Like most guinea pig owners, you probably want to spoil your pet as much as possible. A lot of owners like to do so by giving their guinea pig delicious treats, including fruits. We’ll discuss some of the best fruits to give your guinea pig, explain the proper way to provide them to your pet and list a few of their favorites below.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Fruit?
Although high-quality pellets and hay should make up the bulk of your guinea pig’s diet, you can also feed your pet a small amount of fruit from time to time. Giving your guinea pig small amounts of fruit is not only a great way to spoil your pet, but it’ll also help ensure he receives enough Vitamin C in his diet.
However, it is extremely important to limit the amount of fruit you give your pet. The sugar content in most fruits is very high, and excess sugar can cause digestive problems for your pet. Over the long-term, your pet may even become diabetic if he eats too much sugar.
In most cases, you’ll want to offer fruit no more than once or twice each week.
What Types of Fruit Can Guinea Pigs Eat?
Although you can give your guinea pig small amounts of fruit, you have to be careful to offer your pet fruits that are safe for him to eat – there are a few fruits that can make your guinea pig sick. We’ll discuss the fruits you need to avoid later, but first, we’ll start by explaining some of the basic types of fruit that are safe for your pet.
Most berries are safe to feed your guinea pig. You want to offer most types of berries in moderation, but most are full of Vitamin C and other nutrients that’ll help keep your pet healthy.
Note that the term “berry” has a pretty strict biological definition. For example, strawberries aren’t berries at all, while watermelons are actually a type of very large berry. but we simply mean fruits that have the word “berry” in their name. However, you needn’t worry about these technical definitions when feeding your guinea pig – just consider any edible fruit with the word “berry” in it to be safe.
Some of the berries you can offer your guinea pig include:
Most melons are safe to feed guinea pigs. In fact, the majority of guinea pigs are often extremely fond of the way various melons taste.
Some of the best melons to feed your guinea pig include:
- Casaba melon
- Honeydew melon
- Rockmelon (cantaloupe)
There are a variety of different tropical fruits available at many grocery stores and farmer’s markets, and several of them are safe to feed your guinea pig. Just be sure that you’ve properly identified any fruits you plan on giving your pet, as many tropical fruits are known by several different names. If you are ever in doubt about the correct identification of a fruit, just refrain from giving it to your pet.
Some of the most commonly available tropical fruits that are safe to feed your guinea pig include:
Stone fruits are fleshy fruits that contain a hard “stone” or pit in the middle. Most stone fruits are members of the rose family, but not all fruits from the rose family are stone fruits. It is important to avoid giving the pit from stone fruits to your pet, as many are full of cyanide and other toxic substances.
Some of the best stone fruits to offer your guinea pig include:
Citrus fruits are a great source of Vitamin C, so they make a great treat for guinea pigs. However, you must be sure to offer them in small amounts, as they can cause guinea pigs to suffer from mouth sores if fed in excess. It is important to remove any seeds present in citrus fruits before offering them to your pet.
Some of the citrus fruits that are safe to feed your guinea pig include:
In addition to the fruits listed above, there are a number of other fruits that are safe to feed your guinea pig. For a variety of reasons, these fruits simply don’t fit into one of the categories discussed above. For example, squashes, pumpkins and zucchinis are all technically fruits, even though most people think of them as vegetables.
Some of the miscellaneous fruits that are safe to feed your guinea pig include:
The 12 Best Fruits for Guinea Pigs
Now that we’ve discussed all of the different types of fruit that your guinea pig can eat, we need to talk about the best fruits to offer. The following 12 fruits will not only provide your guinea pig with plenty of vitamins and minerals, but they’ll also please your pet’s palate.
Many guinea pigs love to eat oranges – some appear to prefer oranges over just about any other fruit. Oranges are full of Vitamin C and they serve as a great source of water and fiber too. However, oranges are very acidic and they also contain quite a bit of sugar, so you must offer them sparingly.
You can give your guinea pig a wedge from an orange about once per week or so. Just be sure to remove the peel and any seeds present before giving them to your pet. It is also important to observe your guinea pig closely for signs of mouth sores – if you notice any sores developing, or your guinea pig starts refusing food, stop offering oranges (or any other citrus fruit) entirely.
Apples aren’t especially nutritious, but they don’t present many risks and most guinea pigs appear to enjoy them, so they are fine to offer in moderation. Apples serve as a minor source of Vitamin C, and they also provide guinea pigs with a small amount of fiber, potassium, and Vitamins K and B6.
Be sure to cut apples into small cubes or slices and leave the peels intact. The peels not only contain vitamins and fiber, but they also provide your pet with an interesting texture that he may enjoy. You can offer apples to your pet about twice per month.
