In the wild, guinea pigs are grazers and eat a diet of mostly grasses. But when it comes to your pet guinea pig you are probably wanting to give them some tasty treats on top of their regular diet and sweet potatoes may come to mind. So can guinea pigs eat sweet potatoes? Dr Elly answers.
Can guinea pigs eat sweet potatoes?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamins A and beta carotene, as well as fiber. They can help to keep your guinea pig’s digestive system healthy and provide them with the nutrients they need to stay active and healthy.
While sweet potatoes are safe for guinea pigs to eat, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Thankfully, we will cover all of this in this article!
Do guinea pigs like sweet potato?
Sweet potato is a root vegetable that is a popular food for humans and animals alike. Guinea pigs are no exception – they love sweet potato! In fact, sweet potato is often recommended as a healthy treat for guinea pigs.
It is a great source of nutrients and can help to keep them healthy and active. Sweet potato also has a sweet taste that most guinea pigs enjoy. If you want to give your guinea pig a treat, sweet potato is a great option!
Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato is not only a delicious snack for guinea pigs, but it is also one of the healthiest vegetables around. They are packed with important nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, which can provide a range of nutritional benefits and contribute to your guinea pig’s health.
- Vitamin A: Sweet potatoes are very high in vitamin A. This vitamin is essential for the body as it helps in a variety of functions, including fighting off cell damage and improving vision. Vitamin A is also crucial for the proper functioning of the immune system, so getting enough of this important vitamin is important for staying healthy.
- They are high in carotenoids – especially beta carotene. Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage and has been shown to boost immune function. This nutrient is also essential for vision health, as it helps to convert light into electrical signals that are sent to the brain. Lastly, beta carotene also plays an important role in skin health, as it helps to protect the skin from sun damage.
- They also contain large quantities of fiber, which can help to promote digestive health. Fiber helps to keep the digestive system regular and can also help to reduce the risk of constipation.
- Sweet potatoes are a low-glycemic food, meaning that they do not cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
Risks of Feeding Sweet Potatoes: Is Sweet Potato Safe For Guinea Pigs?
Below are some of the risks of feeding sweet potato. Keep in mind if you feed this veggie in moderation and prepare it properly there is minimal risk and it is a great vegetable to feed to your piggie.
Potential Kidney Issues From High Oxalates:
One of the few health problems associated with feeding sweet potatoes to guinea pigs is that they contain high levels of oxalic acid (oxalates). Oxalates are compounds that bind to calcium and can prevent the body from absorbing it properly. This can lead to crystals forming in the urine which can result in kidney stones or bladder stones. This will only occur if you feed sweet potatoes very frequently.
Risk of Choking:
There is a very small risk of choking.
Obesity From Starches and Sugar:
Guinea pigs eat predominantly grass in the wild – not root vegetables high in starch and calories so it is best to feed in moderation
Sweet potatoes can cause some digestive issues in guinea pigs, such as gas or bloating. If you notice your guinea pig is having any of these issues, it is best to cut back on the amount of sweet potato you are feeding them.
Serving Size and Frequency of Sweet Potatoes for Guinea Pigs
Since guinea pigs need a lot of variety in their diet, they shouldn’t eat too much of a single vegetable and that includes sweet potatoes
- You should only give your guinea pig sweet potato once a week. Do not give them other starchy vegetables or fruits on the same day. Even though sweet potatoes have less sugar than an apple, the mix of sugar and starch makes them difficult to digest and can lead to constipation.
- Feed one 1/2 inch slice or 3-4 1/2 inch cubes once per week.
- Make sure to wash it thoroughly to remove any dirt.
You should stick to a diet that closely resembles what they would naturally eat. According to the authors of “biology of the Guinea Pig” your guinea pig’s diet should include:
- 90% of your guinea pig’s diet should be made up of grass hay such as timothy hay or alfalfa hay and quality guinea pig pellets.
- 1/2 cup of fresh leafy vegetables as part of their daily diet. Guinea pig owners should try to buy dark green leafy greens which are naturally high in Vitamin C and dietary fiber.
