Feeding the right food is key when it comes to the well-being of your rabbits and guinea pigs. Find out what you should feed them and what you should only use for bedding with our handy guide.

Why you should feed your rabbits and guinea pigs hay

Quality hay is essential for a good diet and general health in rabbits and guinea pigs. It’s important that your rabbit and guinea pig have an uninterrupted supply of hay to keep them healthy. Feeding your pet an incorrect diet can lead to major health issues, like severe dental and digestive problems.

What is hay?

There are many different types of hay but, essentially, hay is dried grass or dried legumes. We can divide hay into two main categories in terms of feed for small herbivores – grass hay which is high in fibre and legume hay which is high in protein.

Grass hay

Grass hay is a rough, high-fibre hay that is great for maintaining teeth and encourages natural behaviour like foraging and chewing. High-fibre hay is also critical for a healthy and functional digestive system.

Common types of grass hay for rabbits and guinea pigs include timothy hay, oaten hay, meadow hay and paddock hay.

Legume hay

Alfalfa hay (also known as lucerne) and clover hay are high protein hays that are made from dried legumes, not grass. They are more fattening than grass hay so they should not be fed to your rabbit or guinea pig. These hays also have a higher concentration of calcium which can lead to the formation of urinary stones.

Which hay is best to feed rabbits and guinea pigs?

The best hay to feed your small animal is whichever grass hay they like the most, though you can also provide them with a mixture of a few different types to ensure they receive a range of vitamins and minerals.

Remember, do not provide your rabbits and guinea pigs with legume hays like alfalfa and clover hay as their primary food source.

Keep your hay in a well-ventilated area and prevent it from becoming wet. If it has any signs of mould or discolouration, do not feed it to your pet.

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Use straw for your rabbit and guinea pigs’ bedding

What is straw?

Straw is the stalk from grain crops like wheat. It’s yellow in colour and the stalks are hollow. It’s easy to tell straw apart from hay as hay is made from long stalks of dried grass and will have more of a green tinge.

What should I use straw for?

Straw is great for insulating and is used for bedding to keep furry friends warm on cold winter nights. You could use grass hays as bedding for your pets however this would be a more costly option. Make sure to not use alfalfa hay as bedding to avoid your pets gaining weight by eating too much of it.

Can I feed my guinea pig or rabbit straw?

Straw is not recommended as a feed source as it has a lower nutritional value than hay, but it’s safe if your pet does nibble on it.

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If you’d like more guidance on the right hay or straw for your pet, feel free to just ask your local Petbarn team member.