So you’ve got a guinea pig, and you’re wondering what to feed it. Do they eat what rabbits eat? Or hamsters? Pigs? You find guinea pig food at the pet store, in lots of varieties. But which kind is best?
There are four staples to a guinea pig diet:
Water – Plenty of clean, cold water, is vital to health. You’ll want a water bottle that is simple to remove/replace for refilling, and one that is easy to see when the level is low. Our bottles have “floaters” inside them, so you can spot the level.
Pellets – You can buy guinea pig pellets at most pet stores. I would recommend timothy-based pellets that are dark green and uniform. Avoid pellet bags that contain dyed pieces in different shapes. As humans, we think, “oooh, variety…like Lucky Charms!” and we assume our pet will feel the same. No. An alfalfa or timothy-based pellet that is vitamin-C fortified is essential, and should be available to the guinea pigs at all times. Our guinea pigs have feeders that attach to the side of the cage. They prevent spills and don’t have to be refilled as often.
Hay – Guinea pigs need (and LOVE) hay daily. Hay helps keep their digestive systems “moving” and also keeps their teeth worn down, to prevent overgrowing. Timothy hay is probably your best choice, or alfalfa hay. You can also provide grass, dandelions, or clover that you pick from outside (as long as it has no pesticides or fertilizers).
Vegetables and Fruits – Guinea pigs love leafy-greens. Give vegetables that are dark green whenever possible. Guinea pigs also occasionally like fruits in small quantities, like apple or orange slices, etc. A variety of fruits and vegetables offered in addition to the hay and pellets makes for a good balanced diet. However, heavy on the greens, light on the fruits. (Broccoli is one exception, in that it can cause loose stools or gas. I’d avoid it.) Make sure the vegetables you offer aren’t spoiled or moldy. If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t give it to your pet!
IMPORTANT: Guinea pigs cannot manufacture vitamin C in their bodies, and so they will get scurvy if it isn’t provided amply in their diets. Most leafy green vegetables have vitamin C, and their pellets should be vitamin-C fortified. There are also vitamin C supplements available at most pet stores.