Phantom pregnancies are fake pregnancies. During the pregnancy, a female will think that they are pregnant in actuality to the point of their bodies showing signs of pregnancy.
Although it’s rare in humans, the condition is common in animals mostly dogs where they will have all signs from mothering tendencies and lactating to lethargy and vomiting.
Maybe your guinea pig is showing signs of pregnancy whereas they don’t have a male living with them or you are just wondering whether it’s possible for them to have a fake pregnancy.
Well, stick around because you are just about to find out.
Can guinea pigs have phantom pregnancies?
Guinea pigs can have phantom pregnancies and they will show all signs of being pregnant that you will not be able to tell whether they are pregnant or not. They will have an enlarged belly, eat more than usual, have mood swings, get violent, and they will even drink a lot of water.
Phantom pregnancies however take a shorter duration compared to actual pregnancies and if your guinea pig gets back to their normal self after around 30 days, then they were not pregnant. A real pregnancy takes longer at an average of 65 days.
Signs of phantom pregnancies
Phantom pregnancies are very much similar to real pregnancies making guinea pigs experience pregnancy symptoms like:
- Enlarged belly – all pregnant females will have their stomachs swell up to accommodate the babies they are carrying. A guinea pig having a phantom pregnancy will also have their belly swell to carry the imaginary babies.
- Eat and drink more than usual – if guinea pigs are having phantom pregnancies, they will begin eating more food. They will take in more water too making you have to refill their water bottles or bowls often.
- Mood swings – when pregnant, guinea pigs tend to have mood swings and they can get violent. This happens even in the gentlest of guinea pigs where they will have over-protective and aggressive motherly tendencies.
What to do if your guinea pig has a phantom pregnancy
If your guinea pig has a phantom pregnancy, you will have to be sympathetic and compassionate towards them. You should do the following:
Take great care of them
Being their caregiver, you have to show them that you love them and that you care about them. They will not realize that they are having a fake pregnancy so do take care of them as if they are having a real pregnancy.
Groom them and clean up their cage often. They may be a little aggressive towards you, but let them see that you are only doing what’s good for them.
Provide lots of hay and water
Guinea pigs with phantom pregnancies will eat and drink a lot of water. You should ensure that they do not lack either hay or water.
Provide them with enough so that they have a constant supply whenever they want to eat and drink.
Ensure they are not stressed
Guinea pigs are prone to stress. The stress may even be the cause of them having phantom pregnancies.
Make sure that your pet is not stressed by having their cage in a quiet place away from noises, other pets, and providing them with toys to distract them.
Also, spend time with them often. Play with them and exercise them every day. Be gentle with them and speak to them with soft soothing voices. These actions will keep them calm and relaxed until the end of the phantom pregnancy.
Difference between phantom pregnancies and actual pregnancies
Phantom means ghost and phantom pregnancies will defer from real ones in that your pet’s stomach will have nothing in them.
To detect a guinea pig’s pregnancy, no complex urine and blood tests are needed. All that’s required is feeling up the belly.
In a real pregnancy, small lumps will be felt in the stomach as signs of the growing babies. Phantom pregnancies will also take a short time from 20-30 days while real pregnancies go on for 59-72 days with an average of 65 days.
The more babies they are carrying, the earlier they give birth. After a phantom pregnancy, the guinea pig goes back to their normal self as if nothing happened.
Do guinea pigs nest during pregnancy?
Many animals will develop motherly instincts during pregnancy where they will make nests so as to provide a safe and secure place for their newborns. Some like rabbits will go to the extent of plucking their fur to build the nests.
New babies are usually born with their eyes and ears closed making them require a safe space for the first days of their lives. They will also have little to no fur making them prone to injuries.
However, guinea pigs are born with fur, and with their eyes and ears open. They are born with the ability to eat, drink, run, and even care for themselves.
This makes them not require nests made for them so pregnant guinea pigs will not nest.
Do spayed guinea pigs get phantom pregnancies?
Guinea pigs will get phantom pregnancies whether they are spayed or not. It’s all in their hormones and they may begin to feel like they are carrying babies which they aren’t. Guinea pig spaying though may reduce the chances of this kind of pregnancy.
Guinea pigs are referred to as prolific breeders and they will bear children at a fast rate to the point of having an unmanageable population if nothing is done about it. Spaying works in preventing unwanted pregnancies.
It can be done to only one sex if you are keeping guinea pigs of the opposite sex and it should be done between 4-12 months of age to be on the safe side. Guinea pigs are prone to difficult pregnancies and complications during birth making spaying a wise option for their health too.
Guinea pigs can have phantom pregnancies and they will show symptoms similar to those of real pregnancies.
You should always take care of your pet if you realize they have a fake pregnancy because it passes within 30 days and all goes back to normal.