What Do Guinea Pigs Eat? Daily Food Guide

two guinea pigs eating hay and fresh food

Guinea pigs are herbivores which means they eat a plant-based diet. Their daily diet should consist mainly of grass hay with some fresh vegetables or safely foraged weeds and guinea pig pellet food every day as well. But it’s important they are fed the right balance of food to ensure they get the nutrition they need.

Of course, guinea pigs also need constant access to fresh, clean water at all times.

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How much food should guinea pigs eat daily?

A guinea pig needs unlimited grass hay (Timothy or Meadow hay) at all times, a cup of fresh daily vegetables or safely foraged weeds and about an eighth of a cup (2 tablespoons) of guinea pig pellet food. Water should be given in a bottle fixed to the side of their cage and replaced daily.

FoodDaily Quantity
Grass HayUnlimited – there should ALWAYS be feeding hay in their cage
Guinea Pig PelletsAbout ⅛ of a cup
Fresh vegetables or foraged weeds/plants
About 1-2 cups
Fresh Tap WaterConstant supply in a feeding bottle

It’s important your guinea pigs get good quality food to ensure they receive a good balance of nutrients and it’s also vital they eat the right amounts of each food type or they can become ill. 

Guinea pigs eating hay from a log hay feeder
Guinea pigs eating hay from a log hay feeder

Too much pellet food may mean they don’t eat enough of their fresh foods and too much fresh food could result in a bad tummy for your guinea pigs.

Not only will your guinea pigs be much healthier if fed the correct foods in the right quantities but it could also save you a lot of money on vet bills later.

What fresh foods can guinea pigs eat?

In the wild, guinea pigs would forage for weeds and vegetation that are packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s important you supply a daily portion of fresh vegetables or safely foraged weeds or plants for them to eat so they get a good range of nutrients.

Abyssinian guinea pig eating fresh grass
Sunny Pig eating fresh grass

If you’re wondering if you can replace fresh food with dry pellet food, the answer is no. Fresh food is an important part of your guinea pig’s daily diet and although it’s more expense and more work to prepare, this food is a part of what keeps them healthy as it’s packed with nutrition.

Guinea pigs can eat fruit in very small amounts but green leafy vegetables are the most important part of their fresh daily food. Foraging is a great way to provide more variety in their green leaf intake and is even better than buying fresh leaves from the supermarket.

Not all vegetables and fruit are suitable for your guinea pigs so we’ve put together a safe fruit and veg list that will show you what is suitable. It will also help you to provide a good variety of different types of vegetables during the week.

You may also want to purchase our full color fruit and vegetable list that is available to buy, download and print here – you can choose from a blue design or pink design. Some of our previous buyers have said they like to download and keep it on their phones as a reference for when they go to the shop.

fruit and vegetable list pdf to buy, download and print
Safe Fruit & Veg Guide – Available to buy, download and print in blue or pink

You should feed your guinea pigs about a cup of fresh veggies or foraged weeds each day, plus a small amount of fruit occasionally or in very small quantities as a treat.

How often should I feed my guinea pigs?

A guinea pig needs to be fed every day but whether you feed them in the morning or evening can be suited to your own schedule.

But it’s worth bearing in mind that guinea pigs are creatures of habit and will get to know when it’s feeding time, so it’s a good idea to stick to a particular routine each day if you can.

Our guinea pig feeding routine is a refill of hay in the morning plus daily pellets and half their daily veggies. We feed the second half of their daily veggies in the evening at dinnertime and refill their hay if necessary.

Guinea pig kitchen area with hay, fresh water, fresh green leaves and guinea pig pellets
Feeding area with lots of hay, fresh water, fresh leaves and a bowl of pellets

Guinea pig feeding schedules

Here are some suggested daily feeding schedules for your guinea pigs – you can use whichever fits into your daily routine the best.

HayPelletsFresh Food
MorningRefillDaily portion 1/8 cup eachDaily portion 1 cup each
HayPelletsFresh Food
MorningRefillDaily portion 1/8 cup each
EveningRefillDaily portion 1 cup each
HayPelletsFresh Food
MorningRefillDaily portion 1 cup each
EveningRefillDaily portion 1/8 cup each
HayPelletsFresh Food
MorningRefillDaily portion 1/8 cup eachHalf portion (1/2 cup each)
EveningRefillHalf portion (1/2 cup each)
HayPelletsFresh Food
MorningRefillHalf portion (1/2 cup each)
EveningRefillDaily portion 1/8 cup eachHalf portion (1/2 cup each)

Why is a varied diet so important for guinea pigs?

A good balanced diet that includes a large variety of vegetables, forage and fruit throughout the week is one that is most likely to keep your guinea pigs healthy.

By varying the veggies, they are getting a good range of vitamins, nutrients and minerals and they are less likely to need treatment for health problems later.

My guinea pig is not eating – what should I do?

Guinea pigs love food and will spend much of their time eating, so if your guinea pig is not interested in food, or is not eating, this is a sign that there is a serious problem. You must take them to the vet as a matter of urgency as they can deteriorate fast without food.

