SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Fresh foods for Rabbits and Guinea Pigs

Provide a variety of different types of vegetables and fruits daily.

We recommend you give your small pet three to six different types of fresh items per day, with more vegetables than fruits as the sugar content of fruits make them unhealthy in large amounts.

How much should I offer?

Vegetables, herbs, weeds, etc

  • An average rabbit should have approximately 2 cups of vegetables per day.
  • Guinea pigs should be offered ¼ cup a day.
  • Wash herbs and leafy greens before giving them to your pet.

Fruit

Fruits are high in sugars, so these should only be offered as a treat.

  • An average rabbit should be offered a maximum of 2 tablespoons of fruit per day.
  • An average guinea pig should be offered a maximum of 1 tablespoon of fruit a day.
  • Make sure to remove pits from fruits e.g. apricot, cherries, plums.
  • You can leave the skin on the fruit.

Branches, leaves or flowers

Branches help prevent overgrown teeth, but check which are safe for rabbits and guinea pigs.

  • Willow, spruce, ash (tree), maple (sugar and silver), juniper, poplar, apple, pear, hawthorn, hazel and citrus trees are all safe branches for rabbits to chew on.
  • Always provide these in moderation. Too much can be unhealthy.
  • Steer clear of branches with stone fruit as these are toxic (e.g. apricot, plums, cherries, peach, nectarines)

Safe fresh foods for small animals

These items can be fed every day:

  • Basil
  • Borage
  • Coriander
  • Chamomile
  • Chickweed
  • Clover (leaves and flowers)
  • Coltsfoot
  • Dill
  • Dandelion
  • Dock
  • Daisy (English and oxeye)
  • Fennel
  • Goose grass (Cleavers)
  • Mint (Not Pennyroyal mint which is toxic)
  • Mallow
  • Marjoram
  • Mustard
  • Bok Choy, Pak Choy
  • Puha (Sow Thistle)
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Plantain
  • Raspberry leaves
  • Carrot tops
  • Celeriac
  • Chicory
  • Courgette
  • Cucumber (and leaves)
  • Collard greens
  • Kohlrabi
  • Darker leafy salad varieties
  • Arugula (salad rocket)
  • Radicchio
  • Spring greens
  • Swede
  • Turnip greens
  • Watercress
  • Shepherds purse
  • Squash Blossom
  • Salad Burnet
  • Thistle
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Comfrey
  • Cow parsley (Similar in appearance to toxic Hemlock)

These items can be fed 2-3 times a week:

  • Artichoke leaves (do not feed to rats/mice)
  • Asparagus
  • Courgette flowers
  • Capsicum
  • Turnip
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Citrus tree leaves
  • Hibiscus
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Marigold
  • Nasturtium (leaves and flowers)
  • Pansies/ Viola (flower)
  • Poplar
  • Roses (branches, leaves and flowers)
  • Sage (Pineapple)
  • Spruce
  • Sunflower (flowers and leaves)
  • Willow

These food items should only be fed as occasional treats, e.g. less than once a week:

Some are high in sugar, others are high in starch or water. Some can be safe in small amounts, but toxic in large amounts due to their oxalic acid content.

  • Apple (not seeds)
  • Apricot (fruit only, remove pit)
  • Banana (not green bananas for rats/mice)
  • Berries (Blackberries (and leaves), Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries (including the leaves), Cranberries)
  • Cherries fruit only, remove pit)
  • Currants
  • Grapes
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwifruit
  • Mango (not for rats/mice)
  • Melons (Cantaloupe, Rock melon, Honeydew melon, Watermelon)
  • Mandarins
  • Nectarines
  • Papaya
  • Peaches (fruit only, remove pit)
  • Pears (branches safe)
  • Pineapple
  • Plums (fruit only, remove pit)
  • Persimmon
  • Starfruit
  • Tomatoes (the tops and leaves must not be fed)
  • Tangerine
  • Beetroot/ Beet greens
  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Brussel sprouts (not for rats/mice)
  • Cabbage (Not red cabbage for rats/mice)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower (and leaves)
  • Celery and leaves: Cut into small pieces approx. 1cm long. String can get caught in intestines.
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Parsnip
  • Pumpkin
  • Radish tops or roots
  • Spinach
  • Squash (e.g. butternut, summer, zucchini)
  • Silver beet/ Swiss chard
  • Sprouts (alfalfa, lentil, bean and mung bean)
  • Yarrow
  • Corn on the cob (too high in starch)
  • Lettuces (Butter/ Bibb/ Boston, Cos, Endive (Escarole), Frisee, Romaine, Mache (Lambs lettuce/ corn salad))

Do *NOT *feed these foods to your rabbit or guinea pig:

  • Avocado
  • Hemlock
  • Oats*
  • Azalea
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Foods in the onion family (e.g. leeks, chives, onions)
  • Beans
  • Jasmine
  • Peas (snowdrop and sweet peas)
  • Buttercup
  • Kidney beans
  • Pennyroyal Mint
  • Cereals*
  • Leaves from evergreen trees
  • Potatoes
  • Daffodil
  • Leaves from trees with
  • Stonefruit (e.g. apricots, cherry, plum)
  • Poppy seeds* (Can cause neurological problems in rats)
  • Foxglove
  • Lilies
  • Privet
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Rhubarb
  • Gladiola
  • Nightshade
  • Seeds*
  • Nuts
  • Wheat or grains*

Note:* These foods are safe for mice and rats.

Some foods that are safe for rabbits and guinea pigs ARE *NOT *safe for cats and dogs.

Guinea pigs

Guinea pigs, like us, do not produce vitamin C, so need to have it supplied in the diet each day.

The average, non-breeding, healthy guinea pig will need 25mg/kg of Vitamin C each day. Breeding or unwell animals should be given 50mg/kg.

You should include a Vitamin C-containing food in your guinea pig’s fresh food allowance every day.

Sources of vitamin C mg of Vitamin C per cup

Cabbage leaves
50
Turnip greens
260
Broccoli florets
87
Strawberries 100
Kale 192
Mustard greens
252
Spinach
60
Melon
90
Brussel sprouts
173
Dandelion
200
Raspberries
60
Parsley
140
Orange
52
Broccoli leaf
120

A Vitamin C calculator for guinea pigs can be found here.

Guinea pig mix has good levels of Vitamin C when very fresh, but NO vitamin C four months after manufacture. It also has little fibre, so it is important to provide hay for your guinea pig.

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