Guinea pigs love to munch on fresh grass, and growing your own grass for them is not only a cost-effective option but also provides them with a nutritious and flavorful meal.
Whether you choose to grow grass indoors or outdoors, you can use several methods and materials to successfully cultivate grass for your furry friends.
Let’s get started!
How to Grow Grass for Guinea Pigs Step-by-Step
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to grow wheek-worthy grass for your guinea pigs.
1. Choose the Growing Medium
- Soil without fertilizer: Growing grass in the soil will provide nutrients to the grass and allow for multiple cuttings. Garden or vegetable soil is recommended, preferably organic, but regular soil can also work well as it is used for growing vegetables for humans.
- Hemp mats: These mats are woven together using needle puncture, ensuring no harmful chemicals are involved. They usually come in packs of several mats for single use. Hemp mats can be purchased from a greenhouse store or online.
- Coco coir: This is another suitable medium for growing grass, although it’s more expensive than regular soil. The main downside to coco coir is that it isn’t as nutrient-rich as garden soil.
2. Select a Suitable Tray
- Any shallow tray will work for growing grass for guinea pigs. Some of your options are:
- a potting tray
- a microwave meal tray
- a microgreen germination tray (if you’re going to use this, you don’t need any soil)
3. Choose & Prepare the Grass Seeds
- Wheatgrass, ryegrass, and oat grass are the most popular choices for guinea pigs. Buying seeds in bulk (1-2lb bag) is best as it is much cheaper. The seeds should provide 3-4 cuttings before needing to be replanted.
- Other grasses you can plant for your piggies are Barley, Timothy, Corn, Millet, and plain grass. All piggies are different and have their own preferences, so you can try different kinds of grass to see what’s popular among your herd.
- You can also plant guinea-pig-safe plants and herbs such as dill, basil, or dandelion for occasional munching.
- Soak the grass seeds at room temperature overnight or for 12 hours before planting. While soaking is not absolutely necessary, it increases the chances of the seeds germinating.
4. Prepare the Growing Medium
- Soil: If using soil, add approximately 1 inch of garden or vegetable soil to the tray. You don’t need much soil, and it won’t dry out quickly.
- Hemp mats: If using hemp mats, place them in the tray.
5. Planting the Grass Seeds
- Drain the water from the soaking seeds.
- Spread the seeds evenly over the growing medium, whether the hemp mats or the soil.
6. Provide Proper Care and Maintenance
- Greenhouse effect: For an added boost, you can cover the soil with a layer of clear plastic wrap, keeping it slightly damp until the grass sprouts to around half an inch. This creates a mini greenhouse effect, although this is not a mandatory step. Remember to puncture some tiny air holes to ensure proper ventilation if you decide to try it.
- Watering: Keep the growing medium damp but not soaked. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to mold growth. Mist the seeds and soil with a spray bottle to keep them moist, and don’t let them dry out.
- Light: Place the tray near a bright window where the grass can receive indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight is not necessary.
- Fertilizing: Your guinea pigs can also help you grow grass by fertilizing it with poop! Simply soak their poop in water to create a free and organic fertilizer for your grass.
- Growth: In about 7-10 days, the grass should be ready to feed your piggies. Continue to mist the grass daily and ensure it doesn’t dry out.
7. Feeding the Grass to Guinea Pigs
- Trimming: Once the grass reaches a suitable height, trim it to feed your guinea pigs. Cutting the grass prolongs its lifespan and encourages new growth.
- Grazing: You can also let your guinea pigs graze directly from the source. In that case, the grass will probably not last as long! Offering fresh grass during floor time is a great extra enrichment and can motivate shy piggies to join the party.
Guinea pigs can have grass daily, as it serves as a fresh and nutritious alternative to hay. If your guinea pigs are not used to fresh grass, begin by offering them small portions (for example, 1 cup of grass per pig), and increase over time.
During the adjustment period, their stools should look normal, and they should not experience any discomfort, such as bloating or other stomach-related issues.
Guinea pigs can happily indulge in fresh grass from outside as long as it hasn’t been treated with pesticides or chemicals. However, it’s important to avoid giving them grass that has been mowed by machinery, as it might contain oil residue and can quickly ferment, potentially causing them harm.
Instead, opt for freshly trimmed grass or allow them to nibble on it directly from the source. Avoid grass that may have been soiled or urinated on by other animals.
Most types of grass are safe for guinea pigs to enjoy. The most popular grass and one that is easy to find in most stores is wheatgrass (also called “cat grass”).
Wheatgrass is a wonderful source of essential nutrients that can benefit your guinea pigs. It contains a rich array of beneficial compounds, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.
Incorporating wheatgrass into their diet can contribute to their overall well-being and provide them with a wide range of vital vitamins and minerals.
Other healthy grasses that guinea pigs enjoy are Oat, Rye, Barley, Timothy, Corn, Millet, and plain grass.
Grass is not only good for them but essential. Hay and/or grass should be 80% of your pets’ diet, and it is their main source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
While most guinea pig owners feed their guinea pigs hay (which is just a dry version of grass), as you can’t buy fresh grass in a pet store, fresh grass is just as good, if not better, for your pets.
Guinea pigs are sensitive to diet changes, so if your pigs have never had fresh grass before, introduce it gradually, not to upset their stomach.
Final Thoughts on Growing Grass for Guinea Pigs
Growing grass for guinea pigs is a straightforward process that can be tailored to suit your guinea pigs’ preferences. Remember to choose the appropriate growing medium, provide adequate care and maintenance, and ensure a gradual transition for your guinea pigs when introducing them to fresh grass.