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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Basil? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Guinea pigs are herbivores, which means that they live on a diet of plants. This primarily consists of timothy hay but includes leafy greens and other vegetables. Herbs also form an important part of your guinea pig’s diet and apart from a few notable exceptions, you can safely and beneficially feed most herbs to your little one, albeit in moderation.

Basil is one herb that is considered safe to feed to your pet, but it is worth noting that you shouldn’t feed it to them in large quantities because it does not have a desirable vitamin and nutrient ratio.

Here is everything that you need to know when it comes to feeding basil to your guinea pig.

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Guinea Pig Diet

Guinea pigs need a well-balanced diet that will usually consist of hay for the roughage, commercial food for the protein and fortified vitamin C, and fruit and vegetables for other vitamins and minerals that would otherwise be lacking in their diet. You can also feed them herbs. These make tasty treats and provide an additional beneficial source of vitamin C and other essentials.

guinea pig eating basil
Image Credit: TJ Images, Shutterstock

Basil

Basil contains a large amount of calcium and not much vitamin C (for a herb, anyway), which is an undesirable combination for guinea pigs. However, it contains high levels of manganese, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin K.

  • Basil does contain vitamin C. This vitamin is important to guinea pigs, but they do not naturally produce it in their bodies. When they do eat it, they are unable to store it, which means that they need a constant and ongoing supply of vitamin C in their diet. Although basil does contain vitamin C and in greater quantities than most fruit and vegetables, it contains much less than most other herbs.
  • High in natural fiber and protein, basil will help ensure that your guinea pig has suitable energy stores and that this energy is delivered across the day. It has been shown to help combat depression and anxiety too, thanks to its ability to stabilize sleeping patterns.
  • Zinc is another constituent component of basil. This mineral helps ensure proper wound recovery and protects the immune system, which means that it can help prevent your guinea pig from getting colds and contracting other illnesses. It can even ensure healthy DNA strands.
  • The antioxidants in basil can help stave off cancer while preventing or slowing the signs of aging. Vitamin A, in particular, works as an anti-inflammatory, while other antioxidants in basil can help maintain good eyesight, ensure bone and joint strength, and prevent muscles from wasting away as your furry friend ages.

How Much Basil Can Guinea Pigs Eat?

Because basil is high in calcium, guinea pigs should not eat too much of it. You can feed one or two leaves of the herb a few times a week. More than this, and your guinea pig can start to show signs of too much calcium. Symptoms include bladder stones, which are painful. This tends to be more common in guinea pigs that are fed a diet consisting solely of pellets, but it can occur if you feed them too many foods that are too high in calcium.

basil herbs in a wooden bowl
Image Credit: Konstantin Kolosov, Pixabay

What Herbs Can Guinea Pigs Not Eat?

Although guinea pigs can eat most herbs, there are some that they should not be fed. Herbs like oregano, rosemary, tarragon, and yarrow are too high in calcium to be considered safe, while sage is full of essential oils that are not considered safe. Chives are considered deadly for guinea pigs, as they are for most animals. These are related to onions and garlic, and they all contain sulfides, which damage red blood cells.

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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Basil?

Basil is a herb, and like most other herbs, it is considered a safe and beneficial addition to your guinea pig’s diet, although there are exceptions to this general rule. While basil is quite high in calcium and does not have as much vitamin C as other herbs, it does contain antioxidants and a host of other beneficial vitamins and minerals, and it is safe to feed your guinea pig approximately two leaves three or four times a week.


Featured Image: monicore, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.