One of the important aspects of guinea pig care is giving your cavy food that will help keep it healthy. Feeding guinea pigs goes beyond just giving them grass to eat. If you are concerned about your pet eating enough and eating a healthy and balanced diet, then it’s important to learn what they actually need.
Here is a simple guide to feeding guinea pigs that you can follow:
It is important that healthy eating habits and foods are introduced early in the life of the guinea pig. This is because guinea pigs are creatures of habit. They tend to be picky eaters and it can prove to be impossible to introduce new food when they are older.
The main guinea pig food that cavy need is grass. They are herbivores and they tend to graze throughout the day. Also, grazing continuously is important to keep their teeth from growing too large. Your cavies will love it if you could provide them with a steady supply of fresh grass throughout the day in addition to any food pellets that you may give them. Timothy hay is a popular grass for guinea pigs. Alfalfa is another one, although some experts discourage feeding too much alfalfa in mature cavies because it may lead to obesity and bladder stones. It should be noted that alfalfa, when eaten in moderation, provides cavies with amino acids, protein, fiber and calcium that they do need.
A diet of grass need to be supplemented by a moderate amount of fruits and vegetables. Cavies need sufficient amounts and a good balance of vitamins C, D, A, E, potassium, phosphorous, calcium and magnesium in order to grow healthy and strong, and these vitamins and minerals can be gained from fruits and vegetables. Some of the fruits and vegetables that you can feed your guinea pig include broccoli, apple, carrot and celery as you can learn from this “Can guinea pigs eat apples” article from Petsium.
A pregnant and lactating cavy will have higher nutritional needs that a non pregnant, non lactating female.
Don’t be surprised if you observe your guinea pigs eating what appears to be their own feces. Cavies produce soft pellets in their feces called cecotropes which they eat directly out of their anus. Cecotropes provide the B vitamins, fiber and bacteria that cavies need in order to properly digest and absorb the nutrients from food.
Give your guinea pigs access to fresh potable water daily. Installing water bottles in your guinea pig hutch or cage is a hygienic way of ensuring a steady supply of water throughout the day. Replace the water daily.
Do not give human food. Guinea pigs are not equipped to handle and digest human food. Giving it to them can cause sickness and death. Do not be tempted to feed them out of your own plate.