This means you will have to replenish their supply once they have eaten it. As grazing herbivores guinea pigs require hay as roughage in their diet to keep their guts in good working order. Hay is also a useful method of wearing down teeth.
There are a few different types of hay designed to be given to guinea pigs in different situations. Unfortunately, a lot of pet shops currently give out incorrect advice when selling hay and this leads to an incorrect diet.
- Alfalfa – To be on given on a regular basis only to pregnant sows and pups. Older guinea pigs must not be given this hay as part of a regular diet because the level of calcium in this particular hay is very high, although some extra calcium is an advantage for pups and pregnant sows. Too much calcium can cause bladder stones, which in turn can cause urethral blockage, pain, infection and bleeding. Adults may have alfalfa as an extremely occasional treat.
- Meadow Hay – Meadow hay should make up the bulk of your guinea pigs’ diet. This hay is commonly found in bags and bales in pet shops, garden centres and equestrian suppliers, and is suitable for all guinea pigs from a young age. As a general rule, the greener the hay the more tasty it is to your guinea pig!
- At certain times of the year, such as high summer when the heat is great and there is very little rain, meadow hay can sometimes be in short supply. If you have a small amount of guinea pigs, or just one or two, this shouldn’t be a problem. However if you keep many guinea pigs, it pays to have more than one supplier you can turn to should a hay shortage occur.
- Meadow hay can take a few different forms, usually depending on the time of year and the location of your supplier. Usually your meadow hay will be just like you imagine hay to be, while other times it may be almost like straw, rather brown, or even extremely similar to grass. My guinea pigs enjoy the grassy meadow hay more than any other variety.
- Timothy Hay – Given in the same way as Meadow Hay, Timothy Hay is another excellent part of a regular guinea pig diet and is also very tasty. I find Timothy Hay to be more expensive than Meadow Hay and only available in bags, so I tend to give it as a treat rather than a dietary requirement.