Guinea Pig Reproduction Basics

Key Points

  • Intact female guinea pigs are “sows” and intact males are “boars”.
  • Mature boars have distinct scrotal pouches and large testes.
  • Male guinea pigs have several accessory sex glands, including large, paired seminal vesicles or vesicular glands, which can be mistaken for uterine horns.
  • Puberty occurs at approximately 2 months in females and between 2-3 months in males.
  • The pubic symphysis separates in the last days of pregnancy.
  • Separation of the pubic symphysis may be inadequate in sows bred after 7-8 months of age and dystocia can result in these individuals. Other potential causes of dystocia include obesity and large fetal size.
  • Sows often give birth to 2-4 large, precocial pups. Other rodent species generally have large litters.
  • Pregnancy toxemia is an important cause of perinatal mortality in guinea pigs. This condition is most often observed in primiparous, obese sows in late gestation. The prognosis is often guarded. Minimize the risk of pregnancy toxemia by encouraging exercise, preventing obesity, and minimizing stress in the pregnant sow.
  • Unilateral or bilateral ovarian cysts are very common, particularly in older sows.
  • Ovariohysterectomy or ovariectomy is recommended to prevent the development of ovarian cysts and other reproductive problems in non-breeding companion sows.

 The guinea pig is a popular companion animal and a common research model. Guinea pigs are useful in reproductive studies because they share many reproductive traits with human beings. This article reviews anatomy and physiology of the guinea pig reproductive tract and summarizes some clinically significant medical problems . . .

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Further reading

Banks R. The guinea pig: Biology, care, identification, nomenclature, breeding, and genetics. Feb 17, 1989. USAMRIID Seminar Series. Accessed Oct 20, 2017. Available at

Cooper G, Schiller AL. Anatomy of the Guinea Pig. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; 1975.

Kaufmann P. Guinea pig. 2004. University of California San Diego Comparative Placentation. Accessed Oct 20, 2017. Available at

Laik-Schandelmaier C, Marschang RE, Klopfleisch R, et al. Gynecological tumors in guinea pigs. Proc International Conference on Avian Herptelogical and Exotic Mammal Medicine 2017: 809-810.

Seidl DC, Hughes HC, Bertolet R, Lang CM. True pregnancy toxemia (preeclampsia) in the guinea pig (Cavia porcellus). Lab Anim Sci 29(4):472-478, 1979.

Turner AJ, Trudinger BJ. Ultrasound measurement of biparietal diameter and umbilical artery blood flow in the normal fetal guinea pig. Comp Med 50(4):379-384, 2000.

To cite this page:

Pollock C, Arbona N. Guinea pig reproduction basics. Nov 12, 2017. LafeberVet Web site. Available at