Guinea pigs become bored with the same selection of feed every day and variation is one of the keys to a mentally stimulated and happy pet. So it is very important to give your guinea pigs an interesting and balanced diet for a variety of reasons, including their inability to produce Vitamin C as a species, the need to wear their teeth down, and the requirement for roughage as herbivores to contribute toward a healthy gut.
Guinea pigs require vegetables as part of their daily diet for two very good reasons. Firstly, guinea pigs are herbivores, and as a species, vegetation makes up a large part of their natural diet. Secondly, just like humans, they are unable to produce their own Vitamin C and they require vegetables containing Vitamin C as part of their diet to stay healthy.
All of the vegetables for your guinea pigs should be bought fresh from the market, wholesaler, or supermarket – not tinned or bottled – and then stored in the fridge.
Before offering any vegetables, remember to wash them to rinse away any soil or agricultural chemicals that may be present, and also remove all seeds and pips. Importantly, make sure the vegetables are fresh and not withering, limp or rotting.
The best combination you can offer is one that is varied and interesting and includes many different types of vegetable. Like humans, guinea pigs do become bored with the same diet day in and day out. As part of their daily vegetable diet, ensure you are offering at least one vegetable that contains Vitamin C on a daily basis.
Fruit, Vegetable and Herb Nutritional Guide
How to read the table
This is a very simple nutritional table designed to help you create your weekly menu at a glance. The menu should be varied and balanced according to the recommended frequency of feeding, marked with different colours in the table below.
For example, cabbage (spring greens) can be eaten up to 4 days a week. If cabbage (spring greens) are offered 4 days a week, you should not offer other vegetables also in this category. If you feed cabbage (spring greens) 2 days in a week, you could offer broccoli for 1 day and brussel sprouts another.
- Vitamin C: Guinea pigs do not produce their own Vitamin C, so they require a good amount of vegetables containing Vitamin C in their diet. Some vegetables high in Vitamin C can be given regularly throughout the week, however others will appear elsewhere in this section as being high in phosphorous or calcium, and therefore should be given in moderation.
- Calcium: Some calcium in the diet is essential for healthy bones and teeth, but too much calcium can cause problems. Bladder stones are calcium deposits that form when there is too much calcium present in the diet.
- Phosphorus: Too much phosphorous in the diet can cause guinea pigs to feel bloated and gassy.
What does “feed in moderation” mean?
When a fruit, vegetable or herb is listed as “feed in moderation” it means you need to give extra consideration to the quantity you feed it in. For example, vegetables also high in fat, sugar or that have a high water content should be balanced with others that don’t.
- Acid: A high acid content in the diet can cause mouth sores.
- Fat: Too much fat can cause unnecessary weight gain.
- Sugar: Too much sugar can upset the balance of flora in the gut, leading to the improper digestion of other foods.
- Water: A high water content in the diet can cause mouth sores and diarrhea.