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Feeding Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are grazers and they love eating a wide variety of food such as grass, dry food, hay and some types of fruits and vegetables. Guinea pigs need quite a varied diet with some specific foods, primarily because they’re unable to manufacture their own vitamin C (like humans).

Guinea pig eating lettuce

Guinea pigs are herbivores, which means they only eat plant matter. They can eat quite a wide variety of foodstuffs, but be a bit careful as they often don’t know what’s good for them. Many a pet has had a very upset stomach (or worse!) after eating something they shouldn’t.

What Do They Eat?

Lush green grass is a favourite food of guinea pigs the world over. If you ever keep your guinea pigs indoors, pushing a handful of this into their hutch will produce the most excited sounds you’ll ever hear. A nice handful of lush, thick grass is a great addition to your guinea pigs’ diet, but be sure to check it for dangerous plants, and not to give them mowings. Mowings can contain fungus and well-disguised poisonous plants, as well as having the capacity to cause the potentially fatal condition known as bloat.

This should always be freely available to your guinea pigs, in their special bottle. It’s wise to use a proper guinea pig water bottle rather than a loose bowl, for reasons both of hygiene and clumsiness - if you try to give your guinea pigs a water bowl, they’ll either sit in it or tip it over and get it all over their nice dry house.
Their bottle will need to be cleaned often, as food from their cheeks often goes back up the spout and mills around in the water. You’ll need to rinse it out and give it a scrub regularly.

Hay is incredibly important for guinea pigs and they should never be without it. Not only is it a comfy bed but they eat a lot of it every day in order to give their stomachs some roughage for digestion.

Dry Food
There are lots of excellent options for your guinea pigs available in any good pet shop. If you’re worried your guinea pigs aren’t getting enough vitamin C then there are dry food options that have some supplements, but this has a short shelf life so it’s not a substitute for lots of fresh veg. You'll need to give your guinea pigs fresh dry food every day, and you’ll likely need to clean out their bowl once a week – otherwise it can get a bit mashed, wet and dirty.

Fresh Fruits And Vegetables
These are essential to any guinea pig diet. You’ll need to give them plenty of fresh vegetables so that they can get all the nutrients they need, like the all-important vitamin C. Salad vegetables should be given in moderation, as these are mostly water and don’t contain enough energy and nutrients to be a staple of your pets’ diet. Each guinea pig will need about a cup of fresh vegetables a day, with the occasional piece of fruit on the side. Be a little sparing with fruit, as it’s quite acidic, and too much can cause sores to form around your guinea pig’s mouth.

Fruit & Veg List

  • Carrots
  • Sweetcorn (include the leaves)
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Pea Pods
  • Cauliflower leaves
  • Kohlrabi, Swede
  • Peppers (remove seeds)
  • Beetroots (skinned)
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Parsnips, Turnips
  • Kale
  • Sprout stalks

One of the most important things for a guinea pig’s diet is vitamin C. Like humans, they can’t manufacture this themselves and so they need to eat enough of this every day in order to stave off infection and remain fit and healthy.

As well as vitamin C, there a variety of other nutrients guinea pigs need to survive. In order to adequately provide for your guinea pig we suggest offering less of the salad-like foods such as lettuce, cucumber and peppers, and focus instead on foods such as carrot and broccoli.

Guinea pig eating a carrot

Guinea Pig Treats

Some guinea pigs prefer pet shop treats which often contain special nuts or honey, which is a rare treat for your pet. Others will prefer fruits or vegetables that they rarely get to munch on. Although it’s lovely to see your pet enjoying something, treats are occasional. Be careful not to give them too many, too often, in case your guinea pig gets a bit too tubby!

Other guinea pigs really enjoy hunting for their treats in specially made guinea pig toys. You can buy wooden toys that your guinea pigs can have fun trying to gnaw or break their way into, in order to reach the tasty treat inside. This way, the guinea pigs gets stimulation, exercise and a tasty reward.

guinea pigs feeding from a treat caddi

Safe Wild Plant Matter

guinea pigs love grass
  • Blackberry stems
  • Clover
  • Dandelion leaves (in moderation as it's a guinea pig laxative)
  • Grass (daisy and buttercup free, and not mowings as this could have mould)
  • Plantains
  • Sow thistle (not with a woody stem)
  • Shepherd's purse
  • Trefoils

What Guinea Pigs SHOULD NOT Eat 

Poisonous or harmful common fruits and vegetables (non-exhaustive)

  • Avocado
  • Coconut
  • Potatoes
  • Potato tops
  • Rhubarb
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Tomato leaves
  • Edibles grown from bulbs

Poisonous or harmful common garden matter (non-exhaustive)

  • Acasia
  • Aconite
  • Beech
  • Bindweed
  • Buttercups
  • Celandine
  • Cherry Trees
  • Clematis
  • Columbine
  • Daffodils
  • Daisies
  • Deadly Nightshade
  • Delphinium
  • Dock leaves
  • Elder
  • Foxgloves
  • Gypsophilia
  • Hellebores
  • Hemlock
  • Honeysuckle
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Horsetails
  • Hyacinth
  • Irises
  • Ivy
  • Laburnum
  • Larkspur
  • Laurel
  • Lenten Rose
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Lobelia
  • Lords & Ladies
  • Love in a Mist
  • Plants grown from bulbs
  • Poppies
  • Privet
  • Rhododendron
  • Scarlet Runner
  • Snowdrops
  • Yew Trees


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