Guinea Pig´s feeding

Feeding a pet guinea pig is pretty simple. Its food is basically forage (grass, herbs, vegetables) since it is a herbivore, but a balanced diet (pellets) is also recommended. This is quite simple, but there are some basic things to know.

1 - The guinea pig is a monogastric herbivorous animal and has 3 characteristics.

1.1 - Possess a volume organ, the cecum: This is the most important organ of its digestive anatomy because here are the microorganisms that degrade the fibre, the same as ruminants have the rumen.

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1.2 - Doesn´t have a gas evacuation mechanism: Guinea pigs produce gases but can not eliminate them, so yo have to be carefull with some food that produce a lot of gas during fermentation.

1.3 - Possess intestinal flora: Yes, the one located in the cecum and degrades fibre.

2 - Guinea pigs do not produce vitamin C, just as primates and the human being. So its food must have vitamin C, every green forage have it. Balanced food (pellets), too.

In the web, some guys who have a guinea pig as a pet give recommendations about the  food this animal accepts which is great because they are sharing their experience. However, be carefull with the information you get. Here are two interesting web pages:

Both web pages suggest forages like broccoli, cabbage, celery, spinach, parsley, etc. Well this are high vitamin forages, yes, and some of them like parsley and spinach have a lot of vitamin C.  But these forages also produce a lot of gases during the fermentation inside the digestive tract, and as I said before guinea pigs can not expell gases causing what its called "meteorism". Then why they suggest them? There are high probabilities that the guinea pigs who were fed with those forages, were habituated to them since a very young age or they receive few quantities of them.

Let me give you four advices. More than advices, four rules to keep a healthy guinea pig:

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1 - Avoid hot forages

Early in the morning, you can see that plants have small drops of water in the leaves, right?, this means theres a combustion inside the plant´due to its own metabolism. If you give the forage just like that to a guinea pig, there will be a second combustion of the forage and its fermentation will produce lots of gases.

2 - Aerate forages

This is related with the first premise. Aerate forages under shadow for around 2 hours to low its temperature and avoid it to produce a lot of gases during the  fermentation inside the cecum. Make of this a habit everytime you buy fresh forage.

3 - Not make sudden changes of food, do it  gradually.

If you are going to give to your guinea pig a new kind of food, do it bit by bit. For example, you want to introduce cabagge as a food. Well give it to the guinea pig a leaf the first day, the next day a bit more, the third day a bit more. If diarrhea happens stop providing this forage. If the guinea pig is full of gases (inflates), the same, stop providing this forage. If you give a lot the first day of introduction, your guinea pig will probably die of meteorism (gases). Parsley is the most dangerous forage because its too strong for the animal´s digestive tract, but you may habituate your guinea pig to it, this is up to you.

4 - Do not abuse of drugs

Drugs are Ok if you provide it for 3 to 5 days, or what the vet says. Do not be extreme with the time suggested or the quantity suggested, drugs kill both good and bad microorganisms. I´ve heard a report of an animal with low growth and constinuous digestive problems because of drug´s abuse. Respect the time and everything will be Ok.

The web pages mentioned before show a variety of food wich is oK for the guinea pig, so I dont want to repeat what they say, but follow the instructions given in this entrance, specially number 3.


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