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What Can Guinea Pigs Eat? – The Guinea Pig Safe Food List

Published: 5/31/2010 | Author: HappyCavy | Updated: 4/22/2015

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Guinea pig safe food list
Photo courtesy of HappyCavy fan pyza*

Guinea pigs are always eating. Whether it’s pellets, grass hay, daily greens, or the occasional fruit snack, it may often seem like your guinea pig is born to eat (and create magic beans).

With an insatiable diet comes the responsibility to learn what constitues a proper guinea pig diet. Choosing guinea pig safe foods can be a bit of a challenge. There are so many types of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that guinea pigs can eat.

So what should you be feeding your guinea pig?

What fruits and ?  What fruits can guinea pigs eat?? And herbs? What about those?

  • What can guinea pigs eat?
  • Which vegetables, fruits, and herbs are safe to feed your guinea pig?
  • Are the foods you have been giving your cavy “guinea pig safe“?
  • Besides water, hay, and pellets, what else can your guinea pig eat?

→ Jump to the Guinea Pig Safe Food List

First, let’s take a look at the basics of a guinea pig diet or jump to What The Happy Cavy Herd Eats for a general guide on the daily dietary requirements of guinea pigs.

A guinea pig’s diet should consist of the following:

#1. Water

Glass Water Bottle

A constant fresh source of fresh (preferably filtered but NOT distilled) clean, room-temperature water is an absolute must.

Water bottles should be emptied, rinsed, and re-filled each day.

#2. Grass Hay

Free Guinea Pig Ring at SmallPetSelect.com

High-quality grass hay (such as timothy hay) should be available at all times for your guinea pig. Hay delivers the fiber that that is essential for your guinea pig to be able to properly digest and proces food and nutrients. Without a constant intake of fresh hay, guinea pigs’ digestive tracks can shut down. Plus, hay helps guinea pigs keep their teeth clean prevents their teeth from growing too long.

How do you know if hay is high-quality? High-quality hay should be green with pliable stalks, free of mold and foreign particulates, and fragrant (not dusty or void of smell). Cheap, store-bought hay is no substitute for fresh, high-quality yummy goodness.

Most hay purchased at “big box” stores (PetCo, etc.) is NOT high-quality hay. Farm-to-cage is ideal and special caution should be taken when providing the most important food of your guinea pig’s diet: high-quality, pesticide(?) free hay.

Shopping for Hay?

Use coupon code ‘HappyCavy‘ to get FREE SHIPPING for the best hay available at Small Pet Select!

NOTE: An alfalfa hay mix (1/2 timothy, 1/2 alfalfa) should be primarily fed to young guinea pigs under the age of 4 months and pregnant or nursing cavies. Because alfalfa hay is high in calcium, it should NOT be fed to healthy, adult cavies. Healthy, adult guinea pigs should be fed lower-calcium hays such as timothy hay or orchard grass hay.

#3. Pellets

Guinea Pig Pellets

Provide your guinea pig with about 1/4 – 1/8 cup of plain, corn- and seed-free guinea pig pellets for eating each day. Pellets are less important than a constant supply of fresh grass hay, though pellets can provide additional vitamins and nutrients that your guinea pig isn’t getting from hay alone, especially if the pellets are fortified in Vitamin C.

Guinea pig pellets should consist of only high-quality hay and should be served in a ceramic bowl, which is large enough to not tip over.

NOTE: Pellets alone are NOT a substitute for hay! High-quality grass hay is a must for proper guinea pig health.


Vitamin C

Like Humans, guinea pigs cannot manufacture their own vitamin C. To prevent survy and other health issues, each guinea pig should get 10 to 30 milligrams of Vitamin C each day; young, ill, nursing and/or pregnant animals require extra Vitamin C. While many guinea pigs will get an adequate serving of Vitamin C from vegetables and pellets, you may wish to supplement your cavy’s diet with a small amount of Vitamin C, either in power or tablet form.

