Forages Can Be An Important Part Of Your Guinea Pig's Diet
Thanks to 11guineas for the photo.
A diet that includes grass and other fresh forages can improve the health of your guinea pig. Grass is especially important, as it is the back bone of every guinea pig's diet. In most cases, the grass your pet eats will be dried (hay) or pelleted (Cavy Cuisine) but fresh grass can be even more valuable, as it also provides vitamin C. Serve your pig some forages today!
Foraged foods can add interest to the typical guinea pig diet and provide vitamin C, minerals and nutrients. Pet owners offering weeds and grasses from their yard, garden, or a nearby field must select food carefully.
Make sure you know what you are offering your pet. Consult the list below for some familiar plants often offered guinea pigs. The list of safe foods is by no means complete and includes some foods that should be offered sparingly or only when young.
Consider where you collect your plants:
- Avoid areas that have been treated with herbicides and pesticides.
- Avoid areas heavily frequented by dogs or livestock whose feces may contaminate the plants.
- Avoid plants that have molds, fungus, or mildews.
- Avoid plants growing along side of heavily trafficked roads.
- Remember that the younger plants are often more nutritious and tasty. As the plants age and go to seed, nutrients are diverted to seed production and the leafy part of the plant has less nutritional value. As some species of plants age, oxalic acid increases and they become more bitter.
Most people will introduce items slowly, gradually increasing the amount offered their pet. On average, my three pigs get perhaps 3 or 4 ounces apiece per day of various plants. Grasses make up the bulk of the food provided, supplemented by clovers and other weeds. During the winter it may be more difficult to forage for plants.
Pictures and descriptions of common grasses are not included. You may offer fresh fescue, bluegrass, timothy and other common grasses to your pets. Young, vigorous new growth is preferred by most grass eaters. Experiment to see what your pigs enjoy. A few pet owners cultivate patches of wheat grass, a nourishing and tasty treat.
If you wish to give your guinea pigs the opportunity to forage for themselves, be sure to provide shade, water and a secure enclosure. If you stay outside with them, you will know if it is too hot or too cold.
Thanks to skinnypigs1 for the photo.
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