Category Archives: How to feed your guinea pig

feeding grass to a guinea pig

A Brief Guide To Feeding Grass To A Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs are herbivores which means they are used to eating plant life, insects, veggies, and fruit in the wild.

As natives of the Andes mountains, they are used to the rugged and varied landscape which includes glaciers, volcanoes, grassland, desert, lakes, and forest.

They are used to foraging for what they can get.

The need for plant material

As herbivores, they don’t eat meat and don’t tend to go near anything from animals including eating fish.

This means finding foods for them which suit them which they will enjoy and satisfy an insatiable need for plant material.

One of the easiest foods that you can feed them is grass.

Many owners have good access to grass whether it is in their own garden or land or someone else’s property whether public or private.

There are different types of grass, some is wild and unkempt other types of grass is short, manicured and then even sprayed with pesticides to keep moss or other unwanted items growing on it.

Why grass is good for them

There are several reasons why grass is good for guinea pigs.

Grass is good for them to chew.

Guinea pigs love to chew and need to chew.

It keeps their teeth from growing longer and stops them from getting into pain because of this.

Grass, whether fresh or dry, provides an ideal opportunity for them to chew and grind their teeth down

The digestive tracts of guinea pigs are designed to eat lots of forage.

Eating grass keeps their digestive system moving and means that other food can pass through without a problem.

It means that they will poop more easily as a result.

They draw water from it.

Guinea pigs are creatures who do not like going without water but are used to going long periods without it.

This means they have to draw it out of other plant material such as fresh grass which contains water in it.

The more water that they have, the better for them.

It provides good nutrition for them.

Forages such as grasses can provide good nutrients, minerals and vitamin c for guinea pigs.

This is incredibly beneficial for them especially as they do not naturally produce vitamin c.

So eating grass will give them a supplement which they are deficient but which they most definitely need.

 

The downsides of feeding grass to a guinea pig
It can be damp and wet.

Wet grass is not good for them.

In fact, it can make them sick.

If you give them grass make sure it is dry.

Leaving guinea pigs out on grass when it is raining or if it has rained is strongly discouraged as they will be sitting on the damp grass or soaking wet grass.

They are not good at getting themselves dry and so will suffer as a result.

Grass can contain parasites.

If a guinea pig eats grass that contains parasites then this can cause problems eventually for them.

It can cause worms to appear as a result of the parasites and they may need regular deworming since soil and grass can contain parasite eggs.

However, there is no way of stopping this from happening other than banning a guinea pig from eating grass which is unrealistic.

Too much too soon can cause tummy problems and soft poop.

If you put your guinea pig straight out onto grass when it hasn’t been part of their diet it will cause them to have a poorly tummy.

If they haven’t eaten grass as part of their diet give it to them in small amounts on a regular basis increasing it to daily after a week or two.

This means you wean them onto it and cause their stomach to be more settled.

Grass can contain pesticides.

Pesticides are not good for guinea pigs as you can imagine.

Eating anything with pesticides on it can cause a guinea pig problems making them sick and possibly causing much worse damage to them.

It is imperative that you know the grass you are feeding them that it hasn’t been sprayed with any kind of chemical.

Grass can often contain feces.

Grass is often frequented by dogs or cats or other animals can defecate on it.

If you feed guinea pigs grass that has been defecated on by another animal this will cause them to get sick.

This is why it is so important to know about the grass you are feeding them and is why feeding wild grass to them is a risk.

Grass that has mildew, mold or fungus on it.

This is easier to spot on the grass and can be identified by careful analysis.

This is why it’s important to pick grass and go through it before you feed it to your guinea pig. If you spot any that has mold, mildew or fungus on it then throw the bunch away.

If they eat it it will cause problems for them and again they may get sick as they will try and eat the grass no matter what it may have on it.

Grass that is beside a high traffic area.

Grass that is found by the side of roads can be polluted with fumes from cars and lorries.

Some of these fumes are poisonous for guinea pigs and if they are absorbed into the grass that is fed to them will cause problems for a guinea pig who eats it.

What type of grass should be fed to guinea pigs?
Fresh lawn grass

Fresh lawn grass is fine which has been picked for them.

If they can chew it directly from the ground whilst grazing.

Again make sure it is pesticide free and hasn’t been defecated on.

Long grass with no thistles in it.

Again make sure you know where what has been on it.