NOTE: It is NOT recommended that you use water-soluable drops for supplementing Vitamin C. Watch How to Give Vitamin C to Your Guinea Pig (video) to see how HappyCavies get their Vitamin C.

Vegetables, Herbs, & Other Foods

Vegetables at Grocery Store

Guinea pig may be fed up to 1 cup (240 mL) each (adults) of a number of vegetables and herbs. Some fruits may be fed as well. Please remember that your guinea pig’s food supply should NOT be mainly fresh vegetables and herbs.

Guinea should get only 1 cup (240 mL) of vegetables per day, which, if you are feeding snacks, should include some dark greens and preferably no fruit.

To help you find which vegetables, herbs, and fruits are safe to feed your guinea pig, please refer to the Guinea Pig Food List below.

NOTE: Always introduce new foods to your guinea pig slowly and patiently. Begin introducing new foods by providing a small piece or two during the “first try”. Then, portions of a particular guinea pig safe food may be increased slightly with each subsequent serving. The way that you introduce nutrients is as important as a healthy diet. Guinea pigs have a sensitive digestive system which is easily upset.

Help Us Maintain The Food List!

There are so many foods a guinea pig can eat. If you know of a food that is not included in this list which you think we should add, please let us know!

Share This Guinea Pig Nutrition & Diet Info

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Guinea Pig “Safe Food List”

Updated: April 14, 2014



Click a letter to view that vegetable and refer to the “Notes” for cautionary advice.

Information on this chart is derived from the USDA Nutrient Database, from SR22 to SR25 datasets. Information may have changed since the publication of this chart.

This chart takes into consideration several factors to arrive at our feeding frequency suggestions: sugar, calcium, phosphorous, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, oxalic acid content, and calcium to phosphorous (Ca:P) ratio. Not all fields are displayed due to space requirements. Chemical composition can be referenced at the USDA Nutrient Database.

