Baby food for guinea pigs
How & When to Do It
Hand-raising baby guinea pigs can be quite tricky and demanding. This responsibility should never be taken on lightly, and some points should be considered before deciding to hand-raise guinea pigs.
Most importantly, you need to be 100% confident that the mother guinea pig isn’t feeding her babies. Unless the mother guinea pig is known to be dead, there is a good chance that she is in fact feeding her babies. In general, mother guinea pigs do not constantly tend to their babies the way we might think.
Guinea pig mothers feed their babies only a few times per day and then leave them alone to their own devices. Guinea pigs are born being able to walk, see and hear, and most of them will start nibbling on solids within a few days, as well as drink milk from their mum.
Signs That Baby Guinea Pigs Have Been Neglected From Their Mother
If you think the mother guinea pig is “ignoring” her litter, have a look at the condition of the babies. If the baby’s tummies are round and full-looking, they are active and bright, warm and chatting away, making little noises, then the mother guinea pig is likely feeding them.
If the babies are cold, lethargic or have shrunken bellies, then you may have to intervene. It is a good idea to weigh the babies daily to make sure they are growing and gaining weight appropriately.
Handling Baby Guinea Pigs
Before handling the babies, wash your hands well. This not only helps to remove bacteria but also eliminates any smells from other objects or animals that can stress the babies. Once they’re clean, rub your hands in some clean, fresh hay and on the mother guinea pig’s fur to scent your hands.
Before starting any syringe or bottle-feeding, it is worth trying to assist the babies with natural feeding.
If the mother guinea pig will tolerate it and isn’t too stressed, you can try to gently, but firmly hold the mother guinea pig in your arms and gently try to put each baby onto one of her nipples to self-feed. Sometimes it is helpful for the babies if a small amount of milk is expressed from the nipple to entice the baby to suckle. If you still don’t have any luck, then you may need to start to assist feeding or hand-raising.
What Formula Should I Feed Baby Guinea Pigs?
We recommended the Wombaroo Guinea Pig Milk. It is a premium product that contains vitamin C (which is very important for young guinea pigs). It comes as a powder which can be mixed with warm water to make the milk for the babies. All the mixing instructions are on the box.
Wombaroo Guinea Pig Milk can be purchased from The Unusual Pet Vets. Alternatively, some other veterinary clinics and larger pet shops may also stock it.
Do I Need Additional Feeding Supplies?
In addition to the feeding formula, you will also need some small plastic syringes for feeding the milk to the babies. These can be purchased from our clinics or most pharmacies. You can also buy small plastic feeding bottles and plastic teats from large pet shops, but you will need to buy the smallest teat possible, as usually the puppy and kitten ones are generally too big. Most baby guinea pigs will feed from a syringe without a problem.
We recommend having a small scale to weigh the baby guinea pigs and for daily weight monitoring. The amount of milk to feed is dependent on the baby’s weight.
On the Wombaroo Guinea Pig Milk box, there is a weight chart and the number of mls of milk to be fed over 24 hours. Depending on how much the baby guinea pig will take in one feeding session will depend on how frequently you have the feed them.
Make sure all your syringes and bottles have been thoroughly washed before use.
Baby guinea pigs are wiggly and unpredictable. They jump suddenly and unexpectedly. A drop of only one or two feet can be fatal, so make sure they are being fed and kept in a safe environment.
Hold the baby in its normal sitting position in one hand, and the bottle/syringe in the other. Otherwise, have the baby guinea pig sitting (safely) on the floor or a table and feed with the bottle/syringe slightly vertically in front.
Babies often resist feeding at first, and you must overcome the temptation to force-feed. If the baby doesn’t accept the teat or syringe, then wet the baby’s lips with a drop of warm formula so it licks it off. Once it has swallowed that, repeat the procedure over and over. Be persistent and gentle. The baby will soon learn about feeding time and will generally learn to take the formula willingly despite not doing this on the first feeding.
Do not be too forceful and squeeze too much formula into the baby guinea pig’s mouth. They can inhale milk quite easily, so drip the formula slowly for the baby to lick up.
If the baby grabs the teat and begins suckling, allow him to do so without adding any pressure yourself. The baby should be able to suckle with enough strength to empty the bottle or syringe without any help from you. If you provide extra force, the baby may accidentally aspirate formula that’s coming in too fast.
