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        A Medical and Care Guide for Guinea Pigs



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Home > Care Guide > Diet > Favorite Foods


    What People Say
    Author's Veg List

What People Say

What do people really feed their guinea pigs? It's different for everyone and depends on what is in season, whether you are interested in foraging for greens, and what you think is good for your guinea pig, not to mention what your pig is willing to eat. Every pig is different: some have medical conditions requiring special diets. A few pigs don't like cabbage or cilantro. Others hate tomatoes (a staple in my home). Who knows what will turn your pig's head? Whatever you offer your guinea pigs, introduce foods slowly, offer a variety, and be sure to provide unlimited high quality hay and plain pellets.

Swannie's guinea pig Jubilee enjoys a colorful fresh salad at right.

The lists in the diet section provide nutritional content for a variety of vegetables and fruits. But not all foods are equal, nor should all be fed in unlimited quantities. Here are a few commonly held opinions:

    Variety, variety, variety -- modest amounts of a variety of vegs (and a few fruits) are best
    Feed primarily green leafy vegetables
    Fruits should be only a small part of the diet
    Don't give too many carrots -- at most, only a small carrot every other day or so
    Avoid or severely limit cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as they may cause gas
    Cut up celery in small pieces so the strings don't cause problems
    Iceberg lettuce is best not offered guinea pigs; it is low in nutrients and according to some people, could cause loose stools if given in excess
    Avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes
    Do not feed potato skins and eyes -- they can be very high in oxalic acid

Author's Veg List

Here is a sample of the vegetables and fruits the author provided each of her guinea pigs daily, along with unlimited high quality hay and plain pellets PRINT (edited version):

    Grass, between a handful to several handfuls, more in the warmer months
    Green pepper, 1/8 to 1/4 of whole pepper
    Romaine lettuce, one or two large leaves, sometimes more *
    Tomato, wedge of large tomato or small Roma tomato
    Carrot (baby), one small

* NOTE: Guinea pigs eating a lot of romaine seem to excrete more powdery calcium deposits in their urine. Red and green leaf lettuce may be a better choice for your guinea pig, especially if they are prone to stones.

    Occasional vegetables:

        --- Broccoli leaves (tiny) and peeled broccoli stem
        --- Chinese Cabbage (pak-choi), one leaf
        --- Corn silks and husks when in season
        --- Parsley, one or more sprigs
        --- Forages like chickweed, dandelions, and young clover

    Fruit (a couple fruits per day from this list):

        --- Apple, thin wedge, no seeds
        --- Apricot, dried, a couple raisin-sized pieces
        --- Banana, 1/4" round slice
        --- Blueberries, several
        --- Cantaloupe, 1"X 2"piece with washed rind
        --- Grapes or Raisins (not both), one or two
        --- Orange, one slice
        --- Strawberries
        --- Watermelon, 1" X 2" piece with washed rind

You may not be able to add forages to your pigs diet, but they are a welcome addition for those of us who can. Grass is a major part of my pigs' diet, especially in spring and fall when it is most plentiful and tasty. I try to provide some grass every day but take a break when there is snow cover. Chickweed, young clover, young plantain and especially dandelion (another favorite) are other popular forages, especially welcome when young and tender. If you wish to lower calcium in your guinea pig's diet, chickweed is the best choice (other plants listed are higher in calcium). See Forages for more information on how to find nutritious weeds and grasses.

Remember: Don't feed anything you wouldn't eat yourself (i.e. no spoiled food) and rinse food thoroughly. And if you choose to provide grass or other forages, avoid areas next to busy roadsides or those frequented by dogs or livestock. Select clean, pesticide-free plants that show no signs of mildew or disease -- the younger, the better.

    A forum thread on favorite foods highlights how different our guinea pigs are! Thread

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