What Do Guinea Pigs Eat? The Ultimate Guide For Beginners

What Do Guinea Pigs Eat

Your guinea pig is the cutest, youngest member at your dinner table. So, do you feed them whatever you’re eating? If you read my blog, you are serious about your guinea pig’s health and diet.

You want to feed them the right things. In this article, I’ve collected everything you need to know about what guinea pigs should eat and what foods could be hazardous for their health.

Daily feed for guinea pigs

Let’s start with the most important thing to keep in mind: guinea pigs are herbivores. An herbivore only eats plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables.

That means you can’t feed them all the things a human might eat. While guinea pigs can eat a variety of foods, they don’t always know what’s good for their gut. That’s where you come in.

For this reason, you need to be careful about providing them with a balanced diet with small, daily changes. Guinea pigs, like humans, don’t want to eat the same thing every day.

But part of their food can be served daily to ensure proper nutrition. Pellets, fruits, vegetables, and hay are the best options for daily food. Let’s explore these daily options first.

Pellets

Pellets can be given once a day. Guinea pigs cannot synthesize their own Vitamin C. Because of this, you should provide them with Vitamin C in their formulated pellets to decrease the risk of scurvy and other health problems. It’s best to serve them 1/8 cup every day.

Fruits & Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are great foods for your guinea pig. Limit their serving to one cup a day. Green vegetables like spinach, lettuce, etc can be served daily.

Keep veggies like sweet potatoes, carrots and zucchini to once or twice weekly. For fruits, it is recommended to select the smallest portion along with veggies as they are mostly acidic and high in sugar.

Hay as Timothy hay

Timothy hay can be served as much as you want daily, as long as it is fresh. It is important for their teeth growth and good gut, so make sure to give them hay daily. Also, Alfalfa hay is the best option for your guinea pig being high in calcium.

Water

Of course, your guinea pig needs constant access to clean water. Pay attention to their drinking habits and what they like. If they do not prefer an open bowl, provide them a clean bottle, and vice versa

Introducing New Food

It is recommended to introduce new fruits and vegetables gradually to prevent diarrhea. Every food that you introduce to their cage must be fresh, whether it’s food or water. Also, make sure you keep an eye on your guinea pigs’ stool to be aware of their gut’s health and how they are digesting new foods.

Can guinea pigs eat cucumber?

Believe it or not, guinea pigs absolutely love cucumbers. Cucumbers are fairly safe for your guinea pigs but they are not very rich and beneficial when it comes to nutritional values for your pet.

It is recommended to feed your guinea pigs with cucumber a few times a week. Also when the weather is a bit dry and rough, cucumbers can treat your cute pets with moisture as they contain 95% of water content.

Safe cucumber parts for your pet

Guinea pigs can eat cucumber’s skin, flesh, and even the seeds. Make sure you wash the cucumber thoroughly and cut into small cubes along with the skin so the little piggy can hold it easily and enjoy it.

Health benefits of cucumber for guinea pigs

Cucumbers can aid your guinea pigs healthy by:

  • Promoting a healthy weight; as they are low in calories
  • Staying hydrated
  • Providing carbs and proteins (in small amounts)
  • Having zero cholesterol (for healthy blood vessels and cardiovascular system)
  • Preventing scurvy
  • Lowering stress on the organs
  • Decreasing aches and pains

Nutritional values

Beyond the above benefits, cucumbers offer great nutritional value to your guinea pigs in the following ways:

  • 21% Vitamin K
  • 3% magnesium
  • 2% Vitamin B6
  • Contains 5% Vitamin C
  • Very low in fats
  • 2% Vitamin A
  • 3.6 grams carbohydrates
  • 0.7 grams of proteins
  • 1.7 grams of sugar (very low and good for guinea pigs’ digestion)

Can guinea pigs eat cabbage?

Wondering if introducing cabbage to your guinea pig’s diet plan is a good plan? The answer is: yes! You can add cabbage to their diet but take precautions.

Cabbage contains a very high amount of Vitamin C. This is indeed very good for your pet’s health and growth, but an excess amount of Vitamin C can cause severe gas and bloat.

