Feeding your Guinea Pig
An important part in keeping an animal in the best of
health is ensuring that it gets a balanced diet. There are a number of
dietary constituents which every animal requires in the correct
quantities to enable it to grow, to fight disease and to ensure that all
its body functions are working properly. These constituents consist of
the macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, fats and water which are
required in reasonable quantities and the micronutrients: vitamins and
Proteins are required for the growth, repair and
replacement of tissues and most of the muscle and certain internal
organs are composed of proteins which are obtained from seed and grain,
hay green plants and root vegetables in various quantities.
Carbohydrates consist of sugars and starches, which
are easily digested and burnt up in the muscles to produce energy and
heat. Carbohydrates form the biggest part of the diet and are found in
hay, fruit vegetables; excess carbohydrates are converted into fats.
Small amounts of fats are found in vegetable matter, but particularly in
Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K are important to guinea
pigs, each one performing a different metabolic function important to
the general health of the animals. Such supplements may be obtained from
your pet shop.
Certain minerals, contained in the diet as trace
elements, are also important. The compounds of calcium, iron,
phosphorus, sulfur, copper and many other elements are found in small
quantities in various foodstuffs, so variety is important.
Guinea pigs will eat a wide range of foods, including
much of what we ourselves eat. Being herbivores, guinea pigs shouldn't
be given leftovers containing meat, but most vegetables will be taken
readily. It is possible to buy pellets which are manufactured from a
range of vegetable products, plus vitamins and minerals.
Hay: Clean fresh hay should be available at all
times, not only as bedding but also as a substantial part of the
diet. Hay is, in fact, quite nutritious and contains most of the
basic constituents required in the diet.
Green food: There is virtually no limit to the
amount of green foods available for guinea pigs. Domestic greens may
include cabbage, lettuce, peas, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and
cauliflower. Wild green foods may also be collected and can include
such items as seeding grassed, dandelions, chickweed and clover. In
collecting wild foods, beware of the poisonous plants and avoid
areas which are likely polluted.
Fruit and Vegetables: Many fruits are enjoyed by
guinea pigs, including such items as apples, pears and soft fruits.
Although green foods and fruit are important items in the guinea
pig's diet, they should be given sparingly otherwise scouring may be
encouraged. Root vegetables, such as carrots, turnips, Swedes,
parsnips and beetroot are also highly nutritious.
Cereals: In addition to hay, fruit and
vegetables, a dish of cereal grain should be available at all times.
Your guinea pigs will obtain their extra fats from these cereals, as
well as supplement the other parts of the diet. Mixed corn, as
supplied for poultry, is a convenient cereal food for guinea pigs.
Water: It has been said that guinea pigs supplied
with adequate green food do not require water but this is quite
untrue. Although they are not likely to drink much, clean, fresh
water should be available at all times. Bowls of water within the
hutch are not recommended as the animals will soon soil them.