How to Care For Orphaned Guinea Pigs in Five Easy Steps

There is nothing more stressful than finding oneself responsible for caring for a litter of orphaned pups in the event the mother dies or refuses to nurse for whatever reason. While this is going to require time and commitment, never fear – this is something you CAN do.

Supplies You Will Need:

  • Shoebox
  • Water bottle
  • Insulating materials like towels, old socks, etc
  • Additional cloths to wrap babies in when handling
  • Wash cloths
  • A scale – either postal or kitchen to weigh the babies
  • A chart to track their weight
  • Special food like Oxbow Critical Care (can be obtained from a veterinarian)
  • A small needless syringe
  • A selection of real food like hay, grass, veggies, greens, etc.

Supplies You Will Not Need

A number of resources recommend using milk, milk blends, or diluted evaporated milk as a replacement for mother’s milk. This is not necessary as babies are able to consume real food with assistance. Animal products are, as always, harmful for guinea pigs.

Step 1 – Set Up 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. Do not Pack tightly as you want the babies to be able to burrow around. Be sure to check the water bottle regularly to make sure it is still warm. Refill as necessary.

Step 2 – Weight Each of the Babies

Immediately after birth weight each baby. This is going to be a task you will do every day so making a chart is going to be helpful. The weight of a baby is going to be an indication of how well he or she is thriving. Do not be worried if you see small declines in weight over a couple days, this can be normal. Just take the time to provide a little extra food and see if that helps. If not, please make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Step 3 – Feed Every Two Hours During the Day For the First Two Days

Have the food solution prepared in advance. To prepare the food, take the Critical Care and soak in water to soften. Then mash into a liquid. Place in needless syringe. Aim to feed approximately one to two cc’s of solution per baby. Lift the baby you plan to feed and wrap in a cloth to keep warm while feeding. Gently feed them using the syringe (or if you want, a spoon is okay too if it works.) It is important to be slow and gentle, not forceful as it is easy for babies to choke or inhale the food.

Step 4 – Encourage Elimination

Young guinea pig babies will not eliminate wastes without help. All you need to do is wipe each baby’s genitals with a warm wash cloth after each feeding. Then watch to make sure normal eliminations are happening. If elimination does not occur for a prolonged period, this can be life threatening, so you may need the assistance of a veterinarian.

Step 5 – Introduce Solid Foods

In addition to keeping an assortment of adult guinea pig food available in the babies’ cage, young guinea pigs also learn by modeling. If you have another guinea pig in your home this can serve as a role model for the puppies. Allow the puppies to observe the adult guinea pig eating.