Did you have guinea pigs as your pet when you were little? Or are you planning on getting them now?
Those bundles of joy and love are popular for many reasons! Guinea pigs are docile and friendly, show their love to you in affectionate ways, and they rarely bite!
This is why they are ideal as your kid’s first pet or even for older children.
Guinea pigs also don’t require a big space so you can place them in your child’s bedroom or even in your HDB flat.
But remember, they need exercise and space to move around and relax. So, if you can get a bigger cage, go for it. On top of that, they live up to 5-7 years, longer than hamsters and gerbils!
However, like any other living being, we have to know how to take care of them by knowing their daily and long-term needs. If you are thinking of getting one, you should understand their diet.
What is the best food to feed guinea pigs? What can they eat and not eat? Can guinea pigs eat hamster food? Find out below!
What Is the Best Food to Feed Guinea Pigs?
We want the best food for our guinea pigs, so what should you feed them?
Here below is the essential food that should be on your guinea pig’s diet:
- Fresh Water: fresh water should be available daily. You can give your guinea pigs water with a heavy ceramic bowl or a water bottle that you put on the side of the cage. Don’t forget to change the water every day and clean your bowl or bottle at least once a week.
- Fresh Hay: there should be unlimited amounts of hay all the time. Choose Timothy hay because it’s high in fibre and hence great for their digestive system. It is also low in calories and calcium. Feeding them hay also satisfies your pet’s needs to gnaw and keep their teeth healthy. Good quality hay is green, feels dry, smells fresh and sweet. Don’t choose Alfalfa hay because it is very high in calories and calcium. Unless your guinea pigs are underweight or nursing pigs, pick Timothy over Alfalfa.
- Fresh Vegetables: offer your guinea pigs a small amount of fresh leafy greens every day. You can feed them two or three times a day in a small amount. Don’t forget to clean the leftovers before they spoil!
- Fresh Fruit: who doesn’t love a good piece of fruit? We do! And your guinea pigs would love to have some too! However, be careful not to overfeed them because the fruit is high in sugar. Eating sugary food may lead to overweight guinea pigs! Limit their fruit intake by giving them 1-2 tablespoons per 2 pounds of body weight.
- Vitamin C: guinea pigs can’t make their own Vitamin C in their bodies. This condition makes it common for them to be nutritionally deficient/lacking in Vitamin C. You need to give them additional Vitamin C daily in their diet. A lack of Vitamin C can make your guinea pigs have a rough coat, lack of appetite, diarrhea, lameness, pain, delayed wound healing, and it’s easier for them to get a bacterial infection. You can avoid this by giving fruit and veggies that are high in the vitamin. There are also Vitamin C supplemental tablets available. If you are unsure, ask your vet.
- Commercial Guinea Pig Food: there are many commercial guinea pig foods in the market. How do you choose one? Pick the one that contains plenty of fibre and Vitamin C. Don’t feed your guinea pig more than ¼ cup of pellets per day. Avoid the one with many seeds or nuts as they can be a choking hazard. Pellets with dried fruit are not recommended as they contain unnecessary calories.
What Can Guinea Pigs Safely Eat?
Guinea pigs are herbivores that love to eat certain fruits and vegetables. We have compiled this list full of vegetables and fruits that are nutritious for them!
Introduce new food to your guinea pigs slowly to avoid a sudden major change in diet. Different guinea pigs react differently to new food in their diets.
Food That Guinea Pigs Can Eat:
- Red pepper (or green/yellow pepper. Red has the highest vitamin C concentration)
- Carrots – both the root and the green tops are perfectly safe for your guinea pig.
- Apples – (not the seeds!)
- Leafy greens like red lettuce, romaine, Boston lettuce
- Green beans
- Dandelion greens
- Oranges or clementines
- Dandelion greens
- Parsley – either curly or flat
What Should You Not Feed a Guinea Pig?
- Any type of cabbage
- Potato peelings
- Raw, hard kidney beans, split peas, pinto beans, etc
- Shelled nuts or seeds, ( sunflower seeds or ‘birdseed’ type mixes, pumpkin seeds, peanuts)
- Any type of meat or fish
- Dairy products – don’t buy the ‘yogurt drops’ and other dairies ‘treats’, they are not healthy to feed and can actually cause problems. Feed natural treats like fruits and veggies
- Chocolate, coffee, or other caffeine-containing products
Never give your guinea pig human food, especially candy, caffeinated and carbonated beverages, or sticky foods (such as taffy and peanut butter) as they cannot digest them properly and could become very ill.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Hamster Food?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat hamster food, but it is not recommended as they are nutritionally different. Hamster food is also made of nuts, acorns, seeds, and other crunchy foods.
It can be a potential choking hazard as well. It’s better to feed them food that is specially made for them.
Don’t forget that while hamsters can produce Vitamin C in their own bodies, guinea pigs cannot.
By feeding it hamster food, your pet will have a higher potential of getting insufficient Vitamin C that they need.
Vitamin C deficiency can destroy your guinea pig’s health and immunity.
How Often Should You Feed Guinea Pigs?
You can stick to a daily schedule, twice daily, once in the morning and in the evening.
If given the opportunity, guinea pigs tend to overeat, so you should get rid of pelleted food that remains uneaten after an hour and uneaten fresh fruits and vegetables after 24 hours to prevent obesity.
How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Food?
An average healthy guinea pig should avoid going without food for more than 8 hours. Even though they will not starve, they might develop health problems.
On the other hand, they can go up to 24 hours without water.
Getting to Know Each Other
The first 30 days are often the most challenging as you and your new guinea pig get to know each other.
Some pigs adapt quickly to their new home, while others may need a few days of alone time to get settled in. Remember to be gentle, loving, and reassuring to your new furry friend.
Take care of them by giving them the right diet. There should be fresh water, fresh hay, fresh fruits and veggies, Vitamin C, and pellets.
If you want to buy a good quality pellet that your guinea pig needs, click guinea pig food.