5 Top Reasons Why Your Guinea Pig Is A Picky Eater (You Need to Know)

It’s pretty baffling when your guinea pig is a picky eater. After all, most guinea pig owners think that guinea pigs have a large appetite considering their tendency to nibble on anything.

a picture of a picky guinea pig being fed pellets

So, the best thing to do is know why your guinea pigs are becoming picky with their food.

It could be part of their nature as guinea pigs, but their past and present living environment could also influence it.

Why Is It Important That Your Piggies Eat A Wide Variety Of Food?

However, if your guinea pigs are only eating some food and leaving out the others, it could be a cause of concern.

For one, they might not be getting enough nutrients which will affect their health. Here’s a couple of thing that could happen:

  • Scurvy from a Vitamin C deficiency is no joke – piggies have died from stuff like that.
  • Dental health could go down the toilet if your little friend isn’t eating a balanced diet. Also, there’s the likelihood of teeth overgrowth. Guinea pigs don’t just eat for nutrition. They have to constantly chew Timothy hay (or any sort of hay really) to ensure their teeth are not growing too much.

If you’re wondering why your guinea pig is selective when it comes to food, there’s a chance it could be one of the following reasons:

1. Naturally Picky: They’re Foragers

When guinea pigs are picky eaters, it might not be because of the food per se. But it could be due to their nature as food foragers.

Guinea pigs in the wild would scavenge for food in their environment and choose the type of food they like. In short, they are not the kind of animals that just eat whatever they want.’

They gather fruits and vegetables familiar to their taste buds.

With that, they might leave some nutritious foods because they don’t like the taste. Likewise, it is far more fulfilling for guinea pigs to gather or eat their food than just have them handed over.

Simply put, when you get a guinea pig, you should expect that at some point they’re going to be picky eaters. It’s sorta embedded in their DNA as foragers.

However, even though this behavior is instinctive, it doesn’t mean that you should just throw up your hands and say “Whatever!”

2. They’re Not Used to Different Types of Veggies

If your guinea pig was rehomed, naturally, they were already exposed to a particular way of living. But, of course, that includes their daily diet.

So, if your guinea pig is a picky eater, there’s a high chance that they are simply unfamiliar with the type of fresh veggies you’re serving.

In some cases, they never had other foods apart from pellets and hay, probably because their previous owner never introduced variety in their diets.

A guinea pig’s diet has to include unlimited amounts of hay (Timothy hay to help with their digestive system and dental health), leafy greens (so they get enough Vitamin C) and fresh fruit as occasional treats, herbs, and plenty of fresh water. As a good pet parent, you’ve got to try your best to make sure that’s what you offer.

Moreover, it could also have something to do about quantity. Cavies can tolerate small portions of veggies, but some may find it unappealing when there’s a lot in their bowl.

If your guinea pig is a bit older, it could be more challenging to introduce new fruits and veggies cavies.

Piggies develop food preferences early in their lives and are extreme creatures of habit when it comes to their food.

With that, young guinea pigs are more likely to get over their selective attitude towards these vegetables.

3. They Don’t Like The Veggies You Offered

Sometimes there is no special reason as to why your guinea pig is picky with certain types of food.

Perhaps they simply don’t like it, and that’s okay.

After researching about the guinea pig diet and providing fruits and veggies that most experts recommend, learning that your furry, little friend doesn’t like them can be frustrating.

For example, you decided to introduce bell peppers to your cavy.

You’ve read that they are nutritious, and most guinea pigs like them.

However, your cavies seem to hate bell pepper (with a purple passion). This could just be because bell pepper doesn’t match your piggie’s taste.

It’s the same with us humans. You may love to eat tuna sandwiches while others are not fans of it. It all boils down to your personal taste or preference.

And if that’s the case, you’ll want to offer your little friends different varieties of produce or a different type of hay until you find a combo that works well for your fur babies.

Remember that the amount of food you give your piggies should look like: 80% hay, 10-15% leafy greens, and the rest pellets.

4. No Mentor Tell Them That the Food Is “Safe.”

Most little fuzz spuds aren’t meant to live on their own. 

Part of the reason is that if they’re alone, especially in their growing years, they might experience difficulties acting like…well, piggies.

Let me explain how that goes hand-in-hand with being a picky eater.

