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Thread: I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to herd

  1. #1

    I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to herd

    I have 4 females that have been together and get along well (estimated ages: 2 yrs, 1 year, 1.5 years and 8 months). I just adopted another female and her daughter 3 weeks ago (our local shelter was trying to prevent euthanasia by clearing the kennels....including guinea pigs). We have the space, an entire room devoted to our piggy girls with two 2x6 cages (with 2X2 lofts) connected to 2 Midwest cages in a very large "U" shape. We got them vet checked, quarantined them and did introductions a day ago. Everything went went. There is some chasing and nipping by 2 of our original girls who are more dominant. But nothing too extreme and no blood shed.

    Here's the issue:
    Our vet now thinks our new momma sow may be pregnant. We took her in today because she seemed "off" and worried she may be unwell or just depressed from combining her and her daughter with the others. We didn't want to take chances with illness.

    Our vet said an x-ray wouldn't be much help in seeing the babies until their bones calcify?? And she admitted she has never done an ultrasound on a pregnant guinea pig. We were told to keep weighing her and keep an eye on her. And that we would know for sure in a couple more weeks.
    The next thing we did was double check daughter was really a daughter (she is...we didn't miss anything when we checked before adoption, but it put my mind at ease to double and triple check!)

    I never had any intention of breeding any of my girls due to the dangers and because I adopt all my animals so I know there are more than enough unwanted in the world already.
    I called the shelter and they confirmed that her and daughter were housed with males when they were surrendered (they had them for one week before we adopted) and that they were mistakenly kept with one male who a worker mis-sexed up until a few days before we adopted. They said they would take her back (I said no, of course!) They assured me they would take any babies if she has any to help us get them adopted. (we'll cross that bridge and make that decision later if she does have babies)

    I know nothing about guinea pig pregnancies. I feel so stupid thinking maybe she was just gaining weight from sitting in the hay all day (she was a bit skinny when we got her so thought weight gain was good). I don't know if I should quarantine her from the rest of the girls or even from her daughter. (vet didn't feel daughter was pregnant at all...we took her in too after mom). Her and her daughter have a close bond. They estimate her to be about 1 year and daughter to be 4 months. I don't know if all the chasing from the other girls will cause her harm now and stress her too much or there will be more problems with them accepting her and possible babies after birth.

    Should I keep her and daughter in a separate cage again and reintroduce later on? Should I keep her separate from her daughter? (they have a tight bond). I am feeding unlimited oxbow timothy hay and I feed portioned out oxbow adult pellets.(also fresh veggies variety from chart I found here). Should I feed her the young oxbow pellets and alfalfa even if I don't know for sure if she's pregnant? If I keep her with my other girls I know they will gobble this up before she does.

    I don't want her to be too stressed and feel badly that through introductions with my other girls, I could have caused harm.

    I would greatly appreciate any guidance from knowledgeable members here on how I should proceed with housing, feeding and what to look for (both good and bad). Thank you and I apologize for my long post.

