In this post, I’m going to tell all newbies about guinea pig diet, since people often ask me what kind of food guinea pigs eat or what I feed Freya and Ellie. Actually, I’m currently thinking of setting up a series of posts for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that I often get through e-mail. As some of you may have noticed, I reply to emails as promptly as I can, but blog posts have become sporadic. I’m trying my best and maybe I’ll just share some common questions and my answers to them on my blog so that it won’t be too hard for you guys! XD
So, here goes!
You asked: What’s the proper diet for guinea pigs? Is it okay to just feed them any kind of vegetable?
So, the short answer for this question is a proper mix of hay, vegetables, and pellets, but you can’t just feed any kind of vegetable. Let me emphasize on each one in a bit! 🙂
Hay is the most important part of your guinea pigs’ diet, and I think this is the part that many people miss out when they get their guinea pigs for the first time. Guinea pigs need unlimited hay throughout the day not only to wear their teeth down (their teeth are continuously growing!) but also to get a constant fiber source for their digestive systems. So, when serving hay, give your piggies as much as they can handle and remember, they need access to hay 24/7!
There are several types of hay that you can feed your guinea pigs, but you should know which ones are suitable for them. Generally speaking, you should be feeding them grass hay (examples are timothy, meadow, and star grass hay). These are widely available in many pet supply stores for guinea pigs. Many stores in the Philippines also sell and recommend alfalfa/lucerne hay, but they are too rich for normal adult guinea pigs. They are only suitable for young (less than 4 months), pregnant, or nursing guinea pigs because of their high protein and calcium content.
Many people give their piggies grass instead of hay, especially when they let their piggies outside for playtime. This is okay too. Just make sure that the grass is clean and has not been soiled by stray animals outside, since this can introduce parasites that can harm your piggies. Also avoid feeding grass that has been treated with pesticides or insecticides!
Vegetables and fruits
Guinea pigs are strict herbivores, so give them fresh vegetables to fulfill their nutritional needs. Freya and Ellie’s vets recommend a cup of vegetables per pig per day. Like humans, guinea pigs also cannot manufacture their own vitamin C in their bodies so they need to get their daily dose of vitamin C from their diet. Green, leafy vegetables are recommended, but give them variety as well! I usually give them 2 kinds of vegetables in the morning and 2 kinds of vegetables in the evening, and I mix them up in order to keep them interested in their food.
A note on fruits: Although fruits are a good source of vitamin C, they contain a lot of sugar and should be feed sparingly, or as a treat.
Here’s a good chart from Guinea Pig Cages that you can use as a basis for determining which vegetables and fruits are good for your piggies.
At times, especially during your piggies’ first few weeks, you may notice that they are not eating the vegetables that you are giving them. Don’t be discouraged, this may be because they are not used to being fed with so many vegetables, or many of the items you’re giving are actually new to them. This problem is especially common with guinea pigs purchased from pet shops, who are more used to a diet of pellets and hay. Introduce the new items in their diet slowly, and if they still don’t like certain vegetables, just remember that each guinea pig is different and what one piggie likes may be unbearable for another!
There are many commercial guinea pig pellets, so this one is readily available for many new piggy owners. But you should know how to choose the best pellets as well!
The best pellets for your guinea pigs are those that satisfy their nutritional requirements, especially vitamin C. Most commercial guinea pig feeds sold in the Philippines are alfalfa-based, so like alfalfa hay, these are too rich for adult guinea pigs. Timothy-based pellets are best. Make sure that the pellets you’re giving are not mixed with seeds, nuts, or other choking hazards. But most importantly, you should check the label to ensure that there are no animal by-products mixed into the pellets since guinea pigs are strictly vegan!
As for serving size, vets recommend that 1/8 cup per pig per day is enough. Remember, though pellets are good to have in your guinea pigs’ diet, they are not substitutes for hay and vegetables, so pellets should only be a supplement to their diet and not the main part.
There you have it! I hope this entry answered all of your questions and if you have other questions that you want me to write about, feel free to sound off in the comments!