Does this veggies schedule look ok?


Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:11 pm


I'm an avid hamster/mice owner and it's come to my attention there's a foster organization near me that is accepting fosters for all kinds of small animals, including guinea pigs.

I've done plenty of research on everything I can, but I was just wondering if someone could take a look at the veggie schedule I created (thanks to the calculator on here!) to see if it's ok for most piggies.


By the way, the 10-20g of Oxbow is referring to Oxbow Essentials Guinea Pig Pellets.

Thank you so much for any feedback!


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Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:21 pm

That's way too complicated to keep up with.

Guinea pigs need leafy greens (red or green leaf lettuces are good), bell pepper for vitamin C, and a few others. Here's a good list of favorite foods:

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Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:24 pm

Unless the guinea pig is a baby, he or she should not have alfalfa. Also, some of the other veggies you list are higher in calcium (and therefore not a good choice for an adult guinea pig) or can cause gassiness.

Hamsters and guinea pigs are vastly different animals. There is a lot of helpful information in the GL Care Guide that should help you with everything from diet to housing. See:

There are links within the Guide to "Nutrition" and many other topics.


Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:41 pm

(Not sure how to quote on here? Anyways)

bpatters: Too complicated for me or the guinea pigs? I can handle it fine if that's the case. Also, there is bell pepper on most days and romaine/green leaf lettuce every day, so I'm not sure what you're talking about there?
Is less variety better with guinea pigs? Should I only stick to 3-4 veggies?

sef1268: Thanks for the info/link! I'll take alfalfa off the list; I just grow it fresh and thought it'd be a good idea :P
How much calcium should I be looking for on a daily basis?
I'm aware hamsters and guinea pigs are very different :) Ex hamsters are granivores/insectivores while guinea pigs are full herbivores, hamsters prefer to be solitary while guinea pigs are very social, etc. Just giving some background and letting everyone know I'm not just leaping into pet care!

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Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:49 pm

As with any new animal, it is best to introduce foods slowly to avoid stomach upset. You can start with green leaf and maybe one or two other veggies (cilantro, small amount of carrot or green paper) and gradually add foods over a period of time to make sure they are well tolerated. I would skip the fruit altogether. They tend to be harder on the gut.

Again, do read the Care Guide. We're more than happy to answer any questions here, but there is a wealth of good info there for the first-time owner to help get you started. There should be a nutritional chart on there that ranks foods by such things as calcium, vitamin C, etc. I think this is the link:


Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 2:16 pm

Alright, I'll leave out the strawberry. And, yes, I'll be slowly introducing everything :)

Duh, the Ca in Ca:Ph is calcium... total brain fart. My bad.
So wait, since the ratios are ok, what's the issue with my calcium levels? The calculator says anything above 1.33 is ok, but should I go for 1.5 like the article on Stones says?

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Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 3:30 pm

Unless someone in your house eats a lot of green stuff, you'll wind up with rotting veggies in your refrigerator because the pigs won't eat up what you buy before it spoils.

Make it easy on yourself. Pick a lettuce (NOT romaine, see below), get some bell peppers, rotate a few other veggies that your family likes (carrots, summer squash, young green beans, radicchio, tomato, etc.), and feed them until they're gone. Then buy a few more and feed those. I promise you the pigs won't complain.

Just as an FYI, romaine and cilantro can both cause excess urinary calcium in some pigs. Others are not bothered. If you notice a lot of dried calcium spots in cage, take both of those out of the diet.

Herbs are also high in calcium and should be given only as treats, not as a staple of the diet.


Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 3:39 pm

New question: So, if I'm aiming for 1.33-1.6:1, how am I supposed to get there without high-calcium veggies (which i think is what you're suggesting? Correct me if I'm wrong)? For example, lettuce has a ratio of about 1:1 and bell pepper has a ratio of about 0.5:1, which most (from what I've collected) feed as a staple part of their piggie's diet. How do I get that up to the ideal range without veggies? Don't you average the ratios out? How would the average be higher than 1.33 without a veggie that's higher than 1.33? Shouldn't the phosphorus handle the calcium enough even in high calcium foods provided the ratios are correct?

I'm just genuinely confused by all of this and am asking for help. Maybe this isn't the right forum or something. Maybe this just isn't a place for beginners. I don't know. Everyone on other forums says I'm going too far into this, but I really do want what's best for my fosters. I'm reading your care guides and whatnot and I'm just not finding anything, and I need specific help.

