As an avid animal lover, I have a lot of different types of pets at home. It can get really confusing trying to maintain the diets of a diverse group of animals.
So, to try to better understand my pets and potentially make feeding time a little bit easier, I decided to research whether or not rabbits can eat guinea pig food. So, can rabbits eat guinea pig food?
Rabbits can eat guinea pig food in the short term, but long term this diet will not sustain the nutrients rabbits need to stay happy and healthy. Rabbits require a special high-fiber diet. Guinea pig food will do little to nothing to rabbits’ nutrition.
Although rabbits and guinea pigs are both small, furry, herbivores that look like they could eat the same things, rabbits and guinea pigs have some differences that require different diets.
As I researched this topic, I discovered underlying similarities and differences between rabbits and guinea pigs such as their vitamin C intake as well as the importance of vitamin C in their bodies. Read on to find out more.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Guinea Pig Food That Can Be Given to Rabbits
As previously mentioned, there is a strong overlap in what you can feed both your pet guinea pig and rabbit.
Both of these animals have an extremely similar diet with only a few key differences to keep an eye out for.
When feeding your rabbits and guinea pigs, both need to have a diet of majority hay, some vegetables, some pellets, and a very small percentage of fruit.
The amount of vegetables each pet needs varies (5-10% for guinea pigs and 10-15% for rabbits) but the list of vegetables that are safe to eat for both species is below.
Vegetables that can be given to both rabbits and guinea pigs:
● Carrots and carrot tops
● Green leaf lettuce
● Red leaf lettuce
● Romaine lettuce
● Beet greens
When it comes to feeding your rabbit or guinea pig fruit, the key is moderation. Due to their small size, rabbits and guinea pigs can not consume high percentages of fruit or they will become obese and lead to more serious health risks. For both pets, fruit should only take up about 0-5% of their diets, or be given as a special treat around two times per week.
Fruits that can be given to both rabbits and guinea pigs:
● Apples (no seeds)
● Cherries (no seeds)
The largest percentage of a guinea pig’s or rabbit’s diet is hay. Rabbits should receive hay for about 80% of their diet and guinea pigs need it to make up 70-75% of their daily intake.
Both rabbits and guinea pigs should have unlimited access to high-quality grass hay such as Timothy or Orchard Grass Hay.
Guinea pigs require less hay than rabbits is because they need more pellets in their regimen than rabbits (20-25% for guinea pigs and only 10% for rabbits).
Guinea pig pellets contain vitamin C supplements that are necessary for their health, yet rabbits retain the ability to make their own vitamin C and therefore do not need to consume the same amount of pellets as guinea pigs.
In fact, it is dangerous for rabbits to consume guinea pig pellets because it could suppress their natural production of vitamin C.
How Often Can I Give Guinea Pig Food to My Rabbit?
You can feed your rabbit guinea pig pellets a few times if you’re in a crunch, but make sure that you don’t let your rabbit become dependent on them.
Guinea pig pellets contain vitamin C and if your rabbit starts consuming these pellets regularly there is a risk that they may stop naturally producing vitamin C and this could lead to greater health risks down the road.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables it is ok to regularly feed your guinea pig and rabbit the same thing, as long as you are double-checking that they are safe for both pets and you maintain a 10-15% regimen for rabbits and only a 5-10% portion for guinea pigs.
It is also safe to regularly feed your guinea pig and rabbit the same hay, as long as it is either Timothy or Orchard Grass Hay.
What Are the Similarities and Differences Between Rabbits’ and Guinea Pigs’
Rabbits and guinea pigs have almost the exact same diet.
Both rabbits and guinea pigs need to maintain similar diets of hay, fruits, and vegetables, but with slight variations.
They need to eat more vegetables than fruit and both need to eat hay or pellets to support their fiber intake.
The reason for these similarities is that both rabbits and guinea pigs are small
mammals. That being said, they are members of different species. Rabbits are
considered lagomorphs while guinea pigs belong to rodents.
