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PELLETS   As guinea pigs are provided with unlimited hay and daily vegetables pellets should only be an optional addition to their diet. A plain pellet should be formulated with Vitamin C and can be placed in a heavy ceramic bowl which cannot be easily tipped over for optimum access. A used by date will provide an indication of the freshness and longevity of any pellets purchased. The nutritional content must be examined closely to ensure the correct amount of calcium, phosphorus, fibre and protein is in the correct ratio. Why is a ratio important? A guinea pigs digestive system is kept in check via GastrointestinaI Flora or more commonly referred to as GI. This flora contains bacteria and protozoa which aid in breaking down food. If this delicate balance of intestinal flora is compromised due to an incorrect diet, or a diet to high in fats, carbohydrates and sugars it can cause severe digestive upset and can cause Gastrointestinal ileus. Always ensure that your protein content in your pellets never exceeds the fibre content. A good protein level is 15-16% crude protein. Fibre must always exceed 20%. You should always aim for the highest fibre content possible and avoid high carbohydrate, sugary foods as they can cause the bacteria within the hind gut to subsequently change. You do not want this. You want the digestive system working efficiently to avoid Gastrointestinal ileus (malfunction of the digestive tract due to gut slowdown). Always make sure that any pellet you purchase has the nutritional analysis clearly marked on the packaging. Ingredients to Avoid Pellets must be free of artificial colours, flavours, mixed nuts, grains, corn, dried fruit, dairy, meat, seed husks, beet pulp, rice bran, rice flour, vegetable fibre, corn syrup, sucrose, Propylene glycol, Propyl gallate, Potassium sorbate, Sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, or sodium metabisulphite, Ethoxyquin, and Butylated hydroxyanisole.  Pellet Availability In Australia it may be difficult and/or quite expensive compared to our overseas counterparts to purchase good high quality pellets, however with the introduction of Burgess Excel and Oxbow Australia we do have the same brands available to us. Burgess and Oxbow pellets are renowned to have the correct nutritional analysis and correct Protein:Fibre ratio which is vitally important for your guinea pigs health. For more information on Burgess Pellets please see: Burgess Australia Storage and Quantity 1/8 of a cup can be provided to your cavy daily in addition to fresh vegetables and Hay. Pellets should be stored in a cool dry place, not in direct sunlight. To prolong the freshness of your pellets seal in an airtight reusable bag after use. Types Pellets are primarily lucerne based which is ideal for young, pregnant or nursing cavies. This is due to the higher calcium and protein content which provides a suitable supplement for growing guinea pigs. Once your guinea pig reaches approximately one year of age slowly introduce and mix in a Timothy based pellet. Timothy pellets offer the adult guinea pig a lower intake or protein, calcium and carbohydrates which is suitable for their digestive system and will maintain the correct Protein:Fibre ratio. Burgess Excel is an excellent supplement for the adult guinea pig and is available from Burgess Australia.