I’ve found that plenty of guides for guinea pig feeding tell you they need a varied and balanced diet, but often don’t go into too much detail.
This got me wondering about whether guinea pigs can eat slightly acidic foods, such as tomatoes.
So, can guinea pigs eat tomatoes?
Yes, Guinea pigs can eat tomato skin, seeds, and flesh, but the green stalks and vines should be avoided because they’re poisonous to guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs can eat tomatoes in moderation, which means 2-3 times a week. Don’t give them too much because tomatoes are acidic and can cause mouth sores.
Looking at whether guinea pigs can eat tomatoes got me wondering about what other acidic fruits and vegetables you can feed to guinea pigs, and what are acceptable quantities of these.
Read on to find out more.
Feeding your guinea pigs tomatoes
After giving my guinea pigs tomatoes for the first time I was surprised by how much they liked them.
One of my guinea pigs even took their share off to another part of the cage so they could eat it without being interrupted.
This should give you some indication of how popular tomatoes are with guinea pigs.
When it comes to portion size, I found that cherry tomatoes are the best because they’re easiest to portion control.
One cherry tomato per guinea pig is an acceptable sized portion, so use this as your guideline. If you’re using large tomatoes, make sure you cut them up into smaller pieces for better portion control.
It’s up to you whether you decide to cut the cherry tomatoes in half for your guinea pigs. I’ve tried both, and found it doesn’t make too much difference.
Although the skin on a tomato isn’t thick, leaving them whole does give your guinea pigs something to work at, more so than if they just have pieces.
A benefit of cutting them in half is that it gives you chance to remove the watery inside of a tomato.
While this won’t necessarily cause any issues for your guinea pig’s digestion, too much of the acidic and watery inside part of a tomato can lead to an upset stomach.
I’ve tried giving my guinea pigs tomatoes both with and without the innards, and they don’t seem to mind much either way.
The most important thing to remember with feeding your guinea pigs tomatoes is to never give them the vine or stalks because these parts are poisonous.
I’ve never tried giving my guinea pigs tomato stalks, but I imagine they would eat them given the chance. So make sure you always remove them, as the last thing you want is a sick guinea pig.
As with all fruit and vegetables, make sure you wash the tomatoes thoroughly before giving them to your guinea pigs.
Tomatoes are sprayed with pesticides, and while we’re slightly more tolerant to these chemicals, they can be very dangerous for a small guinea pig.
Also, make sure you remove any uneaten tomato after a few hours because they can be a breeding ground for bacteria and flies.
Feeding your guinea pigs acidic food
You may have found that if you eat too much acidic food it can give you heartburn.
While I was researching this topic, the thought crossed my mind about whether this is also a problem for guinea pigs, and whether you need to control the amount of acidic foods you give them.
While I couldn’t find any information on whether guinea pigs can get heartburn (which I think is unlikely), I did find out some interesting information about feeding them acidic foods.
The most common source of acidic food that you’ll give your guinea pigs is likely going to be citrus fruit, such as oranges, tangerines, clementines, and so on.
Guinea pigs don’t produce their own vitamin C, and so need plenty of it in their diet. And, as we all know, citrus fruit is a great source of vitamin C.
However, the acidity of these fruits means you should limit feeding to once or twice a week.
Too much and your guinea pigs will develop sores around their mouth from the citric acid, which is quite painful and isn’t really treatable.
Unlike people, guinea pigs can’t tell you the problem is there, so it’s best to avoid it happening in the first place.
The other thing to consider about these acidic fruits, and to a lesser extent tomatoes, is that they have high sugar content.
Guinea pigs are particularly prone to obesity, and so you should limit the amount of sugar in their diet. It’s much better to source their vitamin C from vegetables, which I’ll discuss below, or supplement drops in their water.
Because acidity levels can be a problem for guinea pigs, it’s best to avoid really acidic fruits, such as lemons and grapefruit.
These will lead to both mouth sores and upset stomachs, so just avoid them altogether. Oranges are about the limit when it comes to acidity, and if you’re ever in doubt, just avoid something altogether.
What are good sources of vitamin C for guinea pigs?
Considering guinea pigs need around 30mg of vitamin C every day, it’s good to know the best fruits and vegetables to feed them.
However, I’ve also found that in the quantities you can feed a guinea pig it’s difficult to give them the right amount of vitamin C, so it’s worth having supplement tablets on hand too.
Here are some of the best fruits and vegetables to give for vitamin C:
- Bell peppers
Although these are all good sources of vitamin C for your guinea pig, you should avoid overfeeding them vegetables such as kale, spinach, and cauliflower.
Kale and spinach have high levels of iron, which can be damaging to your guinea pigs. Cauliflower is an issue because it can cause bloating. However, you can still feed these vegetables once or twice a week.
As I mentioned above, be sparing with the amount of fruit you give because it’s high in sugar.
Fruit should be given more sparingly than vegetables, and I only usually give fruit as a treat once or twice a week, whereas some leafy greens I give every day.
It’s also worth knowing that most guinea pig pellets have vitamin C in them, but it’s quite a volatile vitamin and so breaks down over time.
To combat this, keep your pellets in a cool, dry place, but expect there to be some deterioration of nutrients after a few weeks.
What foods are dangerous for guinea pigs?
Tomato vines and stalks are poisonous to guinea pigs, and can lead to illness pretty quickly.
This is because there are compounds in the vines in such high concentration that your guinea pig will essentially overdose on them, which no one wants.
There are other vegetables that you should avoid too, including:
- Sprouted potatoes and potato skins
This should actually also include all parts of the potato plant, but anything green on a potato is poisonous to a guinea pig. In fact, I tend to avoid feeding them potatoes altogether because there’s nothing in them that’s beneficial to guinea pigs.
- Iceberg lettuce
Iceberg has a very high water content and so can lead to upset stomachs. Also, like potatoes, there’s very little nutrition in iceberg lettuce, so just avoid it completely.
- Unripe tomatoes
These contain toxins that will be damaging to your guinea pig. In fact, this point goes for pretty much any fruit or vegetable. In general, things are better to be overripe than under ripe.
- Cooked fruit and vegetables
It might be tempting to give your guinea pigs some leftover cooked veg. However, you shouldn’t because guinea pigs can’t process it once it’s been cooked, and it’ll likely lead to constipation.
- Unidentified weeds
Guinea pigs love dandelion leaves, and grass, but avoid the temptation to give them anything from the garden simply because it’s green. There are plenty of garden plants that are very harmful, so just err on the side of caution.
Can guinea pigs eat regular tomatoes? Guinea pigs can eat all kinds of tomatoes, but if you’re giving them large ones then I’d recommend scooping out the inside first, as this can lead to upset stomachs.
Can guinea pigs eat carrots? Yes, guinea pigs love carrots, but their high sugar levels mean you should be sparing with how much you give them. Guinea pigs can eat the whole carrot, including peel.
Can guinea pigs eat cucumber daily? Although guinea pigs love eating cucumber, and they’re generally quite good for them, avoid daily feeding because their high water content can lead to diarrhea. I recommend two or three times a week as a good number.
Not only can guinea pigs eat tomato, but I’ve found that they love it
However, make sure you avoid feeding them anything green from a tomato, and make sure they’re always washed properly.
Also, be careful with how much acidic food you give your guinea pig because it can lead to stomach issues.