Guinea pigs are fond of eating. They eat different varieties of food items, pellets being one of them. Pellets are fed to guinea pigs regularly along with hay and green leafy vegetables.
Guinea pigs, too, like eating pellets, so it’s a matter of concern if your pet stops eating pellets. Many owners often wonder how to get their guinea pigs to eat pellets. So, here is what you must know about it.
Guinea pigs need a variety in their diet as they get bored with the same food. So, it is crucial to bring a change to their taste buds. The interest can be stimulated by changing the brand or adding something with pellets. Make sure you offer fresh pellets only as your guinea pigs can reject old pellets.
Pellets should not be an essential part of guinea pig’s diet, as it is not a part of their natural diet. Still, a guinea pig refusing to eat pellets all of a sudden is something unusual. You should look for the cause of change in the diet.
Do guinea pigs need to eat pellets?
Guinea pigs mostly need pellets during their young age. Unlimited pellets should be provided during the early age. Baby guinea pigs can eat pellets as much they like, till they are healthy.
Pellets are rich in calcium and protein, and also rich in calories. All these things are essential for any growing baby.
Bodyweight is gained with the help of pellets. The muscle mass is also developed with the protein present in the pellets.
Still, unlimited hay and a cup of veggies are more critical than pellets. Pellets are a new food diet that guinea pigs love to eat.
Just as pellets play a vital part in other pet’s diets, we consider the same for our guinea pigs. However, the reality is far from this.
As the guinea pig grows, the intake of pellets is reduced as further mass addition is not required. Pellets contain a high amount of calories, which results in an excessive gain in weight. Overweight will be a problem for adult guinea pigs.
The requirement of calcium and protein is reduced for the mature guinea pigs. The bones are developed, and muscle mass is also built.
So, excess pellets will result in the deposition of calcium and a high level of protein in the body. That will hurt the health of the guinea pig.
The adult guinea pig is provided with more hay instead of pellets, as they need more fiber than other nutrients.
Ideal Pellets for your guinea pigs
The pellets which you will be feeding to your guinea pig should be safe and healthy for them.
You will find various qualities of pellets in the market. Few are better than the others.
Pellets, along with dried fruits and nuts should be avoided. Guinea pigs are very keen to choose the tasty foods, so they will pick the fruits and nuts, and leave the healthy pellets.
The ideal pellets suitable for a guinea pig should have the following qualities:
- Freshly packed: Pellets can easily be attacked by fungus and turn moldy. So, storing pellets for a more extended period is not a good idea. You can keep it in storage for six weeks. Care should be taken while storing pellets that should be kept in a dry and cool place.
- Fiber: More fiber, the better are the pellets. At least one-fifth of the pellets should be fiber. Higher fiber content is even better.
- Protein: Check the protein content of the pellets, young guinea pigs will need a higher content of protein while the adult guinea pigs need more fiber.
- Fat: Pellets should have low-fat content. Guinea pigs should not be provided with fats in their diet; it may cause health problems. Fat should comprise 2-5 % of the pellets.
- Other minerals: Calcium & Phosphorous are essential for guinea pigs, but if consumed in higher levels, than they may cause health problems.
The pellets should be made with timothy based hay. These have high fiber content, and it helps digestion.
The above points will help you determine suitable pellets for your guinea pig. It will also be good for the health of your guinea pig.
My guinea pig won’t eat pellets
Guinea pigs are incredibly fond of eating, and they can eat much more than their size. It doesn’t mean they will eat anything and everything.
They are very selective about their diet. A dish that was a favorite of guinea pigs till recently can no more be enticing for your guinea pig.
A Guinea pig may suddenly stop eating pellets. It is their nature to reject food which they wanted a day before. It should not matter much as pellets are not an essential diet component for adult guinea pigs.
Adult guinea pigs should be provided with hay, and if they stop eating pellets increase hay supplied to them.
Along with hay, green leafy vegetables are offered. Hay should form most of the food for adult guinea pigs.
Baby guinea pigs need pellets, but they can also develop without pellets. If they are eating other essential food, they are fine without pellets.