The main difference between these two species is their teeth. Rabbits have four incisors, while guinea pigs only have two. This difference is one of the biggest reasons for a variation in their diets because these animals need to maintain nutrition that supports their unique bodies.
Throughout a rabbit’s and guinea pig’s lifetime, their incisors never stop growing. This is primarily why these mammals need hearty diets of fibrous foods.
When rabbits and guinea pigs munch on hay and pellets, the fiber helps grind down their teeth so they can maintain their oral health.
If rabbits and guinea pigs are not fed a fibrous diet, their teeth can grow too long for their mouths and this could lead to many health risks.
First, their teeth can affect their nasal cavities and therefore impair their breathing if not maintained properly.
Also, if rabbits and guinea pigs are not able to effectively grind down their teeth they may become painful for your pet and cause them to start chewing on different sides of their mouth. If this occurs, it will greatly impact the muscles and ligaments in the mouth.
Therefore, it is imperative that your pets sustain a diet of high-fiber intake to support their dental well-being. High-fiber meals also provide very important nutrients.
Hay and pellets contain essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, D, and E, protein, and calcium.
In addition, fiber is extremely important for digestion because it helps move food through the rabbits’ and guinea pigs’ intestines and supports healthy bodily waste.
Rabbits and guinea pigs need fibrous foods to maintain their gut health. Being so small, their digestive systems are very sensitive. If they are not receiving enough fiber they could become constipated.
Although for humans constipation is at most uncomfortable, for rabbits and guinea pigs it could be life-threatening.
Overall, you can get away with feeding your rabbit guinea pig food for a little while, but you definitely can not feed your guinea pig rabbit food.
Guinea pigs require the vitamin C supplements often found in food created specifically for them.
Whereas rabbits can eat guinea pig food for a short time, they eventually need a diet that supports their specific anatomy. Rabbits require a diet of more hay or pellets than guinea pigs because they have more teeth that they need to wear down.
Between fiber and vitamin C, rabbits and guinea pigs have very sensitive bodies that need attentive, individualized care.
If rabbits and guinea pigs are not receiving enough fiber, they could experience ailments in the mouth and in the digestive tract that, if not addressed, can lead to death.
Even more, if guinea pigs do not get enough vitamin C daily they are more apt to contract a disease and fatal outcomes may occur.
If your pet’s teeth appear to be growing faster than they can wear them down, or if your guinea pig is experiencing diarrhea, swollen limbs, or refuses to walk, consult your veterinarian as this may be a result of an imbalanced diet.
1. Can I Feed Guinea Pigs Rabbit Food?
Since we’ve understood why rabbits can’t eat guinea pig food for an extended period of time, you may be wondering if perhaps guinea pigs could simply eat rabbit food instead.
The answer here is no, guinea pigs can not survive on rabbit food, and in fact, could contract diarrhea and eventually die if fed a diet strictly for rabbits.
Guinea pigs do not produce vitamin C in their bodies, yet rabbits do. This means that guinea pigs require a diet fortified with vitamin C to be able to survive.
2. Why do Guinea Pigs Need Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a nutrient that all mammals need, but some – like humans and guinea pigs – don’t produce it on their own. Vitamin C is important for guinea pigs because it impacts all aspects of their bodies, such as skin, joints, mucosal surfaces like gums, and it helps them heal wounds.
Since vitamin C is so vital to the body and helps alleviate any traumas a guinea pig is experiencing, a lack of vitamin C could cause guinea pigs to contract diseases or experience skin problems.
If a guinea pig appears to have rough or patchy hair, isn’t eating, is averse to walking, has swollen feet, or is experiencing diarrhea it is likely due to a lack of vitamin C and you should speak with a veterinarian as soon as possible.
On average, guinea pigs need 10-50 mg of vitamin C each day depending on their condition. Circumstances such as if a guinea pig is young or old, pregnant, or has any health risks all impact the amount of vitamin C a guinea pig needs to lead a healthy life.
Check with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate dosage of vitamin C that is unique to your guinea pig.