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Guinea Pigs/baby guinea pig looks premature


first guinea
first guinea  

second guinea
second guinea  
My female guinea pig has given birth once before. We didn't know about it till one morning I went to feed my pair and a little one scampered out. I gave that one to my daughter who wanted one, after it was old enough to be separated from the mother. After several months my son wanted one so I decided to pair my first two again. My female gave birth this morning and it seems the baby is not as well formed. It seems like it's paw is kinda gimped and that it ribs and backbone aren't fully formed either. It moves very sporadically and jumpy. Here are two pictures of the first one and the second one. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

The baby does not look premature to me. I can see that the front paws don't seem to be in a normal position, but that could be just a malformation caused by being in the utero with the front paws underneath each other instead of extended outward as they should.

I've had babies born like that, one if particular that never did straighten up but she lived a long and healthy life. If you start right away you can often do little piggy physical therapy by massaging and gently manipulating the feet back in a more or less normal position. But in some cases the pup learns to live with this and has no issues getting around. They form a callous on the joint where they are stepping rather than on the bottom of the foot and it works just fine for them.

Just as with children born with deformities, they do think they are handicapped. They just learn to live with what God has given them, and they do fine. If fact sometimes you wonder if they are not more blessed than we are because they are far more tolerate of 'differences' in others.

As for the backbone, I can't really see anything abnormal, but again it's difficult to see in a picture. However, as long as the pup is nursing and getting around it should learn to live with whatever adjustments it has to. These kinds of things are unusual, although not rare. They typically are more often seen in litters of three or four, because of lack of space. Guinea pig babies are unusually large in comparison to the size of the mother, so it's obviously difficult to find enough room to develop in such a small space.

I'm not sure what you mean by the ribs and backbone not being developed fully. But if that's the case it's not something that can change. The little guy appears bright eyed and his coat looks good, indicating he's otherwise just fine.

If you are able to do so, try manipulating and massaging the foot to see if you can help the ligaments to stretch and relax enough to give the baby somewhat normal movement. But if that's not possible just rest assured it won't affect his ability to get along. Nature finds a way.

I hope this helps. If you have any other concerns please don't hesitate.  

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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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