Pumpkins, the perfect squash to carve on Halloween, to put in our pies, and make a certain spice out of it that we all pretend to like for three months out of the year. Everyone loves pumpkin, but what about guinea pigs? Can guinea pigs eat pumpkins like their humans? Or are pumpkins one of those vegetables that are too taboo for your little friend?
Don’t worry, as we have you covered! In this article, we’ll not only answer the question can guinea pigs eat pumpkin, but we’ll also answer plenty of questions pertaining to using pumpkins as guinea pig food. Even questions you haven’t thought about yet!
We love our guinea pigs and want what’s best for them. Therefore, we’re going to share our knowledge with you so you know what’s best for them as well!
So, Can Guinea Pigs Eat Pumpkin?
Yes, if you like you can use pumpkin as food for guinea pigs. Well, more of a treat really. While guinea pigs can munch away on pumpkin, this doesn’t really mean that it’s all good for them. After all, pumpkin isn’t a natural food source of them. Instead, if you want to feed your guinea pigs pumpkin, it’s best to serve it as a treat.
Vitamin And Mineral Content
Now that we established that the answer to the question can guinea pigs eat pumpkin is a yes, let’s look over the nutritional facts about pumpkin. According to the USDA 100 grams of pumpkin will contain 1 gram of protein, 6.5 grams of carbs, 2.76 grams of sugar, 0.1 grams of total fat, and 0.5 grams of fiber. They’re low in calories as well.
As for vitamins and minerals, we have 0.4 mg of vitamin A, 9 mg of vitamin C, including the total ascorbic acid, 21 mg of calcium, 0.8 mg of iron, and finally 1 mg of sodium. For us humans, pumpkins are a great source of vitamin A while the seeds make great protein-filled snacks.
As for the guinea pig, while pumpkin certainly isn’t bad for them it’s not something that should be given daily.
Why You Shouldn’t Overfeed Pumpkin To Guinea Pigs
Pumpkin is simply not nutritionally complete to be used as guinea pigs food. It has a lot of vitamin A, that’s a given, but your little guinea pig doesn’t need that much vitamin A, unlike us humans. In fact, something that many owners of small pets don’t realize is too many vitamins are a bad thing.
With guinea pigs, overeating pumpkins can lead to severe intestinal problems including diarrhea. Guinea pigs have sensitive little stomachs, and too much pumpkin is of course bad for them. This being said, unless your guinea pig has eaten an entire pumpkin by themselves, eating too much pumpkin is only going to make them ill.
This is why pumpkin should only be presented to your guinea pigs as an occasional treat. But, now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about some benefits of pumpkin instead of the negatives.
A Great Source of Water
Pumpkin contains 91.6 grams of water per 100 gram serving. Pumpkins are mostly just water. While the guinea pig has long been domesticated, it has been estimated given studies on feral population that guinea pigs would likely have received most of their water through the foods they eat.
Your guinea pigs likely don’t have to worry about that seeing as they have you around, who’ll always change the water for them and ensure that their water supply stays fresh. If for whatever reason you don’t have access to water, or one of them isn’t drinking, giving small bits of pumpkin can help the guinea pig get the water they need.
This isn’t to say you should replace all the water they receive with pumpkin, but it doesn’t hurt to have around if something goes wrong.
The Rind and Fiber
So far we’ve been mainly discussing the insides of the pumpkin, and not the rind or skin. Think of a pumpkin like you would an apple, which is fitting because both are considered fruit. You have the skin, the juicy insides, and then the seeds. As you might expect, the rind is going to be packed full of fiber unlike the inner “fruit”.
With the innards of the pumpkin being mostly water and the rind high in fiber, this would mean that guinea pigs have no problem eating the rind compared to the fruit, right? Well, yes and no. Guinea pigs will love to munch on the skin of the pumpkin and can easily strip a pumpkin bare in no time flat. But, it’s still the rind of a pumpkin.
While your guinea pigs can eat more of the rind then the insides, it’s still not a good idea to give them too much rind. After all, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Like the fruit, only give your guinea pig the rind maybe once or twice a week and in small servings.
What Parts Of A Pumpkin Can Guinea Pigs Eat?
As we’ve just pointed out, guinea pigs can eat the rind and the fruit of a pumpkin without any trouble. What about the rest of the pumpkin? Like the seeds of the leaves? The seeds are an absolute no-no, as they can get lodged inside the throat of your guinea pig or stuck in its teeth.
As for pumpkin leaves, it’s a bit more complicated as while they’re edible you don’t really want your guinea pigs chowing down on them either.
Why Can’t I Give My Guinea Pig Pumpkin Leaves?
The problem with pumpkin leaves is that while they’re edible, they’re also very rich in calcium. Too rich, in fact. As you may know, a calcium build up can affect the kidneys of your guinea pig or hurt its sensitive stomach. Both scenarios you’d rather avoid.
