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Guinea Pigs/3 guniea pigs of mine have died and dont know why???


helo there i am touring at the moment with my mum and dad and my bigger brother is looking after my guinea pigs as i have upto 30 guniea pigs and i have recently lost 3 in te last 24 hours and i am not sure why. the cage is outside in a carport and i have one girls gage and one boys cage and they all have hatchs abd my brother told me i had lost 1 and she was laying in the hutch and found her dead in the hutch this morning and also i lost a boy that i saved from a baby and he pass away yesterday so i not sure why they are dying as they have hutchs to keep them warm. please help asap!!!

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Please understand that I'm only able to make an educated guess as to what might have gone wrong, but I will do my best.  I've been in the same position and know how frustrating it is to lose them and not know why.

Since I'm in So Calif I believe the seasons are somewhat switched right now between the US and Australia. Heat is a big factor in the summer months. Guinea pigs can handle very cold weather as long as they have a shelter to get into, but heat is their enemy. If there is not good airflow they will quickly succumb to the heat. Once they become stressed their kidneys shut down very fast and death is imminent.

To lose 3 in one day makes me wonder if that might be a cause. The other issue is the availability of fresh water. I'm not suggesting your brother is responsible, but you did say he's the "keeper of the critters" while you're gone.  Is it at all possible that he may have neglected to fill the water bottles daily?

During really hot weather my caviary has fans that are on 24/7 and in the afternoon I put frozen water bottles in the cages. The pigs will immediately go to the frozen bottles and lay alongside of them, some will even stand on the top of the bottles.

The other possibility is a virus in the cages. The only thing that guinea pigs can get from another animal is Bortadella, aka Kennel Cough that is often brought into the household by an infected dog. If there is a dog that might have close enough contact the pigs could pick up the virus and it is a quick killer in the caviary.

A year ago I had a similar situation.  I lost 13 of my best animals from something I never did identify. They were all healthy show pigs of different ages, so there was no reason to think they'd died from natural causes.

I also had a couple of friends who had the same situation during the same time period.  The only common denominator was that we had each obtained pigs from someone who was getting out of cavies and selling all her stock.  She also raised Bulldogs and Dachshunds.  

It was only a theory, but we think perhaps some of her dogs may have been infected with Bortadella and passed it to the pigs. Although the dogs were not constantly in the same area with the pigs they did have access periodically as the pigs were housed in a similar situation as yours.

None of the animals that were lost had any commonalities that we could identify such as old age, very young, etc.  

My pigs are in a specially built room in my garage. I had to empty each cage, move them outdoors where we scrubbed them from head to toe with bleach water. The same thing was done inside the room. The walls, floor, etc were thoroughly washed with bleach water.  The cages were left in the sunlight to dry and also because the ultraviolet rays from the sun are a good disinfectant as well.

The pigs had to live for a couple of days in small travel cages that were also sanitized prior to putting them in.  After this terminal cleaning we repainted the walls. Whatever it was it stopped then and there. I never lost another pig other than the occasional expected single loss from old age.

When there is a herd living in close proximity such as mine and yours, something like a virus can pass quickly from one to the other. My animals were not overcrowded, but they were all in the same room.

This could be the case with yours. If there isn't an environmental cause such as overheating and heatstroke you could have somehow gotten a virus in the herd. Talk to your brother as to how diligent he is with keeping water, shade and clean cages available to your pigs. If he's routinely taking care of them on a daily basis, and there has not been a heatwave that might have been the culprit, I would suspect this may have been a virus.

I hope this helps you figure out or prevent any further occurrences. Although cavies are relatively hardy we do have these types of things now and then and sometimes never find the true cause.  

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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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