There is a particularly good reason why guinea pigs are called “pigs.” Just as their 600-pound farm namesake implies—they can eat up a storm!
Unlike farm pigs, who are prone to overeat, guinea pigs know when they have had enough. There are few things I enjoy more than seeing a happy guinea pig take a treat and run away to the safety of their house to munch on it.
The key to guinea pig food happiness is serving up the right treats—the healthy ones. I promise you they will love them just as much as the unhealthy snacks. Best of all, the healthy treats are budget friendly. Just feed them little nibbles of fresh foods you regularly eat. Baby tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, and Romaine lettuce are all safe and delicious treats. Even fresh grass is a delightful snack for a guinea pig.
I love foraging. It’s an amazing world of natural treats growing in abundantly and free! Fresh grasses and dandelions are among guinea pig favorites. I have a lot of fun taking a walk and foraging for the guinea pigs in springtime when everything is lush, green, and fresh. I use a plant identification app called PlantNet, which is a great tool in separating out the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. You take a photo of the plant and within seconds the app tells you what you the name of the plant. I have a few videos on foraging on my YouTube Channel “Saskia from Los Angeles Guinea Pig Rescue.”
There are a lot of companies that make treats for guinea pigs; it has become a big business. A quick search on Google pulls up page after page of yummy looking goodies. One thing to keep in mind is a lot of treats are made to appeal to humans, but a lot of the more colorful treats are not necessarily good for guinea pigs.
You should always read the ingredient list on any guinea pig food or treats. All highly processed foods are usually loaded with sugar and/or dairy, neither of which are not healthy nor natural for guinea pigs to eat since they’re herbivores. I looked up the ingredients for a popular yoghurt drop treat and found the main ingredient is dairy. The drops also contained sugar, vegetable oil, dried whey protein concentrate, dried skim milk, dried yogurt, corn starch, lecithin, ascorbic acid, and vanilla. Another popular treat I looked up listed its ingredients as peanut, rice flour, corn starch, sesame seed, and sugar. Natural treats are always preferable. Guinea pigs love them just as much and have the added bonus of being healthy for them.
Here are some natural treats I love to feed my piggies:
- Grow your own wheatgrass! It’s easy and fun to watch the seeds transform into yummy, succulent grass with the Pet Greens Garden. The seeds germinate in two days and grow to maturity in six to ten days.
- Healthy Snackers are little cookie crackers that are cubes of goodness. The ingredients are Timothy hay pellets, oats, and fresh fruit and herbs (apple, banana, pumpkin, pear/blueberry, or carrot/pineapple).
- I have yet to meet a guinea pig that doesn’t like humble Pea Flakes. Our fellow guinea pig lovers in Europe are responsible for bringing the pea flake to guinea pigs everywhere. Small Pet Select sells these little bags of odd-shaped bite size snacks. In fact, Small Pet Select has a whole section on their website dedicated to healthy food and treats for guinea pigs and other small pets.
When considering adopting a guinea pig for your family, please research the responsibility (and reality) of guinea pig ownership, along with common diseases and proper nutrition. Guinea pigs aren’t the right fit for everyone, and an unprepared owner can unintentionally contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle. Sometimes, a pet the whole family can enjoy, like a dog or cat, may be a better option, but adopting is always better than buying.
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