You’ve just picked up your new furry ball of joy, excited to take on the challenge of raising your own guinea pig. Now, the first question that may arise among new owners is: What do I feed my guinea pig? That may follow up with: Can I trust these commercially available food pellets? These are all very good questions. Ideally, a guinea pig’s diet should consist of Timothy hay, fruits, vegetables and pellets. Let me explain each category in detail.
Guinea Pig Diet of Timothy Hay
When I became a new owner, I was completely shocked at the fact that they ate the same stuff used for bedding in a guinea pig cage. But it’s true. In fact, their diet should be comprised mostly of Timothy hay. A bit strange, right? I’ll let that sink in.
Using hay as their main food source is great because your guinea pigs love to play with it as well. They seriously build nests to sleep in, tunnels to crawl through and forts to hide in. Who said to never play with your food?
However, if you do plan to use timothy hay as a means for bedding, be sure to get a hayrack to differentiate between bedding hay and food hay. You can then start training them to eat from the hayrack by mixing pellets or other treats into the hay. After all, you wouldn’t want your guinea pigs to be eating soiled hay off the floor of their cage.
A guinea pig’s diet consisting of high Timothy hay is rather healthy for them. For example, if your pig gets diarrhea, simply decrease their intake of plant matter while increasing their intake of hay, as it promotes a healthy digestive system.
A Diet With Fruits and Vegetables
Like with humans, it’s important to balance your guinea pig’s diet with fruits and vegetables, which can be easily found at your local grocery. I want to point out that guinea pigs tend to favor fruits and vegetables over other categories of foods. However, don’t let those cute critters trick you into giving them large amounts. They will use guinea pig sounds, such as the “wheek,” to express their desire for their favorite snacks.
A diet comprised of too many fruits or vegetables can lead to diarrhea. Like I’ve mentioned, just increase their intake of Timothy hay if this happens due to a dieting issue.
Try some of these known guinea pig favorites:
- Baby Carrots
- Broccoli leaves
Feel free to test out different types of fruits and vegetables with them to see which they enjoy more. Once you’ve found their favorites, I would stick to those and not alternate too much after the ‘testing stage.’
Remember, the key is to ration their intake of fruits and vegetables. Diarrhea is a serious issue to these animals because they are much smaller than humans. It can lead to death if it persists for a prolonged period of time.
Guinea Pig Food Pellets
It’s important to give your pigs high quality pellets because low quality food can lead to several health problems in the future. We only want healthy and happy guinea pigs here.
Look for pellets that are made up of 16% fiber and 20% protein, complemented by Vitamin C. Like humans, guinea pigs aren’t able to produce Vitamin C naturally, meaning it is essential to provide them with some. If you can’t purchase pellets with any, make sure to give them Vitamin C tablets (and not multi-vitamins). A healthy diet should consist of 10 to 15 mg of Vitamin C every single day.
After a couple hours, remove all remaining pellets in your pig’s cage. As you may have heard, they are prone to obesity. So, by removing all pellets after a while, it prevents them from munching on them throughout the day, which may lead to excessive weight gains.
Guinea Pig Foods to Avoid
At all cost, do NOT give your guinea pigs these foods:
- Chocolate & other “human treats”
- Dairy products
- Iceberg lettuce
- Tomato leaves
- Anything that has sugar in it
- Raw beans
- Multi-vitamins (excess vitamin A & D lead to health problems)
All these foods are bad for the guinea pig’s digestive system and can lead to diarrhea. Some, including chocolate, are actually poisonous to them. So, be careful where you put your Hershey’s bar when you’re around these animals.
Guinea Pig Diet Schedule
Most domestic animals love and depend on set schedules. Going out to play, taking a nap and even getting fed at a certain time during the day. Guinea pigs are no exception. They are comforted at the fact that there is a schedule and expect certain things to be there around the same hour every day. You can actually stress them out if you disrupt their schedule.
With that being said, make sure you are able to feed your guinea pig around the same hour every single day. Try not to be more than an hour off their set schedule. So, keep that in mind when you initially begin feeding them.
As I said earlier, it’s fine to test different treats such as fruits and vegetables with them. However, their main core of food should remain the same every day. If you give them mostly Timothy hay and pellets with a couple different fruits or vegetables a day, you can just switch out one or two items and see how they react.
Guinea pigs are literally “creatures of habit.”
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Correctly feeding these lovable pets is certainly not rocket science. There’s a reason why they are popular pets for kids: they’re easy to take care of. Just follow these simple diet and nutrition guidelines and you’re well on your way to raising a healthy little guinea pig. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions about feeding your cavy.