Feeding your guinea pigs

What should I feed my guinea pigs?

  1. Constant access (all day and night) to good quality hay or grass – this is essential for maintaining healthy teeth and a healthy digestive system.
  2. Commercial guinea pig nuggets – follow the packet guidelines on how much to feed.                          
  3. Fresh greens – around a teacup a day per guinea pig.
Image showing muesli-type guinea pig feed. This should not be given to guinea pigs

Don’t feed muesli-type mixes like this. Guinea pigs leave the bits they don’t like, which are the bits containing fibre. This means they don’t get enough fibre. Lack of fibre is linked to painful dental disease.


Which greens can I feed my guinea pigs?

Aim to feed a few different greens each day. The table shows some greens that are safe to feed, and some that aren’t. The list isn’t exhaustive. If you’re not sure whether you can safely feed a certain plant or vegetable to your guinea pigs, ask your vet for advice.

 

Safe
Unsafe

Asparagus
Potato and potato tops
Basil
Rhubarb (including leaves)
Broccoli
Tomato leaves
Brussels Sprouts
 
Cabbage
 
Carrots and carrot tops
 
Cauliflower leaves and stalks
 
Celery
 
Chicory
 
Coriander
 
Courgette
 
Cucumber
 
Dandelion (in moderation)
 
Dill
 
Kale
 
Parsley
 
Parsnip
 
Radish
 
Red cabbage
 
Romaine lettuce
 
Rocket
 
Salad peppers
 
Savoy cabbage
 
Spinach
 
Turnips
 
Tomato
 
Watercress
 

Can I give my guinea pigs fruit? 

You should only give fruit occasionally and in small quantities because it is high in sugar. Apples, grapefruit, strawberries, gooseberries, kiwi fruit, mango, orange and tangerine are suitable in small amounts. 

Is it alright to feed guinea pigs ‘muesli’-type guinea pig food? 

Muesli-type mixes shouldn’t be fed. Guinea pigs leave the bits they don’t like, which are the bits containing fibre. This means they don’t get enough fibre. Lack of fibre is linked with painful dental disease. 

How can I safely introduce new foods to my guinea pigs? 

Suddenly changing the food you give your guinea pigs can upset their digestive system, so always introduce new foods gradually over at least a week, unless your vet tells you otherwise.

Is it true that guinea pigs need extra vitamin C? 

Like humans, guinea pigs can’t make their own vitamin C so must get it from their food. Salad peppers, tomatoes, spinach, asparagus, broccoli and leafy greens (e.g. parsley and kale) are all high in vitamin C. 

Good quality commercial guinea pig foods in the correct quantities will usually contain vitamin C. However, nutrients can disappear if the food is stored for too long, so you should follow the manufacturer’s storage instructions and shelf life suggestions. 

To be on the safe side it’s useful to add a vitamin C supplement (available from pet shops) to your guinea pigs’ drinking water. If they consume too much vitamin C it will be harmlessly passed out in the urine. 

Can I feed my guinea pigs treats? 

There are natural treats available from pet shops and pet supermarkets which your guinea pigs will enjoy and are good for their teeth and digestive health. Avoid sugary treats, such as ones made with honey, as these can cause teeth problems and diabetes. 

My guinea pigs are eating their droppings, is this normal? 

Guinea pigs produce two types of droppings – hard, dry ones which are true faeces, and dark, shiny, smelly ones. These second types are called ‘caecotrophs’ and guinea pigs eat them, usually straight from their bottom. This enables them to get the full goodness out of their high-fibre food, so don’t be concerned if you see this. 

Image of a suitable drinking water bottle for guinea pigs

Water for your guinea pigs 

Should I give my guinea pigs their water in a bowl or bottle? 

Fresh water must always be available. A suitable water bottle with a metal spout is a good way to provide water. Check your guinea pigs are using the bottle as some may be used to drinking from a bowl and may not change very easily. Whether using a bottle or a bowl, keep it clean at all times. 

How much water should my guinea pigs drink each day? 

The average amount of water a guinea pig drinks is 100 to 200ml per kg bodyweight per day. 

I think one of my guinea pigs is drinking more than usual, is this important? 

If any of your guinea pigs start to drink significantly more or less than usual, this can be a sign of a medical problem so you should make an appointment to see your vet.

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