Knowing what to feed your guinea pigs is vitally important.
But knowing which foods should strictly be avoided is also vital knowledge to have – your guinea pigs health depends on it.
Many foods are completely, 100% off limits to guinea pigs and should never ever be given to them.
These include the following. Although some of the questions surrounding certain foods are legitimate for a new guinea pig owner to ask (however, it’s even better if proper research were done beforehand), other things are downright nonsensical. It’s truly amazing (in a frightening way) some of the things that people consider giving to a guinea pig.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Bird Seed?
Seed of any sort is not suitable for guinea pigs to eat. Guinea pigs should not be given bird seed.
Why Guinea Pigs Should Not Eat Bird Seed or Millet
It’s possible for seeds to become stuck in a guinea pig’s teeth. Additionally, guinea pigs are at risk of choking on seeds.
Guinea pigs are grazers, not seed eaters.
Unfortunately there are still some low quality foods and treats out there marketed for guinea pigs that do contain seeds (among other entirely unsuitable ingredients) – these should be completely avoided!
The only types of seed that are fine for guinea pigs are the seed heads that you might get in their hay or fresh safe grasses – these are soft; unlike bird seed which has a hard outer shell.
Guinea pigs should not eat seeds and grains.
Bird seed is made up of a mixture of various types of seeds and grains, such as sunflower, safflower, wheat, oats, and different types of millets. Some low quality bird seed mixes can also come with dried corn pieces and other added junk (that isn’t even good for the birds).
The short answer is no: guinea pigs should not be given bird seed or millet to eat.
Birds have a beak which has evolved to crack seeds open. Guinea are grazers who have evolved an entirely different physical and biological system that reflects that. Seeds and grains are simply not on the menu for guinea pigs and form no part of their natural diet.
Should Guinea Pigs Eat Garlic?
Garlic is one of those foods that is still hotly debated about whether guinea pigs should ever eat it, or whether it should be completely forbidden.
We know garlic has extensive health benefits for us, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to other species. The topic of garlic being fed to dogs is even still debated amongst dog owners with some adamant it poses a toxic risk, while others gloat about its benefits.
So what about our guinea pigs? Yay or nay to a little bit of garlic occasionally?
It’s a general rule (and an important one) to keep guinea pigs away from all plants in the onion family, which is the plant family that garlic also belongs to – along with leeks, chives and some other popular human foods. We know onion in all its forms is certainly off limits to guinea pigs.
Garlic continues to be more controversial though.
Cautious guinea pig owners, smartly, choose o just stay away from any foods that could pose a potential risk. After all, the possible benefits don’t matter if a food brings about illness, toxicity or worse, and there’s no shortage of absolutely safe foods to feed.
A lot of guinea pig savvy vets state that garlic should be avoided completely and considered as a toxic food. The Camden Vet Hospital in San Jose for example, is one of those. They list garlic as one of the foods to avoid, along with the other usual culprits.
Templestowe Vet Clinic in Australia also notes that garlic should never be fed to a guinea pig.
Following expert veterinary advice is ultimately the safest and best informed path we have. The consensus amongst vets is that garlic should be thought of in the same way as all its related plants and foods like onions: and that is to be avoided and not fed to guinea pigs.
Can You Give Cheese to Guinea Pigs to Eat?
Dairy foods and drinks are to be completely avoided for our guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs should never have cheese.
They are grazing animals, evolved to munch of grasses and herbs all day long – milk from cows doesn’t quite come into it (neither does it for humans but that’s quite another matter).
So like every other dairy product out there: guinea pigs should not eat cheese.
Not any type of cheese. What about vegan, non dairy cheeses you might ask? You’ll find many undesirable (to guinea pigs) ingredients in these processed products as well.
Processed human foods are basically junk food: not something that guinea pigs should be consuming.
A natural diet as close as possible to what guinea pigs have evolved to eat is what all guinea pig owners should be aiming for: and cheese definitely does not come into it.
Not only is it unnatural for guinea pigs, but it is downright dangerous for their health so just don’t do it.
Should Guinea Pigs Eat Honey?
As delicious as honey is to us, it’s the high sugar content that makes it so appealing. And this is what makes it unsuitable for guinea pigs – way too sugary and additionally: it’s sticky. Eating sticky foods isn’t what guinea pigs do.
So what about the honey sticks that are sold as guinea pig food? For example, the Kaytee Forti-Diet honey sticks?
Despite the name, these sticks contain only a small amount of honey and a whole bunch of other ingredients. They are a treat however, and not intended as a dietary staple.
Whether you are comfortable feeding products like this comes down to personal opinion: many people avoid them because of their processed nature, while other people find that their guinea pigs enjoy them as an occasional treat. Whatever you decide, it’s all about sensible moderation.
