Guinea pigs love vegetables for a daily snack, and even for a meal. Guinea pigs, also known as cavies, are naturally herbivorous. This means they must get all their nutrition from plant sources, and they are happy to do it. A cavy’s natural diet is primarily hay and leafy green vegetables; but they also love things like carrots, bell peppers, and fresh corn. So what vegetables can guinea pigs eat? There are a few vegetables that a pet cavy should not eat, but on the whole veggies are one of the best foods for them. Some owners choose to feed their cavies only vegetables, hay, and the occasional fruit, but this is a difficult undertaking. One must be very educated about the nutritional content of fruits and veggies in order to prevent nutritional deficiencies. Most owners supplement their cavy’s diet of hay and pellets with veggies; this promotes health without the worries. Vegetables are loaded with vitamin C and other nutrients, and guinea pigs love them. They are a great addition to any cavy’s diet.
Guinea pigs, like humans, do not produce vitamin C within their own bodies. This vitamin must be sourced from their diet and veggies are the best source. If a cavy is deficient in vitamin C, he or she may suffer symptoms of scurvy. Scurvy is very unpleasant for cavies, but it can be easily avoided. Cavies must consume approximately 25mg of vitamin C each and every day in order to maintain optimal health, but a little more will not be harmful. Luckily, veggies are incredibly rich with this essential nutrient. Red bell peppers top the charts with approximately 2mg of vitamin C per gram of bell pepper. Leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and most greens, also do quite well; they contain around 1mg of vitamin c per 100mg of vegetable. Vitamin C supplements are available, but vegetable sources are better for cavies and they enjoy them too! Vitamin C is only one of many benefits that vegetables possess.
Leafy greens fit perfectly into the guinea pigs naturally fiber-rich, low calorie diet. Veggies like kale, collard greens, watercress, spinach, and romaine lettuce are all great snacks or meals for a pet cavy. These veggies are incredible sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and plant protein; all of which are essential for healthy guinea pigs. Iron is fairly scarce in plant foods, but leafy greens are loaded with it. Iron prevents anemia and promotes a healthy circulatory system. They are also a strong source of vitamin K1 for healthy skin, fur, and eyesight. Leafy greens are great, but variety is also important for a healthy cavy.
Root vegetables can make for a great guinea pig snack. Things such as carrots, beets, parsnips, and kohlrabi are packed with nutrition; but they are also much more calorie-dense than other veggies. Roots are best reserved for the occasional treat; too many roots will cause unwanted weight gain. Roots vary nutritionally and each one possesses a different nutrient profile. Carrots, for example, have an exceptional amount of beta-carotene, a plant based form of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A, as well as vitamins C and E, which work together to keep cavies happy and healthy. Guinea pigs eat sweet potatoes, but white potatoes are poisonous to them so make sure not to get these two mixed up.
Roots and leafy greens can both be great guinea pig foods, but variety is also important. Many vegetables fall into categories that may be unhealthy for cavies, but there are exceptions. Parsley, dill, basil, mint, celery leaves, okra, fresh corn, celery, cilantro, fresh green beans, pea pods, and asparagus are all healthy exceptions. These plants differ widely in nutritional content, but one thing is true of them all; guinea pigs eat them with vigor and happiness.
Cavies love to bite down on a fresh crunchy vegetable, and veggies are great for them. They provide essential nutrients like vitamins A and C naturally, without the need for supplements. Vegetables also provide variety in the diet, which is an important part of keeping guinea pigs happy and healthy. Cavies can eat many of these vegetables every day; so if your cavy wants a snack, reach for the produce.
Short List of Vegetables Guinea Pigs Can Eat
Eggplant (not recommended)
Vegetables To Be Cautious With