If the babies do not suckle, it’s not a significant problem. Most will learn to lap or sip from the tip of the teat, and this is safer, in reducing the risk of aspiration. Try to hold the teat or syringe tip sideways or down-pointed, relative to the mouth, to further reduce the risk of aspiration.
Do Baby Guinea Pigs Need to Be Kept Warm?
It is best to keep the babies in a warm, quiet place and in a small box or carry cage. For heating, two or more babies usually snuggle to keep each other warm. However, if there’s only one baby, a warm water bottle or heat pack wrapped in a soft towel can provide an excellent heat source but be sure the guinea pig can crawl away from the heat if it gets too warm.
A Tip on Toileting
Many newborn mammals cannot urinate or defecate on their own. Most baby guinea pigs will require the stimulation of the mother’s grooming tongue on their bellies and genital region to release a stream of urine and faeces.
To mimic this behaviour use a cotton ball moistened with warm water, and gently tap or rub the urogenital area until you feel the baby’s abdominal muscles tense and a stream of urine is released. Getting a urination response may take 15-20 seconds of stimulation, or even more.
When Are Baby Guinea Pigs Weaned?
A mother guinea pig generally feeds her babies for about 3-4 weeks, gradually decreasing the frequency of feedings until they lose interest. Your baby guinea pigs will start to nibble solid food from only a few days old. You can start introducing them to timothy and oaten hay, pellets, as well as small amounts of green vegetables and water in a shallow dish from when they are born, but this does not mean they are ready to be weaned. Once they start to eat solid foods it is even more critical that you continue the feeding formula to help control the growth of potentially harmful pathogens as the babies introduce new bacteria into their systems.
If the babies still beg for nursing by the age of 5 – 6 weeks, you can begin to dilute the formula with clean drinking water. Start with 25% water to 75% formula, and gradually decrease the percentage of milk until the babies lose interest.
Should the Male and Female Baby Guinea Pigs Be Separated?
Male and female baby guinea pigs should be separated from each other at 3-4 weeks of age to prevent any early pregnancies. Guinea pigs can then be sterilised from 16 weeks.
At What Age Can Baby Guinea Pigs Be Re-homed?
Baby guinea pigs can then be rehomed to new families by eight weeks of age, as long as fully weaned and eating solids well on their own. It is a good idea to have the babies examined by a guinea pig vet prior to sending them off to their new forever home.
For more information on hand-raising baby guinea pigs, contact your local Unusual Pet Vets team.
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Baby food | Guinea Pig Cages
- Jan 29, 2005
This may sound like a stupid question but can guinea pigs have baby food as a treat? I have some left over and I was wondering if it is ok to give it to them. One is banana delight which contains; water, bananas, sugar, cornflour, lemon juice, orange juice and vitamin C. The other is apple flavoured and contains apple, apple juice and lemon juice.
- Mar 1, 2005
If you are going to feed baby food it should only be fed when they are sick. It should also only contain the vegatable/fruit that the flavor is and possibly water, nothing else. Maia was eating carrot and sweet potato baby food as a staple before she died.
So look for an all natural baby food without added sugars and substitutes, and it is best fed only when they need it.
- Oct 14, 2005
Ummm, the banana has added sugar so I'd guess probably not. Bananas are pretty high in sugar to start with & you wouldn't want to make them sick. The apple sounds like it shouldn't be dangerous, but wouldn't it make one heck of a mess to feed them something so mushy? I'd be cleaning applesauce out of everything within 5 feet of the cage if I fed my boys something like that.
- May 25, 2005
That sounds like it would have a wee bit much sugar in it for them.
- Jul 1, 2005
Yeah, I think it has too much sugar for them.
- Nov 7, 2004
If their sick it's better off to get something with more fiber than baby food. There's a much higher survival rate if you use critical care or at least mix in pellet mush with baby food. Just baby food by itself does not have enough fiber and even after the guinea pig looks to have recovered their digestive tract may be too weakened to handle normal foods again.
Cavy Champion, Previous Forum Moderator
- Dec 5, 2004
Ditto to what aqh88 said. If you do need to use baby food when a pig is ill mix it with critical care or a pellet mash. Other than that, piggies shouldn't get baby food.