Back to honey though: honey sticks are not pure honey in any way, shape or form and have little to do with the question of whether a guinea pig should ever be given regular honey as we know it.
Do Guinea Pigs Eat Insects?
Guinea pigs are pure herbivores: this means they eat nothing but plant matter. Some rodents are omnivores who eat both plant and animal, but not our guinea pigs.
In a wild state, a guinea pig would never hunt or seek out insects while grazing. Whether they consume tiny insect here and there while grazing on grasses or herbs is potentially possible, but only incidental.
And of course, some insects can be potentially dangerous like stinging ants.
So it’s not at all appropriate to provide insects as food for guinea pigs. They simply don’t need it (or want it).
Mealworms are an insect that are sold commercially for some pets – particularly for small birds like finches and for reptiles.
But mealworms are definitely not for guinea pigs: guinea pigs should never be given mealworms (or any other larvae or worms) to eat.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Mushrooms?
Mushrooms are not considered safe, good or suitable for guinea pigs to eat.
When we say mushrooms, I’m talking about the ones you buy at the grocers that are intended for human consumption. Even these aren’t recommended for feeding to guinea pigs.
Wild mushrooms are a whole other story, but with the same result (however, much more strictly):
Guinea pigs should never be allowed access to mushrooms that are growing out of the ground. Many wild growing mushrooms are incredibly poisonous, including to humans. That’s why people are always told to never ever eat a wild mushroom unless you’re 100% certain of what it is (which most of us have no clue!).
Mushrooms can pop up on your lawn after rain, especially in spots that aren’t able to dry out through sun exposure. Some fungi (which is what a mushroom is) can be tiny, so always be aware of what’s growing on the ground wherever your guinea pigs have access.
So despite the fact that mushrooms (store bought ones) are great for human health, they have generally no nutritional value for the needs of guinea pigs.
They are not known to be toxic, but there’s just no good reason to feed them and we don’t really know what potential risks they could pose to the health of our little piggies.
Therefore: mushrooms should not be part of the diet of a guinea pig.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Bread?
Do you ever see people feeding bags of white bread to ducks?
Most people don’t realize how horrifically bad this is for the health of ducks and other birds who should never be fed bread.
What’s this got to do with guinea pigs??
White bread is not suitable for any animal. It lacks any nutritional value and is absolutely unhealthy.
OK, so what about whole wheat (or wholegrain) bread? In other words: brown bread.
Is it alright to give guinea pigs brown bread?
Many people do not see the point in providing even a small amount of bread, due to the risks.
What about toast? Can guinea pigs eat toast?
No: toast is no different to ordinary bread – it’s just cooked!
Another bread type human food that some people (for perplexing reasons) consider whether they can give it to a guinea pig is tortillas: again, no! Guinea pigs should not eat tortillas.
Why risk it?
A diet high in starch is well known to lead to severe intestinal complications in guinea pigs that can result in death.
While others find that a tiny amount of wholewheat or brown bread on occasion as a treat is something they are comfortable with. Stress should be on the words tiny amount.
Next time you have a loaf of bread in your hand, take a look at the ingredients list. On most commercial bread products you’ll see a huge long list of ingredients and this can often include sugar and salt (not to mention a bunch of stuff that sounds like it should be in a tin of paint and not food) – in other words: stuff that’s unhealthy even for us, but not at all suited for guinea pigs who are evolved for a simple diet of grasses and herbs.
Should Guinea Pigs Eat Quinoa?
Quinoa is a protein rich seed that is enjoy much popularity amongst people: but what about guinea pigs?
Seeds and guinea pigs generally don’t go well together, and the vast majority of seeds are recommended to be kept completely out of a guinea pig’s diet.
When eaten by humans, quinoa is cooked. Guinea pigs require a raw, fresh diet.
Quinoa, as mentioned, also has a significant protein content: around 14% protein. Guinea pigs should not be fed a high protein diet.
All of these reasons lead to quinoa not being a suitable, necessary or safe food item for guinea pigs to eat.
Doritos for Guinea Pigs?
Can guinea pigs eat Doritos? Or Cheez-Its?
It’s difficult to believe that anyone would consider feeding Doritos, Cheeze-it or any other human junk food, to guinea pigs.
But it’s a question that some have disturbingly asked and continue to do so (insert any other brand of snacks in place of Doritos).
Needless to say… if one is even considering such a thing, we do have to worry about the health and safety of said guinea pig(s).
It goes without saying (for most of us, and at least all guinea pig owners who have done what we should all do and that is to research and learn): that Doritos and all similar products are absolutely not OK at all for guinea pigs to eat.
