If you’re wondering what fruits and vegetables your guinea pigs can eat, this comprehensive diet guide gives you an overview of knowledge and options.
While high-quality Timothy hay should make up at least 80% of your guinea pigs’ daily diet, fruits and vegetables are highly necessary to provide them with their much needed vitamins and other nutrients.
As part of a healthy guinea pig diet, it is recommended to offer a mix of healthy fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
On this page you’ll find more than 100 fruits and vegetables that are perfectly safe for your guinea pigs to eat, along with a few foods that should be avoided by all means.
Basic nutritional needs
First and foremost, your guinea pigs should always get a proper, balanced diet with a good variety of hay, supplementary pellets, fresh vegetables and fruits.
A proper diet would cover their needs of these essential nutrients:
Below you’ll find essential advice on what your guinea pigs eat.
1. Hay (80-85 % of daily intake)
To some people this is a surprise, but guinea pigs need constant access to high-quality Timothy hay. The reason why Timothy hay is preferred, is because of its low calcium content. If you want to learn more about hay, check our article on the best types of hay for guinea pigs.
We recommend offering a large pile of hay in their cage at any time, so they always have unrestricted and unlimited access to their hay.
2. Pellets/nuggets (5% of daily intake)
The best pellets are based on hay/grass and have a uniform shape. They should be fortified with vitamin C and other nutrients, and act solely as a supplementary food to make sure your guinea pigs get the nutrients they need.
They won’t need more than 1/8 of a cup per pig per day.
3. Vegetables and fruits (10-15% of daily intake)
Guinea pigs rely on fresh vegetables and fruits for their daily needs of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. While leafy greens should comprise the main part of their daily intake of fresh produce, fruits are generally considered treats because of their high sugar contents.
According to The Humane Society, one cup of fresh produce per guinea pig per day will suffice, but make sure you offer a good variety to meet all their nutritional needs. We believe this is a good general guideline, as guinea pigs are likely to overeat if they are offered excessive amounts of fresh produce.
4. Fresh, clean water
Guinea pigs need constant access to fresh, clean water. We recommend using water bottles made from glass because they’re easier to keep clean, but a small ceramic bowl could work too.
Don’t forget to empty and refill daily, and keep the bottle clean at all times. Do regular checkups by pressing the metal ball tip of the bottle once in a while, to make sure your guinea pigs can get the water out.
Guinea pigs need vitamin C
According to this article from VCA Hospitals, authored by Laurie Hess (DVM) and Rick Axelson (DVM), guinea pigs cannot manufacture their own vitamin C. A lack of vitamin C makes them more prone to infections, skin problems and other diseases, which is why their diet must contain sufficient amounts of vitamin C.
In general, a guinea pig needs 10-50 mg vitamin C every day, depending on its condition/age. If in doubt, we recommend that you call your local vet to get a proper assessment of your guinea pig’s recommended daily intake.
Some fruits and vegetables hold large amounts of vitamin C, such as:
- Guava (228 mg / 100 g)
- Thyme (160 mg / 100 g)
- Parsley (133 mg / 100 g)
- Peppers (especially red bell peppers) (128 mg / 100 g)
- Kale (120 mg / 100 g)
- Kiwi (93 mg / 100 g)
- Broccoli (89 mg / 100 g)
- Brussel sprouts (85 mg / 100 g)
- Dill (85 mg / 100 g)
- Mustard greens (70 mg / 100 g)
Best practices when feeding
The nutrients in fresh vegetables and fruits vary greatly because they depend on growth conditions, weather, varieties, season, and more. Therefore our recommendation is to feed a varied range of fresh produce, preferably locally grown.
During years of guinea pig parenthood, we’ve been most succesful implementing these tips in our feeding routines:
1. Never buy large quantities of pellets
Especially because vitamin C breaks down quickly, we never buy more pellets than what they eat within a month or two. The general recommendation is to get the pellets as freshly manufactured as possible, but it isn’t always easy to source freshly manufactured pellets of a proper quality. So the second best thing you can do, is to never buy large quantities of pellets and instead get a 30-day supply only.
