Guinea pigs love to snack on bits of fruits and veggies from your fridge. A common fruit found in your fridge is likely fresh strawberries. But you may find yourself asking, can guinea pigs eat strawberries?
The quick answer is that guinea pigs can eat strawberries in moderation. While they shouldn’t be an everyday food, dropping a strawberry in your Guinea Pig’s cage as a treat once or twice a week is fine.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Strawberries?
Guinea pigs can eat strawberries in moderation, meaning one strawberry once or twice a week as a special treat. Because strawberries are high in sugar, and the guinea pig’s body is small, it is easy to consume too much sugar for them, leading to obesity and other health issues.
In addition, strawberries have a high acid content that can lead to mouth sores and other health issues.
- Wash the strawberries thoroughly to remove any traces of pesticides or other contaminants from the surface.
- Dice or slice the strawberry into bite-size pieces.
- Offer your guinea pig strawberries as a treat once or twice a week.
When giving your guinea pig new foods, it is always best to start slow and watch for any adverse reactions. To introduce strawberries, give your guinea pig one small alpine strawberry or a slice of a large, cultivated strawberry.
Observe him for 12 to 24 hours for any signs of adverse reactions such as diarrhea, changes in behavior, lethargy, or other indications that he is not feeling well.
What happens if you feed a guinea pig too many strawberries?
If your guinea pig is a fan of strawberries (most are, but some are not), he will likely eat more than he should if you don’t limit the amount and times he is allowed to have them. Feeding him too large a serving or feeding them to him too frequently can lead to health issues.
The main risk of feeding your guinea pig too many strawberries is that he will become overweight from consuming too much sugar. This can also lead to diabetes, which comes with new health risks.
The high amount of acid in strawberries poses another risk, as this can lead to mouth sores, making it difficult for your guinea pig to eat other foods.
Strawberries are also high in calcium oxalate, which can lead to bladder stones in guinea pigs.
Nutritional Value of Strawberries (benefits and risks)
Strawberries contain antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C, and phosphorus, essential nutrients beneficial to your guinea pig’s health. They are also a good source of fiber. Strawberries also contain calcium oxalate that can lead to bladder stones.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps your guinea pig fight disease and boosts the immune system. Your guinea pig needs a source of Vitamin C every day as the body cannot manufacture it on its own.
Antioxidants are also known as anti-inflammatory compounds that help the body fight off inflammation. They may also reduce the risk of diabetes and help with glucose metabolism.
Strawberries (along with stems and leaves) are high in fiber, improving gastrointestinal health. Guinea pigs depend on a good source of fiber in their diet.
- Calcium oxalate:
Strawberries contain a lot of calcium oxalates and can lead to painful bladder stones in guinea pigs, says The Humane Society of the United States (Humane Society). Feeding guinea pigs too many strawberries may cause them to develop bladder stones that require medical attention.
Considerations About the Types of Strawberries and Different Parts
Guinea pigs can eat all types of strawberries in moderation. If you live in an area where wild strawberries are plentiful, a few berries are just right for a tasty treat for your guinea pig.
Otherwise, cultivated varieties found in the grocery store or farmer’s market are a great treat, too.
But don’t toss the hulls or leaves on your strawberries. They are good for your guinea pig, too. He may not like them quite as well, but they will provide a good source of fiber to his diet.
Can guinea pigs eat the leaves of strawberries?
There is no need to hull the strawberry before offering it to your guinea pig. The strawberry plant’s hull, leaves, and small stems are also edible. While he may not enjoy the foliage quite as much as the sweet berry, many guinea pigs will happily eat the leaves and hulls, too.
Hulls and stems contain lots of fiber and are low in sugar, so they are also good for your guinea pig.
Alternatives to Eating Strawberries for Guinea Pigs
Many guinea pigs have a sweet tooth and love a sweet treat. Choosing fruits and berries with a lower sugar content will help avoid issues with obesity while giving him the pleasure of a sweet treat.
But remember, even lower-sugar fruits still contain a lot of sugar for a guinea pig and should only be offered in small amounts once or twice a week. Try these options occasionally to give your guinea pig a sweet treat.
- Berries, such as blueberries
- Banana (one slice)
- Apple slices
- Citrus (one section)
Recommended Food and Treats for Guinea Pigs
The Humane Society recommends commercial food pellets high in vitamin C but void of fruits and seeds, Timothy hay, and fresh vegetables every day to keep your guinea pig happy and healthy.
- Pellets: Choose Vitamin C-Fortified pellets for your guinea pig. Look for those devoid of fruit and seeds. Give your guinea pig 1/8 cup each day.
- Timothy Hay: Your guinea pig needs an unlimited amount of Timothy hay every day. It aids in digestion and chewing, and it helps keep his teeth from overgrowing.
- Fresh Vegetables: Leafy greens, like lettuce, cilantro, parsley, and kale, should make up the bulk of your guinea pig’s diet of greens. He will also enjoy broccoli and red or green peppers. Feed him 1 cup of fresh vegetables a day.
- Treats: Your guinea pig will enjoy a special treat of sweeter fruits and vegetables once or twice a week. Offer him carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, berries, pineapple, bananas, apples, or citrus once or twice a week.
Foods to Avoid Giving a Guinea Pig
There are some foods you should avoid when feeding your guinea pig. Check this list of common human foods that guinea pigs should not have.
- Dried Legumes (beans, peas)
- Dried Corn
- Dairy Products
- Pickled Foods
Remember feeding your guinea pig strawberries as a special treat once or twice a week is fine, but never give him more than one strawberry as it contains too much sugar for his tiny body to process effectively. Eating too many strawberries can lead to obesity and other health problems, like bladder stones from the oxalates in strawberries.