Why Do Guinea Pigs Eat Poo?
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I've been an online writer for over 11 years. I've been interested in raising and caring for exotic pets for quite some time.
It's not actually poo that the guinea pigs are eating. And it's actually vital to your guinea pig's health and well-being. Truth is definitely stranger than fiction.
Name That Pellet
Guinea pigs excrete two kinds of dark brown pellets. One is the poo we all know and expect, but the other is a compound of vitamins and proteins that help the guinea pig digest B vitamins. These are called caecotrophs. They are very similar to the cud that hoofed animals like cows, deer and giraffes produce.
These animals can't chew their food enough in order to properly digest it. In the cud's case, it settles in the rumen to be worked on by acids, then shot back up the esophagus for another chew. After that, it can be digested. In a guinea pig's case, they don't have rumens, so the "cud" comes out the other way for a second chew.
Caecotrophs are squishier and smellier than their poop counterparts. You will very rarely ever see them. If you do see them, that's usually not a good sign. Guinea pigs usually ingest them as soon as they know it's about to pop out. If you've ever seen your guinea pig chewing after cleaning his or her behind, you now know what he or she is chewing on. If your guinea pig does not eat their caecotrophs, they will become malnourished very quickly.
What to Do When Your Guinea Pig Isn't Eating Their Caecotrophs
Older guinea pigs, especially boars (males) but very occasionally in sows (females), lose the muscle tone in their anus regions. This can sometimes lead to impacted bottoms, where the poo and the caecotrophs won't come out. You or a vet will have to manually ease the lump of excreta out. The guinea pig might want to eat the lump. Don't stop the piggy.
In the meantime, your piggy will need some special foods to keep him or her from getting malnourished. Toasted wheat germ is recommended, as well as water-soluble vitamin supplements (if your piggy is still drinking normally). When in doubt, call the vet, please!
Rabbits Eat This, Too
Rabbits also produce caecotrophs, so if you see a rabbit munching on what seems like poo, don't worry. You usually won't see them, as the rabbit instinctively knows when it's coming. If you do see a lot of rabbit caecotrophs about, it's usually not diarrhea as some older rabbit care manuals suggest. It means the rabbit is on too rich of a diet. If the rabbit still refuses to eat caecotrophs, then you need to see a vet.
How to introduce new foods to your guinea pig
As you learn more about foods a guinea pig can eat, you’ll be tempted to try some out. It’s important to introduce any new foods slowly, and a little at a time.
When trying any new food, start with small amounts, with a day or two in between, and check for any changes in stools. This is especially important with fresh fruits and vegetables. Changes in diet can cause gas or diarrhea.
Always rinse fresh food to remove any pesticides.
So, we hope this answers the question, “do guinea pigs poop a lot” to your satisfaction. A poopy pig in your back yard is not a reason to worry! Just keep an eye on the poop in question and make sure it looks healthy. Remember the golden rules of guinea pig droppings. They should be small, dark brown, consistent, oval-shaped – and plentiful!
About Brian Yates
I'm Brian, and I work in the pet industry. I'm passionate about all things related to animals, and I'm dedicated to helping you give your own pet the best life possible. Let's work together to ensure that your furry family members understand just how loved they are!
Why Do Guinea Pigs Knock Over Their Food Bowl?
Have you ever looked into your guinea pig’s cage and notice that one of them dumped their food bowl over?
For example, one of the guinea pigs might put their paws on the side of the bowl to push or tip it over. Sometimes they will even stand on the edge of the bowl and start pulling it over as well.
When they do this it can seem like guinea pigs can be messy because all of the food that is inside of the bowl spills out into their cage and it sometimes causes a big mess. So why do guinea pigs try so hard to knock over their food bowl?
Guinea pigs will knock over their food bowl when they’re hungry, when they want some of your attention, and because it’s a more natural way for them to eat their food.
It can really waste a lot of food when they do this, but thankfully there are some easy ways to prevent them from constantly flipping over their food bowl.
What Do Guinea Pigs Eat?
At the most basic level, guinea pigs are herbivores. That means that they just eat fruits and veggies—no dairy, eggs, meat, or insects for these little guys. Fresh hay and fresh leafy vegetables should make up the bulk of your guinea pig’s diet.
Any guinea pig owner needs to keep two important things in mind when choosing food:
- Vitamin C: Guinea pigs can’t formulate their own Vitamin C, making them vulnerable to scurvy. Guinea pig pellets should include Vitamin C to keep your pet healthy.
- Constant-Growing Teeth: Guinea pig teeth are always growing. It’s important to give your guinea pig something fibrous to chew on. This is where hay is super important. Hard pellets alone won’t do the trick!
That said, it’s also important not to transition your guinea pig’s diet too quickly. If needed, be sure to go slow while you transition your guinea pig from her original diet in her old home or from the pet store to a healthier diet.
You might also catch your guinea pig eating her own poop, but don't be alarmed! Guinea pigs actually produce two different types of feces. One is soft and nutritious, and the guinea pigs re-ingest this to get more nutrients. Rabbits do the same thing!
The other type of poop is harder and is produced after the food has been digested twice. That’s the poop that you clean up when you clean your guinea pig’s cage!