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

Published: 5/31/2010 | Author: Hammy | Updated: 9/28/2014

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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.
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 1.70 7.00
Elderberries 36.00 38.00 Feed in small amounts.
Endive 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 215.00 12.00  
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
Raspberries leaves 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 479 ratings
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About Hammy

Hammy is the senior member of the HappyCavy Forever Home. Hammy loves blogging, Facebook, and running laps early in the morning!

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

    Congrats on the new fuzzy friends! :D You ask a good question.

    First, “very little” sounds like “a food that contains certain properties which may pose a health risk if fed frequently or in large quantities” to me. It’s in the wording, but it matters. Here’s why: with any food item highlighted Red or Orange on the list above, we generally avoid all together. It’s doesn’t work like you can only feed pears AND melon 1-2 times per week, so it’s safe to give them BOTH once or twice a week. The types of food matter. Fruits and vegetables high in sugar and calcium cannot be fed regularly. And, unfortunately, these items seem to be the answer you’re looking for. Maybe? I don’t know.

    Here’s what my Humans think: guinea pigs will go just as crazy over carrot as they will dark green lettuce. Since you plan on using the treat during bonding time, in our opinion a veggie like dark greens it your best bet It’s safe as long as you ensure that each healthy guinea pig eats no more than 1 cup a day, especially since it isn’t a necessary part of their diet. Hope that long reply helps! :)

  • Zoe Marlow

    This list is fantastic, thank you so much. Have just adopted a guinea pig again after being without one for a couple of years and this was brilliant at jogging my memory about what to feed him and how often!

  • ashlee

    My Guinea don’t like to be touched much but I want to handle him and pick him up more, what can I do to help with his socialness?

  • Leishla Rodriguez

    Hi, a quick question, they can eat lettuce (iceberg) ?

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

    They CAN, but they SHOULDN’T. Iceberg lettuce contains no nutritional value; it’s high water content can cause gut upset and other types of gastrointestinal distress. If you want to feed leafy vegetables, stick with a few pieces of dark green lettuce :)

  • http://www.sallanankuyruk.com/ Gülru Batur

    Can I give my cavies the lawn (includes clover) in the backyard daily like hay? I never use pesticides or any chemicals for lawncare. Or can I keep what’s in the lawn mower’s basket and sun-dry them, will it be a good hay?

  • SummerStoecks

    This page definitely deserves 5 stars!!! It helped a LOT and my boy Bowe will love his new foods! I never gave him anything other than apples once in a while, because I never knew for sure what was good and what was not! I would never want my little guy to get sick! Thank you SO MUCH!!! :-)

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

    Thanks, Summer! So happy to hear you found this list useful :D

  • jennifer bryant

    Hello Ive adopted two boys sid and silky. I generally just stick to the basics hay and pellets but ive noticed they really love dandelions. The stem is like crème de la crème and the flower too. What is very odd is both their behavior for about 20 minutes after a stem. Their eyes get really big and they cannot stop searching for a possible dropped piece. If I don’t feed them each one at the same time they will immediately tug o war. Im very serious when I say they act like they’re on crack cocaine. They will move very slow motion like with bugged eyes and BEG FOR MORE. I cant help but think it has an effect like catnip has on cats. Has anyone else seen this with dandelions and pigs? btw they have had many veggies but only dandelions turn them into crackheads.

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

    Your comment is hysterical, Human named Jennifer! So tempted to share this on our Facebook. We certainly go nuts over dandelion, but our Humans have never thought if it may have a “catnip” like attraction for guinea pigs. Hoping someone here may have some insight :)

  • Bonni Brown Holiday

    Hello Hammy, Twister, Carmel and Oreo just wanted to let you know that they had a great annual vet check up last week. Just a little tooth trim was all they needed. They are happy it is spring now and have an abundant supply of dandelion flowers and greens and the broad leaf grass to munch on. Twister loves his watermelon treats and Oreo favorite is peaches Carmel loves to bury in the grass and eat her way out.. They have learned to ring a bell for treats as well as wheeking loudly when the fridge door is opens and the crisper drawer is pulled out. They are glad their mama found your site.

