Having a Pregnant Piggy

When we adopted Linda from a friend, we were told that she had been in a cage with two boys for less than a month. Our friend never saw any of the boys try to mount her and highly doubted she was pregnant. When we got her, she was overweight. Our friend told us she has always been big and even showed us older photos. We didn’t think twice about it. However, she kept getting bigger despite being on a healthier diet. She drank 1/4th of her water bottle every day and ate twice as much hay as the others. We couldn’t figure out why.

Linda 24 hours before giving birth.

At the end of June, we noticed that it looked as though she had two massive golf balls on either side of her stomach. We gently rubbed her sides and felt movement. She was, in fact, pregnant. You can imagine our panic as that reality began to set in. We slowly began to collect supplies such as another cage, a smaller water bottle, extra food bowl, alfalfa hay, and more. We picked Linda up less so that we didn’t stress her out. We let her eat all of the vegetables she wanted to make sure she had all of the vitamins she would need. Waiting for her to give birth was the more challenging part.

It was also interesting to see how much Linda would change. For example, when we first brought her into our home, she loved taking her vitamin c liquid. She would drink an entire bottle if we allowed her to. Near the end of her pregnancy and after she gave birth, she hates it. Old treats that she would die for are no longer of interest. Her sleeping patterns changed by day. She became more lethargic the closer that she got to giving birth. She became extremely skittish. Through it all, we gave her the best care and made sure she was safe and happy.

I had a pregnant guinea pig when I was very young but retained nothing in regards to caring for the mother during the pregnancy. It also didn’t help that Google wasn’t as common then as it is now so we never thought to research it. While we were more prepared this time, it was still very scary considering Linda is my favorite of the three and the thought of something happening to her terrifies me. We did everything the internet said to do and sure enough, it worked out perfectly.

Linda and her babies at 3 hours old.

July 17th, I woke up at 9 am, got ready for work, and left by 10 am. Guinea pigs are more intelligent than they seem and have a knack for learning routines. Linda knew when I got up for work and when I left for the day. She also knew that Jonathon typically goes back to sleep so there was a window for her to give birth in silence away from us, which is exactly what she did. I got a call from Jonathon at 10:30 am saying that Linda had given birth and my boss allowed me to rush home. Jonathon had fallen back asleep when I left for work but quickly woke back up when the squeaking of newborn guinea pigs alerted him. Sure enough, there were two newborn guinea pigs sitting in Linda’s cage.

The babies came out much more curly than either of us had expected. They looked like tiny sheep. Linda doted on them and we watched her entire personality flip. Prior to her babies, she was extremely aggressive towards other guinea pigs and fairly skittish. Now, she is calm and friendly. I spent the entire first day just staring into the cage watching them. They spent most of the day laying inside of the large blue igloo and periodically moving to lay directly outside of the igloo together. Linda is an American Shorthair and, if you couldn’t tell by the white patches on the heads of the babies, the father is a White Crested. It’s also quite cute that the babies have a weird resemblance to the other two guinea pigs we have, Sugar Bear and Mocha.

Linda and Nugget napping.

At the time that I write this, we still do not know what gender they are. We initially thought that one was a boy and the other was a girl but we couldn’t figure out which was which. By the time they were 1 week old, it started to seem like they were both boys. Only time will tell. I had originally named them Luke and Leia from Star Wars since we thought they were different genders but if they’re both boys, we’re naming the black one Ryuk and the brown one Nugget. I’ve gotten in the habit of calling the brown one my little chicken nugget and it’s really stuck.

The babies have grown a lot since they were born and we’ve started to notice their personalities evolve. The black one is very assertive and thinks of itself as a leader. The brown one is a follower. The black one has no fear and even eats the same food that Linda is eating, despite how aggressive she can be about her food. The brown one quietly lays nearby and eats its own food. They are both still very clingy in regards to Linda. They still nurse and squeak very loudly if they’re away from Linda for more than 90 seconds. They love to explore, have zero understanding of ledges, and love to munch on kale.

As cute as the babies are, breeding guinea pigs is not a risk worth taking. There is a very specific age window for guinea pigs to get pregnant and, considering most guinea pigs are from pet stores who are completely unaware of their ages, it isn’t worth the risk. Breeding a guinea pig that is too old can cause a lot of fatal complications. Breeding a guinea pig that is young enough where their pelvic bones have not fully separated can result in the babies getting stuck and the mother dying. We are extremely lucky that Linda’s birth went smoothly. Please understand the risks before putting a female guinea pig through that kind of trauma.

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