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Guinea Pigs/Swollen tummy guinea pig


QUESTION: Hello there,
My guinea pig has a very swollen tummy, feels soft, both sides. She is 6 mths old, and eating/drinking normally. She has been like this for 6 days, and I am very worried for her. She has a female buddy, but she is ok. They both have eaten the same food etc. Please could you offer any advice, could it be bloat?? Gas? She has not been dropped or anything like that. She eats vegetables and guinea pig mix. I have had her for 6 weeks, so I am wondering could it be she is pregnant? But it seems to have happened very suddenly (the size of her stomach). Many thanks. Hope you can help. Regards, Raelene

ANSWER: Are you absolutely sure that her buddy is a female? If you know for sure that she is then she may well have gotten pregnant before you got her.

If she's eating and drinking normally it's unlikely this is bloat. A guinea pig's appetite is the best indicator of how she is feeling. When they are ill or in pain they stop eating and drinking.

The gestation period for cavies is 70 days, so if she's pregnant you will know for sure very soon. If you feel movement in her tummy she's about two to two and a half weeks from delivery. Do a double check on your other pig and make sure you have another female. If for sure you do then the deed was done before you got her. It's not unusual at all for the sow to suddenly show signs of her belly growing. My guess is that she is pregnant.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello there Pat,
OMG I just had to tell you!! Scurry had 2 babies this morning, so cute, and I don't know how the poor little thing did it! They are huge.
You were "spot on", so much for my gas theory.
Anyway, thank you very much. If they are male, I will be separating them from Scurry and Flower (female), how long should I leave them all together please.? How long do the babies feed off mum?
Thanks for this wonderful site. Best regards, Raelene

Congratulations!  Aren't newborn guinea pigs the most adorable things you've ever seen? They're just little miniatures of mom and dad.  It's always amazed me how very young cavy moms can give birth so easily. You wonder just where they were carrying what appears to be a litter of babies that almost equal mom's weight.

Mom will nurse the babies for about six weeks. It's okay to pull the baby boars at four weeks because by then they've already learned how to use the water bottle and eat from the pellet bowl.

As with any animal the longer they stay with mom the healthier they will be. I leave mine with the mother until she weans them on her own, which is about six weeks. The boys I pull at four weeks unless they are small and benefit from the additonal nutrition they get from their moms.

If mom is looking worn down you can safely pull the babies as young as three weeks. Pulling them too soon can cause her to get mastitis, an infection in her breasts. Mastitis can kill mom as the breasts get so inflammed with milk and pus that the infection spreads through her body. If I need to separate a litter early I leave one baby with mom to continue nursing to help aleviate her discomfort and prevent mastitis.

I would love to see pictures of your new family if you can send them. You will be amazed at how fast they grow. So take lots of pictures. My best wishes to your new little family. And again, congratulations!

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Pat VanAllen


As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.


Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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