Even though keeping a pet can be an enjoyable experience, it comes with a lot of responsibility. Apart from keeping pets for personal benefits, you must also ensure that the animal is well taken care of. Feeding is one way to do that, and the animal must be fed with the right diet. Every animal comes with specific food items that work with their digestive systems and guinea pigs are no different. Guinea pigs, though small, still require an appropriate diet to remain healthy. So what do guinea pigs eat? In this article, the guinea pig diet will be discussed, and other related questions will be answered to help you pick out the best ingredients for their food.
What Can Guinea Pigs Eat?
Guinea pigs are, by nature, herbivores, and that means they need a lot of plant-based foods in their diet. Their bodies have been adapted in that way and it will be detrimental to their health if it doesn’t make the majority of their diet. If you are thinking of getting a guinea pig and wondering, ‘what can I feed my guinea pig?’, then the following information will be quite useful.
- Provide a consistent supply of leafy food including grass or grass hay like barley, TImothy or Oaten. Green food that is overly rich in protein or calcium is not advisable for guinea pigs. This includes Clover hay and Lucerne or alfalfa. Always make sure the grass is of high quality and is available every 24 hours. High quality means that the grass should be sweet-smelling, dry, and void of any mold, fungus or mildew. These characteristics of the hay ensure that the guinea pig is well nourished and likely to chew for an extended time. These animals have continuously growing teeth, which need constant stimulation to function correctly and prevent diseases. It also helps in preserving their gastrointestinal health, which basically means healthy digestion. One way to keep the hay from getting contaminated by the animal’s waste is to position it on a rack instead of on the floor. This also prevents it from getting damp, moldy, or dirty so that the animal does not get sick.
- Other leafy foods that you can add to your Guinea pig’s diet are herbs and green vegetables. These include different types of lettuce like snow peas, dandelion greens, rocket and herbs like basil, rosemary, coriander, and marigold. These should be fed to them sweet-smelling daily, while others like cabbage, mint, and broccoli should be a few times a week.
- Guinea pigs also need an excellent dietary source of vitamin C for healthy growth. This is because they cannot synthesize the vitamin from other food sources. This means including foods like leafy green vegetables, which are rich in vitamin C to their diet every day. You can also add vitamin C sources like berries, carrots, kiwi fruit, and pineapple but only as snacks a few times a week. This is due to its high sugar content of these foods which can cause health problems for the animal is not regulated.
Guinea Pig Food List to Avoid
Not all food is good for guinea pigs, and you must know them to protect your pet. Salty or sweet foods that are considered junk for humans are not to be fed to guinea pigs. The components of these types of diets are harmful to their digestive system and outright toxic. Things like garlic and onion are a no-no for these animals as well as most cooked human foods. It is better to stick to the hay or grass diet and occasionally chip fresh vegetables and fruits. Other harmful foods for guinea pigs are avocados, grapes, raisins, chives, and coconuts.
Tips When Feeding a Guinea Pig
- Ensure that the food sources have not been sprayed with any insecticides or pesticides before feeding them to your guinea pig. These chemicals may contain substances harmful to the animal’s health and will render any nutrients in the food useless. Lawnmower clippings are also not recommended for them since it is likely to cause gastrointestinal blockages, which will affect the animal’s quality of life.
- When introducing something new into the guinea pig’s diet, it is advised to start gradually. The amount of food can be slowly increased as time goes by, and the animal will have an adequate period to adapt to the new ingredients. This also helps their digestive system to adjust to the changes and prevents illnesses. You can mix their old diet with small quantities of the new one and build it up over the subsequent weeks.
- Always remove leftover food from their living space to prevent the possibility of an unhygienic environment. The uneaten food can rot and become a breeding ground for all sorts of microorganisms, which can make the guinea pig sick. Replace an old diet with a new one daily or after a few hours so that your guinea pig can live a healthy life.
There are lots of reasons why having a guinea pig for a pet is beneficial and their diet is part of them. Apart from being less costly, friendly, clean, smart, and low maintenance, their vegan diet is very convenient. The herbs and fresh fruits and veggies they need are natural to come by and do not cost much. You do not also require any particular kind of cooking to feed it to them. All you need is a reliable source, that is void of harmful chemicals. This article contains both the food items that are safe for guinea pigs and those that are harmful to their health. In addition to the safe ones, you must also provide an easily accessible source of clean water for the animal. Water helps in digestion and keeping them hydrated. You will be on your way to having a healthier guinea pig if you pay attention to their diet and follow the right one.
You may also like our article on: How to Treat a Constipated Guinea Pig
- Deanna deBara, Guinea Pig Diet: What Fruits and Veggies Can Guinea Pigs Eat?, PetMD
- Laurie Hess, DVM, Feeding Guinea Pigs, VCA Hospitals
- Guinea Pig Feeding, The Humane Society