Guinea pigs are by far one of the most popular pocket pets. Who can resist feeding these cute little friends some sweet treats like tasty banana. But wait…. not all foods are safe for guinea pigs! Can guinea pigs eat bananas?
Dr. Jess explains the answer below:
What is a Guinea Pig?
A guinea pig is a type of pocket pet that resides in the cavie family of animals.
They are small animals that grow to a maximum of approximately 10-11 inches long, and can weigh up to 2 1/2 pounds as an adult.
In captivity and with proper care it is fairly common to see these pets live to 8-9 years of age.
One of their main anatomical (body) “quirks” is that they are constantly needing to chew in order to file their teeth down, as their teeth are constantly erupting (growing longer).
They are quite playful animals and love to socialize with the ones that they know and love.
They make great pets for responsible pet owners, and those living in small dwellings wanting a loveable pet that comes in a small package.
What Do Guinea Pigs Typically Eat?
These little buddies eat an assortment of things to keep them healthy and happy.
- High-quality guinea pig food and Timothy hay should be the main staples of their diet.
- Up to about 10% of their diet can be made up of an assortment of vegetables and fruits, with fruits and vegetables over 12-24 hours old being discarded as soon as possible.
- They require 30 – 50 mg of vitamin C daily from their diet, either in their guinea pig food, a vitamin supplement, or from fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C. I’ll get to this more here in a sec…
- Guinea pigs do best with diets low in fats and sugars.
- Clean, fresh, filtered, chlorine-free water. ‘Fresh water‘ means that is is changed daily. ‘Changed daily‘ means that new water is placed into a CLEAN water dispenser!
Let’s Talk Bananas…
Bananas are a very popular fruit because of their mild tasty flavor, beautiful yellow exterior peel which makes it easy to pack as a snack, and its many uses in cooking, especially in desserts.
Just like with any other fruit, bananas have their nutritional value…. as well as some things to be weary of!
Bananas have many nutritional benefits as well as tasty benefits.
Bananas contain antioxidants that may help to prevent cell damage that harmful free radicals can cause. These antioxidants can help with things like preventing certain cancers and diseases.
With how tasty they taste, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that bananas contain sugar but not as much sugar as some other fruit choices contain. Too much sugar can cause health concerns such as obesity in your guinea pig, so be careful.
Packed with Vitamins and Minerals!
Bananas contain vitamins A B1, B6, and C, which aid in maintaining the guinea pig’s immune system, eye sight, reproductive system, and body growth while they are young.
Bananas also come packed with essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron, which strengthen bones and tissues throughout the guinea pig’s body systems.
Potassium helps regulate fluid balance, nerve signaling, and aids in muscle function.
More on the Importance of Vitamin C:
Bananas contain vitamin C. Remember that guinea pigs have the need for supplemental vitamin C in their diet? We may be onto something here….
Vitamin C is one of the major players of helping to prevent a disease known as scurvy.
I completely agree with what Veterinary Partners writes about vitamin C deficiency in guinea pigs…
“Like primates (including humans), guinea pigs do not produce their own vitamin C. Vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy, the symptoms of which include poor appetite, swollen, painful joints and ribs, reluctance to move, poor bone and teeth development, and spontaneous bleeding especially from the gums, into joints, and in muscle. If left untreated, this disease can be fatal especially to rapidly growing young and pregnant females. In addition, subclinical deficiencies often predispose animals to other diseases.”https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4951552
Let’s just say that vitamin C is extremely important for your piggy to have!
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Bananas?
Well after learning about some of the health benefits and some of the risks that the consumption of bananas brings with it , wouldn’t it be nice it you could just safely feed it to your piggy?
Well, you can…. in moderation.
That’s right, feeding a small amount of banana as a treat to your guinea pig on occasion is totally fine and they will likely LOVE you for it!
Moderation = A couple little cubes of banana is enough for one guinea pig.
In total, your guinea pig should have around 1/4 – 1/2 cup of fresh fruits and vegetables combined everyday, and no more than that.
If your pet does not eat all of their 1/4 – 1/2 cup of fruits and vegetables within 12-24 hours, then you need to dispose of it for them.
They will likely not eat it, and it will only sit in their cage and get old and eventually become unsafe to eat.
The rest of their diet, the other 90 or so percent, should be made up of guinea pig food and hay.
You should feed these few pieces of banana no more than 2-3 times per week and no two days in a row.
- 1 fresh, ripe banana
- kitchen knife
- cutting board
- Check your banana for ripeness.
- Peel the banana peel away from the banana fruit inside.
- Cut your peeled banana into bite-sized pieces.
- Offer your guinea pig one piece of banana.
- Observe your pet for at least 24 hours for adverse side effects.
Contact your vet before changing or adding anything to your pet's diet.
Are Bananas Harmful to Guinea Pigs?
Yes, they can be.
Remember that too much banana fed to these little buddies can give them side effects like an upset stomach, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
This can lead to a multitude of problems including things like dehydration and electrolyte imbalances that could impart a trip to the veterinary clinic for your pocket pet vet to fix.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Banana Peels?
Another issue is the peel…….
Yes, your guinea pig an eat the peel along with their banana pieces.
However, don’t be surprised if your pig doesn’t eat the peel, but scarfs down the banana fruit itself.
The peel is much less tasty (and has less sugar content to boot!) to your guinea pig than the soft fruit of the banana inside of it.
Alternative Fruits For Guinea Pigs:
- Butternut Squash
Weigh the pros and cons of feeding bananas to your guinea pig before tossing them a sweet and tasty snack, and if you do decide to give them a treat, remember, it’s safe in moderation.