Who doesn’t like to watch those cute little Guinea pigs munching on their food? The wheeking noise made by them when they know they are going to be fed is something that cannot go ignored. But what are the food that guinea pigs can eat? What would be a perfect well-balanced guinea pig diet plan?
A Perfect well balanced guinea pig diet usually consist of hay, Vegetables, Fruits and Fresh and Clean water. Now let us see the proper proportion of the same:
- Hay: 80% of their diet.
- Fresh Vegetable and herbs: 10-15% of their daily diet.
- pellet: 5-10% of their diet
- Fresh and Clean Water: 100-300ml at least.
- Occasional: Treats in a small amount.
Any new Guinea pig owner can get overwhelmed by the contradictory information and facts lying out there so I decided to put everything that I have researched and found working for me into a single guide for you guys.
As every human being have a different taste and preferences I believe the same is true with Guinea pigs. No single Guinea pig is the same. For instance, Some guinea pigs I have seen likes apples and tomatoes whereas some don’t.
So, This guide doesn’t aim to provide you with the exact food you must feed your Guinea pig rather it helps you in developing your own diet for Guinea pigs based on their taste and preference.
A guinea pig needs a variety of food in their diet to meet their daily requirement of nutrients. It is also important to provide them with all sorts of variety in their diet so that they remain fit and healthy. A single food-based diet cannot fulfill the nutrients they need and will eventually lead to their bad health.
Here I have made a Diet proportion that I have found does wonder for these pets in general. There is no hard and fast rule to follow in this guide but just a good suggestion based on the need for a nutrients Guinea pig need.
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Guinea pig daily diet:- Recommended proportion of food types in Guinea pig diet
This is what I recommend in general should form the part of the diet that a guinea pig can eat on daily basis.
We will discuss all the type of foods guinea pig can eat from the above category in details below.
Here, I would like to recommend you one important point to note for all beginners. Guinea pigs diet should not be changed drastically at once. Any drastic change in their diet can cause various health issues the most common being Stomach upset.
It is recommended that you bring a gradual change in their diet. Start by introducing New food in small quantity along with the usual food. Once they are comfortable with it you can adjust the quantity likewise in the future.
You must introduce a variety in their diet but that should be done over a course of time. Give your Guinea pig enough time to adjust with the diet and don’t ever try to force them to eat something they don’t like.
Hay- The most essential part of Guinea pig diet
Hay is the staple food for a Guinea pig. This is an essential part of their diet and they must be given Fresh, Clean and Dry hay at all times. It is essential for their digestive health as it helps them meet their fiber requirement in the body.
Without the proper amount of hay in their diet, their digestive system may shut down. Chewing hay also helps them in wearing down their back teeth and keep them appropriate as they are evergrowing in Guinea pigs.
What type of hay should be fed to a Guinea pig?
There are usually two types of hay which are commonly fed to any Guinea pig. The Alfalfa hay and the Timothy hay which is also known as Orchards/ Meadow hay.
The Alfalfa hay is actually a legume and not a grass. It has a high calcium and protein content. This hay is suitable for Young Guinea pigs up to 12 months of age(Nursing period).
In that time frame, their body grows at a rapid pace and supplying them with some extra protein and calcium helps in a well-balanced growth of their body. Alfalfa hay is also suitable for the Pregnant Guinea pig as it supplies them with the extra nutrients needed in that time.
You must not feed Guinea pig with Alfalfa hay normally. Too much of calcium in their diet can lead to bladder stones and other health issues in them. It is advisable to serve them with Timothy hay on regular basis. Although this can be given in small quantity occasionally to maintain a balance in the diet.
- Please note that if you are giving young guinea pig the Alfalfa-based pellets then you should not provide them with the hay. Also, you must avoid feeding the hay that smells moldy when you get them. Always feed them with fresh good quality hay.
Timothy hay or Meadow hay
Timothy hay or Meadow hay is the best grass hay for any Guinea pig. It is suitable for all adult Guinea pigs and must be served to them as a regular diet. Always ensure that your hay is of good quality.
You can check that by looking at the hay, It must be green with pliable stalks, Free of molds and Dustfree. As guinea pigs are susceptible to respiratory diseases it is always good to ensure that the hay you are providing them is of good quality.
Always look for the tag of” Dust extracted” in the packet before buying them.
- Please note You can easily find good quality hay at any pet store nearby or at much cheaper prices online. Some shop owners are not aware of the requirement of Guinea pig and will try to push you with Alfalfa hay, It’s your decision to make the correct choice.
- Also please do not feed your Guinea pig with straw. It is too rough as fodder and too dangerous even as bedding.
You can check out the importance of Good Quality Hay in this article.
Vegetables and herbs that Guinea pig can eat
Vegetables and herbs are an important aspect of any Guinea pig diet. Like most parts of their diet is Hay which is really important for them but at the same time, A good balance of other vitamins and minerals is equally important. A diet based on only Hay or pellets cannot be sustainable for any Guinea pig in the long run.
