There is nothing more stressful than being responsible for caring for a litter of orphaned puppies in case the mother dies or refuses to breastfeed for any reason. While this will take time and commitment, fear not, this is something you CAN do.
Supplies you will need:
- Shoe box
- Water bottle
- Insulating materials such as towels, old socks, etc.
- Extra cloths to swaddle babies when handling
- Wash cloths
- A scale, either postal or kitchen to weigh babies.
- A chart to track your weight.
- Specialty foods like Oxbow Critical Care (can be obtained from a vet)
- A small unnecessary syringe
- A selection of real food such as hay, grass, greens, greens, etc.
Supplies you won’t need
Several resources recommend using milk, milk mixes, or diluted evaporated milk as a replacement for breast milk. This is not necessary as babies can eat real food with help. Animal products are, as always, harmful to guinea pigs.
Step 1 – Set up the living area
Take the hot water bottle and fill it 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 well as you want the babies to be able to burrow. 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 the birth of each baby’s weight. This will be a task that you will do every day, so making a chart will be helpful. The weight of a baby will be an indication of how well he is thriving. Don’t worry if you notice small drops in weight over a couple of days, this can be normal. Just take the time to provide some extra food and see if that helps. Otherwise, make an appointment with your vet.
Step 3: Feed every two hours during the day for the first two days
Have the food solution ready ahead of time. To prepare food, take intensive care and soak it in water to soften it. Then grind it into a liquid. Put in an unnecessary syringe. Try to feed about one to two cc of solution per baby. Pick up the baby you plan to feed and wrap him in a cloth to keep him warm while you feed him. Feed them gently with the syringe (or if you like, you can also use a spoon if it works). It is important to be slow and gentle, not forceful, as it is easy for babies to choke or inhale food.
Step 4 – Encourage removal
Young guinea pig babies will not eliminate waste without help. All you need to do is clean each baby’s genitals with a warm washcloth after each feeding. Then watch to make sure normal deletions are taking place. If elimination does not occur for an extended 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 pig food available in the baby 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 pups to watch the adult guinea pig eat.