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How to Care For Orphaned Guinea Pigs in Five Easy Steps
There is nothing more stressful than finding yourself responsible for caring for a litter of orphaned puppies in the event that the mother dies or refuses to nurse for whatever reason. While this will require time and commitment, never fear – this is something you CAN do.
Supplies You’ll Need:
- shoe box
- Water bottle
- Insulation materials such as towels, old socks, etc
- Additional cloths to wrap babies during handling
- Wash towels
- Scales – either postal or kitchen to weigh the babies
- A chart to track their weight
- Special food such as Oxbow Critical Care (can be obtained from a vet)
- A small unnecessary syringe
- A selection of real foods such as hay, grass, greens, vegetables, etc.
Supplies You Won’t Need
Some resources recommend using milk, milk mixtures or diluted evaporated milk as a substitute for breast milk. This is not necessary as babies can consume real food with help. Animal products are, as always, harmful for guinea pigs.
Step 1 – Set the Living Area
Take the hot water bottle and fill with warm, but not HOT water. Place it along the side wall of the shoe box. Fill the remaining areas with insulating materials. Don’t pack tightly because you want the babies to be able to dig around. Be sure to check the water bottle regularly to make sure it is still warm. Refill as needed.
Step 2 – Weigh each of the Babies
Immediately after birth weight each baby. This will be a task you will do every day, so making a chart will be helpful. A baby’s weight will be an indication of how well he or she is thriving. Do not worry if you see small decreases in weight for a few days, this may be normal. Just take the time to provide some extra food and see if that helps. If not, please make an appointment with your vet.
Step 3 – Feed Every Two Hours During The Day For The First Two Days
Prepare the food solution in advance. To prepare the food, take the Critical Care and soak in water to soften. Then mash into liquid. Put in an unnecessary syringe. Aim to feed approximately one to two cc of solution per baby. Pick up the baby you plan to feed and wrap in a towel to keep warm while feeding. Gently feed them with the syringe (or if you want, a spoon is fine too if it works.) It’s important to be slow and gentle, not too forceful because it’s easy for babies to choke or inhale the food.
Step 4 – Encourage Eliminate
Young baby guinea pigs will not eliminate waste without help. All you have to do is wipe each baby’s genitals with a warm washcloth after each feeding. Then check to make sure that normal eliminations are taking place. If elimination does not occur over a prolonged period, this can be life-threatening, so you may need the help of a veterinarian.
Step 5 – Introduce Solid Foods
In addition to keeping a variety of adult guinea pigs available in the babies’ cage, young guinea pigs also learn through modeling. If you have another guinea pig in your home, that can serve as a model for the puppies. Allow the puppies to watch the adult guinea pig eating.
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