Guinea Pigs & The Importance of Hay
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Guinea pigs are intelligent, social, and inquisitive pocket-sized pets. Despite their tiny size, they need a lot of room to run around and a lot of attention and care. So, it’s important to learn about these friendly little guys if you are planning on keeping one as a pet. Starting with the most important factor, hay.
Hay makes up 75% of a Guinea pig’s daily diet.
Grass hay especially plays a beneficial role in a guinea pigs’ diet promoting optimum health. It should be the go-to for your guinea pig’s diet. However, offering alternative hay types in conjunction to grass hay will be beneficial to your guinea pig’s overall wellbeing.
Understand that straw and hay are not the same. Straw offers little to no nutritional value for guinea pigs. Whereas hay contains essential fiber, fats and proteins which are vital nutrients needed to keep a guinea pig happy and healthy. Hay does however lack a vital part of a guinea pig’s diet, vitamin C, so they will need to get this from something else in their diet. Giving your guinea pig fruits, vegetables, and pellets, alongside hay is a great way to ensure you guinea pig is getting the best well-rounded diet possible.
Guinea pigs need to eat twice their size in hay daily. If they don’t, their health can start to decline. Guinea pigs can last up to 24 hours without hay, any longer and they may start to develop digestive issues and up to 72 hours, give or take, they can die from starvation and deteriorating health. It is essential that if you are planning to leave them on their own for a few days, that you make sure they are well stocked up or better yet get someone you trust to babysit them. After all they are social creatures and will appreciate the company and cuddles.
Lucerne Hay (Alfalfa) – The most common type of hay we see customers buy for their guinea pigs. Lucerne hay has high levels of calcium, carbs, and protein. And is more suited for young (under 6 months), pregnant, or nursing adults. Be careful when feeding your guinea pig lucerne hay though because when used in conjunction with a lucerne-based pellet it may contribute to the development of bladder stones.
Oaten Hay – Also known as cereal hay and like a lot of the cereals we have as humans is high in sugar and should be used sparingly to offer a variety in your guinea pigs diet.
Meadow Hay – This can be a mixture of rhodes, rye, grassy, or teff varieties. Like oaten hay has a sweet smell and taste and is great to form part of a varied diet.
Timothy Hay – The King of Hay! Timothy Hay has a sweet smell and taste that guinea Pigs can’t resist. Sourced from the USA, this is Veterinarians and the cavy enthusiast, hay of choice. It contains stem, leaf, and seed heads. Your Guinea Pigs will get lots of vitamins and minerals from the leaves while eating the stems that wear down their teeth.
Not only is hay great for their diet but it is also the key to maintaining their grazing habits. Guinea pigs graze a lot. Hay is perfect for them to chew as it will naturally wear down their teeth, which believe it or not, never stop growing.
This makes it essential for them to always have access to hay to promote regular dental patterns and reduce potential dental issues later down the line
Hay doubles as an excellent bedding material. It is an excellent conductor for body warmth. Having a large pile of hay that they can burrow into is an excellent way to keep them warm during those cooler nights and give them somewhere fun to play during the day. Be sure to change the hay regularly or once it becomes soiled. This is the best way to maintain a healthy environment.
Come in store today or check out our online range to find the perfect hay for your guinea pig. We stock oaten, barley, and grass hay, which can all prove beneficial to your guinea pig’s diet. Grass hay being the best for everyday use.