The image of a guinea pig munching away on a carrot is a bit of a stereotype, but it’s one based on fact. Most guinea pigs adore carrots because they are both crunchy and tasty, thanks to their relatively large carbohydrate and sugar content. But this also means that your guinea pig shouldn’t always eat carrots.
What makes a healthy diet for a guinea pig, and where do carrots fit in? Read on as we take a look at guinea pig dietary needs, where carrots fit into their well-rounded diet, and the best way to feed your guinea pig the delicious carrots they love!
What Do Guinea Pigs Eat?
Guinea pigs are herbivores that tend to graze on what is available in the wild. As pets, they have a pretty straightforward diet.
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The most important thing in your guinea pig’s diet is high-quality hay. They should have access to it at all times. It should be dry, sweet-smelling, and free from mold.
Hay provides the fiber they need to balance their finicky digestive system and also wears down their teeth, which are continuously growing.
Commercial guinea pig pellets are a mix of dry hay and alfalfa with a few other vegetables. They contain about 15% protein and 25% fiber, and they’re fortified with the nutrients that guinea pigs need to thrive. Most important among these is vitamin C, which, unlike many other animals, guinea pigs cannot produce on their own. Therefore, they have to get it through their diet.
Fruits And Vegetables
Your guinea pig’s core diet of hay and pellets should be supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables, which should make up no more than 10% of their overall diet. They should always be washed, skin and seeds removed, and served raw. Cooked vegetables can undermine proper digestion.
Always make sure that your guinea pig isn’t favoring their fruits and vegetables and ignoring their hay. If this happens, stop giving them the fresh veggies until they’re eating their hay properly.
They can eat a fairly big range of fruits and vegetables but not everything you have in your kitchen.
Fruits they can have include apples (without seeds), strawberries, oranges (in small amounts due to acidity), bananas, bell peppers, tomatoes, blueberries, kiwis, papayas, peaches, and cantaloupe.
Safe vegetables for your guinea pig include carrots, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, broccoli, spinach, artichokes, kale, squash, brussels sprouts, and other dark leafy greens.
Whenever you add a new fruit or vegetable to your guinea pig’s diet, you should feed them a small amount and watch them for 7-10 hours to see how they react. Every guinea pig is different; if they develop diarrhea or unusual behavior, it’s best not to give it to them again.
Once you’ve decided to include a fruit or vegetable in their diet, you should start with a small amount and gradually increase it. Never introduce something new suddenly as your guinea pig will probably become ill because it’s unfamiliar.
Be aware that guinea pigs sometimes eat their own poop, and this is normal and healthy for them.
Cecotropes are fecal pellets that are softer and lighter than normal and contain nutrients absorbed from plants during digestion. Guinea pigs will poop them out and eat them almost immediately. While it may sound gross, it’s a method of digestion, and you should let your guinea pig do this.
What About Carrots?
So, guinea pigs tend to love carrots, and carrots are on the list of safe vegetables for them to eat—so can you give them a little bit of carrot every day? No, carrots should be used as a treat, and you should only give them to your guinea pig two to three times a week. Each serving should be the size of a baby carrot or one inch of a large carrot.
The reason your guinea pig shouldn’t eat carrots more often is that they are high in sugar and carbohydrates and, as a result, can lead to obesity. One raw medium-sized carrot contains 25 calories, 5.8 grams of carbohydrates, and 2.9 grams of sugar.
Carrots are also high in vitamin A, which can cause major health problems in guinea pigs if they get too much of it. Problems can include developing severe cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder, shortened bones and other bone growth deformities, lameness, and piglets born with growth plate changes.
All of these are good reasons to control how much carrot your guinea pig eats. But since they love them so much, you can use carrots as a bonding experience for you and your pet. Let them eat it directly out of your hand. They will love it.
You might think your guinea pig is not a fan of carrots the first time they eat one. They may take a few nibbles and leave it. But this is an evolutionary habit to determine if new foods have toxins. They will nibble a little, see how they feel, and then eat a bit more next time. So, if they don’t seem to like it at first, keep offering it to them as it’s only a matter of time.
The first time your guinea pig eats carrot, or any new food, observe them for seven to 10 hours to ensure they don’t have a negative reaction.
If you put the carrot in their enclosure rather than feeding them by hand, make sure you remove it after a few hours so it doesn’t start to go bad in their space.
Guinea Pig FAQs
Can guinea pigs eat carrot skins?
Yes, the thin skin of the carrot is healthy for your guinea pig and contains some of the best nutrients. Wash the carrot thoroughly to remove contaminants and let them eat it all.
If you peel carrots when preparing meals for yourself, you can feed the peeled skins to your guinea pig.
Why can’t guinea pigs eat carrots?
Guinea pigs can eat carrots but shouldn’t have them in excessive amounts. This is because they are high in sugar and carbohydrates, which can lead to obesity in these tiny creatures. They also contain a lot of vitamin A, which can be toxic to guinea pigs in large amounts.
Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes?
Yes, tomatoes are safe for guinea pigs and contain lots of fiber, which they need. They shouldn’t have them too often, though, because they are quite acidic. While they can eat the tomato skin and seeds, they shouldn’t eat the stems or leaves.
Can guinea pigs eat cheese?
Guinea pigs are herbivores and only eat plants, so they should not be given any dairy products. Guinea pigs are lactose intolerant, and dairy will undermine their digestion.
Can guinea pigs eat rice?
Guinea pigs should not eat rice or any other cooked foods. The complex carbohydrate can wreak havoc with their digestive system, which relies on bacteria to extract healthy nutrients from food. Any stomach upsets that change the bacteria in their gut can lead to bigger health issues than just a few days of diarrhea.
What fruits are poisonous to guinea pigs?
There are a few fruits that are poisonous to guinea pigs. Among them are avocados because they contain high levels of persin, lemons and limes because they are too acidic, spicy peppers, rhubarb, and tomato stems and leaves but not the fruit.
Including Carrots In Your Guinea Pig’s Diet
While guinea pigs have fairly sensitive digestive systems, they are quite easy to feed thanks to modern commercial food designed to aid digestion and give them all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need. However, topping off their diet with fresh fruits and vegetables fills gaps in their nutrition and is also stimulating for your guinea pig.
Most guinea pigs tend to love carrots since they have a sweet flavor and crunchy texture. This makes carrots an excellent treat for your guinea pig and something you can use for bonding if you feed your little pet by hand. But they shouldn’t have carrots too often!
Carrots are high in carbs and sugar, which can lead to overweight guinea pigs, and also high in vitamin A, which can be toxic to them in sufficient amounts. Avoid problems by only giving your guinea pig carrot two to three times a week and less often if they’re struggling with their weight. A standard serving should be a baby carrot or an inch of a full-sized carrot.
Read our complete beginner’s guide to caring for guinea pigs.