You must look for the cause of avoiding pellets. If there are any signs of health issues, then visit a vet for treatment.
Why is my guinea pig not eating pellets?
A Guinea pig may avoid pellets in their diet. You should not be much concerned with this habit. Instead of pellets, the guinea pig will be eating hay.
In this way, the guinea pig will receive the required nutrition.
However, you should check the following if your guinea pig is avoiding pellets:
- The pellets should be fresh. The guinea pig will reject hard and moldy.
- Pellets left uncovered have dust on them. A Guinea pig will start sneezing because of dust.
- Pellets have been spoiled as the guinea pig itself, or its cage mate may have peed over it.
- Guinea pigs are suspicious of eating as some unwanted things are mixed in pellets.
- Guinea pig is not hungry enough to have pellets. Pellets fill-up the guinea pig’s tummy too much.
- Guinea pig becomes bored with eating pellets. Thus they want a change for their taste bud.
- Chewing pellets can be painful if the guinea pig is suffering from dental problems.
- Digestive problems result in indigestion and stomach pain, so guinea pigs will avoid eating pellets.
Even if a guinea pig is not eating pellets but having hay and drinking, there is nothing to be concerned about.
It may be just a change in moods. Still, it is worth looking for the possible cause of change in diet.
Guinea pig not eating pellets might be because of dental pain. Guinea pig’s teeth grow continuously throughout their life.
In such cases, they may be suffering due to some severe pain. In this condition, the guinea pig will prefer eating liquid or semi-solid food.
But the growing teeth can be trimmed by the chewing process only. So chewing of solid food becomes essential for a guinea pig. Eating hay helps to keep a check on the growth of the teeth.
You should check your guinea pig’s teeth regularly. While doing this, guinea pig must trust you to let you examine. Your initial attempts maybe a little nasty as the guinea pig may bite or nip you.
The teeth should overlap with upper teeth on the lower teeth. A Guinea pig can chew toys comfortably, and teeth not overgrown. The teeth are sharp and evenly placed. All these indicated healthy teeth of guinea pigs.
Also read: How to keep your guinea pig’s teeth short
Guinea pig having healthy teeth but still not having food may be suffering due to gastrointestinal disorder.
A Guinea pig may have a blockage in its digestive tract caused due to ingesting fur.
Few times undigested food also causes blockage if the digestive system is not healthy.
Such conditions need immediate steps to improve a health condition; it can be fatal for guinea pigs. Check for the following symptoms:
- The abdomen is swollen and bloated.
- Guinea pigs lying and trying to hide at the corner of the cage.
- Showing no or negligible movement.
- Grinding of teeth indicates pain.
- Guinea pig suffering from constipation, no poop at all.
Guinea pig only avoiding pellets in the food is not likely to suffer from any blockage. Till your pet has hay, it is okay. In case you observe any of the above symptoms, visit a vet immediately.
Pellets looking stale and covered with dust is not liked by guinea pigs. They will have a suspicion about the goodness of pellets, especially if there is any fungal growth over pellets.
Guinea pigs have an allergy to dust present in the pellets. They will have nasal irritation and often start sneezing.
Such instances can be caused if you offer them the last remaining pellets of a bag. Such pellets usually have dust remains on them.
You may need to serve a different variety of pellets if they are not eating. Guinea pigs may start eating pellets if they are provided fresh pellets.
Poor quality pellets
Guinea pigs are incredibly fussy with their food. They will not eat something in which they observe some foreign particles in it. If the pellets served have something dropped in it, the guinea pig may not even get closer to it.
Guinea pigs tend to pee over something to indicate that it belongs to them. You will be surprised to note that they can even pee on food to mark it. So, a dominating mate may urinate on the pellets to mark the pellets as personal.
The smell of guinea pig is very unpleasant. So, the guinea pig will not eat such pellets. You should change the pellets in the bowl after washing the bowl.
Bored from the taste
It’s just like sometimes we get bored with the same food every day. Guinea pigs do not find pellets interesting anymore.
