Guinea Pig Diet Facts

Guinea pigs need a proper diet, including fresh water (taken from the Animal Welfare Act, 5 Freedoms): Fresh food  twice daily, unlimited good hay, with hay making up the main part of the overall diet.

Feed fresh food x2 daily 25g per guinea per meal, approximately made up of mostly leafy greens with slices of root veg


  •   Hay makes up the main part of the diet, around 75-80%, feed approximately guinea’s body size in hay, how much they eat depends on the variety of hay you feed and the guinea pig itself. The nutritional quality of the hay may also be a factor in how much hay guineas eat. Hay is meant to be an “empty fodder” save for the valuable long indigestible fibre it provides. The American green hays (in particular but not always) are often higher in nutritional value than a good meadow hay and less hay eaten may be the result of feeding these exclusively.


  •   Fresh food is fed in two meals, morning and evening, 50g per guinea pig per day. Feed a pair of guinea pigs 50g of fresh food twice daily. Meals should be made up of mostly leafy greens and a couple of slices of root vegetable dependent on the greens that have been fed. See Ratewatchers for more detailed information.



  •   Dry food is fed sparingly, usually once a day. Never keep topping the bowl up throughout the day.  Dry food comes in pellet format or a mix. Whichever you choose it must not contain any artificial ingredients, these are known to irritate the digestive system and they give a false positive when guinea is tested for diabetes. If medication is wrongly prescribed for this guinea may, quite likely, die. Pellets should be of a small size and shape that guinea can pick them up easily. Goat mixes and pony mixes are sometimes fed but these often contain ingredients that are not suitable for guinea pigs and can catch on their teeth (locust bean for example), others may not be the ideal Calcium:Phosphorus ratio for guineas, often ingredients not in guinea pig foods are included and while these are safe for ponies/horses and goats etc in a small animal like a guinea pig it can easily upset the Calcium:Phosphorus ratio which is now being recognised as an important factor in the guinea pig diet by some companies. Ideally dry food will be low in Protein and high in fibre (nutritional needs may differ for guinea pigs being used for breeding or showing).


  • Fruit should be only be given on rare occasions, if at all. It is high in sugars and also Phosphorus. Ten grams, twice weekly, as part of a Calcium:Phosphorus balanced diet is enough.  Acidic fruits such as apples and tomatoes may cause mouth sores and will definitely irritate any lesions there may be on guineas’ mouth. Gorgeous Guineas have an ointment that is effective in these situations.


  •   Edible treats will be your guineas favourite vegetable/herb etc or fruit, better still a variety of hay that they particularly love (although hay must NEVER be viewed solely as a treat, it is an essential.) There are commercial treats available but yogurt drops, treats containing artificial colours, egg, sugars, honey, seeds and milk must be avoided at all costs despite being marketed as “for guinea pigs”, quite simply they are not suitable and in some cases harmful.


  •  Fresh water must be always be available, in hard water areas use filtered water (a Brita filter jug is good), do not give bottled water (meant for humans)! These can contain minerals not needed by guinea pigs, not to mention other additives (be they natural or otherwise). Ensure that guinea pigs that have had bladder stone operations or those passing sludge/grit are having at least 40 ml of fluids a day. This can be achieved by giving 15 ml 3 x daily, orally via syringe; this amount will overload the guinea pig bladder, (thought to hold approximately 10 ml). A guinea pig’s drinking habits may be an indication of what is going on in the body, get to know your guinea pigs’ drinking habits (or lack of!).

April 4, 2013   Posted in: Health, Husbandry, Inside The Hutch, ratewatchers