Can guinea pigs eat bananas?
Can guinea pigs eat apples? Can guinea pigs eat grapes? Can guinea pigs eat celery? What about strawberries, tomatoes, courgettes and cucumbers? What can guinea pigs eat? And what fresh foods should you never give to your guinea pigs?
And, while fresh foods can provide vital vitamin C – something that piggies need every day as, like us humans, they’re not able to make or store it – it’s vital you know what’s safe for them to eat – and what’s not.
From the importance of hay and grass to nutrition-packed nuggets, guinea pig treats to piggy-safe fresh foods, read on to find out more about feeding a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet that’s full of variety to your gorgeous guineas.
The main course should be hay and grazed grass
Burgess in-house vet, Dr Suzanne Moyes, explains: “Our guinea pigs have very delicate digestive systems which need to be treated with care. They need a really high fibre diet, so feeding them unlimited high quality feeding hay or fresh grass is vital.”
The majority of your piggies’ diet – around 85-90% – should be tasty, top quality feeding hay and grazed grass (never feed grass cuttings as this will make your guinea pigs unwell).
As well as being important for maintaining a healthy digestion, hay is also good for dental health as the gnawing action required to eat it helps to wear down their continually growing teeth. As a guide, provide each guinea pig with at least their own body size in fresh feeding hay every day.
Dr Moyes adds: “Top quality feeding hay plays an essential role in your small pets’ health and wellbeing. Bedding hay is often cheaply manufactured and has poor nutritional value, so it’s vital that you choose sweet smelling, tasty nutritious hay that’s specially grown for small pets to feed on that’s cut at the right time to capture all the natural goodness.”
For lots of small furries such as guinea pigs, every day should be a hay day! And not any old hay will do! Always opt for high-quality feeding hay to help your small pets stay healthy and happy – and now you can Subscribe & Save 10% on your orders of selected Excel items.
Serve with a side of guinea pig nuggets and fresh water
Around 5% of your guinea pigs’ daily diet should comprise of a tablespoon sized portion each of commercial nuggets – not muesli mixes as these can encourage selective feeding, where guinea pigs will often reject the nutritious parts, causing all manner of health problems.
Good quality guinea pig nuggets help to provide the right balance of vitamins and minerals in their daily diet. They should be high in Beneficial Fibre to support your guinea pigs’ digestive health, contain vitamin C and antioxidants to support your guinea pigs’ immune system, and be fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Dr Moyes advises: “Although they make up only a small portion of a guinea pig’s feeding needs, nuggets are still an important factor. The vitamins and minerals included support healthy eyes, skin and coat and promote a healthy digestion.”
Plus, don’t forget to supply your piggies with a constant supply of fresh, clean water. The best way to supply it is in special pet bottles attached to their accommodation. These should feature a solid sipper tube and ball bearing for your piggies to drink from.
Is it OK to switch your guinea pigs’ food? With so many options out there, it can be difficult to choose which small animal brand to use. The good news is you can swap between food brands. However, it must be done with caution.
Accompany with fresh greens and the occasional fruity treat
Dr Moyes advises: “Your cavy chums can also be fed fresh greens as these are a great source of vitamin C, which is really important for guinea pigs, and to give additional nutrients and provide some variety. However, you need to be careful which greens you feed and how much.” As a guide, feed no more than a teacup-sized amount a day to avoid tummy upsets, which you can split between morning and evening feeds.
