9 Tips For How To Teach A Guinea Pig To Eat Vegetables

Introducing new foods to a guinea pig can be tough. Teaching them how to eat vegetables is even tougher. It’s something that a lot of guinea pig owners go through – not just you.

Many baby guinea pigs that come from a pet stores haven’t be fed a very healthy diet. 

To avoid health issues, a guinea pig’s diet is supposed to be a variety of safe food like leafy green vegetables, fresh hay, and small pieces of fruit as an occasional treat.

Featured Image - Guinea Pig Eating A Leaf For (9 Tips For How To Teach A Guinea Pig To Eat Vegetables)
Is your piggie picky or just hasn’t been exposed to veggies?

Unfortunately, many pet shop guinea pigs have only been fed guinea pig pellets and very few leafy greens.

So, your piggie literally doesn’t understand that they’re actually SUPPOSED to eat vegetables.

So, what do you do if your guinea pig isn’t eating vegetables?

No worries. I’ve got you covered. Here’s 9 helpful tips that’ll set your guinea pig up for success.

  • Don’t remove the food right away
  • Serve produce that’s in season
  • Avoid junk food pellets
  • Feed small amounts throughout the day
  • Have a piggie friend with a good appetite
  • Limit the pellets and dry food
  • Use room temperature veggies
  • Offer foods more than once
  • Use the Mince and Mingle Method

By using a combination of the different methods listed above, you’ll be able to teach your guinea pig that vegetables are delicious!

And give them the variety that’s necessary in a guinea pig’s diet.

It’s a great way to make sure that they get all the nutrients that they need. They can’t make their own Vitamin C, so not having enough can cause health issues. Timothy hay or fresh grass should be part of their daily diet, too (and clean water).

You can make meal time fun (and healthier) for all of your furry, little friends – whether it’s fresh fruits (go easy on those because of the high sugar content) or fresh vegetables.

1. Don’t remove the food right away

I get it. It’s tempting to throw away veggies or fruits as soon as your piggies sniffs at them and then walks away.

But, don’t.

By taking the food out right away, you’re not giving your little friends a chance to warm up to the idea that veggies are meant to be eaten and not rejected like that hideous, itchy sweater your aunt bought for your birthday.

The food might become a object of curiosity. And guinea pigs tend to love to nibble a little bit on things that they’re curious about (or like to play with).

Now that doesn’t mean that you should leave the food out for hours – that’ll lead to spoilage.

About 15-30 minutes should do it.

2. Serve produce that’s in season

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but veggies and fruits that are in season taste better.

Just like us, guinea pigs have a sense of taste. They know what they like and what they don’t like.

Increase the odds of your little friends enjoying and continuing to enjoy the veggies that you’re giving them by making sure they have the freshest, tastiest produce you can afford.

Besides, eating vegetables and fruits in season is typically cheaper (on average) than buying them out of season.

3. Avoid junk food pellets

If you want your piggies to continue to enjoy veggies and fruits, cut back on the pellets or guinea pig food that’s made with a lot of bad ingredients.

(actually if you have piggie food that’s chok full of bad stuff, then toss that bag in the fire and burn it)

I’m talking seeds, nuts, grains and other unhealthy ingredients. They have very little nutritional value and shold be avoided, even in smaller quantities. #healthhazards

Just like toddlers, if your piggies fill up on too much junk, they’ll become very picky eaters (or maybe even more picky than normal) and won’t want to even try the veggies that you offer.

Big problem.

So, make sure to stay clear of guinea pig food that has unhealthy ingredients.

Plain-ole, Vitamin C enriched pellets that are made of hay are totally fine.

4. Feed small amounts throughout the day

If you feed too many veggies at once, particularly to a piggies that aren’t used to them, then there’s a chance that guinea pig might have a hard time digesting all of them.

Think about it. If you’re not used to eating a lot of veggies all at once, it’s likely that your stomach will feel uneasy.

So, instead of offering guinea pigs one big serving size of veggies the moment they wake up in the morning or after they’ve just eaten pellets or guinea pig food, try offering them small amounts throughout the day.

By doing so, guinea pigs will be more likely to eat veggies without feeling too full and without getting diarrhea –

And that makes the experience a positive one for you AND your furry friends.

5. Have a piggie friend with a good appetite

Just like humans, guinea pigs enjoy having company and sometimes guinea pig friends with good appetites act as motivators that young guinea pigs can look up to.

So, having a pair of guinea pigs is probably one of the quickest and easiest ways to teach your new little friends to eat fresh veggies.  The veteran piggie teaches the younger one what’s safe to eat.  

Your furry potatoes might feel better about trying new things when they have a guinea pig companions that likes eating veggies.

And don’t worry if a guinea pig you already own doesn’t like vegetables – there’s still a chance that having extra “competition” for food might encourage them to eat more veggies.

There’s nothing like a good dose of “I want it more than you!” to give guinea pigs a little extra push to try new food.

6. Limit the pellets

At the end of the day, vegetables are more important to your fur babies’ diet than pellets

In fact, some pet parents (under the supervision of a vet) feed their piggies a pellet-free diet.

So, toss that pellet bowl in the trash right away.

(Kidding.)

Want your little friends to enjoy any new foods that you offer?

Of course you do.

Then you need to make sure that they’re not filling up on other stuff – like pellets. Try cutting the pellet serving by a third or so until you’ve established that a better veggie eating habit with your fur balls.

