Fruits and veggies are great for guinea pigs, but that doesn’t mean you can feed them every fruit and veggie you find at the store. However, you can feed them papaya, but only in moderation.
But how much is too much, what else should you feed them, and what other foods should you avoid feeding them? We’ll answer all those questions and more for you here!
Benefits of Papaya for Guinea Pigs
The main benefit of feeding your guinea pig papaya as an occasional treat is its high vitamin C content. Guinea pigs, like us humans, cannot synthesize their own vitamin C and so require vitamin C rich foods in their diet. If guinea pigs do not get enough of this important vitamin in their diet they can suffer with a variety of signs including lethargy, a poor hair coat, delayed wound healing and poor immunity.
However papaya, like other fruits, is high in sugar. If your guinea pig has too much sugar in their diet they can suffer from both digestive upset and weight gain. Your guinea pig will also get vitamin C from fresh veggies and guinea pig pellets.
How Much Papaya Is Too Much?
Papaya is a perfectly safe food for guinea pigs, making it a great addition to their diet. But it’s not one of the primary staples, and if you’re not careful, it is possible to feed them too much as most love the taste of fruit.
Fruit in general, including papaya, is great to mix into your guinea pig’s diet several times a week, at most. Other fruits that are safe for guinea pigs that you can also give as an occasional tasty treat include blueberries, strawberries, melon and apples.
Guinea pigs have sensitive digestive systems so it’s important to introduce any new foods like papaya gradually, and monitor for any issues like diarrhea. If you notice any changes in your guinea pig’s poop or have any other concerns, consult with your vet for advice.
Other Things to Feed Your Guinea Pig
Feeding your pet piggie the right diet is essential to keep them healthy and happy. Here we’ve highlighted the important components of a balanced diet.
Good quality hay such as Timothy hay and grass should make up the majority (80-90%) of your guinea pigs’ diet. They naturally spend large periods of the day grazing, and the fiber in hay is essential to keep their teeth worn down and their digestive systems healthy. Never feed lawnmower clippings and if your guinea pig has not had fresh grass before be sure to introduce it slowly to avoid an upset tummy.
As we mentioned, guinea pigs need fresh vegetables to help them get enough vitamin C. There are many safe greens and vegetables and guinea pigs really thrive with a varied diet, making sure that some are high in vitamin C.
Some safe greens and vegetables include:
Guinea Pig Pellets
Trying to meet all the complex dietary requirements of a guinea pig by mixing up the right combination of fruits and vegetables can be difficult, so most vets recommend a small amount of specific guinea pig pellets each day. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, but usually approximately one tablespoon of pellets per day is all that is required.
Fresh water should be available at all times.
Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Guinea Pig
While there are plenty of fruits and veggies you can mix into your guinea pig’s diet, there are also plenty of foods you should never feed your guinea pig. We’ve highlighted four types of foods to avoid here:
While humans are omnivores, which means we can eat both plants and meat, guinea pigs are herbivores through and through. Guinea pigs cannot process meat, so never feed them meat, even in small quantities.
While nuts might seem like a perfectly safe choice for guinea pigs, the problem is that they contain too many carbohydrates and fats. They aren’t toxic but can cause health issues and we recommend avoiding them totally.
There are several reasons you should never feed seeds to guinea pigs, even if you can find commercial guinea pig food with seeds in them. They can lead to digestive problems, pose a choking hazard, and more. Remove fruit seeds and pips before giving them to your pet.
Plants to avoid
Although guinea pigs can eat some plants and herbs that you may find growing in your garden, you must carefully research that they are safe before feeding them or allowing your guinea pig access to them. Examples of toxic plants include- any plants with bulbs, ivy, yew, privet, foxglove and hemlock.
Now that you know a little more about what a guinea pig can and can’t eat, there’s no reason you can’t cut up a little papaya every now and then and feed it to your guinea pig. It shouldn’t be a daily staple, but it’s full of vitamin C and your guinea pig is going to love the taste of it!
Featured Image Credit: 3centista, Pixabay