Guinea pigs are herbivores and enjoy eating a variety of different fruits and vegetables in addition to the hay or pellets that make up most of their diet. But while many fruits and veggies are healthy for guinea pigs, some should be avoided for different reasons. So, should guinea pigs eat potatoes? The short answer is no, guinea pigs should not eat potatoes. We uncover why guinea pigs should not be fed potatoes and what they can be fed instead.
Why Guinea Pigs Should Not Be Offered Potatoes
There are a couple of important reasons that guinea pigs should not be offered potatoes, even occasionally. First, potatoes have alkaloids (on their skin) that guinea pigs are not equipped to handle. These alkaloids act as toxins in their bodies and can cause serious health effects, such as lethargy, nausea, vomiting, and unfortunately, even death if consumed in excess for long periods of time.
Even if you peel the skin, another reason that you should not feed your guinea pig potatoes is due to their high starch and carbohydrate content. The high amounts of starch in a potato will often lead to a gas and bloating in your guinea pig. In turn, this can lead to gut stasis and inappetence, which is very detrimental for guinea pigs. Please note that if your guinea pig is experiencing these problems, you should immediately seek veterinary care.
Alternatives to Potatoes at Snack Time
Luckily, your guinea pigs will never miss potatoes. They would prefer the flavor and texture of other types of products. For example, they love the sweetness of sweet potatoes, which do not carry the same alkaloids that white potatoes do. Other types of foods that you should consider feeding your guinea pig include:
It is important to note that guinea pigs should eat hay or commercially produced pellets that contain hay and grasses as their main staple. Fruits and vegetables should make up only 10% to 20% of your pet’s overall diet.
What to Do If Your Guinea Pig Eats a Potato
There may come a time when your guinea pig comes across a potato chip or a piece of potato that has fallen on the kitchen floor. So, what should you do if your guinea pig swallows a potato of any kind? First, you should keep an eye on them to see if they develop any problems, such as respiratory stress and lethargy. Just because your guinea pig eats a bit of potato does not mean that they will experience any adverse side effects. This is especially true if it is just a small amount or a one-time deal. If you do see warning signs, however, it is important to contact your veterinarian right away.
The more often your guinea pig eats potatoes or if they eat a large amount of potato at one time, they have more of a risk of developing side effects and health problems. Therefore, you should not panic just because your guinea pig gets their paws on a bit of a potato. Instead, assess the situation and offer extra water. If, for any reason, you feel uncomfortable about how much potato that your guinea pig ate, do not hesitate to take them to the vet.
- Related read: Feeding Guinea Pigs: How Much, and How Often?
While guinea pigs can get by unharmed after eating a potato chip, a piece of baked potato, or even a nibble of raw potato, it is best to make sure that your pet never gets access to this type of produce. Avoiding potatoes will help ensure that your guinea pig stays happy, healthy, and strong throughout their entire lives. What kinds of produce do you enjoy feeding your guinea pig? Are there other types besides potatoes that you tend to avoid? Let us know your thoughts by leaving us a comment.