Your guinea pig’s diet
Guinea pigs are herbivores – meaning they only eat plants. Their ideal diet will include:
- A constant supply of good quality feeding hay or grass. This should make up at least 80% of their food – it’s really important for their teeth and their digestive system. You can buy feeding hay from pet shops.
- Commercial guinea pig nuggets. Follow the feeding guidelines on the packet.
- A teacup sized amount of fresh greens per day. Fresh greens are a great source of vitamin C which is important for your pigs. Try to give your guinea pigs a different mix of fresh veg each day.
- Introduce new foods to your guinea pigs slowly over a week – any sudden changes to their diet could upset their stomachs.
- Constant access to fresh, clean drinking water from a water bottle with a metal spout. Check your guinea pigs are using the bottle: if they’re used to drinking from a bowl they may not change to a bottle easily. If one of your guinea pigs starts drinking much more or much less than usual, speak to your vet because this might be a sign that they’re ill.
Top tip: don’t feed your guinea pigs muesli-style food mixes. Guinea pigs tend to leave the bits of the mix that contain fibre. This can cause problems with their teeth and their gut.
Safe fruit and veg for guinea pigs
Fresh greens like broccoli, cabbage or spinach are great things to feed and carrots make a satisfying occasional treat. However, not all fruit and veg is safe for your guinea pigs. Don’t feed potatoes, tomato leaves or rhubarb to your pigs.
Make feeding fun
Making feeding more exciting is a great way of keeping your guinea pigs active and happy. In the wild, they’d spend a lot of their day grazing and searching for food. You can replicate this for your pet guinea pigs by hiding food around their enclosure for them to sniff out.
You could give them:
- Hay balls or hay tunnels to chew on and hide in.
- Gnawing toys or treat kebabs.
- Paper bags filled with hay – they love working out how to get through the bag to eat the hay.
- Scattering treats and pellets in their hay for them to sniff out.
Do guinea pigs need vitamin C?
Like humans, guinea pigs can’t make their own vitamin C. They need to get it from their food. Good quality guinea pig nuggets will contain vitamin C. Always follow the food manufacturer’s storage instructions and use-by-date as nutrients can disappear over time.
Leafy greens and fresh veg are also a great source of vitamin C, especially:
- Salad peppers
- tomatoes (the fruit but not the leaves)
There are also other ways of supplementing Vitamin C for your guinea pig, such as supplements that can be added to water or drops you put straight into their mouths. These are often available from pet shops. If you’re not sure how much vitamin C your guinea pig needs or are considering using a new supplement it’s always important to follow the instructions closely and speak to your vet if you have questions to make sure your guinea pig gets the correct amount.
If a guinea pig doesn’t get enough vitamin C they can become very ill. If you’re not sure how much vitamin C your guinea pig needs it’s best to talk to your vet for advice.
My guinea pig is eating its poo – is this normal?
Don’t worry if you spot your guinea pig eating their poo – it’s totally normal! In fact, it’s really important for their health and digestion.
Guinea pigs produce two types of poo:
- A shiny, smell pellet called ‘caecotrophs’. This is the kind they eat, often straight from their bottom. This means they get the full goodness out of their high-fibre food.
- A hard dry pellet. They don’t eat this kind of poo and it can be cleaned up and thrown away.