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

Last Updated: October 10, 2020

Wondering if your guinea pig can eat blueberries? The short answer is yes, they can!

In moderation, blueberries have several health benefits for your guineas. These delicious berries contain valuable antioxidants and vitamins that are great for both you and your guinea. Plus, guineas love them!

However, blueberries contain high amounts of sugar and are fairly acidic, so they should be kept as occasional treats. The ideal staple food for your guineas is hay. Below, we take a deeper dive into the benefits and possible health concerns of blueberries.

divider-guineapigNatural Diet of Guineas

It is important to note that the natural diet of Guineas in the wild is mostly grass, leaves, and flowers. While they may occasionally snack on fruits and vegetables, they would rarely come across these in their natural environment. Timothy hay is the most common food for both wild and domesticated guineas, as it contains the fiber they need to maintain healthy digestion and limit the growth of their perpetually growing teeth. That said, guineas cannot make vitamin C themselves and need to get it from outside sources like fruits and berries.

Funny fatly and lazy guinea pig_shchus_shutterstock
Credit: Shchus, Shutterstock

Health Benefits of Blueberries

The two most common types of blueberries are Highbush blueberries, which are the most commonly cultivated variety, and Lowbush or “wild” blueberries, which are a smaller, less common variety. The plant itself is a small flowering perennial shrub that can reach up to 4 meters in height. The berries start green and slowly deepen into a beautiful dark blue or purple color. Blueberries are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet and are packed with antioxidants.

Blueberries are often referred to as a “superfood” because they are low in calories but extremely high in nutrients. They are a healthy and easy treat to give to your guineas and have many health benefits:

  • Blueberries have one of the highest levels of antioxidants of all fruits. These antioxidants protect from unstable molecules in the body called free radicals, which contribute to aging, heart disease, and cancer. Blueberries primarily contain the antioxidant anthocyanin.
  • Vitamin C. Blueberries have a fair amount of vitamin C, which will help give your guinea a healthy immune system. Without adequate vitamin C, guineas can develop disorders like scurvy.
  • Low in calories. A great benefit to blueberries is that they have a low caloric value but high nutritional value. This means they can provide a great source of nutrition for your guinea without the risk of them getting overweight. A guinea’s natural diet consists of low-calorie, light, and watery foods, so blueberries are a great addition.
  • Sufficient fiber is an essential part of your guinea’s diet for a healthy digestive system, and blueberries consist of around 14% fiber.
  • Blueberries consist of around 84% water. This is a great additional source of hydration for your guineas.

Blueberries contain magnesium, iron, zinc, and vitamin K in trace amounts, which aid in overall teeth and bone health. The fiber, folate, and vitamin B6 trace amounts, along with the lack of cholesterol in blueberries, also contribute to heart health.

Health Concerns of Blueberries

Blueberries in moderation are a safe and nutritious addition to your guinea’s regular diet. However, there are small caveats to be aware of

  • This is the number-one health concern in blueberries, as they contain around 14 grams per cup. Too much sugar is bad for your guinea’s teeth and can result in obesity, diabetes, and diarrhea.
  • While fiber is an essential component of your guinea’s diet, too much can cause some serious complications. Too much fiber can cause bloating and digestive issues, loose stools, and pain and discomfort.
  • Blueberries, in addition to some other fruits, are fairly acidic, which when eaten in excess, can harm the tissues inside your guinea’s mouth and digestive tract. This can result in oral sores, diarrhea, and even urinary tract infections.

blueberry closeup
Image Credit: Jeff Kubina, Wikimedia Commons

How Many Blueberries Are Okay?

Most guineas love blueberries and will definitely eat more than they should if given the chance. However, too much of a good thing can cause them harm. So, how much is too much?

Firstly, we recommend not giving them to your guinea daily. Some commercial foods contain dried berries along with pellets, and this can be highly detrimental to your guinea’s health. In fact, most fruits should not be given daily due to their high sugar content. We recommend one or two small blueberries twice a week per guinea. This will be enough so they benefit from the nutritional benefits in blueberries without suffering the health risks of overfeeding. There are several other fruits besides blueberries that you can give your guinea as treats to add variety.

While fresh blueberries are best, frozen blueberries are also a great option, provided that they are defrosted first. Dried berries, on the other hand, should be avoided, as these contain even more sugar content per gram than fresh berries. Blueberry leaves also contain beneficial antioxidants, and your guinea will love chewing away on them. If you can get them, these are also a great option for your guinea.

You should avoid giving blueberries to baby guineas, as they have strict dietary needs that must be adhered to. Lastly, we recommend giving small amounts of blueberries to your guineas at first, to see if they have any negative reactions, and then slowly increase their intake.

divider-foodConclusion

Blueberries have several beneficial vitamins that can add to the overall health of your guinea, and they are a tasty treat that they will relish. Blueberries will primarily provide essential antioxidants that will aid in your guinea’s heart health, aid in cancer prevention, and may even slow down aging. They also contain vitamin C, fiber, and have a great low-caloric yet high-nutritional value.

In conclusion, yes, your guineas can safely eat blueberries, albeit in moderation. Not only are they safe, but these little berries pack a nutritional punch that your guinea will both benefit from and love.


Featured Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels