What Can My Guinea Pig Eat?

Fiber is the name of the game.

what can my guinea pig eat

If you recently became a guinea pig parent (or are considering becoming one), you may be wondering: What can guinea pigs eat?

Guinea pigs are fibrevores, which essentially means their diet is based on fiber. They’re also herbivores (those animals who eat plants only), but because fiber is so crucial to maintaining their health, “fibrevore” is the more precise description when it comes to a guinea pig’s diet.

But here’s the catch: Fiber exists in many different types of foods, and not all of those foods are ideal for your furry friend’s stomach.

From hay and pellets to fruits and veggies, we spoke to Kimie Smothermon, director of Guinea Pig Sanctuary, for more details on what guinea pigs can eat to maintain a healthy life.

What do guinea pigs eat?

Hay, hay and more hay.

Timothy hay is 90 percent of a guinea pig’s diet,” Smothermon told The Dodo. “Second-cut is generally recommended so that they are using their teeth enough to keep them at a good length. Botanical hay, meadow grass hay and other hays are considered 'treat hays,' which can be mixed with the Timothy hay for an added treat.”

And that’s not all. Pellets are also a part of a guinea pig’s daily diet. “Pellets should be given daily at 1/4 a cup per day,” Smothermon said. “Any brand of pellets can be used as long as they are guinea pig specific and molasses and alfalfa hay are not listed in the first three ingredients (they’re too rich in calcium).”

Interestingly, guinea pigs don’t make their own vitamin C, though there are several ways to make sure it’s a part of their diet (ideally, guinea pigs need 10–50 mg of vitamin C a day).

“You can give it in any of the following forms: Oxbow vitamin C cookies, ChildLife oral vitamin C, vitamin C drops for water, or red bell peppers,” Smothermon said, “Those are the most effective ways of making sure guinea pigs get enough vitamin C.”

What fruits can guinea pigs eat?

While fruit can be a great way to increase your guinea pig’s vitamin C intake, it should be considered a special treat and given sparingly (as in, a small bite once or twice a week). Most fruits are full of sugar and can easily lead to an obese guinea pig. Smothermon recommended Guinea Lynx’s food chart for guinea pigs, which offers a comprehensive list of fruits and vegetables for guinea pigs.

Apples, bananas and berries are considered safe, as well as “just about any fresh fruit except for high acid fruits like oranges, pineapples and tangerines,” Smothermon said.

What vegetables can guinea pigs eat?

Vegetables should be given at least once a day, but no more than a cup's worth. When recommending what vegetables to eat, Smothermon recommended referring to Guinea Lynx’s food chart.

In general, leafy greens like romaine lettuce and kale, as well as red or green peppers and broccoli (all high in vitamin C), should make up the majority of your guinea pig’s vegetable intake.

Smothermon said, “One-half of a cup of veggies in the morning and then the other half of a cup at night works best.”

Smothermon advised against potatoes, however. “Potatoes are a definite no as they are high in starch, which guinea pigs have a hard time digesting and processing.”

What can guinea pigs eat daily?

As mentioned above, Timothy hay and guinea pig-specific pellets should make up the majority of your guinea pig’s daily diet. In addition, you can serve a small portion of vegetables per day.

Smothermon suggests the following example for your guinea pig’s daily menu:

  • Morning: 1/2 cup of spring mix with a few pieces of celery
  • Mid-morning: Timothy hay
  • Afternoon: 1/4 cup of pellets
  • Mid-afternoon: Timothy hay with a treat hay topper
  • Evening: 1/2 cup of spring mix with two baby carrots and one cucumber slice
  • Before bed: Timothy hay

With a combination of hay, pellets, vegetables and fruit (as an extra-special treat), your guinea pig will enjoy a long and healthy life. Welcome to guinea pig pet parenthood!

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