Ideally, A varied diet with a mix of 5-6 types of vegetables and herbs should be served to them on daily basis. This will ensure that they can fulfill the needs of all the nutrients needed by their body. For a healthy Guinea pig, you are looking to give them a low to medium Calcium diet. vitamin c and magnesium are generally found in vegetables which have high calcium content too.
What we are aiming is a sensible balance of all nutrients. Serving your Guinea pig with a Vitamin C in their diet is important as their body cannot generate Vitamin C on their own. You should also not be serving a Low calcium diet unless in medical needs as it may lead to calcium deficiency and other health issues in the long run.
It would depend upon your water too If the area you live in has a high content of calcium in the water you better go with a low calcium diet and serve other pellets for their nutrients needs. If your area is having normal water just like U.K you can go with a balanced vegetable and fruits diet.
What quantity of vegetables should we serve our Guinea pig?
The recommended daily vegetables and herbs would be anything between 30-50grams per Guinea pig. It is up to you whether you want to serve them with vegetables once or twice in a day depending upon your schedule. But we would suggest keeping an eye in the food served and remove it before it goes bad. Whatever you do, Try to form a routine for the same so that they get accustomed to it.
What are the vegetables that Guinea pigs can eat?
Here is a list of vegetables and herbs which a Guinea pig can eat that are rich in Vitamin C:-
- Carrot ( tops/leaves)
- Any bell pepper
- coriander or cilantro
- Celery leaves
- Mustard green
I have also listed Vegetables with low vitamin C content suitable for a Guinea pig to eat:-
- Celery Stalks
- Any lettuce except iceberg
- Green/Belgian Endive
- Mixed salad
- Corn on the cub
- Radishes (small bits)
- Please introduce only one new veg at a time so that your pigs get time to adjust to the food.
- Always include at least one food rich in vitamin C.
- Always wash your vegetables properly before serving them to your Guinea pigs.
- Do not serve them with more than recommended quantity as it may lead to health issues like Diarrhoea, Stones, Obesity etc.
- Do remember to serve only fresh vegetables and remove it from their cage before it goes bad.
A balanced simple diet for Guinea pig
What I mean here by a balanced simple diet is serving your pet with the right balance of Vitamin C, Magnesium, and other minerals.
Here is an example of what can be a balanced diet for a Guinea pig:-
Servings per Guinea pig:-
- 1 small slice of pepper broccoli or Cauliflower. (Anything that has high vitamin C)
- Any 1 herb in a small quantity:- A sprig of coriander, Celery or parsley(Something high in mineral)
- 1 small quantity if spring green vegetables like Bell peppers, Lettuce, etc( These are balanced with nutrients and good for daily serving.)
- One vegetable or fruit(once weekly) of your liking( Small quantity not exceeding the recommended diet preferred to be approx 10 grams or so.)
This is just an example of what a Guinea pig diet might look like. You can replace any vegetables according to what’s preferred by your pigs.
You can bring changes with seasonal vegetables every once in a while to give their taste buds a refreshment. But do make sure to keep the quantity in Check to avoid any health issues in the long term.
Fruits for Guinea pig
The key to a balanced diet for a guinea pig is by understanding their dietary needs. Yes, fruits are also an important part of their diet. Although many people disagree with them; you must understand that fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals.
Serving your pet with the right quantity of food will help them fulfill the dietary needs of those essential vitamins. Introducing Fruits also helps in bringing the change in the taste for them which keeps them happy as well.
What are the fruits Guinea pig can eat?
Guinea pigs can eat a variety of fruits except some of the exotic ones. Some of the fruits for Guinea pig which are high in Vitamin C are:-
We have also listed other fruits which are considerably less rich in Vitamin C and more in other nutrients which are equally essential for guinea pigs are:-
The above-mentioned list is just suggestions on what can be served to a guinea pig. The choice of fruit they will love to have will depend on their preference. We suggest you do some trials on these fruits. Do make sure you change it very slowly, maybe once in two weeks or so so that they can get adjusted with it.
What quantity of fruits serving is right for your Guinea pig?
Since fruits are high in sugar content, its serving size must be closely monitored. You cannot serve them with a handful of quantity like vegetables.
I would recommend serving a small quantity once a week only. The quantity must not be more than the size of a small matchbox or say a slice of apple.
Always make sure to keep a close watch on your guinea pig whenever you serve them with a new fruit. As all Guinea pigs are different some fruits may react differently to them.
In case you find that there is any change in behavior or something suspicious reach out to a vet if possible.
How to prepare fruits for your Guinea pig?
First of all, you must always wash your fruit properly. This ensures that if any chemical is present in it then it is completely removed.
Even if you buy organic fruits do wash them as any harmful substance may have stuck to them while transporting.
After washing pat off the fruit with some kitchen towel to dry it.
Now next is to cut them up in appropriate sizes and as per the serving.
If you are serving any hard fruit like apple, it might be better to chop them off. Sometimes guinea pigs have a hard time eating those big pieces so chopping them in small bits helps a lot.
You need to see what works best with your pet.
- Serving your Guinea pig with more than the required quantity of fruits can lead to serious health issues. Diabetes and obesity are the main issues that such Guinea pigs go through.
