Exotic Pets That Eat Hay

Not to Be Confused With Straw

Person holding a young rabbit

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Animals of all sorts eat hay. Timothy, sweet grass, alfalfa—you name it, and there’s an animal that eats it. But don’t confuse it with straw!


While they are young, rabbits need to consume alfalfa and other legume hay for the nutrients, calories, and other benefits it provides to their teeth and digestive tract. But as they get older (about six months of age) you’ll switch them over to a grass hay to make sure they get the continued nutrition they need. An adult rabbit should get a pile of hay the size of their body on a daily basis. That’s a lot of hay!

A rabbit
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Guinea Pigs

Just like rabbits, guinea pigs require a good amount of hay every day. Guinea pig diets need to include a couple of tablespoons of vitamin C enriched pellets and all the hay they want.

Guinea pig in hay
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Some chinchillas can be really picky about their food, and you’ll need to find a hay they enjoy. Whether it’s Timothy, sweet grass, or another fancy cut of hay, give your chinchilla some options if he’s being selective, because he needs that stuff! Hay is important for the digestive tract and the regular gnawing action of the teeth to keep them trimmed naturally.

Close-Up Of A Chinchilla
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Tortoises and Turtles

Some species of turtles and tortoises need piles of hay each day. The larger the turtle, the larger the pile of hay will be. Full-grown sulcattas will eat such large portions of grass hays that it will probably be more cost-effective to purchase it from a nearby horse stable or farm supply store than a pet store. Small or young turtles will need some help with their hay and you’ll need to cut it up into smaller pieces to make it easier for them to consume.

Aldabrachelys Gigantea
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Degus need timothy hay daily. Degus are prone to diabetes and cataracts, but they can live up to 10 years when provided with a proper diet and care.

Common Degu or brush-tailed rat (Octodon degus), species from Chile, captive, Hamm, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
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Pot-Bellied Pigs

You may not have thought about pigs when you think about hay eaters but pot-bellied pigs can have alfalfa hay in their diets. The hay adds extra fiber to the formulated pellets, grass, and vegetables.

Close-Up Of Pot-Bellied Pig On Hay
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While hamsters are primarily seed and vegetable eaters, they enjoy grains, crickets, cooked chicken, mealworms, and even hay as treats. So if you want to spice up your hamster's eating life try adding a little hay to his food dish!

Hamster in cage
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Gerbils eat a similar diet to that of a hamster. The treats they eat are also favorites of their rodent cousins. So why not find out if your gerbil likes a hay treat?

Close-Up Of Gerbil On Wood
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A wallaby looks like a small kangaroo and eats mainly grass but can also have timothy hay in unlimited amounts. Pellets, vegetables, supplements, and some fruits round out this down under pet's dietary needs.

Wallaby kangoo
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Patagonian Cavies

You've probably never even heard of a Patagonian cavy, much less knew that they ate hay. A Patagonian cavy looks like a cross between a rabbit and a deer but is actually a distant relative of the guinea pig (cavy). Their diet should consist primarily of grass and timothy hay to keep them going strong for their 14 years of life.

Patagonian Mara or Patagonian Cavy (Dolichotis patagonum), native to Argentina, in captivity, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
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Llamas typically spend most of their days grazing on fresh grass in the pasture but hay is also an acceptable food to feed.

White Llama Side View
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Just like their cousins the wallabies, wallaroos consume a lot of grass and hay.

Wallaroo in the Flinders Ranges
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Many rodents will eat some hay, including pet rats. Rats have front teeth called incisors that continuously grow throughout their entire lives. Hay, along with other food that they are forced to grab and grind with their teeth, helps to keep these teeth at a reasonable length.

Hooded dumbo fancy rat eating
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