DO NOT copy or distribute this list it without express permission from HappyCavy.com. Contact us if you wish to use this list on your website.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
VEGETABLE / FRUIT
(fresh & raw)
VITAMIN C
in mg (per 100g)
CALCIUM
in mg (per 100g)
Notes
Alfalfa – pellets 0 2200 Alfalfa pellets are suitable for young, growing and/or pregnant guinea pigs (under 1 year of age).
Ref. Pellets: Alfalfa vs Timothy.
Apple 4.60 6.00 Apple seeds are poisonous
Apricot 10.00 13.00  
Arugula lettuce 15.00 160.00
Asparagus 17.69 28.14 May cause gas or bloating.
Banana 9.10 6.00 Can cause constipation.
Basil 4.5 38.0 Can cause constipation.
Beet greens/leaves
(beetroot greens/leaves)
30.00 117.00  
Beets (beetroot) 4.90 16.00  
Bell pepper     See Peppers (capscium)
Blackberries 21.00 32.00  
Blueberries 9.7 6.00 Feed in moderation.
Broccoli raab, rabe, rapini 93.00 48.00 May cause gas or bloating.
Broccolini 93.00 48.00 Stems are liked better than flowers
Brussels sprouts 85.00 42.00 May cause gas or bloating.
Cabbage, green 51.00 47.00 May cause gas or bloating.
Cabbage, red 57.00 51.00 May cause gas or bloating.
Cabbage, Chinese pak-choi 45.00 74.00 May cause gas or bloating.
Cabbage, Savoy 31.00 35.00 Feed in moderation. May cause gas or bloating.
Cantaloupe (rock melon) See Melon – Cantaloupe (rock melon)
Carrots 5.9 33.00 High Vitamin A. Feed in moderation.
Carrots, baby 2.60 32.00 High Vitamin A. Feed in moderation.
Carrots, top greens unknown unknown Unknown nutrient makeup. Feed sparingly.
Cauliflower / Broccoflower 46.40 22.00
Celery 7.00 40.00 Choking hazard. Remove the celery “veins” to prevent hazard.
Cherimoya 9.00 23.00 Very in very small amounts.
Cherries (without pits) – sour 10.00 16.00
Cherries (without pits) – sweet 7.00 13.00
Chicory, greens 24.00 100.00
Chicory, witloof 2.80 19.00
Cilantro (corriander) 27.00 67.00 Feed in moderation.
**Collards 35.30 145.00 May cause gas or bloating.
Corn on the cob (1 med ear) 6.10 2.00 May cause gas or bloating.
Cranberries 13.50 7.00 Feed in moderation.
Cress, garden 69.00 81.00
Cucumber with peel 5.30 14.00
Dandelion Greens 35.00 187.00
Dill 85.00 208.00
Eggplant 6.5 6.5
Elderberries 36.00 38.00 Feed in small amounts.
Endive (escarole) 6.50 52.00  
Fennel, fronds & leaves not recorded specially for fronds & leaves not recorded specially for fronds & leaves Feed rarely.
Grapefruit, white 37.00 15.00 Sour foods can cause mouth sores.
Grapes 4.00 14.00  
Grass (lawn) See Hay
Green beans, snap 12.20 37.00
Hay varies by type varies by type IMPORTANT: Read Selecting Hay.
Honeydew 120.00 135.00 See Melon – honeydew
Kale 120.00 135.00
Kiwifruit, fuzzy (kiwi or kiwi fruit) 92.70 34.00 Remove brown, fuzzy skin.
Kohlrabi 62.00 24.00 Feed in moderation.
Kumquat 37.40 44.00  
Lavender 12.00 215.00  
Leek 12.00 59.00  
Lettuce –
butterhead, boston, bibb
3.70 35.00
Lettuce –
romaine (cos lettuce)
4.00 33.00
Lettuce –
red leaf
3.70 33.00
Mammy-apple (mamey) 14.00 11.00  
Mandarin orange (or tangerine) 30.80 14.00 Feed in small amounts.
Mango 27.70 10.00  
Melon – Cantaloupe (rock melon) 36.70 9.00 Feed in small amounts.
Melon – casaba 16.00 5.00  
Melon – honeydew 24.80 6.00  
Melon – watermelon 9.60 8.00  
Mint (peppermint) 31.80 243.00  
Mustard greens 70.00 103.00 May cause gas or bloating.
Nectarine 5.40 5.00  
**Okra 21.10 81.00
Orange 53.20 40.00 Citrus can cause mouth sores.
Oregano 2.30 1597.00 Feed in very small amounts.
Papaya 61.80 24.00  
**Parsley (curly or flat) 133.00 138.00
Parsnip 17.00 36.00
Passionfruit, purple 30.00 12.00
Peach 6.60 5.00  
Peas, edible-podded 40.00 25.00
Pears – Asian 3.80 4.00  
Pears – European 6.60 18.15  
Peppermint 31.8 243.00  
Peppers (capscium), sweet green 80.40 10.00 May cause gas or bloating.
Peppers (capscium), sweet red 127.70 7.00 May cause gas or bloating.
Peppers (capscium), sweet yellow 183.50 11.00 May cause gas or bloating.
Persimmon 66.00 27.00 Feed in very small amounts.
Pineapple 15.40 7.00 Citrus can cause mouth sores.
Plum 9.50 4.00  
Pumpkin 11.00 39.00 High in Vitamin A.
Pumpkin Leaves 11.00 39.00 High in Vitamin A.
Quince 15.00 11.00
Radicchio 8.00 19.00  
Radishes 14.80 25.00  
Raspberries 26.00 25.00
Raspberry leaves (from raspberry plant) 25.00 22.00
Spearmint 13.3 199.00 Feed in very small amounts
**Spinach 28.10 99.00 May cause gas or bloating. Contains high levels of oxalic acid.
Squash, summer 17.00 15.00  
Squash, winter 12.30 28.00  
Starfruit 34.40 3.00  
Strawberries 56.70 14.00 Feed in moderation.
Sweet potato 22.70 22.00
Sweet potato leaves 11.00 37.00
**Swiss Chard 30.00 51.00 Feed in moderation. May cause diarrhea.
Taro leaves 52.00 107.00
Thyme 160.01 405.00 Feed in moderation.
#Tomato, red, cherry tomatoes 19.10 5.00 Avoid leaves and stems (poisonous) – See Dangerous Food List
Turnip greens 60.00 190.00
Watercress 43.00 120.00
Watermelon See Melon – watermelon
Watermelon rind Vitamin & mineral content unknown. Watermelon rind is safe.
Wheatgrass ~4.00 ~28.00 Fresh grasses may cause gut upsets.
Zucchini (courgette) 28.00 1.00


