There is nothing more adorable than baby guinea pigs. If you thought adult guinea pigs are cute and adorable, just wait to see their babies! Babies are tiny, much smaller, and much cuter! But, how are these adorable little things called? They are called pups, and they are born after just 2 months of pregnancy. Today we will discuss what to feed baby guinea pigs (good and bad foods for the pups) because they need only health and good nutrition during their growth.
What to feed baby guinea pigs? The baby guinea pigs need the essentials nutrients in order to grow up into healthy and strong guinea pigs. For example, they need their mother’s milk for the first 3 weeks. After that, you have to give them alfalfa pellets and alfalfa hay because these are rich in calcium, and calcium is good for the proper growth of the young pups. Also, they need timothy hay, so this should be the majority of the guinea pig baby diet. Lastly, fresh produce (veggies and fruits) rich in vitamin C, because this vitamin is essential for their health and survival.
Caring for the young pups shouldn’t be a hard task, as long as you have the right information for their diet. Of course, many of the rules for the grown guinea pigs apply here as well. In all sections below we will cover the most common foods for the pups, why they are good for them, we will also mention unhealthy foods for pups, as well as other things, so keep reading!
What to Feed the Pups Right After They Are Born?
When the pups are newborns, don’t feed them anything at first, they only need their mom’s milk. They can be nursed for up to 6 weeks after they are born, but usually, the mom nurses them for around 3-4 weeks. So, put a greater focus on the healthy diet of the mother during that period! The guinea pig mother must eat healthy and well all the time, in order to be able to breastfeed her small guinea pig babies with enough healthy milk. After the nursing weeks have passed, the guinea pig babies can be slowly introduced to dry foods, such as the grass, or alfalfa hay.
Alfalfa hay is full of minerals and vitamins that the guinea pig babies need. It smells delicious too, so it won’t be a problem to make the baby cavies eat it. However, alfalfa hay has some nutrients in excess. For example, it has a lot of calories which can lead to obesity or at least weight changes. But, since the babies of guinea pigs need good and nutritious foods, they can consume the alfalfa hay after the breastfeeding period, so don’t worry too much about their weight when they are young. If you feed them alfalfa quite often, at least avoid the veggies and fruits that have a lot of calcium, in order to create a balanced diet. Alfalfa hay contains calcium and the pups will benefit from this, but make sure to create a variety in their diet after they are past the breastfeeding stage.
These pellets are good for the guinea pig pups because they contain a lot of vitamins and minerals. Just make sure to not make the mistake of giving the guinea pig babies the pellets made for hamsters, rabbits or similar small animals. There is a reason why every food is made especially for guinea pigs, and not other animals. Guinea pig babies (and adults) need vitamin C, the pellets made especially for them contain this vitamin in good amounts.
Timothy hay contains a bit less calcium than alfalfa, and also a bit less protein. Usually, the guinea pig babies need all the calories, calcium, vitamins, and minerals they can get (once the breastfeeding stage is over). And, if the guinea pig babies are a bit too chubby, keep it in mind that timothy hay is less caloric than the alfalfa hay.
How Much Hay Can the Guinea Pig Babies Consume?
The grown guinea pigs must eat hay every single day and the serving size must be ‘the size of their own body’ every single day! This means the babies should eat a bit less than adult guinea pigs, but still, they should consume it if they are not nursing. Also, always keep an eye on the mom guinea pig, because if she doesn’t get enough good food, she will not be able to breastfeed (well).
Baby guinea pigs will have formed teeth around 2 weeks of age. Don’t be surprised by this, and know that they can consume most foods by the time they are done nursing. However, the guinea pig pups will not quite ‘understand’ the solid foods like produce right away. Still, the best foods for guinea pig babies that are a bit more grown are the fresh produce with lower amounts of sugars or calcium (once the pups grow up a little bit). Use our diet lists to see what foods guinea pigs can eat.
What Nutrients Are Most Needed to the Guinea Pig Babies?
It is very important that the guinea pig babies receive enough vitamin C and calcium. The vitamin C is needed for scurvy prevention. Scurvy is a disease that occurs with a deficit of vitamin C and manifests with: rough coat, loss of appetite, fatigue, diarrhea, weight loss. Then, the calcium is also needed a lot for the young guinea pig pups to form strong and healthy bones. Overall, they must receive their mother’s milk, then later some pellets and hay, vitamin C foods, and calcium.
What Foods Are Bad for Them and How Long Does the Nursing Last?
The guinea pigs cannot consume all the tasty foods we humans eat. Well, this means no cooked foods, no desserts, no processed foods or anything similar. Next time you snack on chips, don’t give it to the guinea pig babies or their parents. Their digestive systems are made for vegetarian foods, uncooked, raw – as found in nature mostly. See our list to see what foods are toxic and bad for guinea pigs.
