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Guinea Pigs/Distressed mother.

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Question
My guinea pig had 2 baby boys, and they are turning 4 weeks old tomorrow. I separated them today, and they are separated in the same cage by a divider. The mother is very distressed and continues to climb the wall to get to her babies, the babies are trying to do the same.

I do not want my guinea pigs to hurt themselves, but I also don't want them to impregnate the mother.
Should I put the mother in a small carrier cage, as I have no other cage to use. What should I do?

Answer
Put the babies back in with the mother. Although they mature quickly those 4 week old babies are not going to impregnate mom. Anatomically they cannot do that and if she's still nursing them she will not allow it.

If she were indifferent to the babies being removed they would be okay, but she obviously isn't ready to wean them. I typically don't wean any babies before five weeks, and even then I only pull the little boys. That way mom is able to more naturally dry up her milk supply and there isn't a chance of mastitis.

Some moms just need to nurse their babies longer. We humans always want to pull the young away from our pets rather than allowing the mom to do it the way nature intended. When you think about the animals in the wild their young stay with them for an unusually long period of time. A mother lion, tiger, wolf, bear and others keep the young beside them until they are nearly half grown and have been taught how to survive without mom.

I have a number of friends who own show dogs and when they breed they never let their pups go until they are at least 7 weeks old. The backyard breeders who are just breeding for money want to sell off puppies and kittens by five or six weeks. It's not in the best interest of the babies. They're more likely to suffer illnesses and potential death because they lack the immunity mom gives them.

If I have a litter of just baby sows I leave them with mom and they are almost always weaned by the mother by six weeks of age. Rarely have I ever seen a baby try to nurse when over six weeks of age. If they try mom kicks them away.

Leave these boys with her for at least another week. Mom is trying to tell you she's not ready to leave them yet. Give her a little more time.

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Pat VanAllen

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
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.

Education/Credentials
Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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