Top: Prince tucks in to his vitamin rich breakfast
Hay Glorious Hay!
Guinea pigs need an unlimited supply of meadow (grass) hay or timothy hay to aid digestion & keep teeth nice & short. This is best fed from a hay rack, again to keep the hay from becoming soiled. Alfalfa hay should not be fed to guinea pigs, (except for young or pregnant Piggies who can benefit from it) as alfalfa hay is too high in calcium.
You also need to feed a good quality Guinea pig mix. Feed 30g of dry food (less for piglets) each day. Choose a mix made for guinea pigs. The best food for guinea pigs is Allen and Page guinea pig mix because it contains no colorings and is low in Protein. Email email@example.com for stockists or tel: 01362 822900 (I also like Guinea pig crunch and Supa guinea pig). If for any reason you decide to try another brand of mix always introduce it slowly by mixing it gradually into their usual food to prevent any tummy upsets. Guinea pigs don't cope well with any sudden changes in diet. Don't feed a mix Any guinea pig mix with artificial additives, especially E110 Sunset Yellow, as this is known to cause cystitis and bladder stones. We use Wagg guinea pig Crunch because it seems to meet all the requirements of a good food & is easy to get, being stocked by major supermarkets.
Guinea pigs are unable to make their own vitamin C (rather like us humans) so they need to get it from fresh fruit & vegetables. You should give them a nice variety of veggies twice daily. Veg like Carrot, Cucumber, Celery, Tomato (not tomato leaves!) are safe to feed every day. Other vegetables can be fed regularly though not daily, such as Broccoli, Peppers, Romaine Lettuce, Spring Greens. The following vegetables can be fed once or twice weekly, they are; Carrot tops, Parsley, Parsnip, Dandelions, Corn on the Cob, and Curly Kale. Guinea pigs also enjoy fruits such as Apple, Grapes, Melon, Peach, Pineapple, Plums, Pear, Banana, Plums, Peppers and strawberries as an occasional treat.
Apples Pigs love apple too, but the citric acid it contains can cause mouth sores so please ensure you cut it into nice small pieces to avoid these occurring. Some guineas cannot eat apples at all because they are prone to mouth sores.
Grass and Dandelions Guineas also love grass & dandelions& these two can be fed for a treat. But ensure they are washed well & not collect from anywhere where dogs & cats might have soiled them or where they might have been sprayed with chemicals.
Do not feed: Potatoes, Rhubarb, Tomato Leaves, Ice burg Lettuce, Hot peppers (Chilies etc) , garlic and onions. And anything you are unsure about... if in doubt leave it out!
Guinea pigs need a supply of fresh water at all times. Provide a drip feed bottle (like the one Debbie Hale's boar Bilko (left) is modeling!) for water rather than a bowl to prevent contamination from bedding & droppings etc. Though some believe providing a heavy, regularly changed dish in addition to the bottle can encourage guineas to drink more. Drinking a minimum of 40 mls of water per day is preferable in order to prevent bladder stones and sludge. Filtering your water is even better.
Ensure you thoroughly scrub out the bottle using an animal bottle brush to keep it free from algae & fungi and safe to drink. Always change the water everyday to keep your piggy's in the best of health & also because some piggy's will not drink stagnant water. Many people worry about how much their piggy's drink. This varies. Usually if you feed lots of wet fresh foods like cucumber the piggy's don't need to take in as much fluid from water as they are getting it from their food so don't drink as much. Drinking plenty of water helps keep their digestive system running well & helps prevent cystitis, bladder stones and the like. I like to syringe feed a small amount of water to my piggy's daily to supplement what they already take in & also to get them used to the syringe for when they are ill so I can give them medicine more easily.
- Feed at the roughly the same time every day.
- Take out any uneaten food after an hour & dispose of it so that it doesn't go bad & be eaten or smell.
- Watch your quantities especially with dry food. Your piggy might eat out of boredom even when not hungry and get fat!
- Make sure your fresh fruit & veg is just that. No frozen, rotten, wilted or moldy.
Use a hay rack & food dished to keep food & hay from becoming solid and eaten as this will lead to a sick guinea pig!
- Always wash and dry fresh fruit & veg before feeding them.
- Guinea pigs benefit from unsprayed willow or fruit tree branches in the cage to nibble on.
- You can treat your guinea pigs & bond with them by hand feeding tidbits. Vegetable treats will do fine.
- It is important along side good feeding that your give your boars opportunity to exercise everyday. This can be in a secure run outside or a pig proofed room indoors. See exercise:floor& lap time for details.
- Don't feed guinea pigs rabbit food – It could contain a substance intended to prevent a disease in rabbits which is fatal to guineas. Even if it doesn't it won't contain Vitamin C and will not have enough protein. A guinea pig should of course NEVER BE KEPT WITH A RABBIT, so you may as well be food designed for a guinea pig.
Lettuce - Guinea pigs don't get anything nutrition wise from lettuce & it can give them diarrhea so best not to feed it. Certain types are o.k. but I find it easiest just to leave it out altogether.