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

Nicole Cosgrove

High in vitamin C and containing a host of other essential nutrients, the cantaloupe can be a beneficial addition to the human diet, but how about for guinea pigs? Can cavies eat cantaloupe? How much should they eat? Can they eat the skin and the seeds?

Guinea pigs can safely eat a small amount of cantaloupe and other melons. However, this fruit is high in phosphorous, compared to vitamin C, and a diet with this ratio can lead to phosphate stones. However, when fed in moderation as an occasional treat, they are not only considered safe for your guinea pigs to eat but can actually prove a beneficial addition to their diet.

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Benefits of Cantaloupe

Not only is cantaloupe considered safe to feed your guinea pig, but when fed in moderation it can offer the following health benefits:

  • Beta-Carotene Prevents DiseaseBeta-carotene is the pigment that gives cantaloupe and other fruit and vegetables their orange color. It is found in high quantity in carrots, for example, and is an antioxidant. Antioxidants can prevent many diseases from forming, and a decent number of antioxidants in their diet can help guinea pigs from developing cancer or suffering from heart attacks. The high sugar level of this tasty track means that you shouldn’t give it as a primary food source, but it can make a great additional treat that helps keep your pet healthy.
  • Vitamin C Improves Immune System Health – People and guinea pigs alike benefit from eating vitamin-C rich foods. Among the many benefits this vitamin offers, it aids in the proper functioning of the immune system. A strong immune system prevents your guinea pig from developing illnesses like common colds and can also help to stave off more serious diseases. Cantaloupes have a good level of vitamin C, although they should not be fed regularly because their level of this vitamin is eclipsed by that of phosphorous, which is potentially harmful to guinea pigs when fed in too high a volume.
  • Low Calories Can Improve Weight Loss Fruit is high in natural sugars, often called hidden sugars or hidden calories. We assume that because we are eating fruit, it must be healthy, and many people make the mistake of consuming a lot of calories in this way. The same is also true of animals like guinea pigs, arguably more so because they are less able to digest and effectively burn off the sugar. However, despite cantaloupes being naturally sweet, they actually have a relatively low number of calories per serving. When fed as a snack, the cantaloupe melon is a great way of offering something juicy and sweet, without putting weight on.
  • Guinea Pig duo side view
    Image Credit: Andy Miccone, Flickr

Potential Dangers

For all of the benefits that cantaloupe has to offer, though, there are some potential pitfalls. Most of the disadvantages and health concerns that come from this fruit tend to be associated with its overfeeding, however, and it is considered safe in moderation. When feeding this tasty treat, do bear the following in mind:

  • Can Cause Obesity If Fed Too Often – Yes, cantaloupe has relatively low in calories compared to other sweet fruit and sweet treats. However, it still has considerably more calories than staple guinea pig foods like hay. Cavies suffer from many problems if they become overweight. It puts stress on their joints, as well as their organs, and it can lead to conditions like diabetes. It also increases the odds of your guinea pig suffering from heart complaints. Feed cantaloupe only in moderation, and only as a treat; do not feed it is a primary or staple food source.
  • High Phosphorous to Calcium Ratio Can Cause Phosphate Stones – When a guinea pig has more phosphorous in its diet than vitamin C, it runs the very real risk of developing phosphate stones. These stones are made up of calcium salts and they form in the urinary tract. They are potentially painful, can even prevent your pet from being able to urinate, and they can eventually prove fatal. Because cantaloupes have a higher concentration of phosphorous than vitamin C, it is recommended that you feed them alongside other fruit and vegetables that have higher vitamin C and low or no phosphorous. If only fed as a treat, ensure that the primary food you give your pet enables him to normalize the levels of these essential vitamins.
Guinea Pig duo top view
Image Credit: Andy Miccone, Flickr

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cantaloupe Skin and Seeds?

You should never feed a guinea pig the seeds of a cantaloupe, because they are a choking hazard. Their size means that the seed can easily become lodged in the throat of your pet, preventing them from being able to breathe. If your cavy does mistakenly eat a seed, and there is no sign of choking, however, you have no need to fret. The seed itself is not toxic and is actually quite high in fiber so is otherwise considered quite a healthy addition to a diet.

Similar to the seeds, cantaloupe skin is considered high in dietary fiber. As such, small pieces of it that remain on the cantaloupe are safe. However, it has a rough and quite dry texture, so has a similar choking hazard to the seeds. You should also remember that the skin will still be home to any chemicals and waxes that were used during the growth and preparation stages. It is best to avoid feeding this part of the melon to your pet.

Cantaloupe Preparation

To feed cantaloupe to your guinea pig, you should prepare it first, rather than simply cutting off a chunk and throwing it in the cage. However, preparation is relatively easy. Cut the cantaloupe, remove the rind, and get rid of any seeds. Cut the melon into slices and then into pieces and feed it like this.

You should not give your guinea pig juices, so avoid juicing the melon before feeding it.

Also, remember that old and rotting fruit can attract flies and other pests, so if you find that your guinea pig does not eat all of the melon you feed, remove it at the end of the day. It will have lost most of its attractive scent and flavor by this point, and you can prevent their cage from becoming a hotbed of flies.

Serving Size and Frequency

So, cantaloupe is considered healthy, even beneficial, when fed to guinea pigs in moderation. This means that it should not make up entire meals and you should not feed too much of this sweet treat to your cavy. However, you can feed a small slice to your pet every week. You can either feed the whole slice in one go or feed half a slice two times during the week. Cantaloupe really should only be considered a treat and feeding any more than this could lead to those painful phosphate stones, as well as obesity.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Other Types of Melon?

Melons, in general, are considered a healthy snack and a tasty treat for guinea pigs, and there are plenty of varieties of this fruit that are readily available on the market. Although you should check the vitamin and nutrient contents of each type, it is generally safe to feed your pet any type of melon in moderation. Honeydew melons have more sugar and less vitamin C so are not considered as beneficial but are still tasty and healthy in moderation. Winter melon actually has lower sugar and fewer calories than the cantaloupe, which is why some owners prefer to feed this type of melon as a juicy snack.

cantaloupe slices
Image Credit: Hans, Pixabay

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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cantaloupe?

Giving your guinea pigs a varied diet is important. It helps ensure that they are getting the right levels of vitamins and nutrients to keep them healthy, while offering a little treat occasionally is always a positive experience for you and your pet.

Melons, in general, and cantaloupes, are a great source of vitamin C and, compared to a lot of sweet treats, they have minimal sugar and calorific content. However, you should take care to remove the rind and seeds, never juice the melon before feeding, and only provide a couple of cubes of the treat over the course of a week, otherwise the cantaloupe you feed could lead to illness and even obesity.


Featured Image: PublicDomainImages, 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.