Rabbits and Guinea pigs are herbivores and vast majority of their diet should consist of fresh hay and the rest fresh veggies and grass. Pellets are considered a dietary supplement or treat and should be limited to 1 teaspoon- 1 tablespoon per pet a day, unless otherwise recommended by your vet.
Hay- the best preventative for a healthy gut and teeth!
Hay is the most important part of a rabbit and guinea pig’s diet! Hay is a critical source of fibre, which is essential for your pet’s digestive system and helps to grind down their constantly growing teeth and prevent dental disease. Hay is also rich in vitamins A and D, protein and calcium.
There are lots of types of hay and in general rabbits love oaten hay and guinea pigs love meadow grass hay. Lucerne hay (alfalfa hay) and clover hay are high in calcium and is good for growing juvenile rabbits and guinea pigs but care in adult pets as the high calcium may lead to increase risk of bladder stones and sludge developing. Timothy hay is a great tasting hay since it is quite expensive as it mostly imported from the USA- consider it a delicacy.
How much hay should my pet eat daily?
80% of a rabbit’s diet should consist of hay and 70% of a guinea pig’s diet should consist of hay. As a visual guide your pet should consume their body’s size worth of hay daily.
There are a few important points when it comes to choosing the best and tastiest hay for your pets.
- Always ensure hay is fresh, green, smells good and has few grass seed and no prickles or mold.
- Hay stored in plastic should be avoided as this method of storage increases humidity.
Remember that hay is a product of nature and inAustralia is cut seasonally. The best hay is seen during the cutting season in February-May, hay will slowly decrease in quality through the year.
The Vegetable List
Here is a list of some of the fruits and vegetables that guinea pigs and rabbits love. Greens are often a personal choice so find what your pet likes. Always remember to try new foods a little at a time.
The ideal diet is a various diet (a little bit of everything and not too much of one thing). It is best to keep a consistent diet once you work out what your pet like. Also we recommend washing the greens first to remove any contaminants.
How much veggies should my pet eat?
The average amount for a 2 kg rabbit (or two guinea pigs) is a loosely packed three litre container per day!
Feed lots from this list:
- Asian Greens (Bok choy, Choy sum etc)
- Carrot tops (the green bit)
- Herbs: Coriander, Mint, Basil, Parsley (great Vit C for guinea pigs) etc
- Grass *
- Weeds: dandelion, milk thistle *
* make sure you know it is not sprayed, or grazed by wild rabbits or soiled by dogs
Feed moderate amounts from this list:
No more than one leaf a day. Veggies in the brassica family and can cause large amounts of gas in the intestine. This can cause pain and your rabbit or guinea pig will stop eating.
- Broccoli (great Vit C for our guinea pigs)
- Cabbage leaves
- Cauliflower leaves
- Cucumber (great for hot days)
Feed small amounts from this list:
Maximum of half a cup a day of total combination. Slightly larger amounts would be necessary for guinea pigs if you are not feeding a good quality pellet to ensure adequate Vitamin C levels.
- red (high in vit C)
Pellets and Mixes
Most rabbits and guinea pigs we see are overweight as they consume too many pellets. Many pellets and mixes on the market are very high in protein, fat and sugar. If your pet’s main source of food is low quality pellets, they will most likely be overweight. Also diets high in pellets and mixes cause a high risk of urinary problems, intestinal problems, nails and feet problems.
Mixes are rabbit and guinea pig junk food. They pick out what they want and, like us, this is often what is not good for them.
At Templestowe Veterinary Clinic we stock and recommend Oxbow pellets. A limit of 1 tablespoon a day of a good quality pellet like Oxbow is enough to supplement a balanced diet.
Rabbits and guinea pigs less than 12 months old should be fed the junior pellets for growth and they are allowed more.
Importance of SLOWLY changing the diet !!
Rabbits and guinea pigs can be sensitive to sudden changes in their diet. It is very important to gradually implement any diet change to your pet, including the introduction of a new fruit and vegetable. If you are introducing a new food or removing those pellets and grain mixes, gradually change the amount over 2-3 weeks, and only introduce one food at a time. If there is any change in behaviour or health, stop the new addition. This is even important when changing from one bale of hay to another (as hay is a product of nature) and slowly introduce the new hay by mixing with the older bale of hay.
Food you NEVER feed your rabbit or guinea pig
- Iceberg lettuce
- Onions or garlic plants, including spring onion, leek
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes
- Tomato plants (branches, leaves)
- Corn kernels or popcorn
- Bird treats
- Chocolate or other caffeine-containing products.
- Dairy products
- Ice cream
- sugary foods like donuts, candy or soda
- any processed or fried foods that you would eat, including potato chips, nachos or fries.
- anything spicy, Jalapeno peppers, anything with cinnamon
- Meat or fish
Rabbits should always have a fresh supply of water available. Be sure to change your rabbit’s water at least once each day. Water can be kept in a sipper bottle or bowl. If you use a sipper bottle, watch new rabbits to make sure they know how to use the bottles, and clean bottles daily so the tubes don’t get clogged. If you use a bowl, make sure that the bowl is heavy enough to avoid tipping and spilling.
Food Pyramid for rabbits and guinea pigs