Seeing guinea pigs excited about food is really fun to watch. Guinea pigs are herbivores, meaning they only eat plant matter. Because of this, they cannot digest some types of food such as meat. In addition, certain types of fruit and vegetables are toxic to them. Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes? Dr. Elly answers.
Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes?
Yes! Guinea pigs can eat tomatoes. Tomatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals like fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate, which help guinea pigs live a healthy life.
Although tomatoes are safe for them to eat, this fruit should only be fed to them in moderation. Tomatoes are high in oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is an organic compound that causes Cheilities, an inflammation in the mouth area, which can be very painful to guinea pigs.
You should also refrain from feeding your guinea pigs with unripe tomatoes. Green tomatoes contain tomatine and solanine. These substances are toxic especially when eaten in large quantities.
Finally, other parts of the tomato plant like the leaves and stems should not be fed to guinea pigs as well. They contain the same substances found in unripe tomatoes that can harm guinea pigs.
Do guinea pigs like tomatoes?
Yes! Apparently, guinea pigs like tomatoes. Guinea pigs love their fruits and vegetables. They’re not picky eaters, too. However, if it’s his first time eating a ripe tomato and didn’t like it, that’s absolutely fine. Try to cut it into small pieces and mix it with his usual food.
Health benefits of tomatoes
Tomatoes contain vitamins and minerals that help keep your guinea pig healthy. Some of these health benefits are:
Fiber helps guinea pigs in terms of digestive health.
Folate or folic acid helps with the production of red blood cells.
Potassium is an electrolyte that helps regulate guinea pigs’ blood sugar, blood pressure, and functions of the nervous system. Potassium is just as important as vitamin C because it centers on taking care of the heart.
- Vitamin A
Vitamin A in tomatoes has antioxidant properties and also improves vision, growth, and immunity to diseases.
- Vitamin C
Guinea pigs need vitamin C to help absorb other nutrients like iron. Without iron, guinea pigs can suffer from anemia which can lead to severe physical and neurological problems. Furthermore, the lack of vitamin C can make adult guinea pigs susceptible to other illnesses like mouth sores, bleeding gums, and joint pains.
- Vitamin K
Vitamin K promotes skeletal health and helps heal wounds fast.
Risks of feeding tomatoes: Are tomatoes safe for guinea pigs?
There are some risks associated with feeding tomatoes to guinea pigs in high amounts. Too much tomato can cause diarrhea. In addition, guinea pigs may suffer from mouth sores and scabs brought by an organic compound called oxalic acid.
Also, never feed your guinea pigs with other parts of the tomato plant like the leaves and stems. They contain tomatine and solanine which are toxic to guinea pigs. Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family and the stems and leaves are toxic so beware!
Finally, avoid feeding your guinea pigs with unripe tomatoes. They have the same toxic elements found in the leaves and stems of the plant which can endanger the life of your guinea pig.
Serving size and frequency of tomatoes for guinea pigs
- You likely won’t be surprised by my answer. Since guinea pigs need a lot of variety in their diet, they shouldn’t eat too much of a single vegetable and that includes tomatoes.
- The recommended amount is one small cherry tomato every other day or a slice of a medium-sized tomato once a week.
- It’s also important to make sure that the tomatoes are washed thoroughly before giving them to your guinea pig. This will help remove any harmful bacteria or contaminants that could make your guinea pig sick.
It’s super easy to feed tomatoes to your guinea pig! Simply wash the fruit and mix it in with other guinea pig-safe veggies such as romaine, basil, mint, cucumber, and carrots. Guinea pigs like variety.
You should stick to a balanced 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.
Below are some of the nutritional stats on tomatoes per 100 grams
- Calories: 18
- Water: 95%
- Protein: 0.9 grams
- Carbs: 3.9 grams
- Sugar: 2.6 grams
- Fiber: 1.2 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
Some of the key essential vitamins and minerals per 100 grams
- Calcium: 10 mg
- Iron: 0.27 mg
- Potassium: 237 mg
- Vitamin A: 42 mcg
- Vitamin C: 12.7 mg
What are the alternatives to tomatoes?
If you like the idea of feeding tomatoes to your little friend but don’t have any at home, there are a few tomato alternatives that you can give them.
Some other safe fresh vegetables for guinea pigs include:
- Carrots and carrot tops
- Green beans
- Green leaf lettuce and spring mix
- Bell peppers
- Sweet Potato
- Dandelion leaves
- Romaine lettuce
- Kale (also high in calcium; feed sparingly)
- Mustard greens
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do Guinea Pigs Like Tomatoes?
Aside from its nutritional value, guinea pigs like raw tomatoes mainly because they enjoy the taste
How much tomato can I give my guinea pig?
One cherry tomato every other day or a slice of a medium or large-sized tomato per week is enough to support their dietary needs.
Is It safe for guinea pigs to eat all parts of a tomato?
All parts of a ripe tomato are safe for guinea pigs to eat. However, the tomato leaves and stems should not be fed to guinea pigs.
Can guinea pigs eat a whole tomato?
Yes, as long as it’s a cherry tomato. A medium or large-sized tomato fruit is too much for guinea pigs to eat in one sitting.
Can guinea pigs eat tomato skin?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat tomatoes, including the skin, especially when they are ripe.
Can guinea pigs have tomato seeds?
Yes, tomato seeds are safe for guinea pigs to eat, except the ones from unripe tomatoes.
Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes every day?
No. Feeding your guinea pigs every day with tomatoes can lead to serious health problems like Cheilitis or painful scabs in the mouth area and diarrhea.
What happens if I feed my guinea pig too many tomatoes?
Even though tomatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals, eating too much can have negative effects on guinea pigs. First, it can lead to painful scabs in their mouth called Cheilitis. The highly acidic nature of tomatoes can lead to diarrhea. Finally, guinea pigs may suffer from tomatine poisoning, especially when you accidentally feed them unripe tomatoes or the leaves and stems of the plant.
Tomatoes are just one of the many fruits that guinea pigs enjoy eating. Not only does it taste good, but it’s healthy for them, too. However, always remember not to overdo it. A cherry tomato every other day or a slice of a medium-sized or large tomato per week is enough to provide them with the nutrients they need to get on with their day. Lastly, avoid unripe tomatoes, the leaves, and the stems for they contain toxins that are dangerous to guinea pigs.
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!)