  2. #2

    Re: I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to her

    We did make the choice to separate the two new girls (mom and daughter) the day after this post from our other adopted girls. I didn't receive any replies, so I relied on my own judgement.
    After a couple of weeks, there was no longer any doubt that the mother was pregnant and a few weeks later we definitely knew the daughter was as well (from weight gain, change in body shape and movement of babies in utero).
    We gave them unlimited oxbow hay and more fresh veggies. We provided a large cage area with plenty of soft fleece beds and hideys.
    5 days ago big momma gave birth to 3 healthy babies. No complications. Big momma stayed with the babies and cleaned them up. All are doing well. They are being weighed daily and are gaining nicely, running about and have started to eat hay, pellets and try fresh veggies.
    Her pregnant daughter just gave birth last night and it was stressful and heartbreaking. The labor was relatively quick (it was all over in under 7-10 minutes). She seemed to push 2-3 times before first baby came out completely. The first baby was huge. It was almost 6 inches long and it still had placenta attached and was not moving. Mom ran away as if startled by its presence. While she ran across the cage she gave birth to the second pup with no obvious stop or push (she was estimated to be 4 months when we adopted her, so she is about 5-6 months now). #2 was A Lot smaller than #1 . It was over half it's size. She continued to run away, so my husband and I attempted to clear the babies Sac away. I took care of #2 while he attempted to revive #1 . I gently rubbed the Sac away from #2 `s mouth and nose and then it coughed and began to move. It was very wobbly and had a long string of mucus from its stomach area (assuming umbilical cord) but no placenta attached. Mom had run all the way to the other side of cage and was in a hidey. My husband had cleared mucus Sac from #1 's mouth and nose and was gently rubbing it's chest and sides, but still no movement. #2 began to move more and I got the Sac off its feet and body gently. Once # 2 was ok, I retrieved mom and coaxed her back to babies. She still ran away and refused to stay near. We still had no movement from #2 so we coaxed big momma over (who had 3 healthy babies a few days prior and mother of current mom) but big momma completely dismissed the newborns, ignored them and offered no assistance.
    My husband continued to work on #1 . I got new mom back to babies and she sniffed but ran away from #1 , but I was able to coax her to #2 . She began to lick #2 and eat what was left of Sac and birthing material. I still did not see placenta for #2 .
    We called vet and ended up removing #1 . Declaring it officially deceased. Very sad.
    My concern is: not seeing placenta for #2 . Did she deliver it while she was in hidey after she ran or is there a risk of complications? We didn't find blood in hidey fleece.
    Also watching mom and surviving baby closely while giving them privacy to bond. They both seem to be OK. Mom has been eating and drinking off and on. Baby is staying in cuddle cup, but hopping about inside it when mom goes out to eat or drink. Weighed baby #2 after birth and she was 124g. Will weigh daily.
    Anything I should watch for at this point? My vet of many years is not very Cavy savy I found out even though she is considered the only exotics vet at the clinic I have used for almost 20 years. She has unfortunately admitted to me she is unsure... So I came here to ask for advice.
    Also, what might of happened to baby #1 ? He/she was huge and fully formed. It was a beautiful multi colored baby. I am heartbroken that we couldn't revive it. But I am very glad we were successful with baby #2 and mom is so far doing well.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. The cage was baby proofed weeks ago by making grid space smaller. Also any information about #1 might help ease my husband and my minds. We worry we didn't act fast enough to assist the scared new mom with her babies or that we did something wrong. These are our first ever newborns so we want to make sure we do things right.
    Thank you.

  3. #3

    Re: I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to her

    A huge pup is unfortunately not a rare thing with guinea pigs, and often results in death of the sow and any pups still unborn. It seems to happen more often with young sows than with older ones, but I don't know that there are any statistics on that. There's undoubtedly nothing you could have done to have saved it.

    It's possible that she ate the placenta. I don't know that the vet could tell you any more, especially considering that she doesn't know much about guinea pigs. The only sure way to know there's no retained placenta is to spay her, and that's a pretty drastic move. What I'd do is watch her like a hawk over the next couple of days, and if she shows ANY signs of illness or discharge, then get her to a GOOD exotic vet immediately.

    I'm sorry you didn't get your earlier question answered. I was off the board for several weeks, and didn't see the post. But usually, there's no need to sepaarate pregnant sows from their cagemates unless the addition of the pups is going to crowd the cage too much. Guinea pigs aren't usually aggressive toward pups, although close observation always helps in case you've got the one-in-a-thousand sow that is.

    And just as an FYI, your posts will be easier to read if you'll double space between paragraphs. A lot of people will just skip posts that are walls of texts, and it's definitely easier to see and pick out the pertinent information of there are spaces between.

    Good luck, and let us know how they get along.

  4. #4

    Re: I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to her

    Thank you very much bpatters. I appreciate the information, it makes me feel a bit better. I am so glad that the young mom did not die during the birthing process since it was clearly difficult for her. I am also very grateful then that with the big pup being #1 that baby #2 survived and is doing well so far.

    Also, thanks for the posting tips...I feel a bit foolish since it looked OK on my phone until I hit post...So I appreciate you taking the time to read through my wall of ramblings! ;-)

    I will try to keep you updated. So far, everyone is doing well and getting along. The young mom (Maisy) is really learning how to be a mom and is grooming her little baby and being very attentive today. She is a bit overprotective when big momma comes near or big momma's little ones. I am making sure she is eating and moving.

    I will be taking the little ones to the local Humane society, where we adopted the moms, next week to get them sexed by their resident guinea pig expert. I have looked at all the gender parts pictures and have tried to identify whose a boy and whose a girl, but they look so much alike. I am not confident I am correct with my assessment of them.

    I want to make sure that I separate them at 21 days old, isn't that correct?

    Our local shelters are filled to capacity with guinea pigs and other critters right now (one of the reasons we got these latest 2 guinea pigs, who were pregnant, was because to prevent euthanizing any animals they were hosting a clearing the kennels event) so even though they told me they would take the babies in since we adopted pregnant pigs, I feel uncomfortable doing so. I am hoping to find good homes for any males and keeping the females.

    I have ordered another 2x6 cage for the guinea pig room. I would love to keep any males as well, but I worry about tempting fate. I have some older girls and I don't want any accidental pregnancies. I have also considered neutering any boys and that may still be an option if I find a reliable exotics vet who has more experience than my current one.

