Guinea pigs can eat a wide variety of weeds, including dandelions, prickly lettuce, cleavers, chickweed, broadleaf plantain, shepherd’s purse, dried stinging nettles, and various types of grass.
Weeds and plants are a massive part of a guinea pig’s natural diet in the wild. Getting to know which ones they can (and can’t) eat is crucial to optimizing your guinea pig’s health.
Whether you’re trying to spice up their diet or just want to save a bit on fresh veggies, safely gathering wild weeds is a great option.
Disclaimer For All Weeds
Care has to be taken when sourcing wild weeds. Roadsides should be avoided if at all possible. Contaminates from nearby vehicles and littering is the primary concern.
Do not collect any weeds from areas treated with pesticides or herbicides. This can result in tainted weeds that could make your guinea pig very sick.
It is good to avoid any areas where dog, cat, or other animal feces will be common. When choosing a weed, always check for discoloration or fungal growth. These plants could be toxic and should be avoided.
Edible Weeds For Guinea Pigs
Grass is a great and very common choice for guinea pigs. Grass is a large part of a guinea pig’s natural diet, so it makes sense to add it to your guinea pig’s domestic diet.
Caution should always be taken, though. Grass is prevalent, making up most lawns, fields, and parks. This is great for sourcing, but it’s a plant that’s most commonly covered in pesticides.
We recommend finding a place that is secluded, remote, and generally not used by humans.
Dandelions are a common American weed that is easily identifiable. Most people are familiar with dandelions. They are small weeds that flower yellow and then flower into a round white puff-ball.
Once again, since they are common in most yards, make sure you source them from a place with no pesticide usage.
Prickly lettuce is a small, low to the ground, green weed. Its long, slightly jagged leaves reach out full circle and in a few layers.
This weed is great natural lettuce that your guinea pig will love to munch on! Finding one will likely provide you with plenty of snacks because of its large leaves. Orchards and fields are common places to find this weed.
Ever had a tall thin plant snag your pants as you walk by? That’s probably a cleaver. Cleavers are tall, thin, white bristol-covered weeds that have thin leaves.
These ‘grabby’ weeds prefer dark patches of woodland over a sunny lawn. You can find them in forests, near hedges, or on a shaded building-side. If you can find these shade-loving plants, they are an excellent treat for your guinea pig.
Common groundel is a plant easily mistaken as a dandelion. The key difference is that common groundsel has more leaves and has multiple small yellow flowers. These make a great tasty treat for your guinea pigs.
Caution must be taken with common groundsel as it can look similar to ragwort weeds. Ragwort is often quite taller, larger, has more spiky leaves and many more yellow flowers.
Ragwort is also toxic to guinea pigs and humans. If you are unsure if you are grabbing ragwort or common groundsel, don’t grab it. Contact a veterinarian if you have fed your guinea pig ragwort by mistake.
Chickweed is green, originally hailing from Eurasia, with oval-shaped leaves and tiny white flowers on top.
Chickweed is reportedly sweet and found primarily in the spring. Chickweed is a nutrient-rich, tasty weed that guinea pigs and humans can consume. Chickweed is also occasionally used as herbal home remedies for humans. That being said, it should only be used as a green treat and not medicine.
Broadleaf plantains are just that, broad and leafy. These weeds are low to the ground, short, have large oval-shaped leaves, and grow long cat-tail-looking stems from their center.
These weeds are a natural part of a guinea pigs’ diet. However, you must be observant of their leaves. The large leaves of this plantain are prone to fungi.
Shepherd’s Purse is a year-round weed that flowers in the spring. This common weed, especially in California, is thin, small, and has tiny heart-shaped petals.
This weed has some natural medicinal properties to it. It is known to help with inflammation and diarrhea.
While looking for dandelions, you may find other plants that look strikingly similar. These plants are probably close relatives, such as cats-ear, hawkbit, and hawksbeard.
These family members of dandelions are also safe for your guinea pig to eat. Cats-ear is a common relative to dandelions that your guinea pig will love. It is a common weed that grows in most yards. Cats-ear looks similar to dandelions, except for having large jagged leaves.
Hawkbit has all the same qualities as cats-ear except its stem, flower, and leaves are much thinner.
Hawksbeard is also very similar, except its flowers are smaller and its leaves are spikier.
Dried Stinging Nettles
Stinging Nettles are a common worldwide plant with tiny hairs that inject an irritating toxin.
This may seem like a poor choice for guinea pigs, but they can be a delicious treat if dried. Do not give your guinea pigs stinging nettle without drying it first. This can lead to irritation and poisoning.
When harvesting this weed, it is important to wear gloves to avoid getting stung. Make sure you are only collecting the leaves of this plant and no other part.
Stinging nettles are safe for guinea pigs only after they have been dried. Once that is complete, you’ll have a large source of nutritious greens to give your guinea pig!
It is recommended that you do not feed your guinea pigs stinging nettle unless you are familiar with drying your greens.