Naturally, this includes understanding which foods are safe to eat and which ones should be set aside. An older guinea pig normally shares this information with the youngsters.

In the wild, guinea pigs always move in herds for protection. Since they’re prey animals, it’s in their nature for them to take extra precautions in everything they do.

For example, in terms of trying a new food, your fur babies prioritize their protection over a delicious eating experience.

But, if your little friends can’t tell if the food is safe, they’ll probably avoid it all together.

That’s a good thing in the wild, but a bad thing when they’re domesticated and aren’t able to roam at will to eat whatever strikes their furry, little fancy.

Having an older piggie around (preferably one with a healthy appetite) will give confidence to a new guinea pig to eat certain foods.

Human beings do this, too.

5. The Conditions Allow Them To be Picky Eaters.

Bottom line? Sometimes guinea pig parents feed their furry friends a little bit too much…well, junk.

A guinea pig that is selective regarding food may have something to do with the type of living setup imposed by the current or previous owner.

However, if the last owner has been very keen with their diet and all of the sudden your cavies became picky eaters, it could be due to some changes you introduced.

For example, if you have been feeding your piggy junk foods (like yogurt drops, seeds, or other “junk” food in certain pellets, they may refuse to eat other foods – especially healthy ones.

Feeding your cavies these types of foods can alter their palate.

What Should You Do To Get Your Guinea Pig To Stop Being So Picky?

If being selective with food goes beyond a phase, it can be alarming for your guinea pig.

So, it’s only fitting to look into practical ways to address these feeding issues. So, here are things you can do to stop your little friends from being picky eaters.

1. Make it a Game

Making eating fun is a great way to encourage your furry friends to try new things.

Use a snuffle mat to encourage your friend to go “hunting” for their food. Take pieces of romaine lettuce, green beans, a few little slivers of red cabbage, and stuff them into the mat.

You can even add a tiny amount fruit fruits as well.

If you don’t want to use a snuffle matt, try hiding their food in their hay. Lot of piggies have a great time burrowing into their hay for treats.

2. Slowly introduce a variety of foods in their diet.

If you introduce more than one type of food, you’ll get more information about which ones get the approval of your cavies. Who knows? You might inadvertently stumble on their favorite treat.

Offer one type of food for a while before switching up.

Sometimes you have to add the same food to your pet’s diet a few times before the food is accepted. The important thing is to not give up.

3. Limit or remove certain guinea pig foods to push them to try healthy ones.

If you have been used to feeding junk foods to your cavy, it’s high time you stop doing so. Likewise, try to limit other types of foods that are high in sugar to regulate your cavy’s diet.

4. Give food in small portions.

Feed your cavy small portions of fruits and veggies. You can chop them up or slice them into tiny pieces to help your cavy with the food consumption.

When you feed pellets, make sure that they’re uniform. They shouldn’t be different colors and sizes. 

If the food is all the same, then your cavies won’t have a chance to form a preference for one type.

Which Foods Should I Try To Give To A Picky Guinea Pig?

If your guinea pigs are picky eater, experts recommend sticking to pellets first. This is because pellets are fortified with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

So, if you can secure their diet consisting of pellets, you don’t have to worry as much about how many vitamins and minerals your piggies are getting. But, you still need to make sure that they’re eating a balanced diet of vegetables and tons of hay.

But, you still want to slowly introduce veggies (especially green leafy veggies) into your piggie’s diet.

Conclusion

To wrap it up, your guinea pig might be a picky eater because of the following reasons:

  1. They have foraging tendencies that make them crave specific foods.
  2. They weren’t exposed to different veggies.
  3. They simply don’t like them.
  4. They don’t have an older piggie friend that teaches them about food.
  5. They were given junk food at first.

However, the good news is that there are several ways to correct a little friends’ selective attitude towards food. 

Make sure that you offer quality guinea pig food to your fur babies.  

Always keep fresh water (make sure that it’s clean water, too, please), hay, and Vitamin C enriched pellets handy. But, then offer other fresh food (like fresh vegetables or herbs) until your little friends get the idea that veggies are delicious.  

Just remember to always be patient and understanding of your cavy’s ordeal and use these tips to help make sure that your piggie had a balanced diet (for a long, healthy life).

That way there’s a good chance that you’ll avoid the health issues these little guys get comes from poor eating habits (like gi stasis and dental disease).

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

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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