Other than being rich in Vitamin C, cabbage is also a good source of phytochemicals and other essential vitamins and minerals.

Health benefits of cabbage for guinea pigs

Cabbage can aid your guinea pigs healthy by:

  • Providing a good amount of Vitamin C boosting the immune system of your guinea pigs
  • Providing other vitamins like Vitamin A and D for a longer life span
  • Benefiting hair growth by combining sulfur, calcium, magnesium, iron and other vitamins
  • Preventing inflammation due to amino acids
  • Improving eye function with Beta-carotene
  • Reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Helping in better bone and tooth growth

Nutritional values

Cabbage can offer great nutritional values to your guinea pigs in the following way:

  • 103 kJ (25 kcal) energy
  • 5.8 grams carbohydrates
  • 3.2 grams of sugars
  • 2.5 grams of dietary fiber
  • 0.1 grams of fat
  • 1.28 grams of protein
  • 4% calcium (40 mg)
  • 4% Iron (0.47 mg)
  • 3% Magnesium (12 mg)
  • 8% Manganese (0.16 mg)
  • 4% Phosphorus (26 mg)
  • 4% Potassium (170 mg)
  • 1% Sodium (18 mg)
  • Zinc present is 2% (0.18 mg)
  • Thiamine (B1) present is 5% (0.061 mg)
  • Riboflavin (B2) present is 3% (0.040 mg)
  • Niacin (B3) present is 2% (0.234 mg)
  • 4% Pantothenic acid (B5) (0.212 mg)
  • Vitamin B6 present is 10% (0.124 mg)
  • Folate (B9) present is 11% (43 μg)
  • Vitamin C present is 44% (36.6 mg)
  • Vitamin K present is 72% (76 μg)

Can guinea pigs eat cilantro?

Absolutely yes! Guinea pigs can eat cilantro — a very nutritious herb. Guinea pigs love munching on cilantro leaves. Cilantro, also known as “Coriander”, is one of the safest herbs to give your little munchkin. You are free to add very small portions to every meal.

Cilantro contains a good blend of essential nutrients and minerals like phosphorus, calcium, vitamin C, etc. Beyond this, some macronutrients like proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are also found in cilantro. But while it is safe, it is not recommended to feed your guinea pig excessive cilantro. Doing so could cause serious side effects.

Health benefits of cilantro for guinea pigs

Cilantro benefits guinea pigs by promoting:

  • The overall general health of your piggy due to the high number of powerful antioxidants
  • Good heart condition
  • Detoxification
  • Food poisoning prevention
  • Effective growth with the help of micronutrients (proteins, fats, carbs)
  • Lower obesity rate
  • Good digestion from dietary fibers
  • Strong bones and teeth with the help of Vitamin K and A
  • Sharp eye-sight
  • Healthy pregnancy
  • Strong immune system
  • Prevents extreme toxicity
  • Effective metabolic system

Nutritional values

Beyond the above-mentioned benefits, cilantro can offer great nutritional values to your guinea pigs:

  • 23 calories per serving
  • 0.5 grams of fat
  • 0% cholesterol
  • 2.8 grams of dietary fibers
  • 46 mg sodium
  • 521 mg potassium
  • 3.7 grams carbohydrates
  • 0.9 grams of sugar
  • 2.1 grams of protein
  • 134% vitamin A
  • 45% vitamin C
  • 6% calcium
  • 9% iron
  • 5% vitamin B6
  • 6% magnesium

Can guinea pigs eat lettuce?

There is a variety of lettuce out there to feed your guinea pigs. Below are some healthy and not-so-healthy lettuces for your pet:

Iceberg lettuce

While most lettuces make for a delicious salad option for your guinea pig, iceberg lettuce is not one of them. Iceberg lettuce is dangerous for guinea pigs as it can cause diarrhea and carries no nutritional values.

Romaine lettuce

You can offer your piggy Romaine lettuce — one of the best lettuce options. This type of lettuce contains a low amount of calcium as compared to other lettuce types, but it’s high in vitamin C. Romaine lettuce also provides prevention of bladder stones.