Feeding them grass from public meadows is a risk but can be done but it is fine at your own risk.

You get to know what types of grass are good for your guinea pig.

Whatever they don’t want they tend to leave anyway so it’s good to experiment.

Obviously, avoid anything which you know to be poisonous such as ivy that gets caught up in the grass.

What about dry grass?

Dry grass which can be purchased from let stores such as Timothy hay or meadow hay. Avoid Alfalfa hay in large amounts as it contains a lot of calcium.

Can I feed only grass to them?

It’s a good question.

But it the answer is no.

It should be part of a balanced diet with fruits and veggies and a good guinea pig mix to give them a balanced diet that nourishes them and gives them the nutrients that they need.

 

can guinea pigs drink out bowls

Can Guinea Pigs Drink Out of Bowls?

One of the vital things about having feeding a guinea pig is that they always need access to water to drink.

Water is the only liquid the can drink.

Some owners have tried giving them other liquids but these are completely inappropriate for piggies to drink.

The usual way to give a piggy water is from a water bottle

But can guinea pigs drink out of bowls?

Yes they can drink out of a bowl.

However it is definitely less preferable to a water bottle.

This is because;

  • there is more opportunity for them to contaminate the water.
  • Its really easy for them to tip over the water bowl or move it around and spill the water.    (image)

If you do decide to get a bowl for your guinea pig then there are some good water bowls out there to purchase.

Make sure the water bowl is heavy.

A heavy water bowl such as a ceramic water bowl is less likely to be move around and kept in one place.

If you use something like a plastic bowl or tray, the water doesn’t last very long in it as it just gets spilt.

A ceramic water bowl which can’t be moved easily will do the job for them.

However, i still prefer a water bottle for my piggies to feed from.

Its still a much less messy way of ensuring they get the water they need.

can guinea pigs eat too much grass

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Too Much Grass?

Have you ever left your guinea pigs out eating grass for a long period of time?

I’ve done this on several occasions expecting them to enjoy their time out on the grass.

I know the grass is good for them to eat and there are no pesticides on it so I am completely happy for them to do so.

Letting guinea pigs out onto grass

Whenever I do this and let them out onto the grass, they go absolutely mad initially and eat every blade of grass in sight.

They will do this for a time and then chill out after their feed.

However, one thing I have noticed is that when they do eat a lot of fresh grass, their poo gets rather gooey.

I’ve noticed this several times, the poop get’s longer and then messier (i’ve become a bit knowledgeable on guinea pig poop!).

The more messy their poo is the more upset their stomach is. Usually it is shorter and drier.

They also tend to hold back in eating the grass after some of the time.

Piggies are also pretty good at sensing when they have had enough food.

So can guinea pigs eat too much grass?

What’s happened is that my piggies are not used to eating fresh grass a lot. So when they eat lots of it, they get a slight upset stomach.

Their diet mainly consists of dry meadow or timothy hay, guinea pig pellets and some choice vegetables and so are not used to eating the fresher grass on my lawn.

Image wikipedia

So I have some choices;

  1. Increase their time out one grass to get their bodies used to eating fresh grass.
  2. I could give them fresh grass in their pen on a daily basis.
  3. I could limit their time out on the grass because it gives them gooey poop.

I’ve opted for first option, much their pleasure and is the cause of much increased wheeking whenever they sense it is coming.

Fresh grass is still great for them to eat and they absolutely love it.

So, in answer to the question, guinea pigs can eat too much grass if they are not used to eating it.

But even with this, it’s not the end of the world if their poop is a little bigger than usual or a bit more gooey.

Their bodies are just getting used to eating fresh grass.

Just make sure grass is pesticide free and doesn’t contain any excrement from any other pets.

timothy hay for guinea pigs

What is Timothy Hay? 24 Facts and Benefits

Timothy hay is vital for guinea pigs to eat as part of their daily staple diet. So what is Timothy Hay, what makes it so important, and what makes it different from other types of hay you can get?

Here are 24 different facts and benefits of Timothy hay.

