Are baby guinea pigs really as cute as they look in pictures?
Absolutely! Unfortunately, unless you breed guinea pigs or have a “mishap” with pet store pigs, you likely will never have the chance to experience those bouncing balls of over-the-top cuteness known as the baby guinea pig. That is, unless you become a foster piggy parent.
That’s what my daughter and I became last spring. We were searching for a mitzvah project — which is a Jewish community service project — since all my daughter’s animal-oriented options had shut down with COVID. It had not occurred to us that pregnant guinea pigs out there were in need of a loving, supportive home while they waited to give birth. But this little girl did.
Tania was about 3 months old when she came to the rescue with two male guinea pigs, and she was immediately separated from them. As you can see from her adoption picture, posted on Petfinder, even small animal experts can’t tell right away when a guinea pig is pregnant.
This is what Tania looked like when the day we brought her to our home:
She had already been alone for a few weeks and came up to the bars of her cage to check us out and let us pat her on the head. This is rare behavior in guinea pigs, which are prey animals, particularly if they don’t know you well (though I came to experience this friendliness from other pigs that had been isolated).
This was Tania three weeks later, the night before she gave birth:
Tania had three babies: Squid (black and white), Bear (brown and white), and Baby Tan (pronounced “tahn”; the one who looks like his mama). They were quite possibly the cutest furred creatures to ever grace the planet. Baby guinea pigs can eat, walk, run and popcorn even when they are newborns.
We cared for the trio of babies for the next 4 to 5 weeks, until they were all adopted into loving homes. We fell in love with Tania and adopted her ourselves.
If you’ve never cared for a guinea pig, I wouldn’t suggest jumping right in and fostering a pregnant girl. Instead, I would recommend learning more about guinea pigs, possibly even fostering one, especially if you are on the fence about becoming a small pet parent. Trying out other pigs will help reassure you that you can handle the responsibility.
Shelters and rescues are overflowing with guinea pigs. It is notoriously difficult to sex young animals, and a male guinea pig can impregnate a female when he is only three weeks old.
This blog post from Oxbow poses some of the key questions to ask yourself before you decide to foster. But if you’re on the fence, Tania and I say, “Just do it!”
You can find guinea pig rescues in need of help by a simple internet search (“foster guinea pig rescues”). Many of these rescues operate on a shoestring or are even self-funded so if you currently are unable to foster, you can always help with donations.
Here are a few rescues around the country:
San Francisco Bay Area, CA: The Rabbit Haven Cavy Haven
Southern California: Orange County Cavy Haven
TriCities, WA: Little Lives Small Animal Rescue
Snohomish County, Washington: Big Foot’s Guinea Pig Rescue
Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Pocket Pet Rescue
Central Texas: Austin Guinea Pig Rescue
Baton Rouge, LA: Magic Happens Rabbit Rescue
Southwest FL: Guinea Pigs of SW Florida
Treasure Coast, FL: Humane Society of the Treasure Coast
Durham, NC: The Animal Protection Society of Durham
Virginia Beach, VA: Tuna's Guinea Pig Rescue
Washington, DC Area: Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue
Rochester, NY: Rescued Treasuresare currentlyaeare Pet Adoptions
New York, NY: Empty Cages Collective