- 1/4 cup of fresh fruits 2-3 times per week as a treat cut into small pieces. Fruit generally has a high sugar content and should not be given every day.
- Fresh water should be available at all times. Preferably given from a pet-specific sipper bottle.
- No human processed food of any kind.
- It’s always a good idea to introduce new foods slowly as they have sensitive digestive systems.
How often can guinea pigs eat Sweet Potatoes
You can feed your guinea pig sweet potato once to twice per week.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Sweet Potato Every Day?
No guinea pigs can’t eat sweet potato every day. Sweet potatoes are high in starch and oxalates which can result in obesity, digestive issues, or bladder stones if fed in high amounts.
Sweet Potatoes Nutritional Facts
Below are some of the nutritional stats on sweet potatoes per 100 grams
- Calories per cup: 86kcal
- Carbohydrates: 20.1g
- Protein: 1.57g
- Fiber: 3g
- Fat: 0.05grams
- 77.3% water
Some of the key essential vitamins and minerals per 100 grams:
- Vitamin C: 2.4 mg
- Vitamin A: 14200 IU
- Vitamin K: 1.8 micrograms
- Calcium: 30 mg
- Magnesium: 25mg
- Phosphorous: 47 mg
- Potassium: 337 mg
- Folate: 11 micrograms
- Beta carotene: 8510 micrograms
What Are The Alternatives To Sweet Potatoes?
Some other safe fresh vegetables for guinea pigs include:
- Green beans
- Bok Choi
- Sweet Potato
- Romaine lettuce
- Kale (high in calcium; feed sparingly)
- Arugula (high in calcium; feed sparingly)
- Mustard greens
Can baby guinea pigs eat Sweet Potatoes?
No baby guinea pigs cannot eat sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are only recommended for adult guinea pigs as baby guinea pig’s digestive tracts are not developed enough.
Can guinea pigs eat sweet potato peelings?
No, guinea pigs cannot eat sweet potato peels as they are hard to digest and can cause digestive issues. However, leaving a bit of the sweet potato skin on the potato is perfectly fine when feeding to your guinea pig. But just make sure to wash it thoroughly.
Can guinea pigs eat sweet potato vines and leaves?
Sweet potato leaves and vines are safe for guinea pigs to eat. Unlike the leaves and vines of regular potato plants which are toxic since they come from the nightshade family of plants.
Sweet potato leaves are high in Iron, Vitamin C, Fiber, beta-carotene, and minerals like zinc.
It’s fine to give a guinea pig a handful of sweet potato vines and leaves if you’re growing them in your garden. Then if you find your piggie likes these, add them to their veggie mix once or twice per week.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cooked Sweet Potatoes?
No, do not feed your guinea pig cooked sweet potatoes as they have reduced nutrition. Only feed raw sweet potato. The same goes for french fries and sweet potato fries.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Yams?
Raw yams are a good substitute for sweet potatoes and can be fed in a similar way. Therefore, once per week.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Baked Sweet Potatoes?
No, they can’t eat baked sweet potato. They should only be fed raw sweet potato.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Sweet Potato Pie?
No, Sweet potato pie is laden with fat and sugar and is a big no no for your guinea pig.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Sweet Potato Fries?
No guinea pigs can’t eat sweet potato fries. They are loaded with fat and salt and can cause digestive problems if fed to your guinea pig.
Can guinea pigs eat sweet potatoes raw?
Yes, this is the only way you should feed sweet potato to your guinea pig. Refer to the section on “serving size” above.
References: Wagner, JE. Manning, PJ. The Biology of the Guinea Pig 2014
Dr. Elly has always loved animals, and she knew from a young age that she wanted to be a veterinarian. After studying hard in veterinary school, she practiced in several different countries before moving to North Carolina with her husband and young family. She currently works part time as a veterinarian while caring for her 4 busy children and writing this blog. Dr. Elly genuinely cares about the welfare of her patients. She currently has three dogs, two cats, 5 chickens and 2 rabbits (yes a bit of a zoo!)