Do guinea pigs eat their babies? Do you have a baby guinea pig and are worried it will be eaten by its parents? Do you want to know how to prevent your baby Guinea Pig pup from being eaten alive?
If so, then this article is for you. I will discuss many different factors that can contribute to your Guinea Pigs eating their babies and how to prevent it.
I am sure you have heard the rumours and seen some crazy videos online about guinea pig mothers eating their young. Let’s find out if this is true or false!
This topic may seem a little morbid for your average blog post, but it does happen and it is important to know why. I will talk about what causes a mother to eat her baby as well as how you can avoid having that happen at all cost!
Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Babies?
The answer to this is yes! Please don’t freak out! Guinea pigs do not usually eat their babies. It is only under exceptional circumstances that a guinea pig ends up eating its babies. It does happen, but not as often as people think it happens.
There are many factors that contribute to guinea pigs eating their young pups and I will discuss them below in detail.
Guinea pig mothers are very protective of their babies and will only eat them in the most dire of circumstances. This includes when there is a lack of food, if they are pregnant again too soon, or if their young ones have died.
Though it’s quite rare that a guinea pig will consume its own young, you must keep an eye out for any signs of potential danger, such as lethargy or exhaustion from the mother.
List Of Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Eat Their Babies :
Now that we know guinea pigs will only consume their young in dire circumstances, let’s discuss the most common reasons a mother might eat her babies.
Lack Of Food (Starvation) –
One of the main reasons why mothers can end up eating their own pups is because they are unable to find enough food for both themselves and their litter. This includes if you have more than one or two litters at once, which does happen on occasion!
It is important that you feed your guinea pigs a lot of vegetables and fresh hay! Do not let them get hungry because this could lead to the mothers consuming their litter.
Survival Of The Fittest Instinct: –
She may end up eating some of the young ones if she thinks they aren’t going to be as strong as their brothers or sisters. This can include males, but females more often than not.
She will eat her young if she thinks they are weak and not going to survive. Do your best to prevent this by keeping them all well fed with fresh vegetables, hay, and water!
Pregnant Again Too Soon –
If a female has just given birth then it would be too taxing on her body if she were also expectant of more babies within such a short period of time. It can seriously damage her health, which could include eating her own pups in order to keep herself alive.
Sometimes there is a chance that the mother guinea pig will eat its young if it gets pregnant too soon after giving birth to another litter.
If a baby guinea pig pup is born dead or dies soon after it’s birth, the mother will often eat it. If the mother loses her young one, then she may try to eat it in order to prevent predators from smelling its corpse.
If you suspect that one of her pups has died, do not disturb her or try to remove the body. Let nature take its course, as there is nothing more you can really do about it at that point.
You could end up causing even further stress, which may lead to eating another dead pup if she thinks something else might be wrong with them all! It’s far better to just let things happen on their own most of the time when dealing with livestock such as Guinea Pigs!
If a mother gets extremely fatigued during birthing time, which does happen occasionally because it requires quite a bit of energy, then she may end up eating her own baby pups out of desperation to keep herself alive. Do make sure that you monitor the mother during feeding time and do not let her get too tired.
Extreme Stress –
Stress can cause guinea pigs to eat their babies, and stress-induced cannibalism is also very common in guinea pigs, and unfortunately, quite unavoidable at times.Do your best to keep them well fed and give them plenty of rest so they can stay calm.
Do not over-handle the mother or you could cause her stress which will lead to eating their own young!
Perceived Threat Of Predators-
Guinea pigs are prey animals and need to be constantly aware of any threats around them at all times, especially when they have babies! Sometimes, due to environmental factors such as loud noises or other disturbances, the mother might end up feeling unsafe and threatened. This can sometimes result in cannibalism!
By Accident –
In many cases, a mother will end up eating her own young because she eats them by mistake.Unfortunately, this happens when the mother is trying to consume the placenta, which is a natural behaviour. But sometimes, while consuming the placenta, the mother guinea pig gets confused and ends up eating her pup as well, along with the placenta .
Why Do Male Guinea Pigs Eat Their Pups?
Territorial Issues –
Male Guinea Pigs will occasionally eat Guinea Pig pups due to territorial aggression.
Males of the guinea pig family are often aggressive and territorial. They can be intimidated by their young, which is why they might cannibalize them in order to protect their territory from being taken over or invaded by the pups.
If the male guinea pigs feel threatened and they get a sense that their territory is going to be under threat by the young pups, they will react in an aggressive manner and end up cannibalizing the pups.
Belief That The Pups Are Not Theirs –
Sometimes, the male might end up eating its young because it believes that they are not actually his.This is in tandem with the instinctive natural behaviour in them that seeks to propagate its own genetic line.
