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Feeding Guinea Pigs

The wild ancestors of Guinea Pigs were grazing animals, living mainly on low growing grasses and other green plants. These fresh grasses and other plants tend to have plenty of vitamins and minerals, but are low in total energy. When they could get it wild Guinea Pigs would supplement their diet with higher energy food like grass seeds and other fruit.

Guinea Pigs are not good at climbing trees, but if a piece of fruit fell they were likely to eat it, if it smelled good. They also do not dig, but if a nice tuber or other underground edible root was exposed, they would eat it.These things are higher in energy than leaves.

In feeding Guinea Pigs, you need to avoid giving them only high energy food like pellets etc.


Guinea Pigs are rodents and have the strong and sharp teeth typical of this order of mammals.

The outer surface of their teeth is made of very hard tooth enamel while the inner part is made of softer dentine. As they chew the teeth are continually being worn down, with the dentine wearing down before the enamel. This means that the teeth are always sharp.

In use , the top and bottom teeth act like scissors, meaning that rodents are particularly good at gnawing things. Beavers are rodents that regularly cut through wood. Guinea Pigs are smaller, but can also chew through wood.

The teeth of rodents grow all their life, and it is vital that they get worn down as they grow. A diet with all the food soft and high energy is dangerous for Guinea Pigs. Guinea Pigs need to spend much of their time eating.

Because the the large (for their size) bulk of food they eat, they also produce a lot of waste.

Guinea pigs have good senses of smell and taste. They are also cautious in trying new things until they’ve tried as bit and found it edible. If given plenty of choice they are good at balancing their own diet.  A dangerous situation could occur if the only food available was harmful. Your pets will either eat the harmful food, or starve.

There are two basic ways of feeding pet Guinea Pigs. One way is to do your best to imitate the diet of wild cavies, and give as their main food a good choice of fresh grasses, herbs and vegetables, with a good guinea pig food as a standby. This way works well in the Adelaide Hills where I live because it is possible to find fresh grasses etc. all year round.

The other way is to use good quality grass hay as the main food, supplementing it with fresh foods, and using a vitamin C supplement. In some countries where fresh grasses are not always available, the second way needs to be used, at least part of the year.

Vitamin C

Guinea Pigs are like humans in the sense that they need vitamin C from their diet. Rabbits and many other animals can make their own vitamin C.

Fresh grasses, fruits and vegetables generally have plenty of Vitamin C in them, but most of them lose most of it quickly after harvest.


Your Guinea Pig should have clean, fresh water all the time, but the amount in the picture above is a little excessive. Although Guinea Pigs eating mainly fresh watery food may not drink much, they still need to have water available. Guinea Pigs eating mainly dry foods drink a lot more water, and nearly all animals drink more in hot weather.

A drinking bottle or a bowl can be used to ensure that water it always available.

Guinea Pigs Foods

Man-made foods intended for Guinea Pigs should always have a Vitamin C supplement included. The main one I use is the Laucke brand of Rabbit and Guinea Pig mix, but different brands will be available in different places.

Vegetables and Fruit

Most vegetables and fruit intended for human consumption are also suitable for Guinea Pigs. Whether it is for you, or for your pet, the food needs to be fresh. Unfortunately, some of the fruit and vegetables sold in supermarkets are not really fresh enough either for us or our pets. If there is any doubt about it being fit for human consumption, it shouldn’t be fed to your Guinea Pig.

My Guinea Pigs don't seem to like citrus fruits, but a few leaves of an orange tree adds variety to their diet.


Guinea Pigs shouldn’t be fed anything that is known to be poisonous to humans, or to other animals. A few foods that are good for us are dangerous to some of our pets. Chocolate, onions and avocados are good human foods, but are dangerous for some types of animal. Avoid giving them to your Guinea Pig.

Tina and Schoto grazing in a garden

Even if you can give your pets access to grazing, they still like vegetables and fruit .

A good quality grass hay can be a good standby food for your pet, but in drying, the grass will have lost much of its vitamin C.

It's important that fruit and vegetables for Guinea Pigs, and for people be fresh, but they don't need to be good looking. Much good food is wasted just because it's ugly. It can still be delicious both for your pet, and for you.

A good Guinea Pig food like this one made by Laucke will have adequate Vitamin C in it.

Clover is a good high protein food that adds variety to their diet., Clover and other legumes should not be given in very large amounts, but are a valuable part of a varied diet.

Picture Credits

The Picture under the clover picture is by Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez (Lmbuga)  CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.
The Guinea Pig eating the apple picture is by Jg4817 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.
The guinea Pig eating it carrot is by Kuli (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.