Fruit is the ice cream and candy of the guinea pig world. So what fruits can guinea pigs eat? Well guinea pigs, known colloquially as cavies, eat fruit like it’s going out of style; and they would love to eat it all day, everyday. Sadly, they can only consume fruits in limited amounts. Fruit may be packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber; but it is also packed with sugar. Fructose, or fruit sugar, is metabolized differently in guinea pigs than it is in humans. Guinea pigs convert fructose to glucose in the body, while humans lack the mechanisms to do this. This conversion means fruit sugar, which can make a guinea pig overweight very quickly. Therefore, fruit should be given as a treat. Guinea pigs eat just about any fruit happily, although preferences may vary between pets. The vast majority of fruit is safe for cavies in small quantities, so toxins are not a large concern. Tropical fruits, citrus, apples, pears, stone fruit, berries, melons, and even grapes are all good treat options.
Tropical fruits like bananas, mangos, and kiwi tend to have different nutritional profiles from fruits grown in more temperate regions. They tend to be rich in nutrients like potassium and vitamin C. Vitamin C is absolutely essential for cavies, as their bodies cannot produce it on their own. Many owners choose to supplement, but a diet rich in fruits and vegetables should have adequate amounts. Potassium is beneficial to both muscle and bone structure, and will keep cavies moving happily for a long time. Tropical fruits also tend to have very high sugar levels. Bananas and mangos have more sugar than almost any other fruit. This means that tropical fruits should be fed in very small quantities to prevent weight gain. Most guinea pigs love these fruits, but they should only get them once a week or less.
Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit have comparatively low sugar levels and maintain a strong nutrient profile. These tangy fruits are known to be a very rich source of vitamin C and fiber. Fiber is absolutely necessary for guinea pigs; it extends the digestive time of food and allows cavies to absorb more nutrition from the foods they have consumed. It is also plays an important role in forming caecotrophs. A caecotroph is a highly concentrated source of nutrition that the guinea pig creates and then consumes.
Apples, pears, and stone fruit are not particularly heavy in sugar or nutrition. These fruits fall somewhere in the middle of the acceptable treat list. Things like nectarines, plums, peaches, Asian pears, and Red Delicious apples are all tree fruits. These fruits are acceptable occasionally, but cavies must never eat the leaves of stone fruit trees. Apples contain vitamin C and fiber in small amounts, and stone fruit contains a small amount of potassium. Cavies would do better eating other fruits.
Berries are the nutrient powerhouses of the fruit category. These little powerhouses are low in sugar and packed with vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants. Fruits like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and lingonberries are rich in vitamins K1, C and manganese. These nutrients can be found in larger amounts in leafy green veggies, but guinea pigs eat fruit preferentially. Berries are a great treat for a pet cavy due to their low sugar content and relatively high nutrition ratings.
Grapes and melons are best reserved for special occasions. Fruits like cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, and green grapes are not particularly nutrient dense and contain a lot of sugar. They contain more water than many other fruit, and thus they could cause digestive upset in some cavies. Some vets believe grapes are linked with kidney disease in cavies. While no conclusive evidence has been presented, this is something to consider. Grapes and melons are not the best fruit for guinea pigs, but they are moderately safe.
Fed in moderation, fruits are good additions to a healthy guinea pig’s diet. Berries and citrus fruits are the most nutritious options in this category, and the rest still make good treats. Some guinea pigs will prefer one fruit over others, so some experimenting is necessary. Fruit is best fed twice a week or less, but it makes for a great treat and a happy cavy.
Short List of Fruits Guinea Pigs Can Eat