Animals are pretty funny creatures. They engage in many weird habits, like scratching their behinds and eating nontraditional foods like poop.
Yes, you read that right. There are many animals out there that eat their own poop.
If you are wondering whether your pet guinea pig engages in the same behavior, then you have come to the right place.
So what’s the deal with eating poop and should you be alarmed if your guinea pig eats it?
The Million-Dollar Question: Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Own Poop?
Yes! As disappointed as you may be, guinea pigs do eat their own poop.
They might eat their own droppings or their cage-mates, too.
Excrement or poop isn’t part of the official guinea pig diet, and even wild guinea pigs don’t rely on poop as a staple diet.
For instance, a way to understand this strange like for feces is to imagine poop as a probiotic for the animal’s stomach or supplements for its well-being – it’s gross, but it does contain nutrients that keep your guinea pig healthy.
It’s Called Coprophagy
When guinea pigs eat their own poop, it’s called Coprophagy.
Yes, there is an actual name for the process!
Turns out, animal behaviorists studied innumerable animals in order to understand why they eat their own poop before coining this term.
Your guinea pig will usually consume poop or droppings that are soft – and you’ll probably never catch them in the act!
It’s Quite Beneficial For Guinea Pigs
Turns out, guinea pigs’ poop contains a high dose of fiber, calcium, protein, Vitamin K, and Vitamin B-complex, which are extremely essential for your guinea pig’s health.
You must be thinking if you could replace poop with some animal-safe vitamins or supplements, but in reality, that’s not possible.
The chemistry of your pet’s excrement is exactly what it needs in order to maintain a healthy digestive system and maintain bowel health.
The vitamins mentioned above are extremely important when ingested via feces.
They help to provide the guinea pig with compounds that maintain bone and blood health and also help protect the organs.
The droppings also contain nutrients that help your guinea pig maintain healthy nerves, hair/fur, and also skin.
Can Guinea Poop Be Considered Food for Them?
A guinea pig’s diet mainly consists of raw vegetables and fruits, which are mostly leafy greens and contain a high amount of water content.
A guinea pig also needs items to chew on, which aren’t necessarily food – like wood sticks, twigs, chew toys, grass mats, and so on.
What Does Guinea Pig Poop Look like?
As unappealing as it sounds, your guinea pig knows what sort of poop they should ingest.
However, as a general guide to your guinea pig’s digestive and overall health, here’s how you can decipher your pet’s well being looking at its excrement:
It’s usually medium to dark brown, has a uniform consistency, and is oval-shaped.
Healthy poop can also be green and contain caecal pellets, which are nutrients produced by your guinea pig for its gut’s health.
Also read: How Much Do Guinea Pigs Poop in a Day
Signs of Dehydration
Poop that is teardrop-shaped and hard is usually a sign of dehydration.
These droppings are also unusually small.
If your guinea pig’s poop is clumped, it’s indicative of a gut problem in most guinea pigs.
It’s also significant of rectal issues in older guinea pigs.
Signs of Diarrhea or Obstruction
If your guinea pig’s feces has blood or blood clots, it’s a sign of obstruction or intestinal tears, which require a vet’s attention immediately.
Another dangerous illness is diarrhea, which is characterized by smelly, soft, and wet poop; take your pet to the vet and immediately reduce the vegetable intake of your pet.
What Is the Ideal Diet For Guinea Pigs?
Now that you know why guinea pigs eat poop, it’s clear that it’s not because of any nutritional deficiency.
However, it is important to discuss a guinea pig’s diet and see what food they can eat on a daily basis.
The following are popular diet options that guinea pigs are fed by their owners.
As pet owners, you should also remove any remaining food after 1.5 or 2 hours, lest it begins to spoil and in case your guinea pig decides to overeat and make themselves sick.
The ideal serving size has also been mentioned to give you an idea of how much your guinea pig can eat in a day.
Ideal Serving Size: 1/8 cup a day
Pellets are available in pet stores in bulk for guinea pig owners.
