Two of the babies eating hay

Baby guinea pigs born after sexing mistake

Five baby guinea pigs born in our care are among a surge of small pets needing help.

Muffin, Marmaduke, Mo, Minty and Mable came into the world at our Tiverton rehoming centre in Devon under the watchful eye of our team.

The owner had bought their mum alongside another guinea pig who had been wrongly sexed as male, and the pair soon went on to mate.

Their pups, now aged five weeks, have been cared for by Blue Cross and are now ready to go off to their new homes.

Louise Thompson, Animal Welfare Assistant, said: “The babies will be rehomed to new homes in pairs, or to people who have a guinea pig who is looking for a companion as guinea pigs need to be kept with their own kind so they don’t get lonely.”

Blue Cross has seen a huge increase in the number of small animals coming into its centre in Tiverton recently.

Since January, the centre has taken in a total of 43 guinea pigs, rabbits, rats and mice, compared to 10 across the same period last year.

Louise added: “We’ve noticed the trend across the board and it seems there is a large increase in the number of accidental pregnancies in small pets.

Three of the babies munching on some vegetables

“We have also admitted both rats and mice under the same circumstances last month and have another eight mice booked to come in shortly.”

“It’s very easy to mis-sex small pets like guinea pigs and we’re happy the owner came to us for help as like many pets, guinea pigs breed so quickly that owners can fast find themselves with a large group of animals to care for.”

Guinea pigs can become pregnant at just a few weeks of age and can give birth to litters as large as eight.

They are social animals and need to be kept in pairs or small groups of the same sex, but it is essential that males are neutered before they are kept with any female.

Close up shot of one of the babies eating

If females are housed with unneutered males, numbers can very quickly get out of hand as even siblings can mate with each other. A female guinea pig can have up to five litters a year and can become pregnant again within hours of giving birth.

Louise added: “We’re really happy that the owner came to us for help when they did. We would much rather people contact us for help and support rather than struggle on and the pets suffer as a result.

“With uncertain times still for many people, we’re expecting more owners to need our charity’s help with low cost vet care or to take on a pet they have had to make the difficult decision to rehome.

“We never judge at Blue Cross and know people’s circumstances can quickly change and we’re here to help and support pet owners who are in need and need our help.”

Do you have a guinea pig-shaped hole in your life?

— Page last updated 16/03/2021