Guinea pigs eat three times a day and that is without treats! Its no wonder we often get asked what is a guinea pigs diet!
A guinea pigs diet should consist of unlimited hay, grass, pellets and water. Since guinea pigs are unable to synthesis their own Vitamin C then they must rely on obtaining it from the foods they eat. The best way to contribute towards this is through vegetables. Guinea pigs love their veggies! It can be confusing as a new owner to know which foods to feed their Guinea Pigs and how often.
Let them eat Hay
Guinea pigs would spend all day every day surrounded by hay if they could! Guinea pigs use hay to eat, sleep in and play in. Our guinea pig Chocolate can often be found with her face covered in hay and a huge smile on her face!
The best type of Hay for your guinea pig is grass hay more specifically Timothy Hay. Guinea pigs need hay to wear their teeth down and to keep the digestive system healthy. A cost-effective way is to provide cheaper hay as bedding and to keep the more expensive grass hay to fill hay racks and containers. Guinea pigs refuse to eat soiled hay so hay racks and containers are essential.
All Grass all the time
Grass is another type of food that can be fed in unlimited supply. A guinea pigs digestive system is designed to eat foliage and grass is a great source of nutrition. Plus they love it!
If you do not have access to fresh grass (they should never be fed lawnmower clippings!) then providing plenty of grass hay is essential.
Even indoor guinea pigs need access to grass. Since taking it from the lawnmower is very dangerous, we keep an area of our lawn overgrown and cut it with scissors to bring inside for the ultimate guinea pig treat.
Guinea pigs also need to eat dry pellets as part of their daily nutritional needs. It is important to buy pellets that are made specifically for guinea pigs. Do not to use those intended for rabbits as they do not have the same nutritional needs. Guinea pig pellets have Vitamin C added to them. Avoid feeding your guinea pig brightly coloured pellets as these rarely contain any nutritional benefits. Guinea pigs tend to leave the most nutritious pellets to the end. If you have young guinea pigs then its best to feed them specially designed pellets.
Very good Vegetables
Vegetables form a very important part to your guinea pigs diet – they provide essential vitamins and minerals whilst also wearing teeth down. Not all vegetables can be eaten daily and some are even limited to monthly due to the high sugar content.
Some owners fall into the trap of feeding the exact same combination of vegetables daily and guinea pigs can often get bored. Guinea pigs are very similar to us humans, they like a wide variety of food to keep things exciting! The recommended amount is between three and five different types of vegetables per day to ensure your guinea pig doesn’t get bored eating the same foods day after day.
Portion size is important even with vegetables. The recommended amount is to provide each guinea pig a matched boxed size portion. This would be a single lettuce leaf or a small floret of broccoli.
Below are the vegetables suitable for daily consumption:
- Peppers any color – 1 Slice
- Celery – 1 – 2 slices
- Cucumber – 1 slice
- Coriander – 1 – 2 springs
- Green Beans – 1 bean
- Gem Lettuce – 1 leaf
These are the quantities for one pig and should be adjusted if you have more than one piggie.
Two to Four times per week
Whilst the above are recommended for daily consumption by your guinea pig, those with a varied diet will be much happier and healthy than those subjected to the same meal day in and day out. The above is a great sample diet to use as a starting base. All the foods listed below can be eaten more frequently:
- Collard Greens
Guinea pigs can also eat certain types of fruit, however, this shouldn’t be a daily treat. Fruit has a much higher sugar content than vegetables and should only be given once or twice a week as a treat. Guinea pigs that eat too much sugar suffer from obesity. Some types of fruit also contain high levels of acidity levels and this can cause sores around your guinea pigs mouth.
- Kiwi Fruit
Remember these are a treat and shouldn’t be fed to your guinea pig on a daily basis.
Give them something to Chew
Did you know that guinea pigs teeth are constantly growing? This is why it’s important to provide them with lots of things for them to chew on. A guinea pig will happily chew on all sorts of things from cardboard boxes, chew sticks and specially designed hay tunnels. Giving your guinea pig something to chew on is also a great way to give them something to do and to ensure they don’t get bored!
We like to mix up some store-bought chewing objects with some empty cereal boxes. Empty toilet roll and kitchen rolls are also a sure favourite!
A little treat goes far
Giving your guinea pig reward treats is a great way to bond and also encourage good behaviour. It’s great to start giving them treats when you first begin to hold them, as they are settling in and also during playtime. There are a wide variety of treats available for guinea pigs but not all of them are suitable. Some contain far too much sugar so make sure you do your research first.
We give our guinea pig some fruit from the above list, some herbs from the garden and these lovely little pea flakes. They just go crazy for them!
Everything in balance
As you can see a guinea pigs diet is full of lots of different things from the functional hay through to the fun nibble sticks!
What are your guinea pigs favourite things to eat? Comment below as we would love to know.