Do Guinea Pigs Need Hay and what do they need it for ?
Hay is a necessity for your guinea pig and not a choice . Yes guinea pigs need hay not only as bedding , Shelter and to wear out and file their fast growing teeth, but also as a source of fiber, vitamin D and other essential nutrients, hay prevents obesity and diarrhea, and is a great way to keep your guinea pig busy and prevent boredom and hairballs.
Now that you know that your guinea pig must have hay at will, we will see what hay to give him, how much and how often, and everything you need to know about guinea pigs and hay.
Why does guinea pig need hay?
Guinea pigs need hay as an excellent source of fibre.
Pet Guinea pig is a strict herbivore, which therefore has a very long digestive tract and hay is a better source of fiber very important to facilitate intestinal transit and avoid constipation and even prevent diarrhea in guinea pigs.
Hay is a good source of vitamin D and other vitamins for guinea pigs
Vitamin D, of which hay is an excellent source especially if your guinea pig is not often exposed to the sun, this vitamin will protect your guinea pig from rickets and osteoporosis, whose symptoms are similar to a vitamin C deficiency: paralysis of the hind legs.
It is therefore preferable to give your guinea pig dried hay exposed to the sun
Hay to prevent hairballs from forming in the guinea pig’s stomach.
The hay as well as the greenery will ensure a good dose of cellulose for your guinea pig, which will prevent him from blockages because of the possible formation of hairballs in his digestive system (these hairs form a ball, form trichobezoars and block the digestive system).
Hay will also avoid the formation of these hairballs in your guinea pig by providing an occupation, because it takes time to eat hay especially if you hide pieces of vegetables like carrots, and when your guinea pig spends his time eating hay he will spend less time to wash and lick his hair and swallow them …
Timothy Hay Sticks Chew Treats & Toy for Guinea Pigs are good , but should be used just like a treat and toy , not an alternative for natural hay
Hay to wear out your guinea pig’s teeth
The hay is necessary for the guinea pig because it will help him to regulate the size of his incisors (his front teeth), eating hay will in a way file and wear out the ginipic’s teeth which will grow on average 1.5 mm each week and which can become a problem if the guinea pig does not wear them out by eating hay, we have already seen guinea pigs that can no longer feed because their teeth have become too long which unfortunately caused their death.
It is the Silica contained in the hay that will act as an abrasive that will help wear out your guinea pig’s teeth and ensure excellent oral health.
Hay as bedding for your Guinea Pig
Your guinea pig needs hay because he also uses it as litter, he sleeps on it and not only that, he will also choose a corner of the cage and take some hay to make a toilet corner, the hay will also absorb the urine of your guinea pig and avoid the disaster in his cage.
Guinea pigs need hay to make shelters
Guinea pigs are known to be very shy pets, and fearful especially in the early days when you adopted them.
They therefore tend to use hay not only as food but also as shelter and to retreat into it when they feel unsafe and a little afraid of their surroundings.
What is the best hay to give to my guinea pig?
It is always necessary to buy prairie hay, far from pesticides, dried in the sun (rich in vitamin D2) and not with dryers and especially to opt for a hay which contains less than 30% alfalfa, this one contains too much Calcium, useful for the guinea pig but it is necessary to avoid overdoses, because all the calcium which arrives at the intestines of the guinea pig is absorbed in its organism (risk of formation of calcium oxalate stones in the bladder of the guinea pig).
When it comes to choosing hay for your guinea pig, it is important to choose a hay that is dry and not wet and especially not soft, an aromatic hay that smells like meadow, flowers, a green hay and not yellow, look if the hay strands are long, because this is what guinea pigs love, hay should not be dusty too .
Give grass or legume hay for my guinea pig ?
For a good level (just balanced) of proteins, calories and calcium, start by giving a good quantity of grass hay to your guinea pig, hay that contains herbs such as timothy, oats, bromine …
But if your guinea pig is in full growth, in convalescence, in gestation … he will need more of the elements I mentioned before, that’s why it is advisable to give him hay made from legumes such as alfalfa, clover, pitch and vetch, this kind of hay is richer in protein, calcium and calories.
Timothy Hay for example is a good hay to feed your guinea pig ( the link is to Amazon )
How much hay should I give to my guinea pig ?
It is preferable to give hay for your guinea pig in small quantities but continuously. These small rodents prefer hay which always has its aroma and its smell, boiling it will accentuate its smell and will make it more appetizing for the guinea pig but, the fact of giving small quantities will ensure its freshness and the guinea pig will not waste it too much.
Also avoid picking up uneaten or half-eaten hay too quickly as this will encourage your guinea pig to eat even the stems and not only the leaves of the shrubs, the stems contain more nutrients and your pet will benefit more from the hay you give him.
How do I keep my guinea pig’s hay?
To keep your guinea pig’s hay well, you must store the bag of hay away from humidity, in a well ventilated corner, remember to close the bag of hay after you have started it.
Do not buy large quantities, make sure that you will be delivered as your guinea pig consumes it.
Should I use a rake for hay or not?
The racks are useful in the guinea pig’s cage, it avoids waste and always leaves some hay clean. But the guinea pig will also love to pull hay and make a bed of it while selecting strands and eating them …
I advise you to use a rack, fill it with hay and make sure it is full all the time, but you should avoid picking up hay from the litter box every time you add hay to the rack. Only remove the hay from the litter box when you clean the cage and when it is really dirty and starts to smell a bit bad.
do not remove all the hay that remains in the rack of your guinea pig to dispose of the new hay, leave some stems to encourage your pet to eat them.
It is necessary to avoid at all costs to use the hay balls as racks (made with steel wire), guinea pigs often get their heads stuck in them.
Can I give some hay from the farm next door to my guinea pig?
I advise you against it because farm hay can contain bacteria (called clostridia which causes enterotoxemia) potentially dangerous and deadly for the guinea pig even if they are harmless for the ovine and bovine species, which have a larger size and a greater resistance to bacteria.
You must buy hay specially designed for your guinea pig and controlled by the responsible authorities.
Guinea pigs consume a lot of hay in the wild, they also make an underground reserve of it sometimes for the winter so much this one is an element and a very important food for them, thus ensure a good hay to your guinea pig and make that it is always present, fresh and in good quantity in the cage of your guinea pig.