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Pet rodents need to be fed a high-quality rodent chow (pellets), designed specifically for their species. The diet should not be a muesli-style mix, because this results in ‘selective feeding’ whereby your pet will choose the tastiest bits, which are high in sugar and low in fibre, and often leave the bits that are most nutritionally beneficial. Some rodent chow diets also contain seeds or nuts, which we don’t recommend because they’re high in fat and don’t have much nutritional value. They’re nice as a treat, but not on a regular basis, as fed in excess could lead your pet rodent to become obese.
You should be feeding your guinea pig one tablespoon of pellets per day (this is each if you have more than one!). The pellets should be plant-based because guinea pigs are herbivores.
Pellets should not be the main component of your guinea pig’s diet, but they do play a vital role in supplying fibre, to support their gut motility and vitamin C.
Unlike other animals, guinea pigs are unable to produce vitamin C, so they must obtain it from their diet. Feeding suitable fruit and vegetables, such as kale, parsley, tomatoes and bell peppers, is a great way to ensure they get enough vitamin C but high-quality pellets will have added vitamin C in them too. If your guinea pig does not get enough vitamin C, they are at risk of developing scurvy, a painful and dangerous disease (and yes, the same disease pirates and sailors got!).
The vitamins can degrade quickly, so the pellet bag should only be left open for 90 days, and any leftovers after this point should be discarded.
A good quality rat pellet diet is the easiest way to feed your pet rat the complete and balanced diet they need. They tend to eat early in the morning and late in the evening, but ensure fresh food is always available. You can also scatter their pellet food in amongst hay, or around their cage, to encourage their natural foraging behaviour and provide extra mental stimulation.
Rats are omnivores, so will enjoy fruit and vegetables, such as pear, melon, cucumber and peas and small amounts of lean meat as a treat. However, they are susceptible to obesity, so it’s crucial to follow the feeding guidelines on the packaging and weigh out the right amount of pellets each day. If you are treating them, cut back on the pellets slightly, to not go over their daily allowance and maintain a healthy weight.
Mice can be fed a commercial mouse diet, usually nuggets, but due to their love of variety, would enjoy a muesli-style mix too. Like rats, you can scatter their food around the cage, to encourage foraging and searching behaviour, just like they would in the wild. As mice are opportunistic omnivores, they eat animal-based foods as well as plant-based foods, so for treats, they can have peach, red grapes, cauliflower, carrot, scrambled egg and mealworms amongst other safe and healthy food – quite the variety! Mice can become obese, so make sure you are not over-feeding them and incorporate their treats into their daily allowance alongside a complete, balanced pellet diet.
Hamsters should be fed a complete and balanced diet of pellets, not the muesli-style mix as they favour the parts that are high in sugar, which can lead to dental pain and obesity. Like other rodents, they will enjoy foraging for their pellets around the cage. Don’t be alarmed if there’s a hoard of food in one area of their cage, this is completely normal behaviour. It’s also true that they pack food into their cheek pouches!
Hamsters also love fruit and vegetables and will enjoy sweet peppers, courgettes, cauliflower and apples amongst others.
Chinchillas should have one to two tablespoons of high-quality pellets per day, but pellets are not the main component of their diet. Avoid feeding a muesli-style mix because this can lead to selective feeding and therefore an unbalanced diet.
As they originate from South America, their diet needs to be similar to the food they would have eaten in this dry part of the world. Whilst pellets are essential, they would enjoy having some treats such as dried dandelion, dried rolled oats and even small pieces of the cereal Shredded Wheat!
The most important part of a gerbil’s diet is a pellet-type food. Gerbils will also selectively feed if fed a muesli-style mix, therefore eat all the sugary bits and not the healthy bits so it’s best to avoid feeding this sort of food to your pet gerbil.
Gerbils are omnivores, so whilst we should not give too many treats, there is a wide range we can offer. Safe fruit and vegetables to feed your pet gerbil include, cucumber, pumpkin, melon and pears but they will also enjoy a range of other foods, such as lentils, scrambled eggs and mealworms!