Guinea pigs are herbivores and therefore only eat plant-based material. They naturally eat a lot of fiber-rich food and have a long digestive tract that is completely adapted to this. For example, the intestines are long and the appendix is very well-developed (unlike in humans). In addition, they eat part of their faeces again, these are the cecal droppings. The teeth of guinea pigs are also adapted to this menu. Guinea pigs have 4 incisors and 16 molars, they have no canines. The teeth and molars grow more than half a centimeter per month. Chewing and gnawing keeps the teeth at the desired length.
What should the teeth look like?
You can't just see the molars of a guinea pig, because they are further away in the mouth. The incisors, on the other hand, are easy to check. They should not be too long with a straight cutting edge. The two upper incisors are about 0.7 cm long, the lower teeth are about 1 cm long.
These molars grew over the tongue
Too long incisors and a crooked cutting edge
When is it not going well?
When too few or wrong grinding movements are made, the teeth do not shorten properly. As a result, bridge formation can take place over the tongue, so that in the worst case the guinea pig can no longer eat (see photo).
Signs of dental problems
A guinea pig with dental problems gradually loses weight and gradually eats less. By the time they hardly eat anything, you're usually too late. That is why it is wise to weigh your guinea pigs weekly, so that you can keep track of their weight. Also check whether the guinea pig really eats, because a guinea pig that cannot eat will still try to do so. In addition, you can regularly check the front teeth of your guinea pigs (especially if you suspect something). If they are not short and straight, there is a chance that there is also a problem with the molars. Go to a specialized veterinarian who has a lot of experience in treating guinea pigs.
How do you keep teeth healthy?
There is a hereditary factor in the health of the guinea pig's teeth that you as owner cannot influence. What can you do?
Lots of fiber-rich food Especially fiber-rich food ensures that the guinea pig chews a lot and therefore makes many grinding movements with its teeth. This is necessary to grind the hay in order to digest it properly. So always give unlimited hay.
Vitamin C A vitamin C deficiency can lead to all kinds of problems, including joint and jaw problems, muscle weakness and a poor appetite. This can cause the teeth to wear incorrectly. Because guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C, they must get it in their diet. This can be done by providing fresh vegetables and pellets with at least 1000mg of stabilized vitamin C per kilogram of food. They need this every day in their diet, because this vitamin is not stored in the body. A constant new supply of food is therefore essential. An excess of vitamin C is excreted in the urine, so you don't have to worry about an excess. There is a lot of vitamin C in bell peppers, kale, broccoli and fresh parsley.
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