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Guinea Pigs/Pregnant guinea pig

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QUESTION: Hello, our guinea pig became pregnant by mistake, which apparently happens quite often as I am learning. The pregnancy is not a problem, but we'd like to be as prepared as possible. About a month ago she started "trimming" her hair on her sides, lightly at first, gradually worsening, I researched it and found that it may be due to lack of vitamins. I changed her diet, and incorporated more fresh vegetables and it appears to have stopped. With your knowledge, what could cause this?

On another note, her pelvic area has loosened to about a fingers width, that was about 40 hours ago. How long before I should be worried and consult a Vet? I don't want her to be too distressed and possibly lose them all.

Awaiting your response, and thank you in advance! :)

Adams spray and dip
Adams spray and dip  
ANSWER: It sounds like she is very close to delivery. The pelvic ligaments begin to spread the bones apart about 48 hrs prior to delivery. You shouldn't have to consult a vet. She will know what to do.

If she is biting at her sides she may have mites. The pig's usually chew at the hair near the spine and leave a telltale 'v' mark in the coat. That's not because of lack of vitamins, it sounds typical of mites. The extra veggies are good for her, especially parsley. That's the highest in Vit C per oz of all the vegetables and the pigs love it.

For the mites I would recommend using some Adams spray, available at any pet store or feed store. However, if she's that close to delivery and is no longer chewing her coat I would not treat her until the babies are weaned at four or five weeks.

When you do treat her you spray the Adams on her body everywhere but her eyes. Make sure you cover them so the solution doesn't get into her eyes. Wet her thoroughly then let her drip dry. That's very important. Do not use a hair dryer or towel to dry her.

In the meantime she should be fine. Mites are a way of life with guinea pigs like fleas are to a dog. They just happen, and we don't really know when or why. Once the pups are no longer nursing you can safely treat her.

Now just for the record her pregnancy wasn't a mistake. That boar intended to do just that! (Just teasing of course)

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

Baby bump
Baby bump  
QUESTION: Thank you! Babies soon! :) Still nervous... What is your take on the 20% chance of running into issues with pregnancies/births for guinea pigs?

I'm not exactly sure what you mean about the "v" mark pertaining to the mites. She has taken off part of her flanks. We were worried that it may have been caused by stress. She recently had two male room mates that recently went to a new home. (We had been told that they were sisters, they were very young and well, we were a little uneducated.) It was a real sudden change in her environment. Would that have any effect on this?

Answer
If you're worried about genetic defects in the babies if she were bred to her brother, no worries. As breeders we occasionally do intentional breedings of siblings to expose any faults such as coat faults, etc. By 'concentrating' the genes any defects that were in the line would show through that breeding. You either get the best of the best or the worst of the worst.

This isn't done on a regular basis of course, and only experienced breeders do that deliberately. We pay a great deal of attention to the gene compatibility of the pigs we're selecting and are looking for particular traits.

When a pig has mites they tend to gravitate to the very top of the back. The pig will chew on either side leaving a trail of hair that is partially gone that is in the shape of a 'v' with it going from the middle of the back down and toward the rear end. It looks like someone shaved a 'v' in the coat.

I don't think this is mites on your pig since it's limited to the sides of the belly. But it still wouldn't hurt to treat her anyway, after the babies are weaned. There are several things that can cause her to chew like that, one of which might be movement of the babies but I would expect that later in the pregnancy.

It could have been stress. Now that she's stopped chewing that's a good sign. If the hair is growing back (and it looks like it is) she should be fine. Having two males doing their best to see that she got no rest would indeed have been stressful. It's hard to tell just by looking at a pig's size how many babies might be in there. I've had sows that got enormous and only had two pups and others that barely showed and gave birth to four.

Two or three is an average litter size. Sometimes young sows will have only a single birth.
Your job now is to stay nervous and keep the camera ready. You will be amazed at how well developed the babies are at birth. They have a full set of teeth, full coat, eyes open and ready to run. They grow very fast so take lots of pictures.

I hope this helps you a bit.  

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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.

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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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