Friday, September 10, 2010

Cavies by the Dozen

By Jamie Emming, Satellite Adoption Manager

There I was in our receiving lobby, standing over three noisy cages holding a pencil, ready to write down a guinea pig herd’s “family tree.” “Okay, that big fuzzy white one is Chubby, the dad. The mom is Princess, and their babies are Chorizo, Lucien, and Cal,” their caretaker informed me as I quickly scribbled down who begot whom. Identities sorted, we were left standing in front of 21 guinea pigs, all between the ages of six months and two years. Their owners had started with 7 guineas, and accidentally grew their group three-fold in just a year. Given the magnitude of the situation, one of our volunteers jokingly asked if they breed like rabbits, to which I replied “better.”

A guinea pig population can quickly get out of control because their gestation period lasts only eight to ten weeks and each litter can have up to six pups. Furthermore, guinea pigs can become pregnant again as little as six hours after giving birth!

Luckily for guinea pig enthusiasts, there are easy solutions to this potential dilemma:
1. Decide on a Gender. Many owners decide early on whether they want all boys or all girls. This same-sex pairing is the easiest way to avoid unexpected additions.
2. Neuter, Neuter, Neuter! Many veterinarians offer spay and neuter services for guinea pigs. Out of our 21 new charges, 12 were males who are now happily neutered. The little white pig in the photo is Chubby, now Billie Joe, recovering from anesthesia under the watchful eye of our medical team.

The breeding cycle stopped, it was now time to find these little ones new homes. Join us next week as our guinea pig story continues on to adoption.

Want to learn more about guinea pigs? Click here to download our PDF, “Caring for Guinea Pigs.”

1 comment:

  1. Love your writing! Thanks for taking the time to do a post.