Guinea pigs love their food! They eat often and frequently. They do love treats and variety.
Hay, Hay and more Hay
The key thing to remember is that hay represently 70% of their diet and this provides not only the fibre for their gut, but will assist in wearing down their constantly growing teeth.
There are many sources of good hay that are available but the one thing to ensure is that it does not have any black spots on the hay! This indicates that it was once wet and damp and would still contain fungal spores which can of course under the right circumstances affect your guinea pigs health.
So look for nice dry clean hay. These include Timothy, Oaten, Wheaten, Rye, Barley, and Grassy. All of these hays are wonderful and your guinea pigs will love them. Make sure that hay is available to your guinea pig 24/7.
Luccern is another type of hay which is dark green in colour. It is very high in calcium and for that reason I don’t class it as suitable for guinea pigs – however they do love it and the very occassional treat (very occassional) would be fine.
Vitamin C is needed by guinea pigs, just like we need it. It comes in the fresh food that they eat by way of grass, vegetables, herbs and fruit. If they are getting a fresh supply of these daily, then they will be getting adequate vitamin C in their diet. I recommend that each adult piggie has at least 1 cup of fresh fruit/veg per day. In addition, to this there is nothing quite like fresh grass. It has so many enzymes and nutrients that are great for guinea pig health – that I fully recommend this in addition to or prefereable to fruit and veg. This is their natural diet.
Variety is Key
Variety is really important in order to keep guinea pigs well. If they have a range of different grass, fruit, veg, herbs – they will be able to get all the nutrients and vitamins that they need to live a good and healthy life. If they are limited to just a certainly type of fresh food, then of course there are other important things they are missing out on. I have a number of guinea pigs that are 10.5 years of age, and constantly I am asked how I do this – variety! The weeds and grasses I seek from areas that are not populated by people so there is no chance of contaminants being on them. But as they are also wild foods, rather than the fruit and veg that we buy which is commercially grown, they do contain naturally occuring probiotics which are great for the health of the guinea pigs, in addition to higher levels of silica which is great for grinding and health of teeth.
Fresh water is important for all living animals and guinea pigs are no different. So ensure that on hot days they are not going to run out of water and can regularly take a sip if they need to.