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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Pumpkin? Vet-Approved Nutritional Science & Info

Melissa Gunter

By Melissa Gunter

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Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

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Owning a guinea pig is a joyful experience. Not only are these furry pets fun to cuddle, but they can also be quite comical when you’re watching them play. As a guinea pig owner, like with any other pet, it’s your responsibility to ensure your guinea is safe, healthy, and happy. This includes providing it with a well-balanced diet and healthy treats.

Certain vegetables are ideal for guinea pigs to have as tasty treats that are also healthy. Fruits are generally more controversial. One treat that many are curious about is pumpkin. Can guinea pigs eat pumpkins? Is it safe for them? The answer to that question is yes, pumpkin is safe in moderation as an occasional treat, but there’s a lot you should know before offering fresh pumpkins to your guinea pig.

Let’s learn more about guinea pigs, pumpkins, and the nutritional facts associated with giving this treat to your pet.

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What Are Guinea Pigs?

Guinea pigs are a member of the Cavia genus. Guinea pigs are ideal small animals for people who want pets but don’t have enough space for cats or dogs. Many people are drawn to guinea pigs thanks to their need to constantly chew and file down their growing teeth. This action is cute and endearing, making them fun to spend time with and watch for hours a day. These little critters usually grow up to 8 to 16 inches long and can weigh around 0.5 to 1.5 kilograms when they are full grown.1 These little pals typically live 3 to 5 years but can live 8 to 10 years in captivity when they are being well cared for by their owners.

When it comes to a guinea pig’s dietary needs, you’ll find that the main staples of their diet are high-quality guinea pig feed and hay. Guinea pigs can also have a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure all their dietary needs are met.

Let’s take a look at a few facts about a guinea pig’s dietary needs.
  • Guinea pigs are herbivores that do best on a pelleted diet made specifically for them, and an unlimited amount of high-quality hay. Examples of appropriate hay for guinea pigs include timothy, orchard, grass, and oat hay.
  • Hay in conjunction with pellets should form the overwhelming bulk of their diet (approximately 80 to 90%).
  • In addition, they require a daily serving of fresh leafy vegetables.
  • Guinea pigs should have access to fresh, clean drinking water at all times.
  • Guinea pigs need diets that are low in sugars and fats.

The reason why fresh vegetables are considered important for guinea pigs is because they lack the ability to make their own vitamin C and require it in their diet. The vitamin C requirement of an adult guinea pig that isn’t breeding is around 10 milligrams per kilogram per day.

Merino Guinea Pig
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

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The Goodness of Pumpkin for Guinea Pigs

Most of us are used to pumpkins being a major part of our lives when the fall season rolls around. This is when pumpkin pies, pumpkin rolls, and even pumpkin spice coffees are everywhere. You even find them carved up on porches as parts of many families’ Halloween decorations. What you may not know, however, is that pumpkins are part of the Cucurbitaceae family of plants. Pumpkins are grown from vines on the ground and are referred to as winter squashes.

Pumpkins come in a variety of colors including orange, white, green, tan, and green. It is considered a vegetable and used in lots of great recipes thanks to the great taste and nutrition inside. As we’ve already mentioned, they also make a tasty treat for your guinea pig. However, their nutritional value isn’t that appealing from a nutritional standpoint.

Key Nutritional Information of Raw Pumpkin, Per 100 Grams (3.5 Ounces)
  • Water: 91.6 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 6.5 grams
  • Fat: 0.1 grams
  • Protein: 1 grams
  • Fiber: 0.5 grams
  • Calcium: 21 milligrams
  • Phosphorus: 44 milligrams
  • Vitamin C: 9 milligrams

Unfortunately, the vitamin C content of pumpkin leaves a lot to be desired. With only 9 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams of pumpkin (a very large serving for a guinea pig), it’s fairly obvious why pumpkin shouldn’t be a go-to choice for your guinea pig.

pumpkin
Image Credit: mattycoulton, Pixabay

Feeding Pumpkin to Your Guinea Pig

The best way to discover if your cavy enjoys pumpkin is to offer them a piece. Luckily, all parts of the pumpkin are considered safe for a guinea pig; however, the pumpkin seeds can have a diuretic effect. Due to this issue, it’s best to avoid offering your guinea pig this part for safety reasons.

Here are a few tips to help you serve your guinea pig a bit of pumpkin safely:
  • Only serve your guinea pig fresh, raw pumpkin.
  • Thoroughly wash the pumpkin before preparing it for your cavy.
  • Remove the stem and safely discard.
  • Peeling the pumpkin isn’t required, but if your guinea has tried it before and didn’t care for the skin, it would be best to remove it instead of having it left in the cage.
  • When cutting the pumpkin make sure to make thin slices or bite-sized cubes.
  • Remove the seeds.
  • Only provide your guinea pig with two to three small pieces of pumpkin one to two times per month.
  • Clean any remaining pumpkin out of your guinea pig’s cage within a few hours to avoid issues with spoilage.
sliced pumpkin
Image Credit: Pixabay

Don’t Go Overboard

As we mentioned, hay and high-quality guinea pig pellet must be the primary sources of nutrition for your pet. Yes, fruits are great dietary supplements but they should only be offered a few times a week so your guinea pig doesn’t avoid its regular food for treats. Vegetables with high yield of vitamin C are preferred to fruits.

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Final Thoughts

As you can see, pumpkin is an acceptable treat for your guinea pig. That is, if you follow a few guidelines when adding it as a supplement to their diet. If you want to offer your guinea pig a piece of fresh, raw pumpkin once or twice a month, feel free to do so.

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Featured Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

Melissa Gunter

Authored by

Melissa was born and raised in the mountains of East Tennessee where she spent her time writing in an old notebook and playing outside with her pets. As an avid animal lover, she has brought many into her home over the years. Currently, she is the mom of 5 fur babies. Her 2 cats, Princess and Pepper are total opposites who demand attention. Her dogs Jazzy, Whitey, and Demon are full of spunk and keep the entire family on ...Read more

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