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Guinea Pigs/Young guinea pigs and alfalfa hay?


My 6 year old guinea pig recently passed away and I had a hard time walking in my room without expecting the wheeking and squeaking of a pig so a few days ago I got a pair of piggies. They're both 2 months old and quite quiet so far. They're not quite used to me being in the room and I rarely see them outside of their hut. (They still end up eating almost all of the hay and all of the pellets.) Well, I've been giving them alfalfa hay and alfalfa based pellets. But I've heard a few things, I've heard to switch them over to Timothy at 6 months and I've heard to switch them at a year but I'm not sure which is accurate. I'd love for your advice. Also, are they supposed to have unlimited pellets or a set proportion? Thanks so much.

Unlike rabbits guinea pigs should have na unlimited supply of pellets. The hay is not the big issue many people make of it. I personally like Bermuda hay because it's much softer, less expensve and causes less eye scratching than alfalfa. But it's perfectly safe for you to use whatever you have access to.

Some pigs like to eat the hay and it's a good means of keeping teeth properly worn. Others just like to bed in or under it.  Timothy is an excellent hay IF you get the first and second cuttings. After that it becomes very stemmy, dry and loses a lot of its nutritional value. It's also expensive.

I realize you hear lots of talk about the protein content of alfalfa and its potential dangers to a guinea pig. I personally disagree, but that's just my opinion. I've fed alfalfa pellets for many many years with absolute success.

I think what you're currently doing is just fine. I wouldn't worry about making any changes unless your budget dictates it.  

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Pat VanAllen


As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.


Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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