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Guinea Pigs/home pregnancy test for my pigs?


   I feel like the worst piggy mommy ever. We have two boys and three girls. They live in separate cages, the cages are three feet away from each other, and they are never allowed in the playpen together. The night before Thanksgiving we put one of the boys out in the playpen. With so much going on getting ready for a big trip and getting my father-in-law's many requests for the weekend fullfilled I was getting multiple sets of directions from two different people. In the middle of all this my father-in-law requested that I put the pig away which I did. I woke up Thanksgiving morning to find him in the GIRLS' CAGE! He'd been there OVERNIGHT!! I don't even remember putting him in there! I was in tears! All of our girls are multiple years old and have never had babies. I feel so bad I've been having nightmares about it. I can't bare to wait and see. Is it possible to give them a home pregnancy test to find out sooner? Even if they turn out not to be I'll never forgive myself for this.

ANSWER: I don't think you have anything to worry about, it's not likely he did any harm overnight. You'd have heard the rumblestrutting, purring and squealing from the girls if they'd been in heat. It's also possible the girls are way beyond that anyway. So don't fret.

As for the home pregnancy kits I can tell you from personal experience they don't work! They test for HCG, which mean Human Chorionic Gonadatropin. There's a reason it's called "Human" and that's because it doesn't work on guinea pigs.  I know.  I tried.  And I tried with two different sows that were big pregnant. So don't waste your money.

What I did was put each of the sows in a separate plastic shoe box type container and left them there until they emptied their bladders. It was fresh urine, tested the same way we test in the office. Nothing.

I'm probably not the first person to try this, but I was so hoping I had discovered a new way to find out early enough if my girls were pregnant.

So please don't lose any sleep over this, it's highly unlikely there was any hanky panky in the playhouse.

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

QUESTION: Thank you so much Sir. I hope you're right about that. We've always said we'd never breed our pigs because of the risk involved. You have me wondering about something else now. When you said "they're way beyond that" what exactly did you mean. Is there such a thing as piggy menapause? And again, thank so much for responding so quickly, it means so very much to me.

I have to find a way to change my identification to somehow make it obvious that I'm a Patricia, not a Patrick. Common mistake and I'm not the least bit offended. I'm just happy to be able to help.

Yes, there is a piggy menopause. After about three and a half to four years a sow no longer ovulates and does not reproduce. Thankfully even they get a break from pregnancy as they age. Guinea pigs are not as easily bred as most animals. In fact breeding them is difficult because they're cycles are not predictable, so we leave a boar with the desired sows for at least one month in the hopes that they will have had more than one cycle. I leave mine together for six or seven weeks and still sometimes pregnancy doesn't happen.

Rabbits are spontaneous ovulates, meaning when you put the backside of a doe at the front of a buck she instantly ovulates and is bred. Thirty days later a litter is born. Cavies don't breed easily. It can take weeks before conception is successful.

When a boar is introduced into a cage with the girls he will make all kinds of noises, swaying around, purring and showing his excitement. The girls have a surefire way of cooling him off that works every time. They will arch their rear upward a bit and spray a stream of urine directly into the face of the boar. They never miss. Needless to say the boar gets the idea that the intimacy is always at the pleasure of the female, period.

So don't punish yourself with guilt over this brief mistake. If he had made an attempt at the ladies you would probably have found the evidence on the fur of one of them. They will leave a dry hardened clump of what looks like hot glue from a glue gun. It sticks so hard that you have to cut if off the fur. Even then that only indicates that he tried, not that a breeding happened. That's just 'boys being boys.'

Boars have a longer breeding life than sows. They can typically remain fertile for five years, but even that is no absolute. I still feel confident that your girls remain untouched.  

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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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