Guinea pigs need four main items:
Water, Hay, Pellets, and Fresh Vegetables
Fresh water, whether it be in a bottle or bowl, needs to be available 24/7. Bottles tend to be easier to maintain than bowls, as the piggies can dirty bowls quickly.
1/8 Cup Pellets
Timothy-based pellets are an essential part of their diet. It provides Vitamin C and other nutrients they need for a healthy life. Remember to store extra food in an air-tight container! Vitamin C depreciates over time in open air/sunlight. So keeping pellets out for long periods of time cause the pellets to become less nutritional.
They can eat too many pellets! Usually an 8th of a cup per day is recommended, but do read the package. Too many pellets can cause obesity.
We recommend plain pellets with no "extra" pieces in it. Guinea pigs just pick those bits out and leave the pellets that have the nutrition they actually need. Plus, plain pellets tend to be less expensive.
Note - Guinea pig pellets are not the same as rabbit pellets. Rabbits don't need to eat Vitamin C so rabbit food does not contain the Vitamin C that guinea pigs need.
In short: Rabbits can eat guinea pig pellets, but guinea pigs cannot eat rabbit pellets.
Timothy Hay 24/7
Timothy or alfalfa hay needs to be available 24/7 as well. Guinea pig teeth are always growing! So in order for them to keep their teeth from overgrowing, they need to constantly chew on hay and other things like wood or cardboard (toilet paper tubes are great). Timothy or alfalfa hay is great fiber and is vital to help them regulate their digestive system.
Alfalfa hay is only recommended for guinea pigs 6 months old or younger and for pregnant guinea pigs because of its high calcium levels. Young guinea pigs and pregnant guinea pigs need more calcium in their diet than others to help them develop and grow. Timothy hay is recommended for guinea pigs older than 6 months because they do not need as much calcium. Too much calcium in their diet can lead to urinary tract problems. Signs of too much calcium can include white urine and/or urine that dries to leave a white powder.
Young guinea pigs and pregnant guinea pigs can eat Timothy hay. They just need more calcium from other sources like kale to assist in growth.
Guinea pigs need at least one cup of fresh vegetables every day. This needs to include a variety of veggies. For example, we might feed our piggies spring mix in the morning. This has green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, baby spinach, etc. And throughout the day we give them romaine lettuce, carrots, apples, bananas, etc. Spinach and bell peppers (not hot peppers) are great with providing Vitamin C. Kale is great with providing calcium.
Some veggies are dangerous to guinea pigs in large portions everyday like spinach or kale. They can only be fed a few times a week. Here's a handy chart for your reference.
This site is brought to you by the founders of Popcorn Pets Guinea Pigs.
Interested in Adopting a Guinea Pig?
Please consider adoption. There are many piggies that are in need of a family.
Don't forget to check your local shelters! There are also many available on guinea pig rehome groups on Facebook.