It may happen when you offer a treat to the guinea pig. Then it looks for the same taste. They try to test your patience level, expecting a better dish.
You need to control yourself in such cases. Guinea pigs will try to convince you for treats, but you should be determined to feed them.
Although pellets are not the only source of nutrition, guinea pigs should not be fed treats very often.
How to get guinea pigs to eat pellets?
To increase the interest in pellets, you need to put effort and time. Guinea pig not convinced to eat pellets should not bother you much. Only if your pet avoids eating anything, visit a vet.
Guinea pigs love eating delicious treats and won’t even bother what they are eating. If you are determined to convince your guinea pig to eat pellets, think of making it appealing to them.
You can look for the following ideas intrigue your guinea pigs to eat pellets:
- The scarcity of something always makes it interesting. Take away the pellets provided to guinea pigs if your pet is not eating it. If the pellets are served less frequently or after a while, then guinea pig will start showing interest. The Guinea pig will lose interest in pellets if kept in front of them all the time.
- When the guinea pig is most hungry, serve them pellets. After the guinea pig has played for an extended period, it will be hungry. So, the guinea pig will not avoid pellets if served at that time.
- The Guinea pig may get bored with a particular taste and flavor of pellets. You can change the brand, which will smell different. The Guinea pig will be enticed to new pellets offered. Even you can try mixing both pellets together.
- A Guinea pig may enjoy eating pellets when provided in private. So, when the other mates are away from the cage, you can serve it to them.
- When the pellets in the bag are about the finish, it is better to get a fresh bag. The pellets at the bottom are usually dusty so that guinea pigs may avoid it.
- Guinea pigs love eating sweet eatables. They are sweet-toothed and will do anything to get sweet treats. This can be used to feed pellets by smearing something sweet over the pellets. You will be surprised to see that the guinea pig may not eat plain pellets after feeding with smeared pellets.
- You can pretend to eat pellets sitting near your guinea pigs. By doing so, guinea pigs will get a sense that the food is yours, and they will be interested in eating pellets.
The effort you need to put for the above techniques is much more than the benefit you will harness.
So, you may opt for such ideas only if the guinea pig is young enough to require pellets.
Can guinea pigs survive without pellets?
Guinea pigs can manage without pellets. In other words, we can say pellets are not an essential food for guinea pigs. The nutrition can be provided to guinea pigs by other foods.
However, if your guinea pigs refuse to eat vegetables in adequate quantity then pellets play a vital role in their diet.
Can guinea pigs live on just pellets?
Guinea pigs cannot survive only pellets. Pellets are suitable for guinea pigs, but it is bonus food for them.
Adult guinea pigs require mostly timothy hay. Chewing hay keeps their teeth trimmed, and provides the much-needed fiber.
Leafy vegetables supply other essential nutrients. However, pellets have them both but also have high calories, which are not suitable for guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs can survive without pellets, but feeding only pellets is not suitable for their health. If your vet has suggested a diet chart, you can feed only pellets to your pet.
What else can you feed instead of pellets?
Leafy vegetables offer the required protein and calcium to guinea pigs. Offer two bowls of vegetables to them in a day.
That will serve the optimum level of necessary nutrition. The leafy vegetables suitable for guinea pigs are:
- Lettuce(excluding iceberg)
- Pak choi(Bok Choy)
- Collards, etc
You can offer two or three different vegetables every day. Mix them on a rotational basis so that the guinea pig is always interested in eating these vegetables.
We often tend to switch to alfalfa pellets, but doing so will harm your guinea pig. Alfalfa Pellets have a higher protein and calcium content, which is required in small quantities by adult guinea pigs.
The Guinea pig will become obese and may suffer from kidney stones as well. The Guinea pig should always have access to unlimited timothy hay.
The most important thing to make guinea pigs eat pellets is to generate interest for pellets. Pellets are not an essential part of diet unless a vet prescribes it.
Sources: Diet Composition of Guinea Pigs, Dietary Vitamin C, and Vitamin E needs of Guinea Pig, Vitamin C need of our guinea-pig