Following delivery, guinea pig babies stay with their mothers for feeding and protection.
But there will come a time when these pups will not be fed by their mother anymore.
If your guinea pig babies are growing fast, you’ll probably be wondering, “When are guinea pigs weaned?”
Usually, guinea pigs are weaned at 3 weeks. However, they can continue to feed on breastmilk for close to 4 weeks.
By watching their mother eat, guinea pig pups know which diets are safe and which are not. Hence, they can eat a small number of vegetables, hay, and pellets right from birth.
At this point, you might be wondering if there are benefits to weaning guinea pigs.
Keep reading as we provide the information you need to know about guinea pig pups.
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Benefits Of Weaning Guinea Pigs
Weaning baby guinea pigs can be slightly challenging for their mothers. However, it plays a major role in their general well-being.
Here are 3 major benefits of weaning guinea pigs:
1. Weaning Allows The Pups to Become Independent
Most of the time, the guinea pigs that are weaned on time tend to survive easily on their own. When the pups do not feed on breast milk any longer, they quickly switch to eating solid food.
In addition, these little guinea pigs are not picky about diets; they eat the food adults eat.
Therefore, weaning prevents the baby guinea pigs from being completely dependent on their mother for survival.
2. It Increases Guinea Pigs’ Lifespan
Regular pregnancy and delivery can decrease the lifespan of a guinea pig. Therefore, weaning and separating the pups from their mother when they’re about 3 to 4 weeks old is important.
By their nature, male guinea pigs can become sexually mature at 3 weeks old. Female guinea pigs can become pregnant at the age of 4 to 6 weeks.
If you don’t separate the male and female pups, it’s only a matter of time before they start mating.
Going through pregnancy at 4 or 6 weeks can be too much for a young guinea pig to handle. Even if she survives the pregnancy period, the guinea pig may die during delivery.
Interestingly enough, a male pup can impregnate its mother if they live in the same cage too.
Even before the male and female pups reach the age of 3 to 4 weeks, prepare separate cages for them.
There’s usually no cause for alarm if the females stay with their mothers for up to 4 weeks. But you should separate the males from their mother and female siblings once they are 3 weeks old.
3. It Improves The Mother’s Daily Activities
Normally, guinea pigs give birth to 2–4 pups at a time. However, the mother guinea pig can have up to 8 babies at once. No matter the number of pups she gives birth to, the guinea pig has to feed them equally.
Breastfeeding all her pups every day for up to 21 days requires lots of energy. As a result, the mother’s daily activities tend to be reduced.
However, the mother will be free and fully energized to perform other activities once her guinea pigs are weaned.
What Food Can I Give My Guinea Pigs Then?
There’s a wide range of food that guinea pig pups can eat. Still, you need to be careful about the quantity of food you offer them to prevent health problems.
Here are 4 common foods that baby guinea pigs can eat.
Of all the foods that baby guinea pigs can eat, hay is the most important. Not only does it provide them with nutrients, but hay also keeps their tooth growth in check.
Timothy hay is a good choice to consider when you want to feed your pups hay. Nevertheless, you can also feed these young guinea pigs oat grass and alfalfa hay.
While oat grass doesn’t contain a lot of nutrients, it can be used to make guinea pig bedding.
Alfalfa grass, on the other hand, is rich in protein and calcium that can help build the bones of guinea pigs.
2. Fresh Vegetables
Baby guinea pigs can also benefit from vegetables. However, it should be provided in small quantities only.
Excess vegetables can cause diarrhea and other stomach-related problems in these.
Moreover, it is important to note that not all vegetables are suitable for baby guinea pigs. Hence, you need to find out which ones are safe for them and which ones are not.
For a start, moderate amounts of lettuce and cilantro are healthy for baby guinea pigs to eat.
For healthy growth, pellets are important for young guinea pigs. They’re rich in vitamins and minerals that the pups need to develop perfectly.
On the other hand, pellets contain too many calories. Therefore, you need to stop adding it to your guinea pigs’ diet as they grow older to prevent obesity.
Guinea pig pups also enjoy munching on fruits, especially sweet ones. But you should only offer them as a treat, not as a regular part Of their main diet.
Although these pups can gain vitamins and minerals from fruits, they can also get them from hay and veggies. So when offering your little guinea pigs fruit, practice moderation.
How To Wean Guinea Pig Babies
If you’re planning to wean your baby guinea pigs soon, there are certain things you need to do. Follow these 3 steps to make the weaning process easy.
Guinea pig pups can eat little quantities of solid food a few days after birth. But they need to feed on their mother’s milk to gain enough nutrients.
Also, these pups need feeding formula, which prevents harmful pathogens from growing in them.
As the guinea pig babies grow older, you need to start introducing solid food to them. But bear in mind that the weaning of these pups is a gradual process.
Once the pups are around 5 to 6 weeks old, start mixing their formula with clean water.
For a start, the percentage of formula to water should be 75% to 25%. Later, as they begin to develop, increase the amount of water you add to the formula.
Within a short time, the baby guinea pigs will stop feeding on formula. This is the time to start giving them solid food.
When the young guinea pigs are 8 weeks old, move them to another cage. Before you take this step, make sure that the pups are already feeding on hay and other solid foods.
In other words, the pups should be able to live independently before you separate them from their mother.
Provide warm, dry enclosures for the baby guinea pigs. Let there be hiding corners in the place, lots of hay, and no holes from which they can escape.
Keep the temperature of the enclosure at 18 to 23°C daily. Maintain strict hygiene whenever you want to enter the cages, as the pups are susceptible to infections.
3. Keep Both Sexes Apart
After weaning the guinea pig pups, the next thing you need to do is separate the sexes. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the guinea pigs become sexually mature at 3 to 4 weeks.
Place the young males with the adult males and the females with the adult females. This will enable the baby guinea pigs to learn how to behave and what food to eat.
Besides, it will allow them to socialize with one another freely.
But first, study each guinea pig’s personality before keeping them in the same cage.
If you house two aggressive guinea pigs together, they’ll likely be fighting each other.
Speak to your vet if you’re not sure of the gender of each pup.
At What Age Can Baby Guinea Pigs Leave Their Mother?
Baby guinea pigs can leave their mother at 8 weeks old. Most of the time, they will have been fully weaned and can eat solid food by that age.
Right from birth, guinea pig pups can see, hear, and walk. So it is easy for them to survive independently in a separate cage.
Do Guinea Pigs Wean Themselves?
No, guinea pigs do not wean themselves. But after 3 to 4 weeks, their mother will begin to reduce her feeding time.
Once she does this frequently, the pups will start to get discouraged and will prefer other diets.
At that moment, you can begin to feed them moderate amounts of hay, fruits, and commercial pellets.
What Age Can Baby Guinea Pigs Be Sold?
Guinea pig pups can be sold right away when they’re eight weeks old. They tend to grow up quickly and can feed on adult diets such as hay.
While they’re still small at that age, baby guinea pigs adapt to new environments quickly.
But first, speak to your vet before deciding whether to sell them or not. They’ll ask the relevant questions and give professional advice on how to go about it.
In addition, make sure there is more than one of these young guinea pigs in a cage to help them socialize.
Under normal circumstances, guinea pigs are weaned at 3 to 4 weeks.
Once the mother guinea pig reduces the time she spends feeding her babies, introduces solid food to them.
Only offer these young guinea pigs little diets at a time and observe their reactions to them.
To keep the mother and the female guinea pigs safe, separate the male pups from them as soon as they’re 3 weeks old.
Finally, practice good hygiene when handling the pups to prevent them from falling sick.