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MLA Full: "Guinea Pig Diet." YouTube, uploaded by Animal Wonders Montana, 19 February 2016,
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Jessi shares that nutrition is one of the most important things for animals in captivity, including common pets. Here's the best diet and nutritional care for guinea pigs.

Bonus Video! Olive's Vet Visit:
Link to list of Safe Foods:
Our "What, Where, How" video on Guinea Pigs:

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Jessi: Welcome back to Animal Wonders, I'm Jessi, and I think animals are pretty neat. My goal is to rescue displaced animals and care for them for the rest of their lives. And I like to show that even for the so-called simple animals, it takes knowledge and dedication to give them a good home in captivity. I recently went through a difficult time rescuing guinea pigs, only to discover it was too late and I couldn't help them, even though I tried. But in difficult times there's always a bright spot, and our bright spot is this little gal! Her name is Olive, she's newly rescued, and she's now a resident at Animal Wonders.


Olive just had a visit from our vet to make sure that she was healthy enough to come out of quarantine and join our cavies, Chili Pepper and Pickles. During the visit, our veterinarian was concerned about the health of Olive's feet. She assessed her age at around four years old and determined she mostly likely had poor nutrition throughout her life which can cause a multitude of issues. A lot of the time improper diet can lead to suffering and premature death. It's very sad and frustrating because it's easily prevented.

Nutrition is one of the most important factors when caring for an animal in captivity. In the wild they would eat what's available to them which pretty much covers all of their needs. In captivity they also eat what's available to them, so it has to closely simulate what they would find in the wild.

Guinea pigs are seen as one of those so-called simple animals. You can find them in pretty much any pet store and a lot of people see them as starter pets and yet their care is actually quite complicated. I think it's so fascinating and rewarding to understand the care requirements for an animal and then apply that knowledge in order to see them thrive.

So let's talk about what the proper diet is for a healthy and happy guinea pig. OK, first things first, hay. Hay is essential for the health of their digestive system. They need a constant supply of fibre and they also need to nibble to make sure they file down those ever-growing rodent teeth. Timothy, meadow, or orchard grass hay are all fine choices. Make sure it's a high quality hay so it should be green and free of mold. Alfalfa hay is high in calcium and it can cause complications in adult guinea pigs so it should only be given to babies and pregnant or nursing mothers.

Next up is pellets. Compacted pellets made specifically for guinea pigs are a great way to give them their basic nutrients. The pellets are formulated to include the proper amounts of protein, fat, calcium to phosphorous ratio, and vitamins. This is the easiest way to make sure you are giving them a complete diet and, of course, make sure they're high quality pellets meaning top brands and less than three months old.

Now we need to talk about vitamin C. I can't stress enough that guinea pigs need vitamin C daily, about 10 to 30 milligrams. Many pellets have vitamin C in them but I recommend to always supplement on your own. It's an easy thing to do but you need to do it in the right way. There are several products that you can purchase, however vitamin C loses its potency quickly so I recommend a dry tablet that can be eaten immediately. Vitamin C is really safe so overdosing them a bit isn't a big issue because whatever they don't use will just flush out of their system. But keep it under 300 milligrams or you'll start seeing diarrhea and other complications. Now I do not recommend adding vitamin C drops to their water because it just breaks down too quickly and you can't really make sure they're getting enough. And using a dry tablet means you get to give it as a treat, and many guinea pigs learn to expect it and get really excited.

Now some guinea pigs just don't want to eat their vitamin C, after all it is a bit sour. Our guinea pigs Olive and Pickles actually work to avoid eating theirs. So I grind it up and put it on their favorite foods. Now this mortar and pestle is cheap and easy to find and I use it everyday. If you don't manage their vitamin C carefully you're gonna end up with a sick guinea pig who develops many serious issues and will need costly medical attention in as little as a few months. So a vitamin C supplement is the best way to keep them healthy.

Now that we've talked about their health, let's talk about the happiness of our guinea pigs. These guys love treats and I encourage you to give them treats but they have to be good for them. Romaine lettuce, green peppers, and mini tomatoes are the best treats. They're crunchy and juicy and most guinea pigs love at least one of these, and they're super nutritious. Other vegetables that are great to offer are carrots, zucchini, yam, parsnips, winter squash, and cilantro. You can offer these several times a week. Other vegetables can cause bloating and should only be offered once or twice a week in small amounts. These include broccoli, beets, and spinach. Fruit should really be kept to a minimum, and with all the other options you really don't need to feed fruit at all. I've put a link below with a more detailed list of safe foods.

Now if you have multiple guinea pigs eating from the same bowl, watch to make sure everyone's getting a good mixture of everything offered. And it's also fun to see who has a preference for what. Pickles loves tomatoes, Olive hates them but she loves lettuce. And Chili Pepper is all about the peppers.

I hope this video helped all of you who are committed to the health and well-being of the guinea pigs in your care. It's such  a reward to see your love and dedication come through in their happiness. Thank you to all of our donors on Patreon who help make these videos possible. If you would like to help support animal care education you can become one of our patrons by going to And if you'd like to learn more about animals, their care, or just go on an adventure with us every week, subscribe to our YouTube channel Animal Wonders Montana. If you have any questions for me you can leave them in the comments below. See you next week.


Dr. Card: Hi Olive.

Jessi: What do you think?

DC: OK. Hello little gal. Easy Olive, hi.