Finding the right food for your Guinea Pigs is simple. Head to the pet store, grab a hay bag, pick up some pellets, and off you go. But after that, the instructions become a little unclear. In this beginners guide, we take a look at what your Guinea Pigs should eat, and avoid and the impact this has on their wellbeing.
Hay makes up around 70% to 75% of a Guinea Pigs diet. UNLIMITED hay should be available to your Guinea Pig, yes unlimited! Hay is vital to the guinea pig's digestive health and prevents obesity, diarrhoea, and dental diseases. Don't be conservative when dishing out the hay, a guinea pig will normally eat a pile of hay the size of its body each day.
Hay can be a great boredom breaker too! Piggies can spend hours playing, eating and sleeping in the hay and you will notice their excitement when that fresh delivery lands in their house.
If you're wondering what to buy, Timothy Hay is the most popular and readily available in common pet stores, but mixing in some other hay types can keep it interesting and encourage natural foraging. It is important to check the hay regularly and replace once soiled. We find putting an absorbent layer underneath the hay helps to keep it fresh for longer.
There are various products on the market that work as hay feeders or you might want to use a hay tray as a spacious container for your Guinea Pigs to forage.
Nuggets make up around 20% to 25% of a Guinea Pigs diet and just like hay, they should be available to your Guinea Pig in unlimited amounts. That's right, more UNLIMITED food. Lucky Piggies.
Choose nuggets/pellets designed especially for guinea pigs to ensure the food is enriched with key nutrients and essential vitamins such as vitamin C. Timothy hay-based pellets are recommended for the health benefits listed above, unless directed by your vet of course.
Avoid pellets with nuts, corn or seeds as guinea pigs struggle to digest these rich ingredients. Avoid nuggets that contain molasses, syrup or other sugary ingredients as they can lead to overeating and dental problems. If in doubt, never hesitate to reach out to a vet or small animal specialist for advice.
Try using a planner to set reminders and ensure you have enough food for your Guinea Pigs. You can also keep tabs on nail trims, health checks, cleaning schedules and more.
Fruits, Vegetables & Herbs
A mix of fruit, vegetables and herbs make up around 5% to 10% of a Guinea Pigs diet. A Guinea Pig should eat around one cup every day, be careful not to overfeed as too much of a good thing can be problematic.
There are some fruit, vegetables and herbs (or parts of them) that are unsuitable for Guinea Pigs to eat so it is important to do your research before feeding anything to your Guinea Pigs. Over time, we’ve found our piggies' favourites include; carrots, celery, cucumber, coriander and banana.
Guinea pigs love variety, so we also chop up a variety of fruit, vegetables and herbs and mix them up over time. Introduce new fruit, vegetables and herbs slowly in small amounts so you don't upset your Piggies stomach. Remember to remove uneaten fruit, vegetables and herbs from your Guinea Pigs' homes if uneaten before they spoil. This should be covered by your regular cleaning and spot checks which you can read about in our blog: Ensuring your Guinea Pigs can thrive inside
Treats are not essential for a Guinea Pigs diet but can be given on occasion, you know, as a treat! Treats can be perfect for hand feeding, interaction and bonding.
Look for treats with no added sugar, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and also rich in natural ingredients. Look for high fibre treats (hay-based) that can help support dental and digestive wellbeing.
Treats can be spread around (in small amounts) in your Guinea Pigs' home or amongst their Hay to encourage foraging behaviour. Do not feed your Guinea Pig human food or sweet treats such as yoghurt drops, nuts, seeds, popcorn and crackers. It can cause serious medical problems!
Fresh water should be available at all times and water should be replaced regularly if is not drunk by your guinea pigs. The water container, regardless of the type used, should be cleaned regularly. It is unnecessary to give Guinea Pigs any fluids other than water as fruit drinks will likely have a high sugar content and may be harmful if consumed.