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Guinea Pigs/Weaning Guinea Pig

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Question
We recently acquired a baby Guinea Pig which is now about 2 1/2 weeks old.  We took it at 6 weeks and it was still nursing some.  He is not drinking from the water container and I have tried several types.  Afraid he will get dehydrated, I started feeding him from a dropper which he took.  He eats well and seems normal, but I can't continue on this same path.  How do I teach him to drink from the water bottle and what is the best type to buy?  

Thank you for any advice you can give me!

Answer
The babies usually learn from their mom how to use the water bottle and are drinking from it by the time they're two or three weeks old.  The best kind is the one with the stainless steel tube and a ball in the end of the tube. The pig touches the ball and the water comes out.

If the mom had the kind of water bottle with a little metal pin in it the baby will have to learn to use the kind you have now. OR, if you have the type with the little font and the baby's never seen that kind that may also be the problem.

In the meantime just offer him some wet lettuce everyday. It doesn't take much and it will keep him hydrated. Check your water bottle and make sure that when you touch the tip the water comes out. Sometimes they get stuck and the pig can't get the water.

Water bowls are messy and unsanitary. The pigs will soil their water making it unfit to drink. If you've had the baby for nearly three weeks he's probably getting more than you realize, otherwise he would have succumbed to dehydration already.

Carrots and lettuce are excellent means of hydration. Iceberg lettuce, although useless for nutrition, is an excellent source of water because that's about all it is. So you needn't worry about the baby not getting enough fluid. He's probably getting more than you actually see.

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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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