Fact Checked

What Factors Affect Guinea Pig Gestation?

Marlene Garcia
Marlene Garcia

Guinea pig gestation depends on the size of the litter, with larger litters increasing guinea pig gestation time. The average guinea pig gestation period varies between 59 and 72 days, and litters number between one and six offspring, but as many as eight are possible. Some breeders predict guinea pig gestation by feeling for the number of young in the sow’s stomach. Movement might also help determine gestation because they begin kicking and moving about three weeks before delivery.

Most reputable guinea pig breeders recommend against breeding females until they weigh about one pound (453 g) and are between five and nine months old. If bred too young, the sow might be physically unfit to carry and deliver offspring. She also might lack the maturity to care for her offspring once they are born. Older sows, beyond nine months old, also should not be bred for the first time. After nine months of age, a female guinea pig’s hip bones might fuse, creating the need for a caesarean birth.

The average guinea pig gestation period varies between 59 and 72 days.
The average guinea pig gestation period varies between 59 and 72 days.

The actual birthing process takes between a half hour and an hour, depending upon the size of the litter. During the guinea pig gestation period, the sow does not make a nest or prepare for birth. The young are commonly born at dawn or dusk when guinea pigs are most active, but the sow usually does not give any sign that birth is imminent. She commonly delivers a baby guinea pig every five minutes or so.

Females break the sacs enclosing newborns with their teeth immediately after birth so they can breathe on their own. After the entire litter is delivered, the placenta is expelled and eaten by the sow before she cleans up any blood and waste and licks each new guinea pig. After most guinea pig deliveries, the sow gathers all the babies into a corner of the cage, where she puts them under her to keep them warm.

Males should be removed from the cage before the sow gives birth, because she typically comes into season again within an hour. Other pregnant sows should also be isolated when guinea pig gestation nears completion. When a sow begins the delivery process, it might cause other pregnant guinea pigs to deliver prematurely. Any unusual stress during guinea pig gestation might also cause abortion or premature birth of stillborn babies.

Cavies, or guinea pigs, are born with teeth, hair, and claws, and are able to eat solid food on their day of birth. They nurse about every two hours, taking turns at the sow’s two teats. After weaning, which generally occurs at three to four weeks, males should be sequestered from females because they become fertile and will mate with the sow or female cavies in the litter.

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Discussion Comments


@Laotionne - You are correct that some guinea pigs live longer than eight years, but the average lifespan of these animals is closer to five years. And they do not handle stress particularly well, so they need to be kept comfortable. Young children are often not up to the job of caring for them, so parents usually become the primary caretakers.


I prefer hamsters as pets rather then guinea pigs. They are more active and fun to watch. I have been considering buying one for my niece, but I worry that she is too young to handle the death of a pet and hamsters have very short lives.

For this reason, I am now thinking that I should buy her a guinea pig. They can live beyond 8 years if they are well taken care of, and by then my niece will have a better understanding of birth and death as parts of the cycle of life.


Two of my coworkers have guinea pigs as pets. One of them has a male and the other has a female. Okay, you probably see where this is headed. They got the idea they could get their animals together, with the goal being a guinea pig pregnancy. They both are very found of their pets, and they thought this would be a way to actually earn money doing something they would enjoy.

Well, the female got pregnant and the wait began. My coworkers started to worry because the gestation period was taking so long, much longer than they had read that a normal guinea pig gestation period is supposed to last. The guinea pig gave birth to a dozen babies.

My coworkers were not prepared for all that came with caring for the new arrivals, and preparing them for sale. Turns out breeding guinea pigs was more complicated than they anticipated. There enterprise began and ended with the first litter.

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    • The average guinea pig gestation period varies between 59 and 72 days.
      By: biglama
      The average guinea pig gestation period varies between 59 and 72 days.