- Do not serve Guinea pig with exotic and stone fruits as some of them can cause a reaction in their body. If you are unsure or unable to get information about a particular fruit that can be served or not; It is best advised to not serve the fruit!. Some example avocado.
If you serve your Guinea pig with too much fruit it can also lead to fungal or bacterial infection in their mouth. Lip sores(Cheilitis) is another fatal disease that can come with it.
- Serving a guinea pig with strawberry green and Organic banana skin also provides them with equal vitamins and minerals. It is also very much preferred by a Guinea pig.
- Do make sure you wash each and every fruit you serve them very thoroughly. Any pesticides or chemicals in fruits can be fatal to guinea pig health.
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Pellets for Guinea pigs
Although hay is a staple diet for any Guinea pig occasionally a guinea pig must also be served with Pellets specially designed for them. When served in the right quantity alongside Hay and fresh vegetables it will help in providing them with balanced nutrients that their body needs.
Just like Hay, Pellet is also based on Alfalfa and Timothy. It is then Grounded up and further processed with which nutrients and supplements are added to them to formulate a balanced diet. Just like hay, you must choose the pellets wisely. The alfalfa pellets for the young and pregnant Guinea pigs and the Timothy for the adults would do great.
Pellet feeding often accounts for Overweight; So don’t be too generous with them. If you see your Guinea pig getting overweight stop feeding them with any treats and reduce the number of pellets fed to them. Overweight can be a serious problem with Guinea pigs So, don’t get too generous with it.
It is advised to serve with pellet and vegetable at once ideally in smalls portion 2 times a day. This will ensure that the guinea pig gets fresh food and the food is not contaminated by their poop or mice attacks. Also, try to serve every piggy in a different bowl so that they don’t fight for food. This will also ensure that every pig will get their share of food thus solving the problem of Overeating.
What quantity of pellets a Guinea pig can eat every day?
It is advised to serve pellets at a limited quantity, 10-20 gram per Guinea pig. Do not try to feed them a bowl at once, Rather serve in two times. Also, ensure that the Guinea pig has an adequate amount of hay on all time so that they can eat whenever they want.
How to choose a high-quality Pellet?
It will be of no value if the pellet served to Guinea pigs are not good in nutritional values. The pellet must contain at least 20% or more fiber and 15-16 of crude protein.
If possible try to get one with added vitamin C because unlike other animals; Guinea pig does not produce their own vitamin. Vegetables and fruits are their only sources. So, an added vitamin in this will be a nice addition to their diet.
- Guinea pig often put their paws upon the feeder when having food So it is advised that you serve food in a rather big container with a large diameter. Alternatively, A heavy ceramic container can be used so that it doesn’t tip over when they are munching. This will ensure that the food is not spilled and wasted.
- Please note that Pellet and vegetables are good for nutrition needed by them but are no Substitute for hay. Fresh and Good quality hay must be provided to the Guinea pig at all times.
- Please try to avoid dry mixes made from various dried vegetables. Dried mixes rather give guinea pig an option to feed on selective bits and pieces and leave rest. Thus not a balanced diet for your Guinea pig. Some of the mixes also consist of nuts which are unsuitable for Guinea pigs.
Like all living beings Guinea pig also need fresh and clean water at all times. Whether you give it in a bowl or a bottle it doesn’t matter, What’s important is that they have enough water at all times.
Can You Give Guinea pig tap water?
Yes, you can absolutely give them tap water until and unless it contains any sort of chemicals or purifying agents. You should give them filtered water and Not Distilled one.
Do not supplement water with any minerals or additives as you cannot control its intake. Also adding any minerals to water makes it a breeding ground for algae which is not good for your Guinea pig.
Always try to Empty, clean and then refill the water of Guinea pig. This gives you dual benefit:
- The water is clean and free from bacteria or any other contamination
- You can monitor the water intake of your Guinea pig
Monitoring the water intake of your Guinea pig will help you in checking if your guinea pig is healthy or not. Any change in water intake will notify that something might be wrong with them.
You can learn more about it in our in-depth Guide:-
Treats for your Guinea pig
Offering treats to your Guinea pig brings some change in their diet along with creating a new bond with them. It is extremely helpful in training them. But you need to be really cautious when serving them with treats. It might make you feel very happy hand-feeding them the treats but too much of it can lead to Overweight and Obesity.
Treats must only be given to them on an occasional basis. You can alternatively offer some new fresh vegetables and fruits as a treat to them. This will ensure that they get a good diet and you can also enjoy feeding them. There are many commercial treats available for them so You can also choose from any of them.
You should also introduce treats one at a time over a period of a few weeks. This will ensure that your guinea pigs digestive system get accustomed to it.
I hope you will be able to create your own unique diet according to your pet’s taste and preference after understanding about the food your Guinea pig can eat. The main focus of this guide was to make you understand the food that you can feed your Guinea pig and the appropriate quantity of the same. If you found my article helpful do share it with your friends and family.
If you are a beginner and want to learn more about them you must also go through:
All the Basic information on Guinea pigs.