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Guinea Pigs/my pregnant guinea pig

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Question
big belly
big belly  
I know she fell pregnant sometime in February i got her February 4th an if she did get pregnant then she would be overdue which is why im worried she is huge i Felt her pelvic bone it feels like there is two bumps so i assume that means it open although the dent inbetween the two bumps is a small opening she is under 1year old an she is eating an drinking well she has had heavy breathing which i assume is normal for being as pregnant as she is i moved the male into a separate cage today thinking maybe she is stressed an doesn't feel comfortable having her babies around him even though they absolutely adore one another.  This is a picture i took yesterday

Answer
I'm not sure what your question is so I am going to assume you want to know when her due date may be.

Guinea pigs are pregnant for 70 days. She didn't come to you pregnant. If you've had her in with your male that could have happened at any time after. They come into heat on an irregular basis, but generally about every two or three weeks. They stay in estrus for only a couple of days. Not every mating results in conception.

In other words you actually can't tell exactly when she got pregnant. You can however, tell approximately how close she is to delivery by palpating, or feeling, those pelvic bones.

Those two bones you felt are always there. What you are feeling for is the degree of separation and movement of them. The ligaments that allow the pelvic bones to move begin to soften and allow the pelvic bones to separate. Normally they are quite close together and rigid. When the bones start to separate they will get about 1/4 inch apart.

At that time they will be flexible and you can move them just a little bit. Otherwise they are rigid and immoveable. When they separate she should give birth within approximately 48 hours. This is not an absolute time frame, but a generality.

So this being April 20th, and you got her Feb 4th, she was not pregnant when you got her.  She most likely didn't conceive until early March.  So she is not overdue. But she is going to deliver very soon.

Cavy boars are excellent parents. They will not hurt the babies, and in fact they will actually help raise them. The problem is that the sow comes into heat within hours of delivery and the boar will breed her again.

Baby sows can come into heat as young as two weeks old. Amazingly enough they have no problem delivering their babies and it does not stunt their growth. But you were wise to remove the boar now because you don't really want him to breed her back. When you wean the pups you can put them with dad. Boars make excellent nannies and being with dad helps them adjust to being separated from mom.

The other will wean them completely at about 6 or 7 weeks old. By the second week, and sometimes sooner, you will see the babies learning to use the water bottle and trying to eat mom's pellets. They learn very quickly.  

If mom doesn't appear stressed or down in weight you can leave the babies with her for as long as she wants to nurse. I usually remove the baby boars by four weeks, just to give her a chance to recover while she's still nursing the girls. Most typically I don't wean babies until about 5 weeks of age. I feel they need mom's milk and nurturing.  

Most babies are born in the very early morning hours just before daylight. There are exceptions of course, but my experience has been that the majority seem to deliver somewhere around sunrise.  The babies are very precocious at birth, meaning they are very well developed.

They are born with all their teeth, a full coat and eyes open ready to run. You can handle them as soon as they are dried off. The mother will not nurse her babies until she has expelled all the contents of the uterus. That can take as long as 12 hours, although typically the sow is finished sooner than that.

The pups will stay right where they are born until mom says they can move. Do not get tempted to intervene and worry that they will starve or dehydrate if she doesn't nurse right away. She knows what to do and will do it when the right time comes. If you try to bottle feed those newborns they will aspirate and die within hours. Let mom do what she needs to do.

They don't nurse very long at one time. They will suckle for a couple of minutes several times a day. Mom has only two teats, but will manage to raise multiple babies. They just learn to take turns.

There is usually at least one stillborn pup. If she has a runt she will not make any attempt to help it or give it extra attention. This is a survival instinct. Mom will not risk the wellbeing of the healthy pups just to save a baby that is weak. In the wild they have to be ready to run if necessary. Staying behind to care for a sickly baby could risk the death of the rest of the litter by predators.

A typical litter is two to four babies, although I've had litters of seven that were all healthy. I've also had litters of three and lost one. So don't stress if you have a stillborn baby. It's just nature's way.

I hope this helps you. You will probably be seeing babies very soon.  Please take pictures and post them. I always love seeing the new babies.  Best of luck to you and mom.  

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Pat VanAllen

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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.

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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