As for your reply bpatters: I'm able to buy lots of produce in smaller amounts where I live. My family already goes shopping on a weekly basis so when the weekly amounts have gone out I can buy more fresh.
For example, I can buy a small, maybe 4x12" head of green leaf lettuce for about a dollar where I live, and that would likely fit well into a weekly basis. Even with two bell peppers and two piggies, if I feed each pig 1/8 of a pepper a day, they'd be able to clear that in a week.

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Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 3:54 pm

Watch out for sugary foods. Carrots are a little bit high in sugar [Comment from Lynx: this is not true] and not one of the better sources of vitamin C so they aren't the best thing for every day veggies. All colors of bell peppers are a far better everyday option. My pigs love their carrots, but I only give them each about a quarter of an average sized one twice a week. Fruits are given sparingly as treats, although they could probably have more. I'm a little bit paranoid about sugary foods after one of my boys had a run-in with the consequences of high sugar.

For my piggies, I give them about a cup of veggies daily, but I divide their servings into morning and evening portions and I always make sure there is plenty of hay for them to eat in between. I didn't see it mentioned in this thread yet, but get a scale and weigh your piggies religiously. Their weight and any changes (other than minor ones) is a great way to gauge their health and the effectiveness of their diet. Keep track of it.

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Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 4:07 pm

To be perfectly honest, most of us don't pay a lot of attention to the Ca:P ratio. A few do, most don't.

My suggestions were made after years of seeing new pig owners plan elaborate menus for each day, or even each meal each day, only to give up in a few weeks and settle on a pretty standard, doesn't-require-much-thought diet.

My own pigs got red or green leaf lettuce, whatever color of bell peppers were a reasonable price at the store, a chunk of tomato, a chunk of cucumber, and a chunk of carrot because I always had those in the fridge. Depending on what was in season, what else we had in the fridge and what we were having for supper, they might get summer squash, celery, corn husks/silks, green beans, radicchio (they LOVE that stuff), a little fruit, or a small sprig of a herb.

To me, it was hard enough to plan meals for the humans in the house. The pets got a pretty standard, very easy to manage diet with occasional treats when I had them.

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Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 4:13 pm

Try not to overthink it. It's easier said than done I know. Especially since there's tons of advice being put out there. I've found that variety is the spice of life. There are all kinds of leafy lettuce and other than iceberg lettuce; which is not good for them, they enjoy most of them. Try changing things up with the lettuce. A variable rotation of red leaf, green leaf and butter lettuce with the occasional romaine leaf thrown in works fine. I give bell peppers daily with a variety of every color. I throw in parsley, cilantro, cucumbers and carrots every so often to give them a change of pace. They despise tomatoes, but if you can get yours to eat them, that's great. That ensures that they don't get too much of any one thing.

How is your lawn? If you have one without fertilizer, pesticides and weed killers, you can let your piggies graze outside as long as they don't go outside when it's above 80° or below 68°. You just have to provide shade and watch them non-stop. If you have a lot of predators around or if you live in an area where the weather doesn't permit outside grazing, you can give them wheat grass. Grass is very good for them and they love it. My vet says they can eat their fill, although I don't let mine do that every time. I set mine up like this.


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Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 4:23 pm

The earliest recommendations behind a "balanced" calcium-to-phosphorus ratio were, I believe, based on ruminant nutritional requirements many years ago. Then a little more recently but still at a time when few of us really knew what constituted a good diet for rabbits and guinea pigs, very well-meaning folks tried to come up with something similar for guinea pigs to help ensure good health. I think Becky here at Guinea Lynx put together a very extensive guide at one time, and that may be what the current chart was based on. Oxbow even embraced this theory as being important to avoiding bladder stones. As bpatters mentioned, it became fairly elaborate on some forums. One individual on another forum had a very strict list of what you could feed when---"tomato only once a week," and so on. It was a little extreme, frankly.

Guinea pig dietary requirements is not an exact science, though, and it eventually became evident to many of us that there was more to guinea pig health than just the Ca:P ratio. Pigs on a so-called balanced diet still got sick. Pigs not fed a balanced diet based on that ratio still lived to be 6, 7 or 8 years old. Ca:P ratio had nothing to do with calcium carbonate stone formation in guinea pigs (I spent quite a bit of time and effort researching this myself).

