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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Arugula? Facts & FAQ

Gregory Iacono

By Gregory Iacono

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Arugula

Guinea Pigs are lovely little animals that make excellent pets. Like most small mammals, Guinea Pigs eat a diet of mostly plants and vegetables, especially leafy green veggies. One question you might have about these tiny creatures is whether their diet should include arugula. It’s a peppery-flavored plant also known as Italian cress and Salad Rocket. Arugula makes a great occasional snack for Guinea Pigs. However, the spicy green veggie has some drawbacks and minor health risks. If you’d like to find out what they are and the best way to feed arugula to your Guinea Pig, keep reading!

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Which Nutrients Does Arugula Provide Your Guinea Pig?

Like most green, leafy vegetables, arugula is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and several other nutrients. All of them are beneficial to the health and well-being of your Guinea Pig. The USDA National Nutrition Database reports that you’ll find the following nutrients in arugula, including:

  • Most of the B Vitamins
  • Beta Carotene
  • Calcium
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fat
  • Fiber
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Protein
  • Selenium
  • Sodium
  • Sugar
  • Vitamins A, K, and C
  • Water
  • Zinc

In moderation, arugula is an excellent snack choice for Guinea Pigs and other small animals.

fresh arugula leaves on wooden board
Image Credit: Sergey Fatin, Shutterstock

What Drawbacks and Health Risks Does Arugula Pose for Guinea Pigs?

As we’ve seen, arugula has various nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, protein, and more. However, it’s important to note that this vegetable can also cause several health risks if you feed too much of it to your Guinea Pig.

Bladder Stones

Arugula contains a natural chemical called oxalic acid. Oxalates bind with calcium and clump together in your Guinea Pig’s body. Over time, these clumps become bigger and harder, turning into painful objects called bladder stones.

Diarrhea

Although diarrhea isn’t common after eating arugula, all Guinea Pigs have sensitive digestive systems. If you introduce arugula to them too fast and give your Guinea Pig too much in one sitting, diarrhea might result. While it usually passes quickly and your Guinea Pig heals, severe diarrhea can lead to dehydration and other, possibly fatal, health issues.

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Which Parts of the Arugula Plant Can Guinea Pigs Eat?

The arugula plant is comprised of the flower, stalk, and leaves. All three of these parts can safely be eaten, in moderation, by your Guinea Pig. You should note that the arugula flowers contain the highest calcium levels, so feed them more sparingly than the leaves and stems.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Baby Arugula?

Yes, baby arugula and arugula are practically the same, with the same edible parts and similar levels of calcium and other nutrients. You can, in moderation, feed them to your Guinea Pig with no problem.

black fur teddy guinea pig eating kale on the grass
Image Credit: Beartrix, Shutterstock

How Much and How Often Can Guinea Pigs Eat Arugula?

It’s best to serve arugula to your Guinea Pig no more than twice a week. You only need enough to fill a cup loosely. A good rule of thumb is the 90/10 rule. This rule states that 90% of the food you feed your Guinea Pig should be Timothy hay, their food of choice. 10% should be snacks, including arugula and other green, leafy vegetables. Some of the best vegetables to give your Guinea Pig include tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, cucumber, and lettuce. All of them are low in calcium.

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How To Serve Arugula to Your Guinea Pig

Serving arugula to your Guinea Pig is easy, fast, and as convenient as making a salad for your other family members. Below are the steps to prepare arugula safely and feed it to your pet piggy.

1. Purchase Fresh, Organic Arugula

To give your Guinea Pig the best, organic arugula is recommended. However, if you can’t find organic, regular arugula will suffice.


2. Wash the Arugula Thoroughly

This step is critical because arugula, like many green, leafy vegetables, absorbs pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed on it. Also, arugula grows very close to the ground and thus is usually covered with a fine layer of sand and dirt. For those two reasons, washing it thoroughly is highly recommended before feeding it to your Guinea Pig.

Guinea Pigs Eat Cilantro
Image Credit: Sharon Snider, Shutterstock

3. Chop the Arugula Flowers, Stems, and Stalks Into Small Pieces

They don’t have to be extremely small but small enough for your Guinea Pig to fit in its mouth easily.


4. Add the Arugula to Other Greens and Vegetables

This step is critical. We mentioned that arugula, because of the oxalates in it, can cause bladder stones. Mixing arugula with other greens and vegetables lowers the risk of bladder stones in your Guinea Pig.


5. Remove Leftovers Once Your Guinea Pig Is Done Eating

Once your Guinea Pig has finished eating and walked away from its food bowl, remove any leftovers and toss them into your compost heap. Leaving arugula and other vegetables out can attract flies, and there’s also a risk for bacteria.

Guinea Pigs Eating Cilantro
Image Credit: Janna Polyarnaya, Shutterstock

Should Arugula Be Cooked Before Being Fed to a Guinea Pig?

There’s no need to cook arugula before feeding it to your Guinea Pig. Cooking most vegetables destroys the nutrients in them. Also, cooked vegetables can often lead to bloating in Guinea Pigs, which is best avoided.

Do Guinea Pigs Like Arugula?

With all this talk about arugula and how healthy it is for Guinea Pigs, one crucial factor you might overlook is that many Guinea Pigs don’t even like this green, leafy vegetable because of its peppery flavor. It’s too spicy for them, and some will avoid it. All Guinea Pigs are unique, and yours might love arugula. The best way to find out is to purchase a small amount of organic arugula for your Guinea Pig and see if they like it.

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Final Thoughts

Arugula offers several beneficial nutrients for Guinea Pigs and is completely safe to feed them occasionally. The only health risk the green, leafy vegetable presents to Guinea Pigs is its oxalic acid, which can cause bladder stones if eaten in high amounts.

Therefore, experts recommend feeding arugula to your Guinea Pig no more than twice a week. When you do, mixing it with other plants and vegetables is also recommended. We hope this information will help you keep your gorgeous Guinea Pig well-fed, happy, and healthy!

See also:


Featured Image Credit: Sea Wave, Shutterstock

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