The good news is that they can still nibble on the leaves and said leaves provide a great calcium supplement. Just take very small cuts and mix them in with the other greens you present to your guinea pig. They’ll eat the leaves right up, or alternatively they might just avoid them.
All said and done, a whole leaf is too much calcium for a guinea pig, but small pieces are perfectly alright. Like everything else we’ve discussed so far, they should be treated as a treat and not a staple.
How To Prepare Pumpkin For Your Guinea Pigs
Now, here comes the tricky part. How do you introduce pumpkin into the diet of your guinea pig? Some guinea pigs are picky and would never dare touch something that isn’t hay or pellets. Others are like little furry vacuum cleaners and will such up anything and everything that remotely looks edible.
To start, introduce raw pumpkin in little cubes to your guinea pigs. Not a lot of cubes, just or one two per guinea pig. Let them come to the pumpkin pieces and decide for themselves if they like it or not. Some will scarf it down without a second thought, while others will think that pumpkin is the absolute worst thing ever.
You have to love the little personalities they have. Anyhow, once one or more of your guinea pigs decided that they enjoy pumpkin, you shouldn’t go overboard with feeding them pumpkin. Limit the amount of pumpkin to just one or two cubes a week. Nothing more.
Can I Give My Guinea Pig Pumpkin From a Can?
While we answered the question can guinea pigs eat pumpkin, we never covered what type of pumpkin. The answer is fresh pumpkin. Pumpkin from a can is loaded with preservatives and sugars, all of which aren’t safe at all for your guinea pig.
If you want to feed your guinea pig pumpkin, make sure that it’s fresh. Purée is completely out of the question, as is anything from a can.
Can I Give My Guinea Pig Cooked Pumpkin?
No. Cooked pumpkin, much like any cooked food, is too strong for the sensitive stomachs of the guinea pig. It can cause severe discomfort or diarrhea. With pumpkin especially, and the high water content, cooking it should be avoided.
Can I Give My Guinea Pig a Piece of Pie?
With your family all gathered around the table and sharing some nice, fresh pumpkin pie you may be tempted to offer your guinea pig a slice as well. Sadly, your furry friend will have to sit out the festivities because much liked canned or cooked pumpkin, pumpkin pie is an absolute no-no.
Pumpkin pie is loaded with sugar and preservatives, along with other chemicals that will make your guinea pig sick. While it might be cute to imagine your guinea pig chewing away on a slice of pie, better leave it to the imagination and instead give your friend a nice piece of fruit as their dessert.
Alternatives To Pumpkin For Your Guinea Pigs
Pumpkin season is great, but eventually it’ll come to an end as fall gives way to winter. Fresh pumpkin is going to be harder to come by during the colder months, and the warmer months, and buying fresh pumpkin isn’t going to be a viable option unless you live close to a pumpkin farm or grow your own.
If your guinea pig is just dying for pumpkin and refuses every treat but it, you don’t have to turn to canned pumpkin (and again, we don’t recommend you do so). Instead, try the butternut squash or as it’s sometimes known, the butternut pumpkin.
You can find these in your supermarket more often than pumpkins, and they and pumpkins are related so your guinea pig is likely not going to tell the difference. The same rules that apply to the pumpkin apply to the butternut squash. Only small pieces for your guinea pig at a time. And don’t give it the seeds either!
Butternut squash is high in oxalic acid, which can damage the stomach of guinea pigs.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know?
Always wash your fruits, and pumpkins, before feeding them to your guinea pigs. During fall months especially with who knows how many hands touching the pumpkins. You don’t want those germs ending up in your guinea pig!
A rather roundabout way to answer a simple question, but it’s better to give an in-depth answer than just give a simple yes or no. Guinea pigs love their fruits and vegetables, and pumpkin is no exception. Some guinea pigs might not be fond of the bright orange fruit, but others will chow down without a second thought.
Like all new foods, it’s important to know if it’s safe or not for your guinea pigs. You wouldn’t want them becoming sick or worse by eating something they shouldn’t have. Making sure that the food they eat provides for good health is just as important to us as we’re sure it is to you.
Which is why, as opposed to just saying yes a guinea pig can eat a pumpkin, we wanted to give a better explanation. Yes, they can eat pumpkin but it should be as a treat only. Too much pumpkin isn’t going to be fatal to a guinea pig, but it isn’t going to be pleasant either.
Likewise, the seeds need to be avoided and the leaves only provided sparingly due to the high calcium content. In fact, the most dangerous aspect of pumpkin for guinea pigs are the seeds and leaves compared to the rind and the fruit. As you can also imagine, anything to do with pumpkin spice is a solid no.
We hope this article will help your furry friend keep a nutritious, balanced diet!