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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Pistachios? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Safety Guide

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Close Up Photo of Bunch of Pistachios

Vet approved

Dr. Ashley Darby Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Ashley Darby

Veterinarian, BVSc

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Guinea pigs are herbivores, meaning that they eat only plant foods to stay happy and healthy, whether in nature or as pets. These vegetarians require the presence of other guinea pigs and a varied diet to stay happy throughout their lives. Since they’re plant eaters, it’s easy to assume that guinea pigs can eat nuts, like pistachios, as a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

But the truth is that guinea pigs should not eat nuts, including pistachios, for various reasons. Fortunately, there are plenty of other foods that guinea pigs can healthily and safely eat. Let’s focus on nuts, though, and why these rodents shouldn’t eat many, if any, of them throughout their lives. Here is everything that you need to know about your pet guinea pig and any nuts (pistachios included) that you’re thinking of feeding them.

Divider Guinea Pig

Why Pistachio (and Other) Nuts Aren’t Ideal for Guinea Pigs

In short, pistachios are problematic for guinea pigs because they are so high in fat. They are not toxic or poisonous, but they can be a contributor to problems like obesity and digestive problems.

There are other concerns about feeding nuts like pistachios to guinea pigs:
  • Digestive Issues — Nuts are hard on the sensitive digestive system of guinea pigs. They can cause an imbalance in the normal intestinal bacteria which can be severe and lead to, sometimes fatal, diarrhea.
  • Choking Hazard — Pistachio (and other) nuts can be a choking hazard to guinea pigs, especially when they are offered whole.
  • Allergies — Although rare, guinea pigs can be allergic to nuts, including pistachios.
  • Bladder Stones — All nuts, including pistachios, are high in calcium. This is great for humans, but excess calcium in guinea pig urine leads to the formation of calcium based bladder stones.

For these reasons alone, guinea pigs are better off sticking with hay, commercial pellet food, green and colorful veggies, and a few fruits as their overall diet. Nuts like pistachios are not needed and can in fact be harmful.

Pistachio
Photo Credit: sunnysun0804, Pixabay

Is Nut Butter Healthy for Guinea Pigs?

No, nut butter is not good for guinea pigs, even though it’s in a creamy form and won’t cause a choking hazard. Nut butter is incredibly dense, so just 1 teaspoon of it can contain as much, if not more, fat and calories as a single pistachio nut. Therefore, it’s best to stay away from nut butter when planning your guinea pig’s meals.

Feeding Your Guinea Pig

Like other herbivores, much of guinea pig’s protein needs are supplied by their gut bacteria; it is important that their diet is optimized to keep their natural population of gut bacteria healthy.

The most important thing to feed your guinea pig is timothy or other grass hays. This should make up the majority of your guinea pig’s diet. On top of this about a cup full of leafy greens per day and smaller quantities of pellets and fresh fruits and vegetables will ensure they get everything they need. Guinea pigs, like people, need vitamin C in their diet; so be mindful that they get 10-25mg of vitamin C per day.

cute guinea pig eating hay
Photo Credit: Thiago Janoni, Shutterstock

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In Conclusion

Guinea pigs do not need nor should they have pistachio nuts as part of their diet. They should not eat any nuts, for that matter. That said, nuts are not poisonous to guinea pigs, so if they eat one and don’t choke on it, they should be fine. It’s when they get their paws on pistachio (and other) nuts regularly or get too many in one sitting, that problems can develop.


Featured Image Credit: Alexis Lozano, Pexels

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Authored by

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens. She is an artist at heart and loves...Read more

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