Red lettuce

Red leaf lettuce isn’t a terrible option for your guinea pig, but the vitamin C content in this lettuce is less than in romaine. The calcium content is about equal to Romaine lettuce. Because of this, you can feed your pig larger portions of red leaf lettuce compared to other types.

Green leaf lettuce

This type of lettuce is a healthier option for your guinea pig. But again, it’s not as nutritious as romaine lettuce is — though better than iceberg lettuce. Green leaf lettuce is high in vitamin C, but lower than romaine lettuce’s vitamin C content.

It is recommended to feed your guinea pigs in low to moderate amounts of green leaf lettuce.

Tango lettuce

Tango lettuce (also known as “curly leaf lettuce”) is a bit controversial as it lacks any authentic nutritional information, making its recommendation for guinea pigs doubtful. Although they are not a very toxic vegetable, the very high calcium content can be risky for your piggy.

Butter lettuce

Butter lettuce (also known as “Boston butter-head lettuce”) is not on the dangerous side for guinea pigs but not very healthy either.

It contains more calcium compared to green leaf lettuce but less vitamin C than either romaine and green leaf lettuce. Its nutritional value is fairly similar to red leaf lettuce.

The fun-fact about butter lettuce is that your guinea pig may find it attractive due to leaf texture and thickness. You can offer it to them as a treat once a week.

LETTUCE TYPE

CALCIUM/OUNCE

Iceberg lettuce 5.0 mg
Romaine lettuce 9.2mg
Red lettuce 9.2mg
Green leaf lettuce 10.1mg
Tango lettuce
Butter lettuce 9.8mg

Can guinea pigs eat celery?

Yes! Celery and guinea pigs are a great match, but this perfect match does not mean that celery can be given on a regular basis. This is due to the high amount of oxalates present in celery. Oxalates are naturally occurring compounds that can increase the chances of kidney and bladder stones in guinea pigs.

If your guinea pig does not have a history of kidney stones, then celery is a good option. But if there is some history related to kidney and bladder stones, it is safe not to give them celery. It is a good source of vitamin C, and guinea pigs love their leaves (as compared to the stalks) — but celery should only be offered as an occasional treat.

Can guinea pigs eat strawberries

Strawberries are a high source of vitamin C, but contains 5% sugar too. This combination is safe to offer your guinea pigs in small portions. As strawberry is a fruit, it is always recommended to feed guinea pigs with smaller portions of fruits along with vegetables.

Can guinea pigs eat strawberry leaves?

Strawberries should be given as an occasional treat, and the top leafy part should be included in the meal. Guinea pigs like strawberries with the leaves intact, and they’re beneficial as well. Always thoroughly wash strawberry leaves before serving.

Can guinea pigs eat blueberries?

Blueberries, another sugar-rich and high in vitamin C fruit, can also be given to guinea pigs but again as an occasional treat. High sugar content is not a friend to guinea pigs — better not to exceed 2 to 3 blueberries in a week. Blueberries also contain a good amount of calories, protein, carbs and Vitamin K.

Can guinea pigs eat cauliflower?

Guinea pigs like cauliflower, but keep the portions to moderate levels. It contains minerals, vitamins, fiber, and phytonutrients, and so it’s a good option to add variety to a balanced diet. It’s good to give a small portion of raw Cauliflower once a week. Cauliflower is a rich source of vitamin C.

Can guinea pigs eat avocado?

Do not feed your guinea pigs avocado!

Avocados are highly toxic for guinea pigs, so the answer is big NO! Apart from the fact that avocado is a rich, exotic fruit having vitamins, fatty acids, and amino acids, they are very high in fats which make them toxic for guinea pigs.

They can cause gut issues and weight gain along with intestinal malfunction. If the avocado is given in very small amounts, then it may not be risky, but it is better to avoid offering to your sensitive pet.

I think it was just one time that I offered avocado to my guinea pigs — but it wasn’t a good idea.

Can guinea pigs eat zucchini?

Zucchini is one of the most-loved veggies by guinea pigs. Just make sure to remove the skin You can feed them 100g (two small chunks) of zucchini per day.

Can guinea pigs eat brussels sprouts?

