Natural Diet for Guinea Pigs (CAVIES)
Guinea pigs are vegetarians and require a regular intake of fresh grass, fruit, vegetables and roughage to stay healthy.
They are a grazing animal and require constant access to fresh grass and other flowers, herbs and roughage.
A movable lawn cage or better still a securely fenced area in the garden is ideal for guinea pigs to allow access to green grass daily, which can supply vitamins essential to their diet.
It is important though, to ensure that guinea pigs are not put out to graze in areas which may contain poisonous weeds as they may eat them if little else is available.
Normally animals instinctively know what foods to avoid, but when they are caged, they will sometimes eat poisonous plants.
You should also ensure that the lawn or surrounding areas have not been sprayed with any pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers as this can be fatal for cavies.
Guinea pigs have a high requirement for and a deficiency will cause illness and even death. This is found mostly in fruits and vegetables.
Supplements of Vitamin C (1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon sodium ascorbate) can be added to feed or water supply daily if fresh food is not available.
Vegetables and fruit to choose from include Pumpkin, carrot, pears, oranges, celery, cucumber, apple, banana, watermelon and stone fruit.
Herbs such as plantain, parsley, groundsel and true dandelion may also be fed sparingly.
Occasionally you may give a leaf of lettuce or cabbage. ** But DO NOT feed too much of these**
Other foods that are beneficial include:
Oats or Cracked corn
Seaweed meal -This can be left in a small container for cavies to take as required.
Dolomite -Add a small pinch to food once or twice weekly for calcium and magnesium.
Avoid all pellet feeds, canola oil, cottonseed meal, soy products, molasses.
Cavies teeth never stop growing, so it is important to provide adequate roughage to keep them at an appropriate length. If the teeth become overgrown, then they will need trimming to enable them to eat properly.
Adequate housing must be provided with clean dry shelter which is both cool in summer and warm in winter. The cages should be cleaned daily to remove droppings and any left over fruits & vegetables. Rotting fruit, vegetables left lying in cages may encourage vermin and insects.
Ensure a constant supply of cool fresh water (free from fluoride and chlorine). A guinea pig may consume around 150 – 400ml water each day and they can dehydrate quickly if left without water in a very short time.
Julie Massoni Animal Naturopath