Are Guinea Pigs Cannibals? (5 Possible Reasons Why)

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Would you be surprised to find out that one of your guinea pigs is missing? If yes, then it is understandable! 

Situations like this can be confusing when there are no ways for predators to enter their cage. 

You’ll possibly be thinking, can my cavies eat their babies? Are guinea pigs cannibals?

Unfortunately, the simple answer is yes, guinea pigs resort to cannibalism in certain situations. Although this behavior is uncommon among these friendly animals, it happens majorly as a result of hunger. 

Under normal conditions, your cavies will never harm or eat their babies or even adults.

Commonly, guinea pigs are known as quiet, social animals that wouldn’t hurt themselves. In fact, they make great pets for both children and adults due to their calm nature. 

Apart from hunger, you’ll likely be wondering, why do these amazing pets eat their babies?

Why do guinea pigs resort to cannibalism?

To find out the answer to this question, it would be best if you keep reading this guide till the end!

Why Do Some Guinea Pigs Resort to Cannibalism?

There are 5 possible reasons why your cavies could eat their babies:

1. Stress

One of the ways mother guinea pigs use in protecting their babies from stressors is by eating them. Usually, mother cavies react quickly to anything that may cause stress in their environments including:

  • Loud noises
  • Boredom
  • Temperature changes. 

Whenever the mother begins to feel stressed, she’ll kill her baby so that it won’t go through the same situation.

2. Too Much Guinea Pigs in a Cage

Too much guinea pigs in a cage

In some cases, an adult guinea pig can eat another adult of its kind if there is overcrowding in the cage.

It will be impossible to prevent fights in a cage where there are less food and more guinea pigs.

Situations like these often cause cannibalism among cavies in the long run.

Although cannibalistic behavior among adult guinea pigs is not common, it happens and can be avoided. Provide enough space for your cavies to prevent this type of problem.

3. Starvation  

As we mentioned earlier, hunger is the primary reason guinea pigs eat their babies. As the mother cavy breastfeeds her young, she’ll be constantly feeling hungry and thirsty. 

If no food is available, she’ll eat one of her young as food, especially the smallest.

As a guinea pig owner, always provide diets rich in important nutrients, especially vitamin C and calcium for the new mother.

When she has enough food, feeding her young will not be a problem and she wouldn’t harm or eat them.

5. If the Baby Look Like a Placenta

Another reason a guinea pig can resort to cannibalism is if she mistakes one of her babies for a placenta. 

Due to their intelligent nature, the mother cavy cleans up after giving birth to her young to prevent predators from entering the cage. While doing this, she eats the placenta of the pups. 

In rare cases, she can mistakenly eat one of her babies thinking it is a placenta.

Luckily, the survival skill of a strong pup will help him move away from the mother to prevent being killed. But sadly, a weak pup will wait to be feasted on.

5. Stillborn

When one or more pups do not survive after delivery, the mother eats them. She prefers to eat them than to allow predators to enter the cage and take the stillborn away.  

So, whenever you notice a stillborn in the cage after delivery of the pups, take it away without wasting time.


Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Babies If You Touch Them?

A boy carrying and touching a guinea pig

No, guinea pigs will not eat their babies if you touch them. Although there’s a common myth that a mother guinea pig will eat her pups when pet owners touch them early. 

There’s also a belief that if she perceives the scent of humans on her babies, she will lose interest in them. 

These beliefs are not true. If your female cavies are familiar with you, they wouldn’t harm their babies when you handle them.


Will Dad Guinea Pigs Eat Babies?

Yes, dad guinea pigs can eat babies in some cases. Naturally, male guinea pigs love to defend their territory and will go to any length to achieve this.

It is always advisable to introduce the pups slowly to the father guinea pig to prevent him from harming them.

Therefore, keep the newborn guinea pigs in a separate cage with their mother. Then introduce them to their father until they are old enough to defend themselves.

If you fail to take this step, dad guinea pigs may become cannibals.

Do Guinea Pigs Eat Each Other When They Die?

No, guinea pigs do not eat each other when they die. In fact, your cavies will feel bad if one of them dies because they enjoy one another’s company.

Sometimes, they may become quiet for several days as a sign of mourning the dead.

Whenever problems like this happen, remove the body from the cage immediately. Also, give more attention or toys to the other guinea pigs so that they can heal quickly.


Can Guinea Pigs Eat Any Meat?

No, guinea pigs are herbivores – plant eaters and not carnivores. Their digestive system is not designed to chew and process any type of meat.

Feeding these small pets meat can cause a choking hazard, indigestion, diarrhea, and other health problems. 

For health’s sake, feed your guinea pigs healthy diets:

  • hay
  • plants
  • fruits
  • and clean water only.

How to Avoid Cannibalistic Behavior in Guinea Pigs

Three guinea pigs staying peacefully together

No matter the situation, your guinea pigs should be prevented from behaving like cannibals. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid this behavior in your tiny pets. 

Below are 6 practical ways to avoid cannibalistic behavior in guinea pigs:

1. Always provide mother guinea pigs with enough diets and clean water so that they won’t eat their pups.

2. Remove all stillborn from the cage on time to prevent the mother from eating them.

3. Ensure your guinea pigs’ cage has enough space to house them all comfortably. This will prevent constant fights that may result in cannibalism.

4. Never put a male cavy in the same cage with newborn cavies; he’ll likely kill them.

5. Avoid the following stressors:

  • Loud noises
  • Too much heat or cold
  • Change of environment 
  • Large predators 

6. Allow the mother and babies to bond for a few days before entering their cage frequently.


Final Thoughts

Now, we have come to the last part of this article. But before you leave, take note of a few important points.

Normally, guinea pigs are not cannibals. Nevertheless, situations like hunger, extreme stress, or an uncomfortable cage can make them resort to this strange behavior.

Your female cavy will not eat her babies if you touch them. Regardless, you should give the mother and babies the time to bond before handling them. 

Guinea pigs are not meat-eaters but plant-eaters. Therefore, provide only healthy plants for them. 

Dad guinea pig can eat babies if he feels threatened by them, which means you should not house them together.

Finally, we listed 6 ways to prevent cannibalism in guinea pigs.

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