They are laden with salt and made up of junk ingredients. Oh, and they also contain dairy another big no-no for guinea pigs!
So let’s be loud and clear about it: guinea pigs should not eat Doritos, Cheeze-its or any other similar crisps or crackers.
Can a Guinea Pig Eat Dog or Cat Food? (Hint: Just Don’t Do It)
People who are very inexperienced with guinea pigs, or who haven’t done their basic homework, can sadly put their little lives at severe risk by thinking, for reasons unknown, that dog or cat food is fine for these herbivorous rodents to eat.
Guinea pigs should absolutely never ever be given dog food or cat food, or any other pet food.
Nothing could be more opposite to what a guinea pig is evolved to eat, than that of cat and dog food. That includes ALL dog/cat foods, whether it be dry kibble or canned food.
Cats are carnivores.
Dogs are omnivores.
Guinea pigs are herbivores.
It doesn’t matter if the pet food has vegetables in it, or if it’s vegetarian dog food: it should never be within touching distance of a guinea pig, let alone provided to them for eating.
Dog and food is off limits totally and completely inappropriate (not to mention dangerous) for our guinea pig herbivores.
Stick to a proper guinea pig and watch them thrive.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dairy Foods and Drinks?
Guinea pigs are herbivores. That means they are made to consume plant foods only (not all plants though – some are toxic or unsuitable).
They are lactose intolerant – meaning they can not process dairy foods.
Dairy foods are completely alien to a guinea pig. Can you imagine a wild guinea pig suckling from a cow or other mammal? No. They have not evolved to consume milk products from other species, therefore they should never ever be given any form of dairy products.
Guinea pig milk that baby guinea pigs obtain from their mother has nothing to do with the milk and milk products that humans consume: collectively known as dairy.
If you’re searching for a guinea pig milk replacement product to feed orphaned baby guinea pigs, it must be made specifically for the species such as the Wombaroo Guinea Pig Milk Replacer.
Never give a guinea pig of any age cow’s milk, goat’s milk or any other form of milk.
Guinea pigs should never eat ice cream.
Needless to say: all other dairy products like cheese are to be strictly avoided as well. They simply do not come into the picture of a guinea pig diet.
The majority of olives that we buy and eat for ourselves are processed: they come in a jar of fluid that preserves the olives and this is also contains salt.
There are so many different types of olives, and all sorts of ways that you can buy them. Many are marinated or seasoned, others are stuffed.
As a blanket rule, anything that is jarred, canned, marinated or otherwise processed in any way is clearly off limits to guinea pigs. Whether that be olives or anything else.
So can or should guinea pigs eat olives?
The overwhelming voice is clear: no olives for guinea pigs.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Nuts or Raisins?
Nuts and raisins are not part of a guinea pig’s diet.
Guinea pigs are grazers which is what their entire biological system has evolved to do: from their teeth to their internal digestive system.
Nuts just aren’t on the menu for guinea pigs. They’re high in fat, and raisins are high in sugar. You might come across commercial guinea pig foods that contain nuts or raisins in the pellets – most people recommend avoiding these as much as possible.
Other risks besides the fat content of nuts include being a real hazard for choking and the potential for digestive complications. They are best avoided while sticking to a tried and true natural diet of quality hay, pellets and greens/vegetables.
Nuts includes all the nuts we’re familiar with: walnuts, peanuts, almonds and every other type of nut out there. No types of nuts are suitable or safe for guinea pigs to eat.
All raisins and dried fruits are unsuitable for guinea pigs as well. These processed, sugary foods are of no value to guinea pigs.
What do vets say about nuts and guinea pigs?
Let’s take a look:
The Veterinary Center for Birds and Exotics in NY says to avoid feeding nuts as it can lead to gastrointestinal upset.
The Lamington Terrace vet in Australia notes that nuts are a big no-no that should never be offered to guinea pigs.
The Veterinary Medical Asssociates in the USA also advises to avoid all pellets that contains nuts (and fruits and seeds), while avoiding whole nuts completely and not considering them as a treat either.
It’s universally agreed: nuts, raisins and other dried fruit are not suited for any part of a guinea pig’s diet.
Ginger for Guinea Pigs?
Ginger is a spice. It comes from the root of the plant (called the rhizome). Being a strong tasting spice, it’s not something eaten whole. Ginger isn’t a food that’s considered suitable for guinea pigs. It’s not that it’s toxic; it’s just spicy and unpalatable. Just as we would not want to eat whole raw ginger, guinea pigs would fine it very distasteful as well.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Gerbil Food?
Guinea pigs and gerbils both evolved from the same order of animals known as the rodents, or Rodentia.
