How to feed pet rodents

Rabbits and guinea pigs are the most preferred herbivorous domestic pets. Their digestive system is designed to intake and break down plant-based food. They feed in small quantities frequently throughout the day. They have a small stomach, complexly structured large intestines that ferment and process food, and a relatively fast rate of passage of food through the digestive tract.

The microorganisms inhabiting their digestive organs extract the nutrients from the plant-based food. The most important component of plant food is fiber (cellulose). It is important not only the quantity of fiber but also its coarseness, i.e., its physical hardness and roughness, known in English literature as the “scratch factor.” The coarse cellulose in hay stimulates bowel peristalsis, bacterial growth of beneficial microflora, and the normal pH in the gastrointestinal tract.

Daily hay feeding is very important for continuously wearing down the constantly growing teeth of herbivorous domestic pets. Consumption of hay, especially the grass stems used for hay, helps with proper tooth wear. From our experience in the clinic, all pets with broken teeth and purulent infections in the head area have not consumed hay.

Animals that require hay as a mandatory part of their diet are:

  • Rabbits
  • Guinea pigs
  • Chinchillas
  • Degus

Animals that benefit from hay supplementation as an ingredient enriching their diet are

  • Hamsters
  • Rats
  • Mice