Guinea pigs are grazers: grass is great for them! In fact, they need it. Their digestive system depends on getting a regular supply of quality grass.
But there are things we need to be aware of before letting guinea pigs loose on the grass to browse until their stomach’s content.
The grass must not:
- Have had any chemical treatments including pesticides and herbicides
- Be used by any other animals who could soil it with bacteria containing feces and other nasties, such as dogs and livestock.
- Contain any poisonous or toxic weeds or other plants that are not safe for guinea pigs to eat
So what are some safe ways to give your guinea pigs access to grass that you can feel confident in knowing is going to be totally safe and healthy for them, without risks?
It will of course depend on what your environment is like: do you have a large yard, or perhaps you only have access to a paved or concreted courtyard with no grass growing at all?
Whichever situation you’re in, there’s a way to provide fresh browsing grass for guinea pigs.
Here’s a few ideas:
– If you have a yard, enclose a part of it off and turn it into a guinea pigs playpen of sorts, where guinea pigs can spend some time safely grazing away. The enclosure must be 100% predator proof, escape proof, and provide shade and weather protection.
Grass does not replace hay in the diet. Guinea pigs still need their hay every day (keeping in mind that hay is indeed just dried grass!). But grass can supplement it and provides not only enrichment, but additional health benefits as well. While hay is a daily requirement for guinea pigs, fresh safe grass might be considered in a similar way to other other fresh foods that you provide.
Types of grass
There’s grass and there’s grass. In fact there’s more than 10,000 known species in the plant family considered to be “true grasses” – plus all the other ones that might look like or be called grass. In other words, there’s a ton of types of grasses out there. Very few of these are widely grown as lawn grasses, and many lawn grass types are specially developed as cultivars based on their growth attributes. But these might not be the only grass you’re thinking about providing to guinea pigs to eat – the important thing is to know what type of grass you’re looking at
A guinea pig who has never had fresh grass before is better off starting with smaller amounts and working up to eating more of it over time, rather than pigging out the first time which can put them at risk of digestive upset.