Then they split apart: the cavy line where guinea pigs sit is the Caviidae family, while gerbils are in the Muridae family which is the same family as rats and mice.
So while they are somewhat related, they’re not closely related enough to have exactly the same dietary requirement and needs. In other words: guinea pigs need a guinea pig diet, and gerbils need a gerbil diet.
Guinea pigs are strict herbivores.
Gerbils are in fact omnivores – that means they sometimes consume foods that come from animal sources – such as insects.
Does that mean guinea pigs can still eat food made for gerbils?
Gerbils also eat a variety of grasses and herbs, and pet gerbils are given some vegetables and fruits as our guinea pigs are. That’s where the similarities end. Guinea pigs are primiarly grazers, while gerbils are not. This can be seen in the evolution of their appearance: guinea pigs have a much wider muzzle or front area of the head, while gerbils are more pointed like a rat.
Additionally, guinea pigs have the special requirement of needing a regular and quality supple of vitamin C in the diet, and this is not such a vital concern for gerbils or hamsters. Gerbil and hamster food therefore does not contain the exact required nutrients that guinea pigs need.
Gerbil pellets and other foods may also contain items that are a danger to guinea pigs, like seeds and nuts.
Commercial foods such as pellets that are made for gerbils, should not be fed to guinea pigs.
Should Guinea Pigs Eat Meat or Fish?
Guinea pigs are strict herbivores. They do not eat, and should not eat meat or anything else that comes from an animal.
No animal products should ever be a part of a guinea pig diet – or even offered to them as a one-off.
That includes any kind of meat, fish (no tuna, no salmon, no nothing!), eggs or dairy products.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Popcorn?
Guinea pigs require a natural diet of fresh foods – not processed human foods. Popcorn sits somewhere in the middle between fresh and processed; but most of the popcorn bought commercially is full of salt and other flavor additives, and that’s certainly off limits to guinea pigs.
There’s several reasons why popcorn is not an appropriate food for guinea pigs:
- It’s not nutritionally part of their natural dietary requirements
- Hard pieces in popcorn are a choking hazard and can become stuck in the teeth
- Microwaveable popcorn is cooked food – guinea pigs require fresh food
- Air popped popcorn is off limits as well
Some pet stores sell popcorn that is labeled as being specifically for guinea pigs – so it’s little wonder that people don’t question whether this is a suitable food or not.
Unfortunately, just like packaged “convenience” foods for humans, this commercial guinea pig “snack food” is still not appropriate or healthy – and is best avoided.
Stick to fresh and healthy treats if you want your guinea pigs to thrive and not put them at risk of unnecessary health complications.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Jam?
Jam is made from fruit, so it doesn’t take much imagination to understand why some people might question whether a guinea pig should or could eat jam.
But before we go further: jam is not just pure fruit. The process of making jam involves adding sugar. And that’s after the fruit itself is heated. Water is also added to the mix.
Hence the other name of jam being “fruit preserve” – the whole process of making jam involves preserving the fruit.
So this makes jam a processed product that’s entirely unsuitable for guinea pigs to eat.
Jam is much too sweet, sugary and unnatural for guinea pigs.
Even raw fruit comes with the knowledge that we need to only feed it sparingly to guinea pigs due to the natural sugars contained in them; let alone adding more sugar as is the case with jams or fruit preserves.
Should I Give Rice To My Guinea Pig? (Hint: No)
Rice is a grain and grains are not meant to be part of a guinea pig’s diet.
Can guinea pigs eat rice?
Guinea pigs should never eat rice.
No cooked rice.
No uncooked or raw rice.
Absolutely no rice at all should ever be given to guinea pigs.
It is disturbing, as in so many other cases, to see videos on Youtube or photos on social media of people feeding rice (or any other inappropriate or dangerous foods) to guinea pigs. These platforms allow people with no knowledge of guinea pig husbandry or care to broadcast their cruelty to the world; and potentially influencing others to follow their lead.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Eggs? Boiled Eggs?
Can guinea pigs eat chicken eggs?
Eggs are not a part of the diet of a herbivore; and our guinea pigs are herbivores!
So the short answer is no: a guinea pig shouldn’t be given eggs (or any other animal products including dairy).
Guinea pigs haven’t evolved to consume anything that comes from another animal. We see this in their teeth and while we don’t see their insides, they are of course designed to process and metabolize plant based foods.
Therefore, at best, eggs have zero nutritional value or benefit for a guinea pig.
At worst it can make them sick and certainly reduce their overall health.
Some people are adamant that giving their guinea pigs a small amount of hard boiled egg on occasion is fine: but the question remains, why?
When we have a plethora of herbivore-friendly foods to choose from, there’s simply no need to include eggs in any part of a guinea pig’s diet.