- Mar 1, 2005
I was mixing her baby food with critical care to get her to eat it, she hated it plain. It does not smell to good, either.
If a guinea pig refuses to eat, it may be a sign of illness. Guinea pigs should not starve, otherwise the intestines will stop. In this case, artificial feeding is necessary.
With the help of a blender, you can easily and quickly create healthy and fresh meals yourself. It is always necessary to prepare a fresh mixture, the prepared mixture can be left in the refrigerator for a maximum of a day. The necessary part for feeding after you take it out of the refrigerator, you need to warm it up a little in a water bath. Important: the prepared mixture must not be frozen. Freezing causes changes in the cellular structure. nine0003
• Fennel seeds
• Grass / hay
• Plants (fresh or dried)
• You can add a little water
• Sprouted greens
• Hay decoction
• Grass / hay
• Plants (chamomile, dandelion, plantain, cuff, etc. ) nine0003
• hay (soak in water and then in a food processor and chop as little as possible)
• dried herbs (with a little water, grind with hay in a food processor)
• greens (with a little water)
• Oat flakes
• Oatmeal / water (only in small quantities!)
• Banana (puree) nine0003
• Grated apple
• Grated vegetables can be added
• Sugar-free baby fruit puree, carrot puree (must be in a glass, for children over 4 months old, may contain pieces for older children).
• 2 tablespoons ground herbal granules
• 1 drop vegetable oil
A probiotic must be added to normalize the intestinal microflora. Suitable veterinary probiotic "Olin" for rodents. Attention! Do not use probiotics with lactobacilli. Oats are a grain and therefore not suitable for guinea pigs. It contains gluten (all grains contain it) and is therefore harmful to the intestines. Grain is best replaced with oatmeal. Do not use dry food or grain products, under any circumstances. Oatmeal is useful only in very small amounts if the animal is accustomed to it. (No more than one spoon per day). nine0003
Vegetables and herbs provide important vitamins and flavor and are easy for sick guinea pigs to consume.
All vegetables and herbs are cut into small pieces, you can add a little water or chamomile tea (fennel tea), put in a food processor and grind to a pulp.
If dry food is used, it can be ground in a mixer or coffee grinder. Sick guinea pigs need an increased content of vitamin C. Thus, it is necessary to add about 1 pinch of ascorbic acid to the mixture per day, or a few drops from the ammo. Glucose can also be added to the mixture. nine0003
The mixture must not be served cold, it must be warmed to room temperature.
Hay should always be available, greens and herbs can stimulate the appetite, especially dill, dandelion, parsley. You can cut them into strips, and chop the vegetables (grate) this can also contribute to eating!
How to feed?
An insulin syringe (1 ml) is taken, the nose is cut off, a piston is obtained, sharp edges can be removed with a lighter or a nail file. nine0003
The syringe tip is inserted from the side, behind the incisors. The animal is kept as far as possible in a natural position. It should not be, under any circumstances, on the back! It is important not to put too much porridge in your mouth. After each sip, you need to take a break to allow the animal to chew and breathe normally! Feeding too quickly and without interruption is wrong, food can enter the lungs, leading to aspiration pneumonia - and even death of the animal! nine0003
How often to feed?
Feed every 2-3 hours during the day, for a total of about 1/20 of body weight. This will include daily 50 g of feed per 1000 g of guinea pig weight, approximately 7 g (1 tablespoon). At a minimum, to maintain life, the amount of food should be at least half. Porridge should always be freshly prepared, only in exceptional cases can be stored in the refrigerator.
Never give animals too much porridge at once, as this can lead to severe gastric congestion. 20 ml per meal is sufficient and should not be exceeded. You need to feed 4 - 6 times a day, during the normal wakefulness of the animals. nine0003
If the animal does not drink enough fluids on its own, you should drink fresh drinking water from a syringe, you can also give weak chamomile (fennel) tea without sugar, or hay infusion.
For the normal functioning of the intestinal microflora, it is necessary to add a probiotic without milk sugar to the mixture!
