Q:

How do guinea pigs reproduce?

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Quick Answer

Guinea pigs reproduce by engaging in intercourse, during which the male (boar) will ejaculate a solid lump of sperm into the vagina of the female (sow). The evolutionary purpose of this coagulated lump, or "copulatory plug" is to deter other males from mating with the same female. A guinea pig's gestation period lasts for between 59 and 73 days, with an average gestation of 68 days.

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This is a lengthy gestation period for a rodent and typically results in a relatively well-developed litter, complete with fur as well as the ability to hold their own weight, open their eyes and chew solid food. The average litter size is three but may be as many as eight or as few as one. On average, each pup weighs about 3.5 ounces when born.

The delivery period generally lasts around half an hour in total.

Immediately prior to and during the delivery, nearby boars tend to surround the sow to defend her and, following the delivery, to attempt to mate with her.

Veterinarians advise against breeding female guinea pigs who are older than six months and have never been bred before. This is because the pelvis is likely to have fused, making delivery difficult and painful for the sow, as well as detrimental to the pups.

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