In the guinea pig’s diet, salt is essential, so you are probably wondering if your pet wants a sodium chloride supplement to remain healthy. Do guinea pigs need salt and mineral licks? Let’s find out!
Those guinea pigs who have been nourished with high-quality food don’t require any salt or mineral licks. A balanced diet of guinea pig contains enough minerals and salt needed by their body. However, if their diet lacks it and your vet recommends supplementing the same, you can use those licks.
The salt is vital in the diet of animals, but it should be consumed in self-restraint.
Suppose if you give the mineral and spice to lick, your guinea pig will know by their instinct that when their body wants extra salt.
You must never force feed or add any additional salt or mineral into their diet. With that out of the way, let’s answer some common questions that most people have in their mind.
Do guinea pigs need salt lick?
Salt is very much essential for the muscles, nerves, and fluid regulation of guinea pigs. So all the guinea pigs should need to consume enough salt.
Most well-balanced diet for your guinea pig contains the right amount of salt and mineral needed by your guinea pig. Thus, you don’t need to supplement it.
However, sometimes your vet may ask you to do so especially when there is a imbalance of mineral in your guinea pig body. In such a case you can add a salt lick to their cage.
Usually, your guinea pig doesn’t want to lick the salt, though. And it is completely fine. They will do it by instinct when they feel the need for the same.
That is the same for the mineral licks too. The foods of guinea pigs must include the minerals a guinea pig should need in a perfect amount. So, no additional supplement would be needed.
Are salt licks bad for guinea pigs?
Salt licks are not very important for your guinea pig until they don’t have enough minerals in their diet.
However, too much salt can be harmful to your guinea pig, as it can cause stress because guinea pigs are not able to sweat.
Too much salt and minerals can be dangerous for your guinea pig as it can develop bladder sludge or stones.
You can provide a healthy diet for your guinea pig to get all the minerals and vitamins that they need.
Guinea pig sodium requirement
In the body of a guinea pig, salt fulfills many functions. But, none of the studies have found what must be the quantity of the salt that guinea pigs need every day. However, some research says that the diet of guinea pigs should include up to 0.5% of salt daily.
Guinea pig’s bodies will regulate the intake of salt on its own. Whenever their body needs additional salt or mineral, it will increase the food intake to match the need.
What’s the need of salt lick for guinea pigs
In the past, the owners of guinea pigs fed the ready-made pellets to their guinea pigs in their diet. All of these were always a natural diet that contains a little bit or no salt.
At that time, salt lick was used to deal with the imbalance diet. But today, the pellet feed includes all the minerals that the guinea pigs need.
In an ideal world, a diet with natural ingredients contains all the minerals that guinea pigs need. But, the mineral levels of each plant differ significantly.
Farming techniques, soil quality, and outer atmospheres like humidity and temperature are the factors that can affect the levels of minerals in plants.
The undomestic guinea pigs get the salt from the rocks. The guinea pigs consume the sodium from the stones’ surfaces to deal with their need for salt. Also, guinea pigs have several choices of foods that are available to them.
DIY salt lick for guinea pigs
Here are some of the ingredients which you will be needed to make a salt lick:
- Cardboard box
- Lime (which is optional, add only for hardening)
- Rope or hook (it is optional)
- Cardboard box
- Molasses (which is optional, only for sweetening)
- Large wooden stick or spoon
- Rock salt
- Bone meal
Also, here are the steps to make salt licks for guinea pigs:
- For this, you will need to have 2 parts of rock salt, 1 part of clay, and 4 parts of bone meal. Put some water in the bowl to combine all the ingredients.
- Add the lime at this step if you want the mixture to be solid. The quantity of lime should be added depending on how much salt lick you wanted to be solid. Start the process with a teaspoon at the moment and measure the outcome.
- Put some more water until it comes to be in a thick paste. At that point, if the mixture can easily be formed out with the help of a spoon, that means you have attained the perfect consistency.
- When the water has been combined entirely at that moment, put the molasses in it.
- To make the salt lick, stay it for long and less vulnerable for the breakage, empty the water. For this, form out the mixture to squeeze the extra amount of water left in it. Get rid of the water. You need to repeat the process until its completely drained out. That may take several minutes.
- Line a baking pan with black polythene and pour the combination into this box.