It is sometimes claimed that yogurt can have a positive effect on the intestinal flora of a guinea pig - this is not true. Guinea pigs are intolerant of dairy products due to their high percentage of milk sugar (lactose). Lactose in the small intestine of guinea pigs is not sufficiently broken down into glucose and galactose and remains in this state in the large intestine, where it is then fermented by intestinal bacteria, leading to bloating and diarrhea. Even a small amount of yogurt can have this effect on guinea pigs, so it should never be offered. nine0003
Feeding an orphaned guinea pig baby
Guinea pig babies have an advantage over other babies - their mothers have a fairly long gestation period and babies are born well-formed, have thick fur, teeth and can be relatively independent. Having been born and dried, they can move well and, from the first days, in addition to mother's milk, eat "adult" food. nine0003
Undoubtedly, it is best for cubs with their mother, with her milk they receive the antibodies necessary for health, from her examples they learn how and what to eat, using her feces, populate their intestines with beneficial microflora, during the first week, mother licks them, especially carefully in the area of \u200b\u200bthe “butt”, thus stimulating defecation and urination, babies warm themselves under their mother’s barrel, follow her in single file, learn to communicate, etc. Therefore, if the cubs are orphaned for some reason, try to find a foster mother for them. Usually, a guinea pig gives birth to one to four cubs, and a healthy mother pig, who has recently given birth to one or two babies, may well feed and leave a couple more orphans. nine0003
Food for nursing mothers and babies should be of very good quality - selected hay with a high calcium content, without sharp inclusions, branded granules with a special mark for young animals, always fresh clean drinking water, when the cubs grow up, they are gradually accustomed to green food, vegetables and fruits (fruits are given to pigs quite a bit, as a treat).
If the cubs have lost their mother or there is a weaker baby in the multiple litter, and the nurse could not be found, you will have to take care of feeding and caring for the little guinea pigs. nine0003
First of all, you need to get a scale to adequately assess whether the babies are gaining weight well, whether the diet suits them. They should be weighed immediately after birth and monitored daily for at least a week. As a rule, during the first two days, babies lose a little weight, and from the third day they begin to gain it.
The next thing owners who act as foster mothers to newborn guinea pigs should know is that their pets do not need to be supplemented with any kind of milk or milk substitutes. They can only mother's milk, no other is suitable for them and is prohibited. nine0003
If you are unable to purchase special food for hand-feeding guinea pigs, you should use hay, regular pellets, compressed hay pellets, high calcium alfalfa soaked in warm water, or left overnight to soak in the refrigerator, and in the morning crushed with a spoon and heated to room temperature, or ground in a coffee grinder (ground in a mortar with a pestle) with hay, and then stirred with liquid. You can add a small amount of boiled pumpkin or baby pumpkin puree without additional sugar and cream. nine0003
At first, babies should be fed every 1-2 hours, at least every 3 hours, feeding no more than 1-2 cm³ of food at a time. After each feeding, the baby should be given some water to drink, sometimes with vitamin C or a rehydron solution.
Some babies learn to spoon feed and some need to be syringe fed (see Anorexia in Guinea Pigs). When feeding and drinking from a syringe, make sure that the babies do not choke, the ingress of liquid or food into the respiratory tract can cause aspiration pneumonia, which is likely to lead to the death of the animal. Therefore, act calmly and slowly, comfortably seated with the baby. Make sure your baby stays clean and dry after feeding. nine0003
For the first 1-2 weeks after each feeding, small guinea pigs should definitely stimulate digestion, defecation and urination by doing a gentle massage in the "butt" area and gently stroking the bottom of the tummy, for this you can use a slightly damp warm towel.
For seeding the intestines of babies with beneficial microflora, the feces of a healthy guinea pig are most suitable, which must be stirred with a small amount of water and added to the “feed porridge”. Cubs will benefit from communication with their dad or older siblings if they are healthy and not aggressive. If necessary, the veterinarian will prescribe special preparations for the development of beneficial flora for babies. nine0003
Babies should always have fresh hay, pellets, green leafy vegetables, grass, water in their home to encourage them to eat on their own.
If you just need to support a weaker baby from a multiple litter, it is useful to leave him alone with his mother several times a day, taking the larger babies for 15-20 minutes.
Lonely and weak cubs will need an additional source of heat. Using an incandescent lamp for heating, make sure that the baby does not overheat and can, if necessary, hide in a cool corner. And when using various heating pads, make sure that they are not chewed (especially chemical and electric ones).