2. Select local, organic produce if possible
It isn’t always possible to find locally grown produce, let alone organic produce, but if possible this is the best type of produce you can get your hands on.
In general we recommend that you buy produce that is 1) in season, 2) locally grown, 3) organic.
3. Offer a good variety of produce daily
It’s a great idea to offer your guinea pigs lots of different vegetables and fruits, otherwise they might get picky with what you’re offering them.
What we usually do, is to regularly rotate the types of vegetables and fruits they get. And usually we feed vegetables only, because fruits are generally considered treats rather than staples.
Normally we offer between 5 and 10 different types of fresh produce daily, to make sure they get as many different nutrients as possible every day.
4. Don’t overfeed your guinea pigs
Guinea pigs cannot hold themselves back, and they’ll eat whatever is offered. As they’re prone to weight problems, it’s your responsibility to keep their diet properly balanced. That means no excessive feeding of vegetables and fruits, the only thing they should have access to 24/7 is fresh water and hay.
Pellets and fresh produce should be limited to no more than 1/8 cup of pellets and 1 cup of fresh produce per guinea pig per day.
List of foods for guinea pigs
IMPORTANT: This list is based on extensive research and expert knowledge. We’ll keep it updated whenever new knowledge emerges, so make sure to leave a comment if you have a suggestion for improvement.
Click on each food item to learn more:
|Arugula||1-2 times a week|
|Asparagus||1-2 times a week|
|Baby spinach||1-2 times a week|
|Basil||1-2 times a week|
|Bean sprouts||Occasional treat|
|Beets||1-2 times a week|
|Bok choy||1-2 times a week|
|Broccoli||1-2 times a week|
|Brussel sprouts||Occasional treat|
|Butter lettuce||1-2 times a week|
|Butternut squash||Occasional treat|
|Cabbage||1-2 times a week|
|Carrots + tops||1-2 times a week|
|Cauliflower||1-2 times a week|
|Celery||1-2 times a week|
|Cherry tomatoes||Occasional treat|
|Cilantro||1-2 times a week|
|Collard greens||1-2 times a week|
|Cranberries||1-2 times a week|
|Dill||1-2 times a week|
|Dragon fruit||1-2 times a week|
|Endive||Staple food (5-7 times a week)|
|Fennel||1-2 times a week|
|Grape tomatoes||Occasional treat|
|Green beans||Occasional treat|
|Green leaf lettuce||1-2 times a week|
|Guava||1-2 times a week|
|Iceberg lettuce||Occasional treat|
|Kale||1-2 times a week|
|Mint||1-2 times a week|
|Mustard greens||1-2 times a week|
|Okra||1-2 times a week|
|Parsley||1-2 times a week|
|Parsnips||1-2 times a week|
|Peas||1-2 times a week|
|Peppers||Staple food (5-7 times a week)|
|Radicchio||1-2 times a week|
|Red leaf lettuce||1-2 times a week|
|Romaine lettuce||Staple food (5-7 times a week)|
|Snap peas||Occasional treat|
|Snow peas||1-2 times a week|
|Spinach||1-2 times a week|
|Spring mix||Staple food (5-7 times a week)|
|Sweet potatoes||Occasional treat|
|Swiss chard||Occasional treat|
|Thyme||1-2 times a week|
|Turnip greens||1-2 times a week|
|Watercress||1-2 times a week|
|Yams||1-2 times a week|
|Zucchini||1-2 times a week|
- Laurie Hess, DVM; Rick Axelson, DVM: Feeding Guinea Pigs – VCA Hospitals
- Rosemary Norman; Alison P. Wills: An Investigation into the Relationship between Owner Knowledge, Diet, and Dental Disease in Guinea Pigs (Cavia porcellus) – Animals 2016, 6(11), 73. MDPI
- The Humane Society