The latest piggy addition to our family are the cavy variety, not the porcine ones – much to my disappointment, but much to my kids’ delight.

Satin and Marley - our new guinea pigs

Satin and Marley – our new guinea pigs

I have partly justified the decision to make the commitment to keep guinea pigs on the basis that we can provide most of their nutritional needs from garden surplus -so far our two girls (Satin and Marley) are loving the kale, tomatoes, silver beet and corn we’ve shared with them. And they’ve enthusiastically cleaned up kitchen scraps like carrot ends and a few grapes that the kids have left behind.

Apparently guinea pigs can’t produce their own Vitamin C so it needs to be provided in their foodstuffs. They need about 10 – 30 mgs/kilo a day – dependent on the individual circumstances of the animal, for example, age, whether they are pregnant, and stress levels.

So I’ve started doing a bit of research as to what foodstuffs I can grow, recycle from our kitchen waste, or forage that will provide our pigs with sufficient Vitamin C – here’s my list so far of things that are easily available to us:

Vitamin C per 100 grams.

426 mg Rose Hips
56.7 mg Strawberry
53 mg Lemon (no peel)
42.2 mg Rockmelon
30 mgs Silverbeet
35 mgs Collards
19 mgs Tomato
18 mg Lettuce
14.8  mgs Squash
13 mg Blueberries (apparently a few  can be given frozen as an occasional treat)
9.0 mg Pumpkin
9.6 mg Raspberries
5.7 mg Apple (with Skin) – need to remove seeds though as these contain arsenic.
4.9 mg Beetroot

Most of this info is from http://www.guinealynx.info/diet_order-c.html which has a much more detailed list of Vitamin C content of fruit and vegetables.

Rosehips are obviously the clear winner in terms of Vitamin C content – and we have lots of them in the garden. I’ll feed them these in moderation a few times a week.

In addition to these foods we’ll be providing them with a balanced pelletised guinea pig food which should have all the vitamins and minerals they need, as well as lucerne hay.

So far they they definitely seem to prefer the fresh goodies they’re getting and barely looking at the pellets.

I love watching their antics – today they were eating the same blade of grass from opposite ends – and the moment they were nose-to-nose competing for the end of it was priceless.

Their individual personalities are already evident – hmnnnnn ….now that I think about it perhaps they have more in common with my beloved pigs than I first thought….

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