Pears are quite similar to apples in many respects. They don’t offer a ton of nutritional value, but they don’t present many big problems, and most guinea pigs appear to enjoy them. Pears have a little less Vitamin C than apples do, but they also contain less sugar too.
You can offer your guinea pig a slice or two of pear about twice per month. Just be sure that the slices are small enough for your pet to handle and eat easily. As with apples, leave the skin on the pears to provide the maximum nutritional value possible.
Strawberries are undoubtedly one of the best fruits to offer guinea pigs. As you may expect, given their tart flavor, strawberries have relatively low sugar content. In fact, strawberries have less sugar than any of the other fruits we recommend feeding guinea pigs. But while they have little sugar, strawberries have an abundance of Vitamin C, making them even more attractive for feeding guinea pigs.
Some guinea pig owners like to give their pets the tops of strawberries along with the actual fruit. However, this is probably not a good practice. Strawberries are members of the rose family (Rosaceae), and, like most other members of this family, the green portions of the plant contain small amounts of cyanide, which may sicken your pet.
You probably don’t need to cut strawberries into small pieces, but they may be more attractive to your pet if you do. Small pieces are not only easier for guinea pigs to handle, but they will also emit more appetizing odors than large, intact strawberries will.
Most guinea pigs appear to love blueberries. However, it is important to offer them in moderation, as they have quite a bit of sugar. They offer some Vitamin C, but not enough to offset the amount of sugar they contain. Blueberries are best reserved as an occasional, once-a-month treat.
Blueberries can be offered as-is, but you may be able to make them more appealing to your pet by squishing them before you offer them to your guinea pig. This will release more appetizing aromas and make it easier for your pet to eat them.
Kiwi is a fantastic fruit for guinea pigs. In fact, it may be the single best fruit to offer your pet. Kiwi does contain a bit of sugar (although not as much as blueberries, pears or apples), but it has more Vitamin C than just about any other fruit you can give your pet.
Be sure to cut kiwi into small pieces for your guinea pig, but feel free to leave the fuzzy skin on – the skin is very rich in fiber, which will help keep your guinea pig’s digestive tract operating properly. You can give your pet a few bits of kiwi once or twice per week.
Papayas are a very high-value fruit to offer your guinea pig. Papayas are not only full of Vitamin C, but they also have less sugar than many other common fruits. This combination makes them very attractive for guinea pig owners, and you can probably give your pet a small amount of papaya twice each week.
Note that you’ll want to avoid dried papaya; use fresh papaya instead. To prepare papaya for your pet, simply cut the flesh into small cubes or slices. Be sure to remove any seeds present, as well as all of the skin.
Peaches aren’t very nutritious, but most guinea pigs seem to enjoy them, so they can still make a good occasional treat for your pet. Just be sure that you don’t offer them more than about once per month or so, as peaches have quite a bit of sugar and they don’t provide very much Vitamin C or fiber.
Like other members of the rose family, most parts of peach trees (aside from the actual fruit) are full of cyanide. Accordingly, you’ll want to be sure to remove any stems or leaves present before offering peaches to your pet. Additionally, you’ll want to cut peaches into small slices or cubes before feeding them to your pet.
9. Honeydew Melon
Honeydew melon is another fruit that most guinea pigs appear to love – it even appears to be the favorite fruit of many individuals. Although it contains more sugar than would be considered ideal, a honeydew melon also contains a moderate amount of Vitamin C and quite a bit of potassium, which helps make it an acceptable treat to offer from time to time.
You can probably offer your guinea pig a small amount of honeydew melon once a week. Just be sure that you cut the fruit into small cubes or slices before offering it to your pet, and make sure you remove all portions of the rind and any seeds present before offering honeydew to your guinea pig.
Cantaloupe is another healthy and tasty fruit that many guinea pigs appear to love. Cantaloupe provides an abundance of Vitamin C, as well as a modest amount of Vitamin A and potassium, which make it one of the most nutritious fruits you can offer your pet. Cantaloupe does contain some sugar, although it doesn’t have as much as some other fruits.
You can offer your pet Cantaloupe to your pet three or four times per month. Just be sure to remove all of the rind and any seeds present. Cut the cantaloupe into small pieces or slices to make them easy for your pet to enjoy.
Bananas are a pretty good treat for guinea pigs, and most seem to love the way they taste. Bananas are a good source of fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6. However, bananas have too much sugar to offer them frequently, so you should only give them to your pet about once or twice each month.
Cut the banana into small slices before offering it to your pet. You can leave part of the peel intact if you like; the peel is edible, and it contains quite a bit of fiber. However, while many guinea pigs enjoy the flesh of bananas, many won’t enjoy the peel and will simply ignore it.