Breastfeeding of guinea pigs lasts for 3 weeks, it is normal for the pups to follow their mom everywhere she goes. They will even copy her behavior, so some pups can even figure out how to drink water from the water bottle. Also, some pups will start nibbling hay, grass, or pellets once they see their mom doing that.
30 Amazing Guinea Pig Babies Facts You Need to Know
#1. The guinea pig babies are called ‘pups’.
#2. Pups should not leave their mom for at least 3 weeks after they are born.
#3. The mother is breastfeeding the pups for a minimum of 3 weeks and a maximum of 6 weeks.
#4. If you want to purchase a pup, make sure that it is at least 3 weeks old, or the best-case scenario is 1 or 1.5 months old.
#5. If you decide to ‘adopt’ a pup, make sure to buy him an ‘igloo’ before you bring the little cutie home. This toy makes them feel safe and sheltered. And it is normal for them to want this if they are getting separated from family members and moving into a new home!
#6. You must never hover above the little guinea pig pup. Until the little pup feels safe around you, and it gets adjusted to you, never do this, because, in his eyes, you look like a huge predator!
#7. If you want to build great trust with the guinea pig baby, make sure to always offer him food and treats in a very gentle and cute way. No sudden movements, no loud sounds or similar things!
#8. Don’t ever pull the little guinea pig baby from its igloo or shelter place. It will probably make a shrieking sound, and this is not good! Don’t scare the little guinea pig, and let it learn the new environment by itself.
#9. If you want to attract the guinea pig baby to come closer to you or to come out of the igloo, just place a treat or food in front of the igloo. Over time, you can place the food further and further from the entrance to the igloo.
#10. The guinea pig babies need a lot of calcium in the first few weeks after they are born! We mentioned many times how calcium is not good for grown-up cavies, but the little guinea pig babies need this to grow into healthy guinea pigs.
#11. For extra calcium, provide them with alfalfa pellets and alfalfa hay. They have a lot of calcium.
#12. The majority of the diet for guinea pig babies that are no longer nursing, should be vitamin C foods. This vitamin is essential for them to be healthy, to survive, and to fight the scurvy.
#13. The guinea pig babies must be fed at least 2 times daily.
#14. For bedding of the cage, use the timothy hay. You want to make the little baby guinea pigs feel as comfy as possible. Also, this same bedding is used as food too.
#15. Always change the bedding regularly. This is a must! If bedding is not changed regulary, the guinea pig babies will be prone to illnesses or infections, because they go to the bathroom in a corner of the cage! The best frequency for changing the bedding is 2 times weekly.
#16. Do not use other types of hay as bedding, use just timothy hay. The other types may be perfumed or harmful for the little guinea pig baby.
#17. Use around 2 inches of timothy hay as bedding, never less! The little guinea pigs might get chilly and will want to curl up in hay when he sleeps.
#18. Do not groom the guinea pig baby if it’s too young. Don’t bathe them! At least wait until they are old enough.
#19. The best way to feed the guinea pig baby when the mother is not available is to mash some pellets or use special ‘recovery food’ in the form of nutritional supplements or powders recommended by the vet. If the poor little thing is without his mother since the very birth, then feed him every few hours and follow the instructions given by the vet.
#20. Did you know that the guinea pig babies come to this world with already formed teeth?!
#21. If you hand-feed the guinea pig babies, do it with clean hands. They will adjust to the smell of you, the human, and will not be repulsed by perfumes or lotions on the skin. So, remember, clean hands, and gentle movements!
#22. If the guinea pig babies are very young, examine their cage carefully before you put them inside. Many of the cages are designed for adult cavies and not so much for pups! For example, the water bottle might not be well-placed. Or, the cage bars could be too far apart from one another.
#23. When the guinea pig babies are born, they are born with fully opened eyes.
#24. The guinea pig babies become mature and sexually active very fast, after just 3 weeks! This is why you must separate them when they are younger than 4 weeks, to avoid pregnancy.
#25. The guinea pig babies can ‘meet their father’ only when mom isn’t around! Also, make sure that the babies are younger than 3 weeks old, because the dad could make them pregnant once they are sexually mature!
#26. If you touch a hamster baby, the mom will eat it! But, if you touch a guinea pig baby, the mom will not reject it, however, it will be more cautious around the guinea pig baby. Other rodents eat their pups, but not guinea pigs.
#27. Usually, the mother gives birth to 3 pups at once.
#28. The mother always cleans the guinea pig babies herself.
#29. Guinea pig babies are born with full fur and coat!
#30. As a rule, the female guinea pig babies should stay next to their mom until they are 4 weeks old. The male ones can stay until they are 3 weeks old.
Related: 50 Amazing Guinea Pig Facts You Need To Know