  1. Timothy hay is dried timothy-grass which is a perennial grass found all over Europe.
  2. It is also called meadow cat’s-tail or common cat’s tail.
  3. Early settlers to the new world brought grass seeds to sow and started a significant growth in wild grass in the United States which started the growth of timothy-grass
  4. It is named after Timothy Hanson, who was a New England farmer in the USA who first introduced it to the southern states of the USA in the 18th century.
  5. It was first described as ‘hurd grass’ by Jonathan Herd in 1711 in New England, as it was commonly grown for cattle feed and hay for horses and is considered part of the of the standard mix of grass hay nutrition for horses.
  6. It is one of the most widely cultivated hay grasses in north America
  7. It can adapt to most cool and moist climates where it is often grown in mixtures
  8. It is usually sown in the fall
  9. It is less damp than other hays
  10. It is less prone to mould
  11. It was a valuable cash crop, between 1870 and 1910 as it was needed to feed horses that powered much of the machinery of the age.
  12. It has a coarse, abrasive texture that helps to grind down the teeth.
  13. Timothy Hay helps digestion of guinea pigs as it is very fibrous
  14. Guinea pigs need fresh timothy hay daily
  15. It should be an integral part of their diet
  16. As the hay is chewed by the guinea pig, it moves through the intestines and helps the food pass through it.
  17. it wears down and cleans their cheek teeth which are constantly growing. These are the large grinding teeth at the back of its mouth.
  18. Plain cut hay is the best choice of timothy hay
  19. Make sure its fresh hay
  20. Try and make sure that it has a nice, green colour rather than a dried out brown colour.
  21. There are different ways you can serve it. Most pets love it in a big pile but some owners have been creative in the way they serve it by putting it in say a cardboard tube and letting the guinea pig dig it out.
  22. It has a low calcium content compared to other forms of hay such as alfalfa, which can help those who may be prone to getting bladder stones and crystallization of urine.
  23. It has a low protein content
  24. It has a low moisture content which can also help stop dried grass from rotting
guinea pigs water

A Guide to Ensuring Your Guinea Pig Never Goes Thirsty

Having a thirsty guinea pig is never a good thing!

If you want your guinea pig to be healthy and lively then a good supply of water is vital to ensure that they live a long life and you don’t end up killing it off earlier than their natural life intended.

Although guinea pigs get water from the foods they eat in their diet, they still need to be provided with water to ensure they get what they need to quench their thirst and to ensure that they don’t starve.

The usual way to ensure that your guinea pig gets the water they need is to use a water bottle which can be bought from any pet store and attach it to the cage.

Glass water bottles vs plastic water bottles

There are different types of water bottle for guinea pigs;

  • glass bottles
  • plastic bottles

Glass bottles tend to be much easier to clean than plastic bottles.

Another good thing to purchase is a bottle brush so as to clean the inside of the bottle.

Can guinea pigs drink from a bowl?

You can also use a water bowl that can be placed in the cage that the guinea pig can take water from.

There is nothing wrong with doing this although there is a danger that the guinea pig may poo or pee into the water which is why a water bottle is the more preferable way of giving water to your guinea pig.

Which ever method you use, make sure that you refresh the water supply to your guinea pig on a daily basis.

How much water should I feed my guinea pig?

It is never a good idea to limit they amount of water your guinea pig drinks as they do need water to survive. Give them as much as they need.

However, do keep an eye on how much you are feeding your guinea pig.

 What if my guinea pig is not drinking water?

If you are concerned about how much water your guinea pig is drinking then do keep a record of how much you are giving your guinea pig on a daily basis and if necessary consult your veterinarian.

Supplement their diet with foods that are high in water value such as grass, cucumber and lettuce. This will give their water intake a boost.

Another thing to look at is whether you have a leaking water bottle as well.

What types of water can I give my guinea pig?

Normal tap water is sufficient to be used for guinea pigs. Do not attempt to use any other types of flavoured water or sugar water as this wont be appreciated by the guinea pig and may harm them.

How often should I clean my water bottle?

Try and clean the water bottle at least every two or three days, using your bottle brush and some vinegar clean out the bottle before rinsing well with water.

Once you are happy that it has been rinsed well, fill the bottle up again with fresh water and put the cap on before placing it back on the cage.

In order to protect the bottle from algae, then a protective cover will help prevent the sun’s rays getting to the water bottle.

Maintaining water supply during winter

Another consideration to make is that if you keep your guinea pig outside during winter time, then make sure that you keep the water bottle insulated as well.

You can purchase water bottle covers that keep a guinea pig’s water bottle well insulated so that it doesn’t freeze up during winter. A frozen water bottle is a sure way of killing off a cavy, so its a good investment.

image: flickr