Containing the right amount of fiber but higher in calories, sugar, and other ingredients, pellets can be given to your guinea pig in accordance with the serving size mentioned above.
However, pellets are a great way to introduce extra fiber and nutrients into your guinea pig’s diet, which fruits and vegetables don’t usually have.
Especially when your guinea pig has digestive issues or diarrhea, it’s recommended you stop feeding it fresh produce and stick to pellets for a few days – or until it clears up.
Ideal Serving Size: Unlimited amounts of chopped vegetables!
Fresh, raw, and uncooked vegetables are a staple of the guinea pig diet.
Whether you choose to drop in pieces of individual veggies or give your guinea pig a mini salad, vegetables are great for your pet’s well-being.
They contain tons of water, vitamins, and minerals that are essential to your guinea pig.
Vegetables also contain fiber and some of them like carrots and cucumbers also double up as great chews for your guinea pig.
Because guinea pigs have large teeth that don’t stop growing, crunchy and hard vegetables are actually very beneficial for their oral health.
While filling up its stomach, your guinea pig is also wearing their teeth down, so it’s a win-win situation!
Here are some of the best vegetables to feed your guinea pigs on a daily basis; these are safe to consume and should be served at room temperature after being thoroughly washed:
- Romaine Lettuce
- Broccoli spears
Ideal Serving Size: One thin slice/sliver/wedge given daily or every two days.
Fruits can be incorporated into your guinea pig’s diet, provided you’re controlling the portion and frequency of giving your pet fruits.
Usually, fruits are given as treats to guinea pigs, but some guinea pig owners drop in a wedge or slice of oranges or apples for their guinea pig to chew on.
Like hard and crunchy vegetables, certain fruits, like apples and pears, are for your guinea pig’s teeth.
They get a dose of minerals, especially Vitamin C, when they chew on fruit.
Depending on the season, give your guinea pigs fruits which are recommended by a vet – make sure to wash the fruit thoroughly and cut it up into chunks for your guinea pig to enjoy.
Some fruits that you can feed your guinea pigs are:
Ideal Serving Size: Unlimited
Besides food, guinea pigs need other things to chew on.
As mentioned before, guinea pigs have really long and sharp teeth which are always growing and it’s important your guinea pig has substances to chew or gnaw on in order to wear them down.
There are tons of zero-calorie chews you can give your guinea pig.
Whether it’s natural sticks or store-bought organic chews, your guinea pig always needs something or the other to chew on.
You can even get chew toys for your pets which are available at pet stores.
Some of the most popular chewable for guinea pigs are the following items; these provide the guinea pig with substantial chewing material and are also great for their digestive system because of the fiber they contain.
Besides, your guinea pig can’t always be eating, so these items are great to add to the hutch or cage:
- Hay Sticks
- Apple Sticks
- Grass Mats
- Twigs (Birch, Beech, Pear, Hazelnut and Apple)
- Wood Blocks (Unbleached and Untreated)
- Paper Roll
- Chew Toys (Available in Pet Stores)
Yes, guinea pigs do eat their own excrement and they know exactly what texture and sort to ingest – they do not need to be fed their own poop, so as a responsible guinea pig owner, do not meddle with this.
As unappealing as it sounds, it’s part of their animal behavior and their own excrement is actually quite healthy for them.
However, that doesn’t mean you replace their food with poop! It’s important to keep your guinea pig’s cage clean as much as you can, which means picking up droppings and replacing dirty or smelly bottoms with clean ones.
Eating poop is coincidental – it’s not mandatory, but a guinea pig knows instinctively when they need to ingest some droppings.
Either way – do monitor your guinea pig’s diet.
The aforementioned information should provide you with the very basics of what a guinea pig’s diet consists of – which is fresh produce rich in water content, mostly green in color, and low in sugars and salts.
You should also be wary of the characteristics of your guinea pig’s feces – these determine whether your pet is healthy or not!
For any appetite or bowel irregularities, it’s essential to speak to your vet immediately.
Other articles you may also like: