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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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