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

    Hi, Twister, Carmel and Oreo! You are so adorable! So happy to hear you have such a good life. Just remember: go easy on those flowers & fruits. But it sounds like you have your Humans trained perfectly as-is :) *wheeks!* to each of you!

  • Jesseigh

    Charlie says thank you! He loves strawberries.

  • Cassandra Michelle

    I just brought a guinea pig yesterday and I asked the person who worked at the pet shop what fruits and vegetables they can eat he couldn’t even tell me. This site is awesome thank you so much for posting this. I’m a first time guinea pig owner so this list was beyond helpful.

  • rachael

    Hi I have a baby guniea pig his names alfie I have been concerned with his drinking as he hasn’t looked right at first I thought it may be to heat but he has a cover on his hutch usually when I go into hutch to check him he darts around the hutch but just lately he’s been letting me stroke him and pick him up any advice would be appreciated

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

    It sounds like dehydration. He could not be drinking water due to an illness, as well. Do the water trick: make a mark on the water bottle so that at the end of the day you can measure how much Alfie has consumed. Ultimately, you should schedule an appointment with a guinea pig vet in your area (vet directory at http://wheek.it/vets) so that a doctor can check if there is anything wrong.

  • Autumn Greathouse

    can guinea pig have small pieces of bread

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

    No, absolutely no bread products.

  • Christiana M Quinn

    My boys ( I Have two handsome, spunky skinny pigs! ) freak out if I cook anything with cloves (they really want them) But I can’t find anything anywhere that says if their safe or not .

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

    Cloves? Like garlic? Do you know the scientific name?

  • Christiana M Quinn

    Like the herbs you put in a ham when you cook it lol

  • Christiana M Quinn

    Syzygium aromaticum

    It’s used in like ham apple cider pumpkin pie… Etc

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

    The vitamin and mineral profile of syzygium aromaticum appears to have no nutritional benefit for guinea pigs. So it isn’t appropriate for guinea pigs consumption.

    Guinea pigs will wheek for anything. Just like plastic bags, cloves may not be what we actually enjoy (just the sound/smell). :D

  • Debbie

    Can caves have water chestnut?

  • S’ moresMom

    My piggy loves sugar snap peas. :)

  • Angela House

    read threw the list on foods they can eat and cannot eat but can they eat marrows or not as does not say anything about this veg at all

  • Jamie Thomas Brannen

    Hey guys! These two here are Loki and Thor, my lovely little pigs who I’ve had for about 4 month now. Both of these boys absolutely love cherry tomatoes, as soon as I introduce them, they are gone! Same for kale and dill. Such a range of treat options on this list, much thanks for putting it online :)

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

    Marrow is a specific term to the UK, it seems it’s in the pumpkin/gourd family. It’s referred to on Wikipedia as Cucurbita, and links to pumpkin on the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. There is also a thread at The Guinea Pig Forum UK which indicates “marrow” or what is assumed to be “pumpkin” may be safe for them to eat.

    Remember: This vegetable may be high in calcium, or may have a water content, which is generally not nutritionally valuable for your guinea pig. Feed very sparingly :)

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

    Hi, Loki & Thor! Friendly nose bumps, you’re so cute :)

  • Jason Grant Krebs

    We have a Snickers Piggie too! Her favorite treats are lettuce and apples!

  • Crystal Nicole Lanier

    This is so helpful! A friend of mine just brought me a guinea pig that was found in the oil field yard. Apparently it had been dumped. Not sure if it’s male or female, but it’s so sweet. I just gave it a little bit of apple and it was sooo happy. It’s definately a new experience. I’ve had a mouse, but never a guinea.

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

    Glad you found this helpful! Nose bumps to your new fuzzy friend! :D

  • Ashley Cothren

    I went to an exotic vet hospital, do not feed your pigs strawberries, cucumbers, anything berries. It makes them extremely gasy I use to give my pigs small amounts once a day not knowing my pig was gasy till I saw the x ray. Lot’s of greens and carrots. Low on the pellet food too cup a day. Lots of hay! Also do not feed the grapes its bad for them!

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

    Hi, Ashley! Curious as to how much you were feeding and what the X-ray showed. Did your guinea pig get bloat, or a gassy belly? Curious! And your suggestions of limiting pellets and focusing on lots of hay is great.

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