Baby guinea pigs are possibly the cutest infant animals. We aren’t biased or anything. Just facts.
Guinea pigs enter the world alert and ready to go - fully furry, eyes open, and little chompers already equipped for solid food. While the mini-mes are pretty self-sufficient from day one, there are still a few things you can do to help them stay safe and grow strong.
You can handle baby guinea pigs right away. This won’t cause the mother to reject them, and will teach them early on they can trust humans. Female cagemates can interact with the new additions, too. Most will help raise the little ones, but keep a close eye out for the occasional jealous sow. Mom can get pregnant again immediately after giving birth, so dad needs to get his own pad.
Male guinea pigs can impregnate mom when they are only 23 days old! To be safe, it’s best to remove boy babes after three weeks. Pairing a baby boy with dad, a brother, or an older boar of the same sex is a good way to facilitate social development. Leaving same-sex siblings together means you get to skip the bonding process with a stranger. “Because I have a brother, I’ll always have a friend.”
Female guinea pigs, on the other hand, don’t have to leave mom at a certain age. In fact, they can be roomies for life! She’ll let them know when she’s had enough of them nursing and it’s time to start paying rent.
Although piggies will begin eating solid guinea pig food almost right away, nursing is still important for mom’s antibodies. Guinea pigs will nurse for 2-3 weeks. Orphan pups aren’t doomed, though, and can still thrive. Milk/milk replacer products are not appropriate or necessary for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs develop lactose intolerance after weaning. In most cases, motherless guinea pigs will do just fine supplemented with pellet mash or thinned recovery formula fed via spoon or syringe.
Until about six months of age, baby guinea pigs get to indulge in all the good stuff. Adults will look on with envy at the piles of fresh, fragrant alfalfa (sorry grown-ups, try some gourmet hay as an alternative). The extra calcium will help babies grow strong and healthy. They’ll reach their full skeletal size at about a year old, but may continue to put on weight for 18 months.
Have a baby joining an adult herd? Don’t worry about switching to alfalfa-based pellets. Offering Junior high-calcium foods separately during lap time or floor time is sufficient. Foods high in calcium include spinach, parsley, arugula, dandelion greens, turnip greens, kale, and dill.
Home, Sweet Home
All guinea pigs need a lot of space to exercise. Baby guinea pigs especially live for zoomies and epic popcorn outbursts. Add some toys, tunnels, and castles and they’ll have the perfect set up for their NASCAR training. Beware of balls and exercise wheels, however. Guinea pigs of any size have delicate spines and aren't built to bend the way smaller rodents like mice can.
Before adding any new furnishings, make sure they are appropriate for sample-sized residents. Cage grids may need to be doubled up so tiny, curious heads don’t get stuck. Steep or slippery ramps and those without high sides aren’t ideal for clumsy little pigs, either. If your cage has a loft, covering ramps with fleece fabric helps guinea pigs' feet grip so they won't fall.
Making these few adjustments for your newest family member will help ensure a happy, healthy life for years to come.