While guinea pig pellets and timothy hay should form the bulk of your guinea pig’s diet, many owners are keen to feed their pet fresh fruits and vegetables from time to time. This is often a good idea, as it not only helps provide your pet with a varied diet, it’ll also help provide your guinea pig with a high quality of life. After all, nobody wants to eat the same things all the time, and your guinea pig is no different.
However, some fresh fruits and vegetables are better for guinea pigs than others. A few are even harmful and should be avoided. We’ll talk about two common foods that guinea pig owners often consider giving their – squash and zucchini — pet below.
Can You Feed Your Guinea Pig Squash?
By and large, squash is an acceptable food item for your guinea pig. Most guinea pigs like squash, and it doesn’t represent any serious health concerns. Squash doesn’t have a lot of Vitamin C (one of the nutrients that is most important for your guinea pig’s health), but it doesn’t have a lot of calcium (one of the nutrients that can cause health problems when fed in excess).
Note that there are several different types of squash, and they each contain a different set of vitamins and minerals. We’ll discuss the two primary categories of squash below.
Is Summer Squash Safe for Guinea Pigs?
The various squashes categorized under the “summer squash” umbrella are typically the best varieties to feed your guinea pig. Summer squashes have more Vitamin C than winter squashes do, and they have less calcium too. This means that they’ll not only help to prevent scurvy (a disease that occurs when guinea pigs are not provided with enough Vitamin C), they are not likely to trigger the formation of bladder stones either.
Popular types of summer squash:
- Yellow squash
- Zucchini (more below)
- Pattypan Squash
Is Winter Squash Safe for Guinea Pigs?
Winter squashes are also safe for guinea pigs, although their nutritional profiles aren’t as beneficial as the nutritional profiles of summer squashes are. Winter squashes have less Vitamin C than summer squashes, and they have more calcium. This means they’re more likely to cause your pet to suffer from calcium stones, and they won’t help prevent scurvy as well as summer squashes will.
Popular types of summer squash:
- Butternut squash
- Acorn squash
- Spaghetti squash
Can You Feed Your Guinea Pig Zucchini?
Like squash, zucchini is a safe and acceptable food item to feed your guinea pig. Most guinea pigs love the taste and texture of zucchini, and it can make a nutritious and healthy component of your pet’s diet.
Zucchini has a nutritional profile that is very similar to that of summer squash. It provides about the same amount of Vitamin C, making it moderately helpful for preventing scurvy, and it has a similar amount of calcium too. It is important to recognize that the nutritional content of zucchini is likely determined by considering the flesh of the fruit only. But because you’ll likely feed your pet the flesh and the skin, the Vitamin C content of the vegetable may be higher than most resources state.
Note that some authorities even consider zucchini a type of summer squash. Given their similar nutritional content, this makes sense, so you can simply consider zucchini a summer squash too.
How Often Can You Feed Your Guinea Pig Squash?
Squash is a relatively safe and healthy food to offer your guinea pig, and it doesn’t cause any of the digestive problems that some other fruits and vegetables do. Accordingly, it is usually not a bad idea to provide your pet with squash (particularly summer squash) about twice per week.
Not all guinea pigs will be interested in eating squash this often, but it doesn’t hurt to try. If, after trying a twice per week schedule for a few weeks, your guinea pig doesn’t seem interested in eating squash this often, just change to a once-per-week schedule.
How Often Can You Feed Your Guinea Pig Zucchini?
Zucchini represents a pretty good component of your pet’s diet, and you can offer it quite regularly. Some guinea pig owners offer zucchini to their pet as often as three or four times per week. As long as your guinea pig likes zucchini, and you continue to feed him a variety of other fruits and vegetables (as well as pellets and timothy hay), this should not be a problem.
Note that most guinea pigs love the way zucchini tastes, so they’ll usually eat it as often as you offer it.
Nutritional Information for Squash and Zucchini
We’ve put together a chart that details the nutritional values of squashes and zucchini below. This information should help you decide how to offer these foods to your pet.
|Vegetable||Calcium Per Ounce||Vitamin C Per Ounce|
|Summer Squash||4.2 milligrams||4.8 milligrams|
|Winter Squash||9.2 milligrams||3.1 milligrams|
|Zucchini||4.2 milligrams||4.8 milligrams|
All values were taken from SELF Nutrition Data.
Preparing and Serving Squash and Zucchini to Your Guinea Pig
Squash and zucchini are both easy to prepare for your guinea pig. Begin by washing the vegetables thoroughly (note that, in a botanical sense, zucchini and squash are both fruits, but we’ll consider them vegetables as most people do here). This is important as you’ll need to remove any bacteria, pesticides or herbicides that may have contaminated the vegetables.
Then, you’ll want to cut off and discard the hard stem (if present). From there, you can simply cut the squash or zucchini into thin slices or small cubes. Be sure to leave the skin intact, as this will ensure your pet is getting the most vitamins and minerals possible. Additionally, most guinea pigs like the texture and taste of zucchini and squash skin.
You may want to remove any seeds present for the sake of tidiness. Your guinea pig is unlikely to eat them, so they’ll usually end up on the floor of your pet’s enclosure. Nevertheless, don’t worry about the seeds: They aren’t dangerous for your pet, assuming he chews them up. There is a small chance they could lead to choking, but again, most guinea pigs will simply ignore the seeds present.
Wrapping Up: Squash, Zucchini and Your Guinea Pig
As you can see, squash and zucchini are both good vegetables to feed your pet. They aren’t nutritious enough to serve as a daily food source for your pet, but you can offer them one to four times per week, depending on which type of choose. Just be sure to prepare the vegetables carefully and your pet will likely enjoy these foods when provided to him.