More current and much easier practice is to feed a variety of good, fresh vegetables and leave it to a high quality pellet to fill in any deficiencies. Most of us aim for veggies that are a lower in calcium, because bladder stones and sludge are common and problematic for guinea pigs. It's also good to aim for vegetables that are less gassy (that is, avoiding broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.) because guinea pigs are also prone to gas and potential bloat. Vitamin C is important, as guinea pigs aren't able to synthesize C on their own, and therefore most owners try to include bell peppers or other veggies that are slightly higher in C but keeping in mind to avoid too much excess calcium (parsley and spinach being two that most of us try to avoid or limit). Again, though, most quality pellets (Oxbow, KMS Hayloft being the two most highly recommended here) will contain adequate vitamin C for a guinea pig with no known health issues.

As bpatters states, it doesn't need to be as complicated as we originally thought. While the information is still out there, and it certainly doesn't *hurt* to use Ca:P as a general guide, you will do well without it if you provide a good variety of fresh (preferably organic, if you can get it) vegetables; unlimited, high quality timothy hay; fresh clean water; and high quality pellets that are lower in calcium such as the two that I mentioned. Many guinea pigs are living to be even older these days on relatively simple diets.

Hope this helps you and explains some of our earlier responses (and for the record, we most certainly do welcome beginners here---we were all beginners once, and even the most seasoned of us still has plenty to learn).


Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 4:36 pm

Thank you so much for the info everyone. It seems I've been quite misinformed. Happy to hear it's not as labor-intensive as it sounded.

I'll stick to a nice daily base of various lettuces and bell pepper and throw in whatever's in season/in the fridge.

As for the grazing thing I'd love to do that but I believe my dad used weed-killer on the yard :P I'll convince him out of it some day. How long does it take for that kind of stuff to wear off before it's deemed safe to eat?

Thank you all so much for the guidance, my future piggies and I will appreciate this a bunch!


Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 4:55 pm

Updated veggie list (as it says, I'm in need of more alternative daily veggie ideas!):


Now, it'll kinda depend on what I have at the time, but it'll just sorta act as a quick glance "just got this at the store how often can I feed it" kind of deal.

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Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 5:49 pm

For another lettuce, you can feed Boston/bibb lettuce, too. Mine like it; I just mix it with the green leaf and/or red lead. I'd eliminate the spinach.

Kale and broccoli, while "safe" are gassy and many of us avoid them altogether.

With celery -- do make sure you remove the strings.

Sounds like you're on the right track!

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Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 9:26 pm

I added a comment in your post, Renonvsparky.

Carrots are not high in sugar! I don't know who came up with this wrong idea but it is misleading. The chart page, which shows at a glance that the high sugar foods are fruits, compares 10 calorie amounts of various fruits and vegs.

I did a quick google search which (in this case) turned up the nutritional info for carrots on the side and a top comment mentioning that you'd have to eat three pounds of carrots to get the same amount of sugar you would get in a 20 oz. bottle of Coca-Cola.

Nutrition Facts
Amount Per 1 medium (61 g)
  • Calories 25
    % Daily Value*
    Total Fat 0.1 g 0%
    Saturated fat 0 g 0%
    Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g
    Monounsaturated fat 0 g
    Trans fat 0 g
    Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
    Sodium 42 mg 1%
    Potassium 195 mg 5%
    Total Carbohydrate 6 g 2%
    Dietary fiber 1.7 g 6%
    Sugar 2.9 g
    Protein 0.6 g 1%
    Vitamin A 203% Vitamin C 6%
    Calcium 2% Iron 1%
    Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 5%
    Cobalamin 0% Magnesium 1%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


Post   » Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:13 pm

Lynx-- Wow, never really looked into that but in hindsight it really is crazy how much people say that. Bell pepper is only a tenth of a gram less than your average baby carrot and no one goes on bashing it. Same goes for celery, tomatoes, squash...dang, that really is one heck of a myth.

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Post   » Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:32 am

The site I looked at said 3 grams per cup (128 grams of carrots in total) That seemed a little bit high, while not dangerous to the average piggie, it makes me uncomfortable. Call me paranoid after the run-in my Scruffy had with getting too much sugar in his diet. I guess what I was getting at is that there are better daily sources of vitamin C, so I give carrots no more than once or twice a week. At 200%+ of daily vitamin A recommended allowance for humans, I believe that is plenty enough for them.

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Post   » Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:57 am

I think carrots got a bad reputation with the Atkins diet craze. They were on the high-carb list of veggies to avoid, as were most root veggies. So people jumped to the conclusion that carrots had a lot of sugar.

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Post   » Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:59 am

I think the problem with carrots and sugar is that they're so dense, it doesn't take a very large chunk to ingest a fair amount of sugar. Bell peppers also have sugar, but they're essentially crunchy water, so it takes a lot more pepper to get the same amount of sugar that you would in a much smaller piece of carrot.

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