- Place the container in a dry, cool place. Fix a roop or hook before it solidifies so that the salt lick can hang in the enclosure of your guinea pig.
- Allow the mixture to be solidified at least for 2 weeks.
Can guinea pig get too much salt
Guinea pigs know their limits when they have to intake sufficient salt. They know how to control their levels when they consume enough sodium.
Those guinea pigs who have consumed excess salt will start drinking a lot of water to decrease the levels of salt.
The water quantity will reduce the salt level in the bodies of guinea pigs in their system. And then, guinea pigs will remove this extra salt through their feces and urine.
However, you must be careful not to add any salt in their food as it can imbalance their nutrient needs.
Do guinea pigs like salt licks?
Guinea pigs know very well that when they want the other minerals and salt. Thus, guinea pigs always enjoy licking the salt to complete their diet or certain body requirements.
If your guinea pig has a healthy diet plan, then they will ignore the salt until they have a sodium weakness.
But, each guinea pig is different and can follow or chase a salt lick for many reasons apart from its nutritional requirements.
For example, some guinea pigs like the taste of the salt that’s why they lick the salt. Also, some of the guinea pigs take the salt as a treat. And, other guinea pigs treat the salt just like a cute toy to play with.
Your guinea pig can be selective. They can ignore or refuse the salt lick even if they need sodium. That can be due to the taste, smell, or texture of salt lick.
If it happens with your guinea pig, you can change the angles through different kinds of salt lick until you find the one with which your guinea pig is satisfied.
Or else, you can try to provide those foods to your guinea pigs, which contain salt to recompense for the gap in their diet.
Do guinea pigs need mineral chews?
The blocks of minerals are made up of various trace minerals, including iron, manganese, copper, zinc, and iodine, on the top of sodium chloride, which is present in the salt.
If your guinea pig is nourished with a good quality of food, it will not need the blocks of minerals.
Guinea pigs gain weight by consuming blocks of minerals. Those guinea pigs who have consumed mineral blocks gain weight as compared to those guinea pigs who have not consumed mineral blocks.
What minerals do guinea pigs need?
A guinea pig requires magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, sulfur, and chloride. Also, vitamin C is very crucial in the diet of your guinea pig.
Those guinea pigs who are young, pregnant, nursing, and sick require some more amount of vitamin C.
You can provide up to 50 mg of Vitamin C to your guinea pig every day.
Salt lick vs mineral chews
Whenever you look at the mineral blocks and salt, you will know that more products are labeled as the salt licks.
Many of the products labeled as salt licks have added minerals in the preparation of salt and mineral blocks. Technically this makes them mineral blocks.
The difference in terms or phraseology becomes problematic because the products are made up of rare pure salt.
Seeing the list of ingredients is the better way to find out what salt and mineral blocks contain.
Many of the products contain extra minerals. But still, you need to find those salt licks that only include sodium chloride.
Why do guinea pigs need salt licks
The salt licks are planned to deal with an imbalance of mineral requirements in guinea pigs. Some of the salt lick functions are here:
Need for nutrition
Sodium is essential in all the animal’s diet, but some of the foods don’t have a sufficient amount of salt. That frequently arises in the diets of those animals, which consist of grass hays and plants.
The salt includes many different types of nutrients and minerals. The purpose of salt includes stabilizing electrolytes and regulating the blood pressure and liquids in the body.
Wear Down the Teeth
Guinea pigs are liable to suffer dental problems, which will cause difficulties for your guinea pig. To wear down the teeth, salt lick can be the right choice.
Whenever you buy a salt lick for your guinea pig, you need to see the first thing: its ingredients, because all the salt licks are not the same.
Some of them are made up of pure salt, but many of them have added minerals. So, check the list of ingredients to make sure by yourself.
Have a look at the content of calcium. Calcium is an essential part of the diet of guinea pigs.
But, the quantity of calcium should be limited, or else it can create kidney stones. According to a study conducted by The National Academy of Science, average guinea pigs need 8 grams of calcium/Kg of their body weight.
Learn more: Calcium requirement of guinea pig and how to balance it
You need to consider how you will place the salt lick in the enclosure of your guinea pig. However, some salt licks provide the clips, strings, and hangers to attach it easily.
Source: Diet Composition and Mineral Balance in Guinea Pigs, Balance of nutrients in guinea pigs, sodium deficiency in the guinea pig.