Brussels sprouts are a type of cabbage that is good for guinea pigs without a doubt. Brussels sprouts should be given in moderate amounts and not on a daily basis. They are a great source of antioxidants, and they help in:

  • Digestion
  • Growth
  • Maintaining sugar levels
  • Repairing and growing tissue

They are rich in dietary fibers, vitamin A, K, and C, folate, iron, potassium, magnesium, thiamine, oxalate acid, manganese, etc. Phosphorous and oxalate acid are not recommended to give in high amounts to your piggy.

Can guinea pigs eat apples?

Any type of apple can be given to your cute pet, as long as it is fully ripe and not sour. Guinea pigs do not like sour apples Also, make sure you don’t serve them with any apple seeds as they are a choking hazard and can be toxic.

Apple seeds are toxic to guinea pigs because they contain cyanide. Cyanide is a chemical that is very hazardous for your piggy’s digestive system. Apple skin can also be given to them but again in low portion as it is rich in fiber.

Can guinea pigs eat peas?

Peas are very rich in vitamin C and healthy for guinea pigs. They aid healthy development, containing a considerable amount of acids, phosphorous, calcium, etc.

Peas should be given only once a week. Peas are a fruit developed from an ovary in the flower, but from a culinary point of view, it is said to be a vegetable.

They should be served raw and in their pods. They are a good source of calories, fat, proteins, iron, etc. I wrote a whole article about feeding peas to your guinea pig.

What should guinea pigs never eat?

Guinea pigs can eat a lot of foods in moderate to low amounts, but there are certain foods that you should never feed them. Below is a list of those foods that guinea pigs cannot eat:

  • Pickled foods
  • Pasta
  • Any kind of meat
  • Chocolates
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Dairy
  • Anything with high sugar
  • Biscuits and bread
  • Mushrooms
  • Daffodils
  • Garden shrubs
  • Grains, nuts, seeds
  • Corn
  • Beans
  • Sweet peas
  • Onion grass and onions
  • Beetroot
  • Potatoes
  • Foxglove
  • Garlic
  • Anything with varnishes, paints, dyes or glue

What do guinea pigs drink?

There is no lengthy list for drink options that are recommended for your guinea pig. These cute creatures are one-drink-lovers and that one drink love for guinea pigs is: water.

They usually drink 3.3 ounces of water daily. This amount may vary with temperatures, and they’ll drink more in drier weather.

Guinea pigs cannot survive without water. They like clean, room temperature water, renewed throughout the day. Water bottles and bowls are both good options for your cuties but make sure the bottles are clog-free and that their bowl won’t tip.

What do guinea pigs eat in the wild?

Wild guinea pigs are strictly vegetarian. Guinea pigs living in grasslands and mountains enjoy eating:

  • Hay
  • Flowers
  • Clover (as a special treat)
  • Leaves
  • Mustard greens
  • Bell peppers
  • Kale
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Wild plants like Chickweed and Dandelion leaves

Wild guinea pigs drink less water when they eat moist foods in the wild.

Vitamin C rich foods for guinea pigs:

I discussed several foods above that contain a high amount of Vitamin C and are good for guinea pigs. They include:

  • Vegetables (dark leafy ones, cabbage, cauliflower, bell peppers, broccoli, certain squashes)
  • Fruits (orange peel, strawberries, blueberries, mango, kiwi, etc)
  • Pellets (a pellet formula with added vitamin C)

Herbs that guinea pigs can eat

Wondering if herbs are a safe option to feed your guinea pig? Luckily, guinea pigs can safely eat the majority of herbs with few exceptions. But keep in mind that herbs should always be offered in moderate amounts.

Below is a list of herbs with healthy and harmful benefits for your cute piggy:

Healthy Ones:

  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Arugula (rocket salad)
  • Endive
  • Dill

All these herbs are recommended to give in moderate to low amounts.

Harmful Ones

  • Chamomile
  • Chives
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Tarragon
  • Marjoram
  • Lavender
  • Fennel

While many of the above herbs are still not labeled as good or bad for your guinea pig, it’s good to avoid them for the sake of your little pal’s health.

For more tips and tricks on how to care for guinea pigs, subscribe to my newsletter to get all our cool updates. If you have any questions, feel free to comment and share your experiences below!