Still too many guinea-pigs owners give vegetables only occasionally for the following reasons: it is too expensive, people say that it is bad for guinea-pigs, and it is too constraining of going to buy some regularly.
In this case, it is more judicious not to choose an herbivore as pet!
In fact the vegetables (along with hay) constitute the major part of the guinea pig’s diet.
As a strict herbivore, it consumes approximately a tenth of its weight in fresh plants each day!
Fruits or vegetables?
Vegetables have generally more success with guinea pigs. But some do love fruits, then why deprive them?
Be careful however, because many fruits are acid and are likely to cause digestive problems or irritation of the lips (especially apples). Only give them ripe fruits, in modest amount, and not more than once per week!
Preferred vegetables and fruits
The guinea-pig much appreciates cucumber, carrot, parsley, fennel, celery, lettuce, endives, spinaches… as well as tomato and the sweet pepper (which although being fruits are generally classified in the vegetables category).
The lettuce should be given only by intervals and in modest amount, because it has plenty of nitrates. Same instruction for parsley, which can be toxic in high amount and which can cut lactation for females in gestation and nursing, and for carrots which are very rich in sugars (never give a large carrot every day).
Too much cucumber – which contains 95% of water – risks to give the diarrhea and too much cabbage causes bloating.
On the other hand, carrot tops are not toxic at all and are even much appreciated!
For the fruits, here are the most popular: banana, cherry, strawberry, raspberry, kiwi, clementine, orange, tangerine, tomato, melon, mirabelle plum, water melon, apple, grape, pear, apricot…
The ideal is to give to your guinea pig a “mixed salad” from at least two or three different plants, which you will alternate each day. If possible, the salad will have to include at least a vegetable rich in vitamin C.
Here an example of menu for the week:
- Monday: spinach and endive
- Tuesday: fennel and celery
- Wednesday: parsley and carrot
- Thursday: sweet pepper and apple
- Friday: dandelion and cucumber
- Saturday: kiwi and celeriac
- Sunday: broccoli and corn salad
If you have several guinea pigs, to prevent that one does not steal a large piece of vegetable and will go eat it in a corner, you can cut all the vegetables in small pieces!
Some general precautions
Fruits and vegetables must always be given washed, dried, and at room temperature, i.e. not directly from the fridge. And of course, we don’t give rotted or not fresh vegetables. When the fruit and vegetables are not treated, the ideal is not to peel them, because it is in the skin that a good part of the vitamins resides.
If your guinea pig comes from a pet shop where he never experienced the joy fruits and vegetables, it is necessary to accustom to it very gradually to avoid digestive disorders.
You can give wild plants to your guinea pig. But take care to gather them far from polluted roads and in places free from pesticides! Here are some that will make a feast for your companion: grass, chervil, stitchwort (the white one only), alfalfa, dandelion, ribwort plantain, groundsel, orache, shepherd’s purse, Japanese knotweed …
It is especially the dandelion which will have much success. But be aware, it is very rich in calcium and risk to accumulate in excess. To avoid with females in gestation and lactating!