Many guinea pigs enjoy apricots, so they make a good occasional treat for your pet. However, apricots are not a very healthy food item, as they’re full of sugar and they have relatively little Vitamin C. Nevertheless, you can give them to your pet about once or twice a month if your pet enjoys them.
Just be sure to stick to fresh apricots, rather than dried apricots. Cut the apricots into small pieces or slices and be sure to remove any leaves or stems present, as well as the hard stone in the center. Apricots are members of the rose family, so cyanide is present in the leaves, stems and pit.
Fruits You Shouldn’t Give Your Guinea Pig
While most fruits are safe to give your guinea pig, there are a few that you’ll need to avoid. Some may cause obvious problems shortly after feeding them to your pet, while others may not trigger any obvious symptoms. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t causing harm to your pet’s body.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to avoid giving any of the fruits listed below to your guinea pig.
Peppers are another example of a fruit that most people think of as a vegetable, but they are, in fact, fruits (anything with seeds is a fruit in the botanical sense of the word).
No matter what you call them, peppers are generally not good to feed to guinea pigs. Spicy peppers – including jalapeno or habanero peppers, among others – are obviously not a good idea to feed your pet. They may burn your pet’s mouth and severely irritate his digestive system.
But it isn’t only the spicy peppers that are dangerous for guinea pigs; you should avoid feeding your guinea pig any type of pepper. Peppers — even green bell peppers, which are not spicy at all — can cause guinea pigs to experience gas and bloating.
Nevertheless, some authorities recommend including sweet peppers (bell peppers) in the diets of guinea pigs. To ensure the safety of your guinea pig, be sure to discuss the issue with your vet before feeding them to your pet.
Grapes and Raisins
It is not a good idea to feed your guinea pig grapes or raisins. Both of these fruits are not only full of sugar, but they also don’t offer many vitamins to your pet, either. But the biggest reason you’ll want to avoid giving grapes to your pet is that they can lead to kidney disease.
Some guinea pig owners feed raisins to their pets without a problem, but it is better to be safe than sorry – especially when there are so many other fruits you can feed your guinea pig that are perfectly safe.
Many parts of the avocado tree contain persin – a fatty acid that is toxic to many domestic animals, including dogs, cats, horses and guinea pigs. Persin can not only sicken these animals, but it has also actually been implicated in several deaths.
Some keepers have safely offered the flesh of the avocado to their guinea pig, but this is generally a practice to avoid. Avocado flesh is extraordinarily fatty (which is part of the reason many people find it so delicious), which can cause severe digestive problems for guinea pigs.
Accordingly, it is simply wisest to avoid giving your guinea pig any avocado at all.
Sugar and Vitamin C Content of Selected Fruits
Sugar content is one of the most important things to keep in mind when deciding which fruits to give your guinea pig. Excess sugar consumption can lead to diabetes and, potentially, cataracts. It may also lead to digestive problems, such as bloating, excess gas and diarrhea.
But while you want to select fruits with as little sugar as possible, it is also important to incorporate plenty of fruits that are rich in Vitamin C. As discussed earlier, guinea pigs are unable to synthesize Vitamin C internally as some other pets (such as dogs) are.
Accordingly, we’ve listed some of the most common fruits fed to guinea pigs and their respective sugar and Vitamin C content below.
|Fruit||Grams of Sugar per Ounce||Milligrams of Vitamin C per Ounce|
All values were taken from SELF Nutrition Data.
Preparing Fruit for Your Guinea Pig
While it is often a good idea to incorporate fruit into your guinea pig’s diet, you must be sure to prepare it properly. Some fruits have toxic stems, leaves, seeds or pits, and others are too difficult for guinea pigs to eat unless they are cut into small pieces.
Just be sure to employ the following steps whenever giving your guinea pig fruit:
1. Purchase the Fruit from Reputable Sources
It is always nice to save money, but you don’t want to purchase fruit from a questionable source, as it may be contaminated with pests or already rotting. This could cause your pet to become intoxicated, sick, which will necessitate an expensive trip to the vet. In some cases, your pet may even die.
You can grow your guinea pig’s fruit if you like, but you’ll need to come up with some other way to use the excess fruit produced. Your guinea pig won’t be able to eat very much, so you’ll have plenty of leftovers.
2. Wash All Fruit
Most fruits sold in grocery stores and farmer’s markets will have residual pesticides on them (unless you stick to the organic section of the store). So, you’ll need to wash these off to prevent your pet from becoming extremely sick. Just wash the outside of the fruit with warm water and a tiny bit of soap, and then rinse it off completely.
It is especially important to do this before you begin cutting the fruit, as the knife may spread the pesticides throughout the interior of the fruit.
