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Guinea pigs are adorable little creatures, they are full of fun and energy and if well looked after can live up to the ripe old age of ten. Making sure your pet guinea pigs get all the right nutrients, vitamins and fibre is crucial to their overall well being. A lot of people think that muesli-type feeds are enough to give their pet guinea pigs but in truth, they are not. Although this type of feed is convenient – guinea pigs can end up being picky eaters and just take out the bits they like – leaving the rest to go to waste. The result is that no matter how well balanced the muesli-type feed happens to be, your pets change all of that by only eating a proportion of the ingredients which makes it an 'unbalanced' diet.
Avoid feeding any muesli-type mixtures because you will end up with lots of bits left over. Your pets will eat the tastier bits, usually the sweeter ones and leave anything they don't like, these are usually the healthy bits that are full of fibre. A lack of fibre in a guinea pigs' diet leads to painful dental diseases.
Try to feed different greens to your pets every day but make sure they are suitable for guinea pigs to eat. The sort of vegetables that people usually have in their homes that are safe to feed to guinea pigs are as follows:
Fruit should only be given in small quantities as a treat because it has too much sugar in it. The list below shows the type of fruit you can offer your pets but only in very small amounts as reward or occasional treat:
If you do introduce a new type of food to your pet guinea pigs' diet, it is best to do this gradually so as not to upset their digestive systems. Over the course of a week, you can slowly add the new food to their diets but keep an eye on their droppings to make sure it's agreeing with them.
Much like people, guinea pigs cannot make their own Vitamin C which means just like us, they need to get this from the food they eat. Good sources of Vitamin C are as follows:
It is always a good idea to supplement your pets' feed with Vitamin C and you can buy a special supplement that you put in drinking water. You cannot overdue Vitamin C, because if your pet consumes too much, they simply pass it out in their urine.
There are some very good quality commercial guinea pig nuggets on the market and they usually do contain a good amount of Vitamin C. The problem is that if the food is old and has been stored for a long time, then most of the nutrients will have disappeared. Always check the sell by dates to make sure the food is fresh.
You can buy natural treats at pet shops which are great for guinea pigs because they are good for their teeth and digestive systems. However, you should always avoid any sugary treats, especially if they contain honey because they could cause diabetes and nasty teeth problems.
It is perfectly normal for guinea pigs to eat their own droppings. Much like rabbits, guinea pigs produce two sorts of droppings. The first being hard and dry ones which are in fact the 'real' faeces. The second type are softer and called 'caecaotrophs'. These are full of nutrients and fibre which guinea pigs eat, often straight from their bottoms because they get all the goodness out of them.
When setting up a run for your guinea pigs, you need to make sure there are no toxic plants in the run or close by it. Below is a list of very poisonous plants that guinea pigs must never eat:
Guinea pigs need to have constant access to fresh clean water. Water bottles with metal spouts are great but you need to make sure your guinea pigs know how to use them. The bottles need to be checked everyday and refilled with fresh, clean water. Guinea pigs drink around 100 to 200 ml of water per kg of bodyweight every day. If you notice your guinea pig drinking more or less than they usually do, there could be a problem so you should check this out with your vet.
Guinea pigs are lovely creatures to have as family pets and if well looked after will live right up to the age of ten. They need to be kept busy and should always have another same sex guinea pig as a companion, otherwise they will get lonely and depressed. Making sure you feed a well balanced diet and your guinea pigs get regular daily exercise, means they will reward you with hours of fun.
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