Guinea pigs are furry little rodents that only eat plants. A well-balanced diet with lots of hay is essential for these pets as they are prone to stomach issues, diarrhea, obesity, or dental issues. Guinea pigs enjoy routines, therefore feeding should always take place at the same time every day.
Guinea pigs are herbivores which means that they only eat plants. They eat hay, grasses, plants, herbs, seeds, bark, twigs, vegetables, and fruits, and in captivity also pelleted guinea pig food.
In the following, you will find information on what guinea pigs eat, and what they should not eat. It will help you to provide a perfectly balanced diet for your beloved pet.
What Do I Feed My Guinea Pig?
Pet guinea pigs are usually fed with hay, fresh vegetables and fruits, pelleted food, and occasional treats.
Guinea pigs have teeth that grow throughout their lives. That means that they need to keep gnawing on things such as hay, bark, or wood in order to keep their teeth at a healthy length. This is one of the reasons why it is essential for guinea pigs to have access to hay at all times.
The other reason is, that guinea pigs are prone to digestive issues. They need to keep chewing and eating hay to keep their digestive system healthy and running.
The hay needs to be dry, fresh, high-quality, and clean. It should smell a little sweet and never moldy or wet. If you open a package and it smells weird, or it feels not as dry as it should, don’t feed it to your pet.
A good hay option for adult guinea pigs of the age of 6 months and older is Timothy hay. Other good options are orchard grass and bluegrasses.
Timothy hay can be acquired online or in pet stores. Kaytee is a brand that offers high-quality Timothy hay for pets:
For guinea pigs under 6 months and females that are pregnant or nursing, Alfalfa is a good option. This hay type contains a higher amount of calcium than the other types of hay, which is great for the bones.
Alfalfa hay can be found online and in local pet stores. Oxbow is a brand that offers high-quality Alfalfa hay:
It article is about hay for chinchillas, but since guinea pigs and chinchillas biologically belong to the same family, the facts also apply to guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs are messy eaters and they tend to scatter the hay around everywhere in the enclosure. If you prefer to prevent that kind of a mess, you can use a hay rack, such as this one:
There are also options that include both a hay rack and a bowl for pellets, like this product:
The pellets for guinea pigs are often made of Timothy hay. They provide additional vitamin C to the guinea pigs’ diet.
Guinea pigs are not able to create vitamin C in their bodies, therefore they need to be supplemented via pellets. The pellets should be specifically made for guinea pigs and should be uniform pellets.
There are colorful food mixed on the market that might look great and fancy, and might even provide a well-balanced diet.
But the issue with these mixed packages is that guinea pigs never eat all of them. They will pick out their favorite pieces, leave the rest in the bowl, and wait for a refill. The result is an unbalanced diet.
Guinea pigs should have one small hand full of pellets per individual per day. An empty bowl does not mean that they need more. Unlike hay, guinea pigs do not need a constant supply of pellets at all times.
Here are options for pelleted guinea pig food made of Timothy hay by Oxbow and Kaytee:
Fresh Vegetables and Fruits
Guinea pigs love their daily supply of fresh vegetables and occasional fruits. They need lots of vitamin C, therefore a good handful of fresh veggies per guinea pig per day is a good amount for your pets.
If you notice diarrhea, reduce the amount of fresh food a bit for a few days and observe your guinea pigs if they feel better with fewer veggies.
All fresh vegetables and fruits have to be washed thoroughly to remove any dirt and especially pesticides. Cut the vegetables and fruits into smaller pieces that your guinea pigs can handle.
You can feed them celery, carrots, cucumber, raw broccoli, artichoke leaves, red cabbage in moderation, chicory, pak choi, asparagus, or sweet peppers.
There are also several herbs that are safe for guinea pigs such as basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, mint, coriander, and dill.
Fruits are also a good source of vitamin C but contain more sugar. Therefore fruits are good, but vegetables are much better.
You can offer your pets apples, strawberries, watermelon, blueberries, or bananas. Fruits can be used as treats for your pets.
What Treats Can I Give My Guinea Pig?
Treats should be given occasionally and not as part of their diet.
Treats should never be the main part of the diet. Some treats that can be acquired for guinea pigs contain artificial colors or even sugar or salt which is not healthy for guinea pigs.
You can also offer your pets chew toys such as wooden chew sticks or fruits as treats.
What Food is Toxic for Guinea Pigs?
Guinea pigs are herbivores and should not be fed with anything that is not a plant such as meat, fish, dairy products, or any human food products such as chocolate, sweets, cookies, pizza, etc.
But there are also several plants that guinea pigs should not eat. Reasons can be ingredients that are toxic for guinea pigs, or a high amount of fat or sugar. Here is a (non-exclusive) list of vegetables that a guinea pig should not eat:
Avocado, garlic, iceberg lettuce, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, and chives
There are also many houseplants that are toxic to animals. Never let a pet nibble on any house plant. This can not only harm them but actually kill them.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cheese?
Guinea pigs cannot eat cheese. They are herbivores, which means that they only feed on plants. Cheese is a dairy product, processed by humans, and should not be part of a guinea pigs diet.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