# Vitamin C values for tomatoes differ depending on variety and season.

** Contains oxalic acid which may contribute to the formation of bladder stones.

Please email website[at]happycavy.com to make additions to this list.

What Can Guinea Pigs Eat? - The Guinea Pig Safe Food List, 4.4 out of 5 based on 715 ratings
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  • karen

    My guinea pig is about 3 1/2 weeks old, she doesn’t want any vegetables. She only eats pellets & hay. What age should she be eating vegetables?

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    I’m honestly not sure. But guinea pigs do not NEED vegetables to live a happy, healthy life. A guinea pig’s diet requires only high-quality hay, hay pellets, and fresh water. Vegetables are a snack, like potato chips are to a human. How about providing only the hay, pellets, and water and the occasional lettuce trims every month or so, if at all?

  • Pete

    Hi, I just adopted a 6 week old female guinea pig, named Missy, short for Miss Piggy. I have had her for about 3 weeks. She seems to be settling well. I’m wondering how long does it usually take to be able to hold her, and train her to come to me?
    Thanks,
    Pete

  • Cierra

    Hello!! I was looking at your list and I noticed “Raspberry Leaves.” Is this the actual leaves off of raspberries, or the Herb known as rasberry leaves? Just wanted to make this clear. :) Your list is very helpful as I am a very knew guinea pig owner, and I want what is best for my piggies, and your list lets me know that. 😀 Thank you very much!!

    -Cierra

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    Hi, Cierra! The “raspberry leaves” refers to leaves off of raspberry plants. We’ve updated the list for clarity. Thanks! 😀

  • masy

    Thanks alot for the info :) I just dont know how to make them play..they are shy and always hide though I hug them and play with them..I read here about pepsi boxes..I will give it a try nut any other ideas? Thanks alot

  • Elizabeth Kent

    We just rescued a guinea pig, but my husband was terribly allergic to the pine shavings as well as the timothy hay. I switched to the paper shaving, which will be just fine, but will our piggy adapt to the timothy hay cubes instead of having the loose hay? I don’t have any other choice – we cannot keep her if we have to provide loose hay. It’s just not worth it for my husband to be totally miserable. SO, will the cubes be okay? Will she get used to them? HELP! Thanks!

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    Hi, Elizabeth! Thank you for rescuing! 😀 Oh boy, we hear you. Human #2 is allergic to timothy hay. So we use orchard grass instead, since he isn’t allergic to that. So there’s one potential option.

    I’m not familiar with hay cubes, but I wouldn’t see why he won’t adjust. As long as the hay can be chewed off and digested, I think that’s fine. It may take him a little bit to figure it out, though.

    So, stay with cubes and see how that works. If it doesn’t, check out orchard grass. :)

  • Shelby

    I’ve had my guinea pig for two weeks now and he’s the first one I’ve ever had and I feel like he never stops eating. He has unlimited access to pellets and hay and I give him treats every day his favorites being watermelon, romaine lettuce and sweet bell peppers. If I let him out to run around he just looks at me and squeaks until I give him a treat and when he’s in his cage he will kick his hay around that he hasn’t ate and then sit there and squeak some more until I give him more. I bought him a round hay feeder to try and slow him down but he just tore it down and pushed it off his platform so I’m wondering what I can do to get him to slow down on eating because I feel like he’s getting fat and when I let him out he doesn’t run around he just sits there.

