REPRODUCTION IN GUINEA PIGS

Rut and cover
A bear smells when a sow is rutting and will then stagger and grumble after her and often also spread a strong odor. If she is not rubbish, the sow runs away, protests with squeaking, throws her rear up or sometimes she sprays a stream of urine in his direction. Only when the sow is ruddy will she allow the bear to cover her effectively. A sexually mature sow becomes rash every 16 to 18 days for a period of approximately 24 hours. Some sows allow every bear, but others are more choosy and do not want to be covered by certain bears. After the cover, the so-called cover plug remains in the sagina's vagina. This cover plug loses the sow a few hours later and is sometimes found in the cage, although this does not necessarily mean that the cover has led to fertilization.

The gestation
The gestation period for a guinea pig lasts approximately 10 weeks (between 65 and 72 days). To know if a sow is pregnant, you can check her weight every week. After 4 to 5 weeks an experienced breeder often already feels 'marbles' in the womb. Gradually the pregnant sow starts to get the typical pear shape and she gets wider and wider until she finally gains half her original weight at the end of her gestation. As the end of the pregnancy approaches, the sow often becomes a lot calmer, she rests a lot more and sometimes separates herself from the group. Depending on the sow, she can also become more aggressive towards other guinea pigs. About three weeks before the delivery, you can gradually feel the little ones moving in the abdomen and in the end you can usually feel them very clearly, and if you listen carefully, you can sometimes hear the boy grind his teeth. With a sow you can also feel whether she already has access. Just below her tail bone you can feel two short, narrow bones lying against each other. When the sow is exposed, the bones separate. Most sows throw within a week when they have access, although exceptions are always possible, both earlier and later. The disclosure is complete with one and a half or two fingers disclosure.

The throw
Just before you throw it, you can clearly tell by the sow that she is in labor: she is standing with a very round back, mainly supported by the hind legs and you see the belly contract hard. Usually no problems occur during the throw. When the young is born, the sow with its head goes between her hind legs to tackle the young. Then she pulls the membrane open, eats it and licks the newborn baby dry. Usually all young are born first and then all placentas come off, which are then eaten by the mother. By eating the membranes and placentas, a hormone is released into the body of the sow, causing the uterus to shrink again and the milk supply to be stimulated.

If there are other guinea pigs around the shed, both sows and a bear, you will find that they often help lick the boy clean. That is why it is advisable not to place pregnant sows together. If one sow raises and another (high) pregnant sow helps with dry licking, this will also cause contractions, resulting in premature birth. Even a bear will usually help if he is still present and will not harm the boy. A sow, however, is usually heat again within 24 hours after birth and can therefore be immediately covered by the bear. Being mated too quickly, the condition and health of the sow will certainly not improve and it is therefore advisable to remove the bear from the pregnant sow in time, for example from the moment you feel the boy move for the first time after about seven weeks gestation.

Very occasionally, especially with young, inexperienced sows, it may be that she leaves a young in the membrane. It is also possible that the youngsters come together so quickly that the sow is still busy with a previous youngster and leaves the next one in the membrane. If no guinea pig or human is around to remove the young from the membrane, it suffocates. Dry licking is generally fairly rough to get the young's breathing and blood circulation going well. A healthy young person protests loudly and squeaks when it hurts, which is the signal for the sow to stop at that place and continue elsewhere. However, a weak youngster will not beep loud enough and in her enthusiasm to lick the youngster dry, it may be that the youngster is licked and bitten, without her wishing to be cannibalistic.

The youngs
A sow has on average one to four young per litter, each weighing around 100 grams. A sow has only two nipples, although normally she can suckle four youngsters without any problems. So a breeder does not have to help raise the young when the sow is in good condition. With five or more youngsters it can happen that the youngsters have to be fed if you want them to make it all, although this also often works without help. Keep track of the boy's weight and if they do not grow enough, you can always top up. Supplementing too fast is not advisable, since the milk production of the sow depends on how often suckling takes place, so the more young ones suck, the more milk they will produce. Because that production only goes up gradually, it is certainly normal with larger litters that the weight of the young goes down instead of up in the first days. If after a day or two, three turns out that the weight is still not increasing, you can consider adding extra. If the nests are too large, it is also advisable to regularly check the sow's nipples. Too much sucking can cause sore nipples, so that the sow no longer wants or can suckle the young.

Young bears soon start grumbling and wobbling after the female littermates and their mother, although this is without consequence up to the age of four weeks. From 8 to 10 weeks, most bears are fertile, but some animals are very early, so that they are best removed from the nest in time (four weeks or minimum 250 grams) to prevent unwanted gestation. The young bears can be placed with an adult bear.
The young sows also stay with the mother until they are at least four weeks old or weigh 250 grams. If you leave them longer with the mother, then at some point the mother will no longer allow the animals to drink and chase them away. The sows are sexually mature for the first time around the age of four to six weeks, although they are still too young to breed with. The sow is still fully growing, which requires a lot of energy. A pregnant sow will therefore experience a growth retardation, both due to pregnancy and the suckling of the young. Most breeders place a sow with the bear for the first time around five months of age or a minimum weight of 700 grams. It is also better for the sow to cover her for the first time before the age of nine months, so that she has her first litter before the age of one year. In older sows the pelvic bones become less flexible and the sow therefore has a nest after one year of age, then it may be that the pelvis cannot open wide enough for the young, so that only a caesarean section can help, although this often does not run well off.

How often do you breed with a sow?
It is best for a breeder to judge for himself how long and how often he breeds with a certain sow, paying particular attention to the condition of the animal: how quickly does she recover after a gestation, there are no problems with throwing, she returns quickly by weight ... This varies from sow to sow: some are already excluded from breeding after a litter, others are covered until they are three years old. In order not to affect the condition of the sow too hard, most breeders have a sow cast twice a year. Some sows return to weight so quickly that it is better to cover them an extra time, since an overweight sow often causes complications during gestation or shedding.

Breeding is great fun, but don't forget that a good home has to be found for the offspring. For animals that cannot leave in time, you must provide extra accommodation, so it is better to look for a new owner in time for the selected animals.