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What we eat PDF Print E-mail
Written by Richard   
Tuesday, 19 June 2007

In the wild, guinea pigs live on grass, leaves, plant stems and seeds. Unlike our friends the rabbits, we are not strict herbivores, although it is quite rare to see a guinea pig eating anything other than vegetables or plants. Guinea pigs spend a lot of time eating, so need food available all the time.

Kept at home, we prefer to eat plenty of fresh hay and grass. One of the best things to do is use hay as our bedding, as it keeps us warm and gives us plenty to eat all the time. You should be aware that guinea pigs would eat all day if they can, so eating hay is not going to make us fat, unlike some of the dried food you can buy in pet shops. Dried food is a good supplement, especially when it is cold outside, but not in great quantities.

How much do we eat? As much as you give us, so you do have to be careful not to put too much in at one time. Natural foods such as hay are OK, because guinea pigs wont get fat on that.

You should be careful if you allow your guinea pigs to run around in your home, as they will chew on electric cables.

Water is important. We need clean, fresh water, preferably in a drip bottle with a stainless steel spouts. When we say guinea pigs will eat anything, we mean anything and that includes plastic. You need to keep the water free from algae, which can build up if the bottles aren’t kept clean.

Unlike rabbits, guinea pigs need vitamin C in our diet, so we do like lots of raw vegetables and fruit, such as carrots, lettuce and apples. You should make sure the food is washed, as sometimes the residue of pesticides used by the farmers can be left on the skin and may harm the guinea pig. Our friend the rabbit will eat the fruit and veg as well, but it isn’t quite as important to them.

Rodents’ teeth grow continually, so a diet of predominately hay will help to keep the teeth from getting too big. You might also consider cutting branches from trees such as the apple or willow. Rabbits and guinea pigs will gnaw these alike, and in addition to keeping the teeth down, will give something else to do.

There are a number of plants we guinea pigs cannot eat. It is true that pigs will usually avoid touching anything harmful, but you must be careful what you give us to eat, especially if you like to pick wild plants such as dandelions to give to us.

Dangerous plants include the bindweed, dog mercury, sorrel, dock, nightshade and ragwort. In addition, you shouldn’t give us acorns or leaves from the oak tree, nor should you give us yew or yew berries, as these are particularly poisonous. If you want to pick wild plants for us, it is worth buying a good wild plant book so you can be sure what you are picking. There are some plants poisonous to humans as well, such as the nightshade, so please be careful.

Having said that, we do like dandelions, (but not too many at once, as they make us urinate a lot). As well as dandelions, we like cow parsley, groundsel and clover. We like grass and will help to keep the lawn cut, but you shouldn’t give us grass cuttings from the lawn mower, as they can ferment and go bad in our stomachs.

Young guinea pigs will eat the same as adults from as early as two days old, although it is important to keep the diet mixed. Pregnant females will eat more than usual, as will nursing females, although you have to reduce the diet for nursing sows gradually. A little milk in a bowl will help.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 June 2007 )
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