  • Shelby

    Try watermelon mine goes nuts for it

  • Laura Richelle Richter

    My guinea pig is named Mr. Nibbles. We call him nibbles or nibbly. I have some broccoli that was frozen that i cooked. It has nothing on it. Could he have a little or Not ?

  • Laura Richelle Richter

    Nah, some pigs are just more skiddish than other’s. Our nibbles is like that he loves to cuddle.

  • Guest

    And this is mr. Nibbles ! Our girl, squeaks, had to be put down last October . We miss her.

  • Laura Richelle Richter

    You usually only need to wait about 4 days

  • Laura Richelle Richter

    I hope your pig was okay, he NEEEDED a vet

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    Hi, Laura,
    Guinea pigs *can* have broccoli, but it’s high in calcium and can cause gas. So we say, just skip it :) And, as a general rule, it’s better to serve fresh than cooked veggies. *wheek!*

  • lilyrose

    Hey I just got a guinea pig last week and was wondering if she can eat real apples I know they can’t have the seed of them but just a slice can she eat it

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    Guinea pigs can eat apples. Just feed a slice or two once or twice a week, as fruit is high in sugar. :)

  • lilyrose

    Ok ty

  • Ally_bear

    My guinea pig is adorable… He loves peppers and salantro the most but he started itching, and we took him to the vet then he stated having siezures is that a food issue??

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    I’ve never heard of a guinea pig having seizures due to food. Itching sounds like mites, and excessive itching can cause seizures. I would call the vet and notify them of the seizures, as they will need to see him again.

  • Toni Doncaster

    Two worries about my girls. I’ve had them for 6 months but for the last 2 months they’ve had dandruff. Have read online and seen that it may be mites so have treated them, bathed them and cleaned their hutch but they still have the dandruff!! Also, I’ve noticed they don’t drink a lot of water. They have a lot of veggies so I assume they’re getting water from this but how can I encourage them to drink? Thanks!

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    Ho, Toni! If they still have dandruff, it’s possible that there may be another skin condition they have. I’d schedule a vet appointment if you haven’t already. Also, guinea pigs generally stop eating or drinking if they are in pain, and they may be itchy and miserable. To the vet, I say! :)

  • Silver Thunder

    Hello! I just visited this site for the first time and I absolutely love it! It’s only the second day I’ve had my first guinea pig and after giving her a small apple slice and a little bit of red leaf celery (In which she has only touched the apple and devoured it) I feel we have already started to bond a little more! She’s only 4 weeks and a single day but she’s already extremely social and vocal :3

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    How cute! We love vocal and social peegs. Have fun with your new fuzzy friend!

  • AnnMarie Perry

    I have a question. Can my little behead eat fat free rice crackers? Anytime I am holding him and I am eatting crackers of any kind, he goes nuts trying to grab them from me. Are crackers okay?

  • SheWhoRoars

    Hi, just a quick question, I’m going to be getting a little girl soon, and I was just wondering if on this frequency chart, if all the greens are grouped together? Like, the things that are to be fed 2-3 times a week, is it that something from that category can be fed that often, or the item itself? For instance, some of the daily greens seem like they’re high in things like the lettuce and vitamin A, so does that mean I should feed it among other things? I’m just worried about giving my baby the wrong food and making her sick :/

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    Guinea pigs love crunchy sounds. But rice crackers (or any variety of cracker) are very “not safe”. :)

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    I’m not sure I understand your question. Most greens can be fed almost daily, but some are high in calcium or other nutrients, which is why they should be fed less frequently. Don’t forget: The main diet of a guinea pig should be fresh hay, water, and pellets. Vegetables are just snacks, like potato chips for humans, so just use them for snack time. We typically stick to a slice or two of cucumber every so often, and an organic spring mix of dark greens.

