Cavy lineup

Questions Commonly Asked by New Cavy Keepers

Some Notes on Rearing Orphan Guinea Piglets

  1. Every effort should be made to prevent orphan piglets! Feed pregnant sows well and move them and handle them as little as possible in the last fortnight of pregnancy.
  2. Newborn piglets are not hungry for the first 24 hours of life, as they are born with sufficient supplies for this time. They are also born with antibodies and so unlike other domestic mammals, do not need colostrum to give them all their disease protection. Keep them very warm and dry during this period - a large motherly sow will usually do this for you, even if she has no milk.
  3. Make every effort to find a foster mother (guinea pig).
  4. If no foster mother is available and the piglet is not deformed in any way, give evaporated milk, undiluted.

Guinea Pigs, like people & unlike all other domestic animals cannot make their own Vitamin C.

Other mammals have the enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase, which converts L-gulonolactone into L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C); but cavies & people lack this enzyme.

Therefore, cavies must receive Vitamin C from the diet, and as it cannot be stored in the body, they must receive it daily. 10mg for adults & 20mg for pregnant, lactating & juvenile animals.

Vitamin C is necessary for the body to produce collagen, a part of connective tissues such as ligaments, bones, skin & blood vessels, & to maintain a healthy immune system.

Symptoms of Vitamin C inadequacy may be some or all of the following.

Hair loss, more frequent skin infections especially ringworm; increased incidence of respiratory infections, diarrhea; poor wound healing & wound infections. Unsteady gait, painful movement, swollen joints, poor weight gain, poor appetite, wasting, dribbling, failure to conceive, apsorption of pregnancies, abortions with bleeding.

Please Note! That all these symptoms may have several other causes.

If green foods are not available in sufficient quantities or quality to provide sufficient Vitamin C for the Guinea Pigs, then supplements must be given. Redoxon tablets at one 1000mg tablet to 8 litres of water (one tablet to 5 litres for pregnant sows) will be satisfactory, as will rosehip syrup, added to drinking water so that each 100mls water contains 15mg Vitamin C.

Glass, pottery or stainless steel water containers must be used, as contact with other metals destroys the Vitamin C. Soft drink sachets generally have sufficient Vitamin C to give a full dose, and make the water very sweet, possibly predisposing to diabetes, especially in plump sows.

For treatment of Scurvy symptoms 100mg of Vitamin C must be given to the guinea Pig Daily until recovery.


Dawn Mills