If a guinea pig that is not eating doesn’t get the medical help they need, more serious health issues will arise fast and be fatal for your pet.

How to introduce new food to guinea pigs

It’s important to introduce any new food to your guinea pigs gradually to avoid any tummy upsets. 

You may also find they don’t eat much of a food the first time it is introduced to them. Sometimes it can take a while for a guinea pig to become used to a new taste and texture. 

If you persist with a new vegetable or forage, giving them a little more every couple of days, you might find it becomes a firm favorite!

Switching to a new pellet food should also be done gradually over a week or two. Mix small amounts of the new food in with the existing one and each day add more of the new food and less of the old one. 

Burgess Excel Guinea  Pig Pellet Food
Burgess Excel Guinea Pig Pellet Food

What should I do with leftover food?

It’s important to remove any uneaten fruit or vegetables after an hour or so, especially if your guinea pigs are outdoors. Uneaten food, especially fruit, will attract flies which can pose an extreme danger to your pets and the food will also begin to deteriorate, especially in hot weather.

Any leftover pellets from the previous day should be replaced with a new fresh portion as the vitamin C content in pellet food diminishes as it’s exposed to light. 

Make sure you only feed them their daily portion each time to minimize any waste.

Hay that is on the floor of the cage will also need to be replaced daily as guinea pigs won’t eat contaminated hay. There will always be wastage with hay being dropped on the cage floor. This is natural and can’t be avoided. But we recommend you use a hay feeder to minimize the waste and to keep their feeding hay clean.

Why do guinea pigs eat their poop?

A guinea pig eats their poops (called caecals) because they contain important bacteria, minerals and nutrients. Re-ingesting them means they get these extra nutrients back into their system.

Guinea pigs produce two different types of poop. The one you may be familiar with is fairly hard and dry, dark brown and long in shape. It contains mainly indigestible fibers and has a low water content. These are the poops you see scattered around the cage and your guinea pig won’t eat these.

The second type of poops, which are formed from hindgut fermentation, contains more water and therefore is much softer. There are large amounts of vitamins and minerals in these poops, especially vitamin K and B vitamins. These are the poops your guinea pigs will eat.

If you see your guinea pig looking like he is cleaning his bottom, he is probably eating one of these poops as they eat these little nutrition-packed parcels straight from their bottom.

What should I do if my guinea pig has diarrhea?

If you happen to notice any diarrhea or very soft or unusually colored or shaped poops, you may be giving them too much watery or sugary food. Try cutting down on those types of food and if it doesn’t improve you should take them to the vet.

If your guinea pig’s diet hasn’t changed at all and they are getting diarrhea, we recommend taking them to the vet straight away as this could be a serious health problem.

Can guinea pigs eat dry forage mixes daily?

Dry forage mixes that don’t contain additives are great for guinea pigs but they shouldn’t replace the fresh food you feed your guinea pigs. 

Dry forage mixes can be mixed in with their pellet food or their hay as guinea pigs love to forage for tasty treats!

Here are some of the forage mixes we recommend and if you use the code REFER-GPIGGLEUK then you’ll get 15% discount on your whole order:

  • (perfect if they’re stressed)
  • (great for older piggies)

Can guinea pigs eat treats and snacks?

Guinea pigs don’t actually need treats and snacks but there are some you can safely give to your guinea pigs that they will enjoy. 

Treats can be useful if you are trying to tame your piggies and get them used to you, but they should not replace any other part of their daily diet.

Many of the treats sold for guinea pigs are unhealthy and not recommended because of the ingredients they use but there are some good natural treats that we recommend. You can also use the discount code REFER-GPIGGLEUK for a 15% discount on these too:

  • (a great treat to help your piggies get used to hand feeding and to help tame them)
  • (natural ingredients made mainly from ground timothy hay pellets, oats and just a little fruit)
  • (naturally air dried)

Can guinea pigs eat fresh grass?

Your guinea pig can eat fresh grass which you can either pick for them or they can eat while out in a safe run.

Abyssinian guinea pig eating fresh grass

However, there are poisonous weeds and plants that grow in lawns and grass that you need to beware of as these will make your guinea pigs ill. Buttercups, daisies and hemlock commonly grow in grass and are all very dangerous for your guinea pigs. 

Any grass they eat must also not be contaminated with pesticides, weed killer, dog or other pet excrement or urine.

If you’re picking grass from a park or hedgerow, you should always give it a good thorough wash before feeding it to your guinea pigs.

Lawnmower clippings are not suitable for guinea pigs and can cause serious illnesses so make sure you pick the grass or your guinea pigs graze on a safe lawn.

Can guinea pigs eat grass instead of hay?

It’s important that you don’t replace your guinea pig’s regular hay intake with grass. 

Although grass is a really good food for them and very healthy, they also need the coarse, rough and fibrous texture of the hay to keep their teeth in trim and for a healthy digestive system.