  • Rachel

    Hello I have a question I give my guinea pigs carrots everyday and celery and cucumbers every few days.. I would really like to introduce them to new fruits a veggies is there a chart that someone could give me so I can have a weekly plan??? I know they want more because they let me know… lol I just don’t want to hurt them with too much.. thanks in advance!! Also, I just recently rescued 5 guinea pigs from a terrible home the 1 momma, 3 boys, and 1 girl all in the same very small disgusting cage with one very small hideaway… They were hurting each other trying to hide in it and I am in hopes that momma and sister are not pregnant… The cage was so matted that they covered it in hay so we couldn’t tell how bad it was until we got home it was so awful!! Plus it was infested with roaches omgness it was just terrible!! I got them home and separated them, I found to of the boys a loving home and I currently have the momma sister and brother(separated) here with me… momma is very skittish to the point she won’t eat until I have left the room… and won’t let me touch her… Its a very sad situation I’m happy I was able to get them away from them!!! Sorry the long story just happy there being treated better… and I would like to have help with a fruit and veggie chart for my little furbabies… Also again thanks in advance..

  • SheWhoRoars

    I have a question! I just got my guinea pig, Chalupa, a few days ago, and he eats all of the fresh foods that I give him, but he isn’t really drinking or eating any of his hay or pellets. I haven’t noticed him using the bathroom more than once in this time, either. Is that normal? I’m just worried that it isn’t eating, and was wondering if you had tips or anything?

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    Hi, there! Congrats on the new friend! He may not be eating or drinking much because you are feeding him fresh foods, which can contain a lot of water. Remember that fresh veg is a snack — like potato chips for a human — and should be fed as such. Just a little at a time. If you cut back on the high water content veg, I bet he’ll start eating pellets and drinking water. You could carefully measure his pellets, and place a mark at his water line in the morning. Then in the afternoon or evening, you can check to see how much he has consumed. Also, being that he is new, it’s probably a good idea to just cut out any snacks until he acclimates better to his new environment. Give him a scritch behind the ears from us! 😀

  • SheWhoRoars

    I’ll be sure to give him lots of scratches for you! Okay, thank you for that tip! I’ll hold off on the fresh foods until he starts acting more normally. Will he find his water and grains and hay on his own, or should I show him where they are?

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    Yay! :) We like to keep our bowls near our water supply, so it’s easy to find. It may take him a bit to figure it out, but he will when he’s hungry enough for sure!

  • SheWhoRoars

    Okay, awesome! thank you so much for your help!

  • Gianna Piggies

    Can guinea pigs eat basil? Maybe you should add basil in the list..It is so helpful

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    Yes, they can! I’ve added it to the list :)

  • Gianna Piggies

    You are the best!!! :) :)

  • Jordan Powell

    Is clover good for them??

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    Hi, Jordan. Clover is safe for guinea pigs.

  • Lynda Jansson

    my grandson has a male guinea pig he calls him buddy he got him when he was 6 months he is almost 8 years old he washes him in the bath tub, cuts is nails, he loves him so much, by the way I did not tell you how old my grandson is 18 years old…I do not want to think about if anything should happen to Buddy.. He makes all his friends when they come over, they have to say hello to buddy.. he feeds him carrots, Romaine lettuce, he loves that.. celery, apples, maybe now we will try to feed him some other veggies, like tomatoes and red peppers, pears and corn on the cob, he is spoiled, he takes him outside for fresh hay even. we have to sign his name to every card with ours.. I was wondering how long does a guinea live for?

  • http://www.happycavy.com/blog HappyCavy

    Hi, Lynda! It sounds like Buddy the guinea pig lives a fantastic life! Guinea pigs can live an average of 5 years as pets; some may live longer, some shorter. It’s true that these fuzzy friends sometimes do not stick around long enough, which is why we must love them lots when they are here with us :)

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HappyCavy has been online since June 2009 with Hammy and Piglet. In October of 2009, a sweet, fuzzy cavy named Bitsy joined the webcam broadcasts.

Feebee and Buttercup were welcomed to the HappyCavy Forever Home as friends and co-conspirators in January 2011. Dot joined us on July 2012, and Winnie was the most recent addition on February 8, 2015. Learn more about the guinea pigs here.

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