  5. #5

    Re: I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to her

    The pups will get easier to sex as they get older. You just have to figure it out before the 21st day! But even if you can't extrude a penis, you can usually feel the bone in one by putting your finger just above the genitalia and rubbing back and forth. If there's one there, it should roll underneath your finger.

    You can always post well-lit, clear close-up pictures here for other people to weigh in with their opinions. Have you seen http://www.cavyspirit.com/sexing.htm?

  6. #6

    Re: I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to her

    An update:
    We have 3 baby girls and one boy. We had them sexed by a vet and "guinea pig expert" at the shelter at 2 weeks. So at day 21 we separated the little boy to his own cage.

    He has been LOUDLY wheeking in a heartbreaking fashion. We have no other male to house with him, just females. We put in a fleece bed, some pillows and fleece pads with mom's scent. We are waiting to see if a friend of the family is going to adopt him... Or we are considered finding a vet who is experienced and successful with guinea pig neuters and keeping him as well. We have an appointment with one recommended next week.

    My question is will one neutered male be a positive impact on 9 females? Or could it lead to squabbles?

    Will his presence before neutering (from what I read, I believe he has to be about 6 months??) even though he's in a separate cage cause squabbling and fighting amongst the girls?

    We have a huge room in the house devoted to the piggies and have expanded cages once we learned our 2 new adoptees were pregnant. So we have several 2x6 cages with 2X2 lofts connected to create a giant "E" shape in the room.

    Since he has been making such a fuss after separation I have observed the girls who normally got along very well starting to rubblestrut, mount and nip at eachother.

    Our intention was to stop at 6 guinea pigs (all adopted from our local shelter over the last couple years) but the babies make 10... Which is A LOT!

    Our local shelters are filled with males and some have been there for months, so even though they said they would take any babies when we informed them of the pregnancies, I just can't bring myself to drop them off there...so foolish me just orders more grids and fleece liners and expands their housing.

  7. #7

    Re: I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to her

    One male and nine females isn't apt to result in squabbling. That will happen when one or more of the females is in heat and has PMS.

    And his presence won't agitate the females as much as theirs will agitate him.

    Can you just get him a buddy?

  8. #8

    Re: I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to her

    To be honest, the thought crossed my mind to get him a buddy with all those males in the shelter. But I worry about having males who could ever accidentally have contact with my females (friend/family "helping" when sick or on vacation, ect). I don't want to risk it.

    Also, I am beginning to question my own sanity with 10 piggies... My college age kids say I am turning into the crazy guinea pig lady! ;-)

  9. #9

    Re: I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to her

    Maybe you could rehome him somewhere besides your local shelters.

  10. #10

    Re: I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to her

    Also, another question:
    The baby who almost didn't make it and I had to remove the amniotic sac when born, has blue eyes! She has a white face with tan and black body. I never knew guinea pigs could have blue eyes!

    So, are blue eyes something to worry about or just enjoy?

  11. #11

    Re: I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to her

    To clarify about the blue eyes:
    They are blue where most guinea pigs have white around the black pupil and where most of mine appear to have black or dark brown eyes, hers appear a dark blue.

    I have a good picture if I can figure out how to post one on here.

  12. #12
    Cavy Star, Photo Contest Winner
    Joined
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    Brisbane, Australia.
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    Re: I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to her

    Sometimes having a neutered male in with females helps prevent squabbling between the girls. I've found with the young males I've put in with larger groups of girls they tend to move "up the ranks" in terms of dominance as they get older and if they're gentle males in particular can keep the peace more so than just having a large herd of girls.

    in terms of blue-grey eyes they're uncommon. When I've seen them they've been in white piggies (with black patches or black and gold/orange patches) with white faces, typically. So it sounds like your girl! The iris is a blue-grey and very pretty, and often the pupil (the black centre of the eye) is often an unusual shape and not a perfect circle. I would definitely be interested in seeing a picture if you have one. I haven't encountered any health issues with piggies having blue eyes.

    Also, I have 21 pigs, so I think as long as you can provide proper care, diet, space, and vet bills that there's nothing wrong with being a crazy pig lady.

  13. #13

    Re: I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to her

    Thank you for the information... Wow! 21 pigs! That's amazing!

  14. #14

    Re: I need guidance! Newly adopted sow (possibly pregnant) and just introduced to her

    Blue eyes

    I hope I posted these pictures ok. They look a bit bigger than most I see here. I apologize in advance if I messed up.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Smileandnod; 10-29-18 at 08:23 pm.

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