Did you know that 80% of a guinea pig diet consists of hay? With such amounts, it should come as no surprise that it’s very important to get the right hay…
… and today, that’s what we’re going to show you.
The best thing you can do for your guinea pig is to give it 24-7 access to high-quality hay.
If you are in a hurry we have listed our top pick for the best hay you can get for your guinea pig next and below that, we go into much more detail.
- Super soft and leafy; contains less stem and seed head than second cutting
- Super soft hay is difficult to find - It's a "gift" from mother nature, not a given
Best Timothy Hay For Guinea Pigs
We’ll start with something not all people know…
Guinea pigs are rodents which means their teeth are always growing.
For both that and dietary reasons, the most important item in the cage is hay, which the guinea pig should always have access to. Here’s why:
- The teeth in the back of the mouth of a guinea pig are ground down through the silica in grass and hay
- Guinea pigs like to chew on hay all day long
- Guinea pigs can quickly become ill if they do not have access to hay
- For that reason, your guinea pig should always have access to hay
- Hay should make up approximately 80% of the daily food intake
Now, the million-dollar question becomes: What kind of hay should you feed your guinea pig?
- The short answer is a type of hay called timothy hay
- The slightly longer answer is to feed more alfalfa hay when they are up to four months of age as this contains more calcium, and then switch to timothy hay afterward
- Also, if your guinea pig is pregnant it should be fed alfalfa hay
In addition, you need to feed your guinea pig hay that is soft and more grass-like as compared to stiff hay that is more straw-like.
With these considerations in mind, as well as “how much the guinea pigs like the different types of hay”, we have found the three best options below when it comes to guinea pig hay.
Best Guinea Pig Hay Rack
When getting a guinea pig hay rack there are a lot of different options out there, including:
- Should I get a guinea pig hay bin, hay dispenser or a simple hay holder?
The answer is, that while you can get creative (and even make some DIY projects) a good ol’ hay rack is the most sensible way to go.
When getting a hay rack, you need to ensure the following (in order of importance):
- Not made of toxic chemicals
- No sharp edges that can potentially hurt your guinea pig
- Decent volume capacity so the hay can last at least a day
- Can be attached to the cage (most free-standing hay racks are not that good)
Below we have listed our top three picks, which all fit criteria 1-4 above.
What are the characteristics of good guinea pig hay?
When selecting hay for your guinea pig, it can be a jungle to figure out: What are the characteristics of good guinea pig hay?
There are quite a few things that good guinea pig hay have in common which are:
- Should be very leafy, soft and pliable with a grass-like structure
- Should be a natural green and not the yellow color of full-grown wheat
- Smell clean without any smell of dust, burns or mold
- Naturally be free of any trash, dirt, weeds or other unwelcome material
When getting guinea pig hay, you should go for something that is not the first cut. The first cut generally refers to the first harvest after winter and this hay is usually stiffer and less desirable than the second or third cutting.
Alfalfa Hay for Guinea Pigs
When getting hay for your guinea pig you should always be getting timothy hay unless you can answer yes to one of the following:
- Your guinea pig is pregnant
- Your guinea pig is below the age of 4 months
If you can answer yes to any of those, you should feed your guinea pig a mixture of 50% timothy hay and 50% alfalfa hay.
There are a couple of reasons why you need alfalfa hay:
- Contains more calcium which pregnant and growing guinea pigs need more of
- Helps their digestion
There is not the same amount choice when it comes to alfalfa hay on the market, but the hay below is a favorite when you need alfalfa hay for your piggy.
- SaleOxbow Animal Health Alfalfa Hay for Pets, 15-Ounce
- Convenient mess-free bag
- Necessary small animal supplement
A balanced guinea pig diet
The secret to a good guinea pig diet is balanced meals and here is the full breakdown of the recommended daily diet for your pig:
- Approximately 80% timothy hay
- 10-15% snacks such as vegetables and fresh herbs. Shoot for the equivalent of 1 cup-full, which will weigh ~2oz (50 grams)
- 5-10% pellets of guinea pig food. One eight of a cup or a little less than an ounce is all they need. If they are fast growing pigs up to the age of 4-6 months, you can double this ratio.