With the number of emails we receive asking about guinea pig castration or neutering, we thought it would be a good idea to put a ‘frequently asked questions’ type article together. So, if you are wanting to find out what neutering is, why it’s important, whether there are any risks involved and of course, how much it costs, you are at the right place.
Let’s jump straight in, shall we?
What Does Neutering Mean?
Neutering an animal, including a guinea pig, means removing its reproductive organs. This means they are no longer able to have babies. In females or sows, the procedure is referred to as spaying, and it involves having the ovaries and womb removed. Male guinea pigs (boars) have their testicles removed, and this is known as castration.
Is It Necessary To Neuter A Guinea Pig?
Spaying or castrating a guinea pig is considered an elective surgery, which means it is not essential. It is primarily done to prevent unwanted litters when you have male and female piggies in the same hutch.
How Much Does It Cost To Have A Guinea Pig Neutered?
The cost of neutering a guinea pig is around £50, but this is only an estimate. Depending on where you live and which vet you go to, it could be slightly more. Keep in mind, if you have a male and female, only one would have to have the procedure done.
Does Neutering Stop Guinea Pigs Fighting?
- Two or more females together
- Two males
- A castrated male with one or more female
Unfortunately, if your piggies are paired or grouped incorrectly, castration or spaying won’t stop them from fighting. While this surgery typically has a positive impact on other animals’ behaviour, it doesn’t change how guinea pigs behave.
Is It Better To Neuter a Male Or Female Guinea Pig?
Neutering guinea pigs involves an anaesthetic, which is risky for small animals regardless of their sex. When it comes to guinea pigs, we suggest castrating your boar rather than spaying sows. This is because castration is more straight forward for males, requires less time under anaesthesia and is not as invasive as spaying.
Having said this, should your female develop ovarian tumours or cysts, your vet may recommend the procedure to prevent future health problems.
How Can You Tell If A Guinea Pig Has Been Neutered?
This might be a little TMI, but it is usually easy to tell whether a male has been neutered. An unneutered piggy’s testicles are quite easy to spot, whereas one that has been castrated will be missing these bits. Also, scars may be visible. Take a look at these pics for a better idea.
At What Age Should I Neuter My Male Guinea Pig?
Male guinea pigs reach sexual maturity as early as three months old, while females can reproduce from just two months old. Most exotic pet veterinarians will castrate cavies from four months old up to four years of age. However, take note; some vets won’t perform the operation on guinea pigs older than two and a half to three years old.
What Questions Should You Ask The Vet?
Before you go ahead with the surgery, it is essential to ask your vet a few questions. This will help you make a decision and put your mind at ease. Please bear in mind that not all vets have experience with small animals or non-traditional companion animals (NTCAs), so we recommend finding one that specialises in treating exotic pets.
If you are unsure where to look, it may be worth chatting to your local rescue centres, such as the RSPCA or Blue Cross, to find out which vet they use. You could also check out the search tool on the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians website for recommendations near you.
Take a look at our list of possible questions to ask. And remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question… after all, your piggy’s health and life may depend on it.
Questions you should ask the vet
- Have you performed castrations on small animals before? If so, how many times? (If the answer is no, we suggest you carry on your search).
- How successful have the procedures you’ve done been?
- What do you do in the case of complications?
- Is it necessary for my cavy to fast overnight before being neutered? (The answer to this is no, it’s not necessary).
- How will you anaesthetise my pet? (The safest method is using Isoflurane gas. Be cautious if there is mention of injections as these are not recommended).
- Do you prescribe antibiotics after the surgery to prevent any infections? If so, which ones?
- Are there trained staff on hand to monitor my pet after the operation? Do they know what to do in the case of an emergency?
- How soon can I place my neutered cavy back in the hutch? (Your neutered male should be kept away from females for a minimum of three weeks after the surgery. However, some vets recommend keeping them separated for at least four to five weeks).
- How soon can my piggy exercise after the surgery?
What Should I Expect After The Surgery?
While neutering larger pets, like cats and dogs is a pretty straightforward operation, it can be risky for exotic animals. Anaesthesia also comes with its own risks; however, knowing what to expect straight after the surgery will put your mind at ease.
- Your guinea pig will more than likely be drowsy afterwards, but that is to be expected. It will take a few hours for the anaesthesia to wear off.
- Your piggy will have stitches and skin glue on the wound. Some of the hair around the area will also be shaved. As scary as it looks, there is no need to worry. It probably looks more painful than it is. The dissolvable stitches will disappear within two weeks, and the hair will grow back.
- You will be prescribed antibiotics to stop any infections setting in, as well as probiotics. Give these to your piggy patient pig as advised.
- It is best to keep your piggy away from females for four to six weeks after the surgery. This gives any leftover sperm cells a chance to die off.
- Your guinea pig might not want to eat or drink for a day or two after the procedure. This is also normal and shouldn’t be any cause for concern. You could try encouraging it to eat by offering yummy veggies or its favourite treats, but don’t worry if this doesn’t work. Your cavy’s appetite should return to normal within a day or two. Contact your vet straight away if this lasts longer than two to three days.
- It is best to keep the piggy patient on fleece, blankets or towels during the recovery period. Do not use wood shavings as the added oils can irritate the wound and cause infection. Straw is also not advisable as the sharp bits can cause injuries to the already sensitive area.
- If you need to clean the area, we suggest using cotton wool pads with cooled boiled water. Do not use dry cotton wool balls as the fibres will stick to the wound.
- Remember to take your cavy for a follow-up appointment to check that everything is healing as it should.
Hopefully, you found this article helpful. Remember, sharing is caring, so feel free to forward it to any of your friends, families or cavy communities you might be a member of.