Guinea pigs, like rabbits are herbivores and develop food preferences early in life. It’s important to provide guinea pigs with a proper balanced diet because like humans, guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C. Pellets, hay and fresh vegetables should be majority of your guinea pigs diet, with some treats thrown in on the rare occasion. Sudden changes can result in a refusal to eat. Any modifications to the diet should be made gradually. The most critical aspect of the diet of guinea pigs is their requirement for vitamin C. Apart from that, the key to a healthy diet in a guinea pig is unlimited amounts of oaten hay, supplemented with pellets and vegetables.
“Oaten hay is critical not only to help wear down the continual growth of their teeth, but also to keep the bacteria in their intestinal tract healthy.”
Not all hay is created equal. In fact, it varies greatly according to plant type, quality, growing region, and intended use.
A good quality grassy, barley or oaten hay should make up 80% of your guinea pigs diet. Hay is high in fibre, necessary for their digestive systems to function and it helps guinea pigs to grind back their teeth, to help prevent the development of possible dental issues. Guinea pigs under 12 months old can have lucerne hay, however the calcium content in lucerne hay is too high for older piggies. Once your guinea pig is over 12 months old, we recommend switching to an oaten hay. It’s essential to ensure the hay is stored in a dry, cool place to minimise the chances of it becoming stale or mouldy and therefore no longer suitable for your piggies' delicate digestive system.
Hay and water should be available for your guinea pigs at all times. Keep hay off the floor to avoid it from being soiled by your piggies' urine since guinea pigs can’t and won’t eat soiled hay. You can put it in a guinea pig hay feeder like a hay rack, a cardboard box, or any other method you can think of!
Timothy hay is a popular choice among guinea parents. Its’ fragrant smell and taste makes it a guinea pig favourite as well! Not only does Timothy hay provide the right balance of fibre, fat, and protein for our piggies, it is also easy to find in most stores It is composed of the stem, leaf, and seed head of Timothy-grass. Guinea pigs can get lots of vitamins and minerals from the leaves while munching on the stem helps wear down guinea pig's teeth. Many consider Timothy hay to be the best hay for guinea pigs given the balance of nutrients, however, it is a very expensive option and often imported from overseas.
Oat hay is packed with nutrition, an excellent source of fibre and benefits little chompers. Oat hay is tough and yellowish in colour with more hollow stalks than the traditional Timothy. Don’t be surprised if oat hay leads to lighter-coloured poops.
The best part about oat hay is the yummy oats attached; it’s built in hidden treasure. The oats are by far the favourite part for most small animals. Oat hay can vary widely in appearance and oat content, depending on the harvest season; new harvests are generally packed with tasty oats. The distinct taste makes this a treat hay for most rabbits and guinea pigs. It’s good for adult animals in need of extra fibre and good for the those little critters with Timothy allergies, too! Watch out, though. Oat hay is full of fibre and protein, but is also higher in fat. The added nutrients could be beneficial to sick piggies, but always consult your vet first.
What vegetables should I feed my guinea pig for vitamin C?
Vitamin C should be given each day. Hay should be offered free-choice throughout the day. Hay and pellets should be supplemented with a variety of fresh, well-washed, leafy greens or coloured vegetables (especially those high in vitamin C, such as bell pepper, tomato, and asparagus). Other good choices for vegetables include green and red leaf lettuce, Romaine lettuce, endive, kale, celery, cilantro, parsnip, zucchini, carrot, and squash. Fruits like berries, banana, apples, grapefruit, oranges, pars and pineapples should be fed sparingly 1-2 times per week. Avoid feeding avocado, potatoes, iceberg lettuce, onions, chives, mushrooms, rhubarb and eggplant to your guinea pigs.
How much love do guinea pigs need?
Guinea pigs need time out of their cage every day. Whether this time is spent stretching their legs and exploring new environments or cuddling in your lap, daily interaction and attention are essential for a guinea pig's well-being.
Guinea pigs need to be groomed regularly. Shorthaired breeds can be maintained with a once-a-week brushing while longhaired breeds require daily grooming.
A guinea pig's cage should be thoroughly cleaned on a weekly basis and spot-cleaned every few days.
Does size matter?
Guinea pigs are one of the largest rodents kept as pets and yet their typical cage is only marginally roomier than housing for much smaller relatives like hamsters and gerbils.
While small animal cages often utilise vertical space to increase living area and encourage climbing, digging and burrowing, guinea pigs rely on floor space. Ramps and platforms at low heights provide variety, but guinea pigs need room to exercise, even with daily playtime outside of the cage.
The following guidelines are useful to determine the space needed for guinea pigs:
One guinea pig: 7.5 square feet cage (minimum), but more is better; generally 30" x 36" is a good size.
Two guinea pigs: 7.5 square feet (minimum), but 10.5 square feet is preferred; generally 30" x 50" is a good size.
Three guinea pigs: 10.5 square feet (minimum), but 13 square feet is preferred; generally 30" x 62" is a good size.
Four guinea pigs: 13 square feet (minimum), but more is better; generally 30" x 76" is a good size.