Nutritional Needs of Guinea Pigs

Your guinea pig relies on you to supply the right dietary mix to keep them healthy. This reliance means you need to know what their bodies need to stay healthy. Otherwise, their quality of life will be affected. That’s why Guinea Pig Center is bringing up the specific nutritional needs of guinea pigs.

Natural Diet

Guinea pigs are native to South America and roam several countries. Their natural habitat tends to be more grassland than jungle. Guinea pigs are herbivores and grazers at that. These categories mean they eat a wide variety of grasses and other plants available in their habitat continuously to meet their nutritional needs.

In the wild, the nutritional needs of guinea pigs require they forage continuously. Their noses help them avoid poisonous plants though you should not count on your domesticated piggle having the same ability.

Guinea pig eating grass to meet its nutritional needs

Commercial Looks at the Nutritional Needs of Guinea Pigs

Commercial options to meet the nutritional needs of guinea pigs are plentiful. However, not all the options are solid choices. Guinea pigs require a diet that is high in fiber and low in carbohydrates to support their health. Guinea pigs also do not do well with high amounts of calcium.

Commercial options tend to be available in a pelletized form. The best ones tend to be hay-based and then fortified. These options should not hold seeds or dried fruit, as these can harm your guinea pig. Pellets are available by mail order or from your local pet store.

Guinea pigs are not naturally prone to overeating. However, your guinea pig may be the exception, and you may need to measure their daily food allotment.

Guinea pig on grass


Hay is the closest available material to what guinea pigs forage in the wild and suited for the nutritional needs of guinea pigs. However, it’s essential to stick to grass-based, pesticide-free hays. Otherwise, your guinea pig may develop digestive issues.

Offering hay consistently helps your guinea pig avoid several health concerns. These issues include diabetes, obesity, diarrhea, and more. Hay can be provided on the floor of the cage, on the side in a hay manger, or hanging from the ceiling in a hay ball. The latter two options mean you’ll need to change the hay less often.

Vitamin C

The significant nutritional need for guinea pigs is vitamin C. Like humans, guinea pigs cannot make their own vitamin C and must get it through food. Fortunately, a sufficiently varied diet combined with fortified pellets typically takes care of this need.

If you would like to provide your guinea pig with more vitamin C, you have options. The trick is not giving your guinea pig too much sugar while you’re doing so. Providing single wedges of oranges, handfuls of dark greens (but not the gas creating ones like broccoli), and strips of bell pepper or squash are all excellent possibilities.

Two guinea pigs eating shredded carrots to meet their nutritional needs

Fresh Vegetables and Fruits

In general, fresh vegetables meet the nutritional needs of guinea pigs. However, you need to be careful about how much and what varieties you provide. If you do not rotate the selection, your guinea pig may have digestive issues.

The big thing with selecting vegetables is not giving guinea pig anything that might create gas in their system. Guinea pigs cannot pass the gas produced in their intestines at will. Things like legumes and broccoli may cause gas build-up, which if severe, can lead to the vet.

The other significant consideration is the sugar content. Guinea pigs are small. Therefore, the nutritional needs of guinea pigs for sugar are small. Providing your guinea pig with too much sugar, such as more than a single strawberry, regularly can strain their system.

Leafy greens, bell peppers, and carrots make tasty snacks to have on hand. Guinea pigs, however, aren’t equipped to handle potato, onion, and large quantities of squash.


Fresh water is a paramount nutritional need for guinea pigs. In the wild, most of a guinea pig’s water comes from the plants they eat. This liquid helps their overall digestion. However, domestically, you would be hard-pressed to provide that same diet.

Therefore, a water bottle hanging off the side of the cage is the best choice. This water should be changed daily, such as after you eat breakfast or before you go to bed. Your guinea pig may leave food traces on the spout, so make sure to keep the bottle clean.

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