How Do I Feed My Guinea Pigs?
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, they show their love to you with their affectionate way, and they rarely bite! This is why it’s ideal for your kid’s first pets and even older children.
Guinea pigs also don’t require too big space so you can place them in your child’s bedroom or even in your apartment. But remember, guinea pigs need exercise and space to move around and relax. So if you can get a bigger cage, get it. On top of that, they live up to 5-7 years, longer than hamsters and gerbils!
However, as any of the other living beings, 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 guinea pigs eat and not eat? Can guinea pigs eat hamster food? Find out below!
What Is The Best Food To Feed Guinea Pigs?
What should you feed your guinea pigs? Here below is the essential thing that should be on your guinea pig’s diet:
- Freshwater – 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 times for your guinea pigs. Choose Timothy hay because it’s high in fiber thus it’s great for their digestive system. Timothy hay is also low in calories and calcium. By feeding them hay, you will also satisfy your pet’s needs to gnaw and keeping their teeth healthy. How to pick a good quality Timothy hay? Good quality hay is green, it 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 and or a 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 leftover before it spoils!
- 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 pig! 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. To make sure their good health, you will need to give additional vitamin C daily in their diet. What happens if you don’t? 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 vitamin C. There’s also a vitamin C supplemental tablet on the market. If you are unsure, ask your vet.
- Commercial Guinea Pig Food—there are many commercial guinea pig foods on the market. How do you choose one? Pick the one that contains plenty of fiber and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). 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. Pellet with dried fruit is also not really recommended as they contain unnecessary calories.
What Can Guinea Pigs Eat and Not Eat?
Guinea Pig Wellness gave us a list of fruits and veggies that are high in nutritional benefits but also loveable! Keep in mind to avoid sudden major change in diet before you know how your guinea pigs tummy will react to the new food.
Here below is what 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
NEVER feed your Guinea Pig the following:
- 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, etc.)
- 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?
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. Hamster food can be a potential choking hazard for your guinea pigs. It’s better to feed them the one that is specially made for them.
Don’t forget that while hamsters can manufacture vitamin C on their own bodies, guinea pigs don’t. By feeding your guinea pigs hamster food, your pet will have a higher potential of not getting the sufficient amount of vitamin C that they need. Vitamin C is deficiency is destroying your guinea pig’s health and immunity.
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 freshwater, 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 here
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