7. Use room temperature veggies

Typically, cold vegetables can give piggies a bit of a shock when they bite into them.

Instead, let the produce warm up to room temperature or so, and then feed them to your little friends.

This way, your guinea pigs won’t be too surprised by the change in temperature and will more likely take a a second (or third or fourth) bite of veggies, which is an essential part of getting guinea pigs used to them.

So, guinea pigs might be more willing to eat vegetables if they’re not so cold.

8. Offer veggies more than once

Please don’t be discouraged if guinea pigs don’t eat veggies the first time you offer them.

The process takes time – and perseverance on your part. So, offer the same veggie (or fruit) around three to four times to their daily diet before you call it quits.

The constant exposure will help guinea pigs be more open to it. You see, guinea pigs are serious creatures of habit – especially about their goods.

Cavies tend to get more adventurous about what they eat when they have more exposure to the vegetables that you want them to eat.

Don’t give up hope. You just need them to take (and LOVE) one bite.

9. Use the Mince and Mingle Method

If a new guinea pig doesn’t enjoy vegetables that you’re offering, the Mince and Mingle Method is a good option to try. It goes like this:

  • Mince a veggie VERY, VERY finely (I’m talking microscopic pieces)
  • Sprinkle it over the pellets that you give your piggies to get them used to the taste.
  • Gradually increase the size of the veggie pieces until your piggies are eating bigger pieces of it.
  • If your furry spuds eat it (hooray!), start the process over with a different veg. If not, continue the process with the same veggie.

Be prepared to be extra patient as you try to get your furry friends used to healthy foods. It can take time, but this method is the perfect passive way to get your little friends to enjoy a new food.

Frequently Asked Questions About Feeding Guinea Pigs New Foods

Can You Feed A Guinea Pig Oats?

Yes, you can feed a guinea pig oats. Guinea pigs can eat rolled oat flakes, steel cut oats, and organic oats. Mostly guinea pig owners only feed oats to their guinea pigs to fatten them up a guinea pig that’s been sick or has had serious weight loss

What Kind Of Vegetables Can You Feed A Guinea Pig?

Your guinea pig can eat all kinds of vegetables. Green, leafy vegetables are the most recommended. Guinea pigs can safely eat endive, kale, spinach, dandelion greens, carrot greens, radicchio, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, and a number of other green veggies. 

Those vegetables give your fur babies additional vitamins that they wouldn’t normally get.

It’s not difficult to find a healthy vegetable for your little friends to enjoy.

Just make sure that you feed them in the right amount with the right frequency. Make it a daily chore (or even a weekly chore) to sit down for a bit and list the foods that you’re going to offer to your furry friends.

Some veggies shouldn’t be fed more than one or two times per week while others can be fed 2-4 times each week.

Adult guinea pigs should only eat about a cup of vegetables (and fruit) each day – that’s plenty of vitamins for your piggie pals. As long as you provide a good variety of produce.

Too much of certain veggies (with too much calcium)can mess up their digestive system, give them bladder stones, and cause other issues.

Is There Anything Guinea Pigs Can’t Eat?

There’s a number of foods that guinea pigs can’t eat, such as:

  • dairy products
  • chocolate
  • human foods like chips, cupcakes and cookies
  • potatoes
  • avocados
  • the green stem and leaf of tomatoes

There are just a few different foods that will give guinea pigs serious health problems (if not worse) if they eat them.

Final Thoughts About Teaching Guinea Pigs To Eat Vegetables

It’s time.

You have the tips and important things that you need to know to get started. So, now you’re prepared to take the bull by the horns and start teaching your furry friends how to eat vegetables. Even if it’s your first guinea pig, you’re fully capable of making this happen.

My advice?

Be flexible in how you use them.

What works for guinea pig #1 doesn’t necessarily work for guinea pig #2. So, you have to figure out what works best for guinea pig #1 and guinea pig #2. The same goes for guinea pigs #3, guinea pigs #4, etc.

In the end, you’ll have a customize set of tips that’ll work well for YOUR cavies.

And then?

Rinse and repeat the strategies

Give it a try!

And let me know how it goes in the comments below. 

Basic information sheet: Guinea pig. (2019, February 6). LafeberVet. https://lafeber.com/vet/basic-information-for-guinea-pigs/

Beck, A. (2013). Guinea pigs: Keeping and caring for your pet. Enslow Pub.

DVM, S. L. (2015). The Guinea pig handbook. Barron’s Educational Series.

Guinea pig dental care. (n.d.). Greencross Vets. https://www.greencrossvets.com.au/pet-library/articles-of-interest/cavy-dental-care/

Guinea pig feeding. (n.d.). The Humane Society of the United States. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/guinea-pig-feeding

How much water does a Guinea pig need? All about water for Guinea pigs! (n.d.). Guinea Pig 101. https://guineapig101.com/guinea-pig-water/

Vitamin C recommendations for Guinea pigs | Arizona exotics | -Guinea pigs resources. (n.d.). Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital | Veterinary care for exotic pets in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert AZ. https://azeah.com/guinea-pigs/vitamin-c-recommendations-guinea-pigs

What should I feed my Guinea pigs? (n.d.). RSPCA Knowledgebase – Let Australia’s most trusted animal welfare charity help you answer the big questions. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-should-i-feed-my-guinea-pigs/

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