Maybe you haven’t read up on how to feed guinea pigs, but they are herbivores which means that they will only eat plants and other plant-based foods. A wild guinea pig’s diet will usually consist of wild plants and fresh grasses, which are full of nutrients and fiber. These are needed to keep their digestive systems working and their teeth short.
In this article, we discuss what is safe for guinea pigs to eat, along with specific food items that will help to ensure they stay healthy.
What are Guinea Pigs?
The guinea pig is a domesticated species of rodent native to South America that have robust bodies with short limbs, short ears, and a big head with round eyes. There are many different breeds that can be categorized according to their hair length and coat texture. They come in a wide variety of colors, and coats can range from white, tan, cream, brown, black, reddish brown, or a combination of patterns.
What to Feed Guinea Pigs
Your guinea pigs should have a diet that consists of grass or hay that’s at least their own size, along with a teacup of leafy greens, as well as a tablespoon of pellets for each guinea pig daily. However, the best diet for guinea pigs is one that’s similar to their natural diet. Here’s a comprehensive guinea pig food list that you can follow:
- Hay or grass which should consist of at least 85% to 90% of your pet’s diet
- Fresh vegetables and greens, where a teacup amount per guinea pig each day will be enough to help with health issues
- Pellets are essential to the growth of your guinea pig and should be served one tablespoon of guinea pig pellets each day.
- Guinea pigs should always have access to clean, fresh water served from a water bottle or water bowls
Fresh greens high in vitamin C are especially important for your pet guinea pigs since they can’t produce their own vitamin C. Alternatively, you may also look for good quality vitamin C supplements to give them a boost and ensure a healthy diet. However, if you’re looking to include new foods into your guinea pig’s diet, be sure to do it slowly to avoid digestive upset due to a sensitive digestive system.
Hay and Grass
An adult guinea pig’s teeth and digestive system rely on fiber from hay and grass to keep them healthy. Make sure that your guinea pigs have quick access to fresh hay such as Timothy hay; pups will be more suited to eating Alfalfa hay which contains much calcium compared to other choices. As your guinea pig grows, switch them over to hay that has lower calcium content to protect them against health problems such as bladder stones.
Without constant access to high-quality grass hay, guinea pigs could develop both digestive and dental issues.
Fresh Greens and Vegetables
Each guinea pig should be provided with a teacup of vegetables and greens, which you can split between mornings and evenings. Try to add a variety of vegetables to their plate, choosing around five to six different leafy vegetables to ensure they get enough vitamin C. If you’re introducing something new to your guinea pigs, do it slowly to avoid causing an upset tummy.
Below are a few safe foods options with a good dietary source of vitamin C:
- Bell peppers
- Romaine lettuce, not iceberg lettuce
- Brussels sprouts (in moderation)
- Turnip greens
- Carrot tops
- Collard greens
- Spring greens
- And more
While these are considered human foods, the options above provide guinea pigs with essential nutrients and fresh food. The best way to feed your guinea pig is through small pieces to stop them from getting a choking hazard. Alternatively, you may source fresh produce from your garden to help them eat a balanced diet, and live a healthy life.
We recommend that you provide each of your adult guinea pigs with one tablespoon of pellets every day. Make sure that they’re developed specifically for guinea pigs that have a consistent color and shape so that your little guys don’t just eat the pieces they like the most. Stick to grass-based pellets to be fed along with grass, hay, and fresh veggies.
Never use muesli-style mixed pellets with your guinea pigs — as a pet parent, you should know that these have high sugar content, and low fiber count. They may also cause tummy issues, dental problems, and weight gain.
As a guinea pig owner, you’re probably looking for guinea pig treats — apart from the veggies from your garden, a variety of grass, and hays, you can also give them fresh fruit. However, you should do so in small quantities because they have a lot of sugar that may lead to weight gain. Fruits that your guinea pig can have occasionally include:
- Apples without the pips
- Citrus fruits (except lemon) in moderation
Avoid feeding your guinea pigs the colorful treats you see in pet stores as these will have high sugar levels and may cause teeth and digestive problems.
Why You Need to Watch Your Guinea Pig’s Diet
Healthy guinea pigs rely on high-quality hay and fresh grasses to keep their teeth and digestive system working as they should be. Providing them with plenty of vitamin C and a constant supply of grass can help to keep them happy and full of life. Here are just a few important reasons why you need to stay on top of your guinea pig’s diet.
- Tooth health: Your guinea pig’s teeth are constantly growing, which is why it’s important that they are always chewing on fiber to help them stay short. If they don’t get enough hay or grass in their diet, you could risk overgrowing their teeth. This can cause painful spikes which may hinder them from feeding properly.
- Gut health: A high-fiber diet can keep your guinea pig moving and healthy. Not having enough fiber in their diet can cause your guinea pig’s digestive system to slow down or stop altogether. Be sure to give them unlimited amounts of hay to avoid this problem.
- Vitamin C: Just like humans, guinea pigs can’t produce vitamin C on their own and will need to get it from the foods they eat. A vitamin C deficiency can lead to a condition known as scurvy, so be sure that your fur babies are getting enough vitamin C by feeding them vitamin-rich greens.
Feed Your Guinea Pigs with the Right Foods
To keep your guinea pigs happy and healthy, be sure that fiber and vitamin C is part of their diet, along with fruits in small portions. Providing them with a fresh and constant supply of grass and hay isn’t enough — ensure that they also get their share of leafy vegetables and high-quality pellets. Once you’re able to determine which foods are safe for your beloved pets, you’ll know exactly what to do to keep their oral and digestive health in check.
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