Do make sure that you know the difference between when your male guinea pig is trying to protect its territory and when it’s just plain aggressive towards the pups because they are not his!
Steps To Prevent Guinea Pigs From Eating Their Babies:
- Reduce Mother’s Handling :Do not handle the mother for at least a week after she has given birth. Do not disturb her and let her take care of the pups on their own. Do not take the pups away from her and do not attempt to wean them off of her milk.
- Keep An Eye Out For Fatigue:Do keep an eye out for any signs of fatigue, but do make sure you don’t over-handle them or push them beyond what they can handle! This is a great way to cause stress which will lead to cannibalism if it becomes too overwhelming for the female guinea pig.
- Keep The Mother Well Fed:Do make sure that you keep her well fed and give her plenty of rest to prevent over-stress during this time. Do not let her get too tired and make sure she is well nourished. Do keep an eye out for any signs of malnutrition during this time, especially if the mother guinea pig does not eat after giving birth to the pups.
- Do Not Allow The Mother To Become Territorial: as this may cause her to eat her pups as a means of protecting her territory from being invaded by other animals.This may be particularly difficult, but it is important and necessary if you don’t want any incidents like cannibalism.
- Do Give Them A Safe Environment:Make sure there are no environmental factors such as loud, disturbances etc, that might make them feel unsafe or threatened. Do your best to give your guinea pigs a safe place that they can live in, free of any disturbances and factors that might cause them undue stress!
- Play Close Attention During Birth:Do pay attention very closely when the pups are born in order to prevent the mother from consuming its pups along with the placenta accidentally.
- Do Ensure That The Mother Lactates Properly: Do ensure that the lactating process is smooth for your female guinea pig by providing adequate food items like green veggies, good quality hay etc which provide enough nutrients, minerals and fiber necessary for its proper lactation cycle.
- Remove Stillborn Pups: Do remove any stillborn pups from their cage immediately upon discovery to prevent further stress on the mother, which could cause cannibalistic behavior.
- Separate Other Female Guinea Pigs :Do make sure that you remove any other female guinea pigs in the cage with them to prevent conflicts. Do not add any other guinea pigs to the cage for at least a week so that you can give them time to bond and get used to each other.
- Provide Adequate Nesting Area: Do provide them with an adequate nesting area. Do ensure their nesting area is large and comfortable for them, along with plenty of bedding material like hay, which will allow them to build a nice, cozy nest!
Do provide them with enough nesting material to build a nice cozy nest. Do not use any fabric or clothing materials like cotton while they are building their nests because it might get tangled around the pups and suffocate them!
- Keep Their Cage Clean:Do ensure that their cage is clean and completely free of any leftover placenta tissues left over from birth to prevent further stress for your guinea pig mother who may accidentally eat it along with the babies! Do keep their cage clean and free of any leftover placenta tissues after birth.
- Do Not Let Her Get Stressed: Do not let your guinea pig get overly stressed by loud noises, disturbances, etc., which could lead to cannibalistic behavior during this period. Keep them safe from annoying children or other pets that might cause undue stress to her during this time as well.
Do make sure you do all you can to prevent unnecessary stress for your female guinea pigs who are pregnant, because it will increase the risk of cannibalistic behavior in case she becomes overwhelmed by anything like noise, people, or animals invading her space!
- Do Not Disturb Them: Do not disturb or allow anyone else to disturb your guinea pigs during this time because it may disrupt the bonding process between your female guinea pig and her new born babies.
- Separate The Male Guinea Pigs: Do make sure that you separate the male guinea pigs from their female counterparts in order to avoid territory related cannibalism.
Does Touching Guinea Pig Puppies Cause Their Mother To Eat Them?
The answer to this question is a happy No!Guinea pigs are used to the scent of their owners and when you handle the pups, it doesn’t give rise to a situation where the mother feels threatened and ends up eating the babies. This is an absolute myth that has been floating around for quite some time.
That being said, try not to handle the pups too frequently. Do make sure that you do not disturb or allow anyone else to disturb your guinea pigs during this period because it could disrupt the bonding process between your female guinea pig and its new born babies.
Guinea pigs are normally not known to eat their babies. It is a very rare occurrence and happens due to exceptional circumstances. They can do this for many reasons, including being hungry, feeling threatened by a new environment or the presence of a predator.
This is one of the most horrifying things guinea pigs can do and it’s something you have to be careful about when raising them in captivity.
As long as your momma guinea is healthy before and throughout the gestation period (and doesn’t have any other risk factors), chances are good that she won’t be eating her young!