As a member of the nightshade family alongside plants such as tomatoes and potatoes, you may be wondering can my guinea pig eat an eggplant? In short, yes, your guinea pig can eat eggplants. But there are some minor considerations guinea pig owners should know.
We’ll be taking a closer look at the potential health benefits of eggplants for guinea pigs, as well as one part of the eggplant that you definitely should never feed your guinea pig.
Health Benefits of Eggplant for Guinea Pigs
In looking for foods to add to your guinea pig’s diet, it’s important to consider not just whether your cavy can eat them, but whether they should. In the case of eggplants, they are very low in vitamin C.
An average sized eggplant contains just over 12 mg of vitamin C. Given how large an eggplant is and how a tiny portion of eggplant (a cube about 1 inch in diameter) is sufficient for your pet given their small size, the vitamin C content is unfortunately too little to make a meaningful difference in the context of your guinea pig’s nutritional requirements of vitamin C.
This puts eggplants in an odd gray zone for guinea pigs. Their high fiber content makes it unlikely that they’ll negatively impact your piggy’s digestive system, but a lack of otherwise beneficial nutrients makes them a poor choice for continued health and wellness.
Even though they don’t carry any particular nutritional value, guinea pigs love eating eggplants. Maybe it’s something about their light sweetness or spongy texture that makes them a favorite treat and this can be a great benefit to your piggy’s happiness.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Eggplant Seeds and Skin?
Many otherwise guinea-pig-safe foods (such as oranges) feature hard seeds that are unsafe for guinea pigs to eat, but not so with eggplants. Their seeds are soft and squishy and pose no risk of a choking hazard for your furry friends. Plus, they don’t have any compounds not shared by the rest of the eggplant, making them perfectly safe for guinea pigs.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Eggplant Leaves?
Every plant in the nightshade family has the potential for concentrations of solanine, a naturally occurring toxin that is highly poisonous for guinea pigs. In fully ripened eggplants, this is found in the leaves, meaning that your guinea pig should never eat eggplant leaves. The same is true for unripe (green) eggplants, which have a higher concentration of solanine than their fully ripened counterparts.
In experimental studies of guinea pigs being exposed to plants that contain solanine, lethal doses were eventually identified. The doses indicate that while an occasional nibble of an eggplant leaf might not necessarily cause immediate harm, it is still best to avoid feeding the leaves to your guinea pig altogether. The leaves also contain no beneficial nutrition for your guinea pig, making the risk entirely unwarranted.
How to Feed Eggplant to Your Guinea Pigs
As with all vegetables you offer your guinea pig, going raw is recommended. The safest way to feed eggplant to your guinea pigs is to begin by thoroughly washing the vegetable to remove any dirt or pesticides that might be on the vegetable. Next, cut off a round from the whole plant, carefully avoiding contact with the leaves. Check the interior of the plant to make sure there’s no green; if there is, the eggplant isn’t ripe enough for your guinea pig to eat. Then all that’s left is to let your piggy happily munch away.
Discard any uneaten vegetables at the end of each day and thoroughly rinse the dish they are served in. Ideally, uneaten vegetables and fruits should be discarded after 4 to 6 hours of being served (at the latest).
How Much Eggplant Should I Feed My Guinea Pig?
Seeing as eggplants have no nutrients that are essential to guinea pigs, you should do your best to keep this treat to a minimum. Feeding them small chunks while you’re cooking dinner once or twice every week will be okay, but don’t go overboard and make it a regular part of their diet. That would interfere with your guinea pig’s regular consumption of foods that are denser in nutrition and essential to their continuing good health.
Can you feed eggplant to your guinea pig? Absolutely. Should you? Probably not very often, given its lack of essential nutrients. Take special care not to feed your guinea pig under-ripe eggplant or eggplant leaves, as these contain toxic chemicals that are sure to make your little friend sick. Instead, save chunks of eggplant as an occasional treat instead.
Featured Image Credit: furbymama, Pixabay