Food for Free

One happy Guinea Pig

Now I wish to manage expectations at the earliest opportunity in this blog. Depending how your lockdown is going you may interpret the title one of two ways. No, this article is not about how I resorted to eating my girlfriend’s beloved childhood pet. Rather, it is proactive strategy that my girlfriend and I have taken to a) save those ever crucial pennies in these uncertain times and b) minimise time spent in supermarkets where the chances of infection are higher than open countryside.

Countryside Supermarket Aisle
The countryside supermarket aisle.

Those of you that have fibrevores as pets, namely guinea pigs and rabbits, will know that providing a constant supply of fresh greenery requires regular outings to the produce aisles, especially if like us you have a small garden and the guinea pig or rabbit is confined to a hutch without a run. With government guidance recommending fortnightly supermarket trips, the spinach was running low.

At this time of year more than ever, there is a wealth of guinea pig food ripe for the picking If you like to walk, run or cycle to get your daily exercise. I wish to draw attention to the humble dandelion and cleavers, two prevalent plants around British countryside that provide some much needed fibrevore nutrition.

I used foraging for the guinea pigs as a valuable opportunity to become more knowledgeable about extremely common plants I take for granted.

The dandelion, taraxacum officinalis, is a member of the daisy family. Its jagged leaves grow in a rosette formation and the stem is long, thin and hollow. The dandelion has multiple flowers, each “petal” is in fact a floret. Guinea Pigs ADORE dandelion, it is the food of choice and will be devoured before any other food given to them. This is always my primary target for foraging walks.


In the absence of dandelion, cleavers is another wild edible that can be collected in bulk quickly. Galium aparine, of the Rubiaceae family, grows annually and its leaves grow in axils. The stem is long and square, covered in hooked prickles that make it so great for sticking on your partner’s back whilst getting daily exercise. In Summer it flowers with white flowers. The guinea pigs eat this as a last resort though, they don’t like it as much!


These are just suggestions, the internet is full of foraging guinea pig and rabbit owners, on hand to recommend wild edibles for hutch-dwelling pets. Other plants to feed fibervores include:

  • Chickweed
  • Clover
  • Colts Foot
  • Narrow and Broad-Leaf Plantain

Just remember: forage from places that you would be happy to eat from, wash well before feeding and don’t assume its edible for guinea pigs and rabbits because we can eat it. If in doubt, look it up from a reputable source.

Happy hunting!

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