Each day, you could alternate:
- A small bunch of parsley
- A couple of dandelion leaves (ensure they have not been sprayed with pesticides or are from an area where wild rabbits graze, as they could carry disease),
- Half a curly kale leaf
- One small floret of broccoli
- 1/8th of a green bell pepper
Safe vegetables for guinea pigs, as recommended by veterinary charity PDSA, include:
- Artichoke leaves
- Baby corn on cob
- Bell Peppers – high in vitamin C
- Carrot tops
- Cauliflower leaves and stalks
- Celery leaves
- Collard greens
- Courgette (and flowers)
- Green beans
- Lettuce – Butterhead, Red leaf, Cos, Little Gem (not iceberg)
- Pak Choi/Bok Choi
- Peas – leaves and pods
- Savoy cabbage
- Spring greens – high in vitamin C
- Swiss chard
- Tomato (not leaves/vine, as poisonous) – high in vitamin C
Safe herbs for guinea pigs include:
Safe vegetables and herbs for guinea pigs to be fed in moderation include:
- Asparagus – high in vitamin C
- Broccoli (too much can cause gas) – high in vitamin C
- Brussel Sprouts (too much can cause gas)
- Cabbage (dark green varieties)
- Cucumber (too much can cause diarrhoea)
- Kale – high in vitamin C
- Parsley – high in vitamin C
- Red cabbage
- Romaine lettuce
- Spinach – high in vitamin C
In the wild, fibrevores, such as guinea pigs, rabbits and chinchillas, spend around 70% of their time eating grass and other plants. You can help keep things interesting for your small pets by foraging for some tasty titbits yourself >>
Tasty treats – feed only occasionally
Dr Moyes says: “Guinea pigs don't naturally eat fruit or root vegetables, but you can give them in small amounts as treats.” This could be small pieces of carrot or celery, a cherry tomato, a little bit of banana or an apple quarter. And, while fresh fruit is a nice treat, only offer it to your guineas in very small amounts because it’s high in sugar and can cause weight gain.
Guinea pig safe fruits include:
- Apple (not the pips because they’re poisonous)
When you want to treat your guinea pigs, you can also choose from the range of Burgess Excel Nature Snacks These delicious, natural and healthy snacks, developed especially for fibrevores such as guinea pigs, rabbits and chinchillas include Herby Hearts and Meadow Munchies, Excel Forage & Feast Hay Bar with Cornflower and Excel Wildflower Forage and more, and help to prevent boredom and promote emotional health.
Foods to avoid feeding your guinea pigs
Never feed your guinea pigs with human food – chocolate and dairy products are particularly dangerous and citrus fruit can upset their sensitive tummies. Also avoid buttercups, daffodils, poppies and tulips.
PDSA advises: “Not all fruits and vegetables are safe for your guinea pigs to eat – some are poisonous, some cause an upset tummy, and some pose as a choking hazard.” These include:
- Potatoes and skin
- Onion and related vegetables
- Tomato vine and leaves (the fruit is safe to feed)
- Iceberg lettuce
- Rhubarb and leaves
- Seeds and nuts
If you suspect your guinea pigs have eaten something poisonous, speak to your vet for advice immediately.
To be a five-star guinea pig guardian, it’s essential to see things from their point of view. This way, you’ll unlock the secrets to providing your piggies with the correct care, nutrition and a safe, enriching environment that provides them with everything they need lead their healthiest, happiest lives. Here are 14 things your guinea pigs want you to know...
Are your guinea pigs Burgess guinea pigs? Join the Burgess Pet Club for exclusive offers and rewards. Discover the Burgess Excel guinea pig range, including the world’s first food indoor guinea pig food >>
CARE MORE Find more great advice on all aspects of guinea pig care from Burgess, the pet experts. Guinea pig housing, health, feeding and more, it's all here >>
LET’S GET SOCIAL Why not become part of the Excel Squeak Squad on Facebook? Join Berry & Bramble, our special G-force guinea pigs, on weekly missions and fun competitions.
Did you know that 92% of UK vets recommend our Burgess Excel small pets range?
All our small pets nuggets, feeding hay and healthy treats are made using only the finest quality ingredients. For guinea pigs, as well as a choice of yummy Nuggets with Mint or Blackcurrant & Oregano, there’s also a variety specially for indoor guinea pigs.
You can also save 10% every time and never have to worry about forgetting your small animals’ favourites again! Our no hassle, no fuss service will automatically process your order, and deliver it straight to your door. Find out more about Excel Subscribe & Save!
The best way to ensure your guinea pigs are getting the correct diet is to stick to the 5-step Excel Feeding Plan, which was developed in conjunction with one of the world’s leading small animal vets, and will provide your piggies with the perfect daily balance of fibre and nutrition.
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