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Question
My guinea pig lex gave birth to two babies one was stillborn.over a period of 4 hours I did not notice Lex feeding her baby so I kept them together and watched. She kept pushing the baby away with her head and running away from the baby. I have two other guinea pigs one that gave birth to 4 babies 2 weeks ago and one that gave birth to 5 babies 3 days ago. I took Lexis baby and tested it out with both of the moms the most recent mother is allowing her to feed and I just want to make sure that this will be successful and that I don't have to hand feed.

Answer
It is seldom successful to hand feed new babies. However, guinea pigs are awesome mothers and if Lex refuses to take the baby the other mothers may.

The secret to success in fostering is to make sure the foster mother doesn't realize she's been fooled into taking another baby.  The simplest and most successful trick is to put some Vicks on the nose of the fostering mom.  It alters her sense of smell just enough that the new baby can nurse. Once she has nursed that baby, she will continue to do so.

A guinea pig will not nurse their own babies until they've completely passed all the contents of the uterus. That may take up to 12 hours, but the babies are just fine waiting. To try to force feed them often results in the baby aspirating and dying. Best to let Mother Nature do her thing.

When a sow continues to push the babies away it sometimes means there's another pup that she cannot pass. They instinctually know not to feed until the right time. I apologize for not seeing this question when it was written and I hope everything has calmed down by now.

If the foster mom is feeding the baby, leave it where it is. Breeding cavies is not for the week of heart. The stillborn ratio is high, higher than most animals. But that's just the way Nature has made them and there's nothing you can do about it.  

Please let me know how things are going, and whether Lex began to nurse her surviving baby. Again my apologies for not seeing this sooner.  

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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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