthing difficulties.

While it may sound exciting to breed a litter of baby piggies, things don’t always go smoothly. Let’s find out what to expect if you have a piggy mom-to-be and unpack some of the associated risks.

How Many Babies Can A Guinea Pig Have?

There is no way to predict precisely how many pups a guinea pig will produce with each pregnancy. A sow could birth between 1 and 8 babies, but two to four is far more common.

Stillbirths and neonatal mortality are common in cavies, so breeding should only be done under the guidance of a veterinarian. In addition, unlike rodents like hamsters or rats, guinea pig sows frequently suffer serious complications or may even die during labor.

At around eight months of age, the anatomy of female piggies undergoes some changes. There is a natural stiffening of the cartilage in between the two pubic bones of the pelvis. Sows should not be bred for the first time if they are older than seven months, as they may not be physically able to deliver the pups.

There are several reasons why it is not advisable for piggy owners to breed their pets. These include:

  • Breeding can reduce the lifespan of their female guinea pigs.
  • Guinea pigs require specialized care and are frequently surrendered as unwanted pets at animal shelters. That makes adoption a far more responsible way to add to your herd.

Since sexual maturity is early and pregnancy is relatively long, it is not unheard of for newly adopted female guinea pigs to occasionally come ready to deliver a few extra surprises. If this happens, the owner needs to work with a veterinarian to decide on a way forward to ensure the female piggy’s health.

Baby piggies can be born at any time of the day, but they most commonly arrive during the night. If everything goes smoothly, delivering all the pups usually takes about 30 minutes.

Guinea pig mom with new born babies

Although individual litters of piggies are usually relatively small, females can produce up to five litters each year. That’s a lot of extra little pitter-pattering piggy paws, so it is important to ensure that there is no unplanned breeding in your herd.

At What Age Can Guinea Pigs Get Pregnant?

Female guinea pigs become sexually mature between 55 and 77 days old. When a cute baby piggy is only two months old, it may already be able to get pregnant. Young boars can mate from as early as 2 to 3 months of age.

Since cavies can get pregnant so young, it is vital to separate male and female litter mates as soon as they are weaned. Siblings will breed with each other, so keeping them apart ensures that there will be no future unplanned babies.

One of the most surprising facts about cavy reproduction is their remarkable turnaround time after giving birth. A new mother piggy is ready to be mated again within a few hours of delivering her babies.

How Long Is A Guinea Pig Pregnant For?

The gestation period of cavies is between 59 and 72 days, although the average is 68 days. If your piggy is pregnant, you will have just over two months to prepare for the arrival of the piggy-pups.

Compared to other rodents, cavies have a long gestation period. Hamsters are only pregnant for around three weeks, and rats for a few days longer.

Piggies have extended pregnancies because their babies are born well-developed. Most rodents give birth to naked, blind, helpless offspring. Baby guinea pigs are born covered in fur, with teeth and open eyes. They are instant little mini versions of their parents.

How Can I Tell If My Guinea Pig Is Pregnant?

Piggies are cute fluffballs, so it is tricky to see if a female is pregnant. A pregnant sow will go about her business as usual, but there are some signs you can look out for:

  • Increase in weight. One of the best ways to confirm that a piggy is putting on weight is to weigh it weekly and keep a record.
  • Eating more than usual. A pregnant sow needs a lot more food to feed her growing pups.
  • Swollen mammary glands. This can be difficult to spot in fluffy piggies.
  • You may be able to feel lumps when you run your hand gently over her body. Never turn her over, prod, or squeeze the animal, as it would be stressful and could cause injury.
Cavy pups

If you recently bought a female piggy and it came from a pet shop or novice breeder, there is a high possibility that it may already be pregnant. As soon as you suspect your cavy may be pregnant, the first step should be to take it to a veterinarian.

What Age Can Baby Guinea Pigs Leave Their Mother?

Like all young mammals, piggy pups depend on their mother for milk during the first few weeks of their lives. However, since guinea pigs are born well-developed and mature quickly, they can be weaned within a month.

Newborn piggies should nurse from their mother until they are around three weeks old. Nursing usually stops when they reach 6 ounces, at which point male and female pups should be separated.

Females can stay with their mothers a little longer, but since cavies reach sexual maturity early, it is better to move the males to an entirely separate cage. Handling pups from an early age lets them get used to humans and gets them used to being held.

Conclusion

Guinea pigs can have up to eight pups in each litter, but the norm is two to four. They can get pregnant almost immediately after delivering babies and have up to five litters a year.

Although baby piggies are adorable, intentionally breeding these pets is not a good idea. Many health complications can arise for a female cavy during a pregnancy. There are lots of gorgeous ready-to-cuddle piggies available for adoption at rescue centers.