What little herbivores should be eating
Growing rabbits and guinea pigs have different dietary requirements to mature animals. Feeding the incorrect diet can have major health implications on growing animals, such as dental disorders, incorrect bone development and digestive malfunctions.
75% Quality hay
20% Quality pellets, such as Vetafarm’s Rabbit Origins are important in every stage of a pet rabbit’s or guinea pig’s life.
5% of diet should be made up of treats, including fresh greens.
Hay should be fresh and fully available 24/7. Rabbits less than 7 months of age can be fed either lucerne or fescue hay. Adult rabbits rely heavily on a reduced protein and higher fibre diet, such as fescue, however growing animals can benefit from the higher protein content of lucerne. Young guinea pigs also benefit from a lucerne diet, however they need additional vitamin C to prevent scurvy.
5 a day for herbivores
- Quality Hay
- Quality Pellets
- Fresh Greens
- Fresh Water.
There are many different types of hay and they all have a purpose. It is important to know what to feed, and when to feed your pet.
Rough, high-fibre hay is great for maintaining teeth and encourages natural behaviour like foraging and chewing. High-fibre hay is also critical for a healthy and functional digestive system.
Lucerne is suitable for growing animals, pregnant or locating mothers and those animals with a medical requirement for higher protein.
The fibre breakdown
In the stomach, food is sterilised by acid and then enzymes begin the process of digestion. Most nutrients are absorbed in the small intestines. Enzymes break down the food and the nutrients pass through the intestinal lining to be absorbed into the blood stream. Enzymes cant break down fibre, so it moves onto the colon to be sorted.
All of the digestible fibre is temporarily diverted to the caecum where bacteria ferments it and breaks it down into digestible components. The indigestible fibre is then formed into faecal droppings and excreted.The fermented fibre is coated in protective mucus and then excreted as a cecotrope. These are special droppings which are re-ingested so the nutrients can pass through the small intestine again to be absorbed.
‘Overfeeding pellets in both rabbits and guinea pigs can lead to obesity and other medical conditions’
One of the most important elements of caring for any pet is providing them with fresh, clean water at all times. Vetafarm recommends sanitizing water containers, food bowls and hutches. They should be cleaned and then sprayed with a disinfectant, like Vetafarm Hutch Clean at least once a week.