3. Cut the Fruit into Small Pieces
Guinea pigs have big teeth, but they will still have an easier time eating the fruits you offer them if you cut them into small pieces first. You can leave a bit of the skin intact for many fruits, including oranges, bananas and kiwi, but you’ll need to remove the rind or skin from many others – especially those with very thick rinds, such as cantaloupe.
Most guinea pig owners simply cut fruit into small cubes, but you may find that small, thin slices are more appealing to many. Thin slices of fruit will help spread appealing aromas through your guinea pig’s enclosure, which will help encourage him to enjoy the tasty treats.
4. Let the Fruit Warm to Room Temperature
Guinea pigs do not usually enjoy cold fruit. In fact, cold fruits can even make some guinea pigs sick. Accordingly, you’ll want to allow any fruit you intend to feed your guinea pig to warm to room temperature before giving it to your pet. Be sure to do this before you begin washing and cutting the fruit for best results.
Note that many fruits you can give to your guinea pig – including bananas, apples, pears, oranges and kiwi, among others – can be safely stored at room temperature anyway.
5. Remove Any Uneaten Fruit Promptly
In many cases, you’ll find that your guinea pig fails to consume all of the fruit you offer. These uneaten portions of fruit will quickly begin to rot as bacteria colonize their surfaces, and they’ll also tend to attract flies. Consequently, you’ll want to remove any uneaten fruits after about an hour or so.
Not only will this help keep your guinea pig’s enclosure clean and dry, but it’ll also help prevent offensive odors from developing.
6. Always Wash Your Guinea Pig’s Food Dishes Frequently
Because you don’t want your guinea pig’s fruit to become contaminated from the bedding in his cage, it is important to place the fruit inside some type of bowl. Use a separate bowl for your pet’s pellets and fresh fruits and be sure to wash the fruit bowl after each feeding with soap and warm water.
Guinea Pig Fruit FAQs
Many guinea pig owners have the same questions regarding the inclusion of fruit in their pet’s diet. We’ve tried to answer a few of the most common questions below.
What fruits do guinea pigs like to eat?
Guinea pigs are all individuals, who exhibit different preferences. Your guinea pig may enjoy one fruit, while your friend’s guinea pig may prefer others. However, a few of the fruits most guinea pigs appear to enjoy include the following:
- Honeydew melon
Can guinea pigs eat dried fruit?
A small piece of dried fruit is not likely to sicken your guinea pig (assuming it is a fruit that is otherwise safe), but it is generally not a good idea to feed dried fruits, as they are full of sugar.
Can guinea pigs eat apple cores?
No. Apple cores contain cyanide and other harmful toxins. Accordingly, you’ll always want to be sure to remove the core, stem and any seeds present before feeding your pet any apple slices.
Can guinea pigs eat green apples?
Yes, green apples are safe for guinea pigs. Just be sure to remove the core, stem and any seeds present, as these structures contain cyanide, which could make your pet very sick.
Can guinea pigs eat green grapes?
No. Grapes are not only full of sugar, but they are also known to cause kidney disease in guinea pigs. Accidentally giving your pet a single grape is unlikely to make him seriously ill, but you’ll still want to avoid feeding grapes to guinea pigs.
Can guinea pigs eat watermelon rind?
Watermelon rind may not sound very palatable to people, but guinea pigs often enjoy it. Just be sure that you cut the rind into small pieces before offering it, so that it is easy for your pet to handle and consume.
Can guinea pigs eat banana peels?
Banana peels are edible, and they actually serve as a good source of fiber. However, they simply aren’t appealing to many guinea pigs, who’d rather eat the delicious flesh of bananas, instead. So, while you are free to offer your guinea pig small pieces of banana peel once or twice a month, don’t be surprised if your pet doesn’t eat them.
Can guinea pigs eat orange peels?
Orange peels are edible, and they are safe to offer to your pet in small quantities. Orange peels are full of fiber (they contain more fiber than the actual fruit does) and they don’t have very much sugar either. However, many guinea pigs seem completely uninterested in orange peels, so yours may not want to eat them.
Can guinea pigs eat strawberry tops?
Some guinea pig owners give their pet the tops of strawberries, but this is generally something to avoid. The green parts of strawberry plants – like most other members of the rose family – contain cyanide. This may cause serious illness or death, so it is generally a good idea to avoid sharing them with your pet.
Fruit can make a valuable component of your guinea pig’s diet. Guinea pigs like the way many fruits taste, which helps improve their quality of life, and some are full of Vitamin C, fiber, potassium and other important nutrients. Just be sure to stick to the fruits recommended above, prepare the fruit properly and be sure that you don’t offer too much fruit to your pet.
Do you like to give your guinea pig fruits? Which ones seem to be his favorites? Do you feed him any fruits that aren’t listed above? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.