Guinea pigs are one of the most cutest of all pocket pets. As cute as they are, it is easy to want to give them all the delicious human foods we enjoy, like butternut squash! Nonetheless, numerous human foods aren’t safe for your guinea pig to eat. So, can guinea pigs eat butternut squash?
Dr. Jess will answer all the details of this question 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 2.5 pounds as a healthy adult.
In captivity and with proper care it is quite common to see these pets live up to 8-10 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 and 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!
What is Butternut Squash?
Butternut squash is a winter squash that grows along a vine.
It is in the Cucurbitaceae plant family and is actually considered a fruit just like spaghetti squash, melons, and cucumber.
It can range in color from lighter yellows to vibrant tan-orange on the outside and a deep orange pulp inside.
This odd-shaped squash is treated as a vegetable in most U.S. cooking groups and is a popular “vegetable” served alongside main courses, typically steamed, sauteed, or roasted for human consumption.
Butternut Squash Nutrition:
According to Wikipedia’s description of the nutritional benefits of butternut squash:
A 100g serving of butternut squash contains 45 calories, 11.69 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein, and negligible fat content and is a rich source of vitamin A and a moderate source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin E. It also contains moderate levels of magnesium and manganese.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butternut_squash
Butternut squash has a particularly large supply of vitamin A that can help support vision and the immune system.
It also contains other important vitamins, such as vitamin B, C, and E.
Butternut squash is also rich in different antioxidants [source].
Antioxidants are plant compounds that help protect the body from damage by free radicals, which can cause degenerative diseases.
Butternut squash also has a decent amount of fiber to help with digestion and can sometimes help in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Do Guinea Pigs Like Butternut Squash?
Most guinea pigs like the softer, tender inside of the butternut squash. Many guinea pigs don’t tend to favor the outer thin skin of the fruit.
Is Butternut Squash Healthy For Guinea Pigs to Eat?
Butternut squash contains a low amount of sugar and salt so it a better snack if your pet is overweight or has diabetes than other treats with higher sugar content.
Butternut squash also has a decent water content to help keep your little friend hydrated.
As mentioned in the nutritional content of butternut squash section, butternut squash has a high amount of vitamin A in it – a vitamin that helps with the protection of the immune system and with a healthy vision profile.
Butternut squash has a fiber content that will help your cavy keep their digestive system running smoothly and can also help with keep blood sugar level stable if you have a worrisome diabetic guinea pig.
Butternut squash is packed with a multitude of nutrients which are great for the health of your pet guinea pig.
Can Butternut Squash Skin Be Served To Guinea Pigs?
While guinea pigs may not like is the skin, it is not toxic and you can feed it to your cavies safely if they chose to eat it.
It is entirely possible for your personal pet not to like butternut squash altogether, so you will have to experiment with your pet’s affinity for the fruit.
How To Serve Butternut Squash to a Guinea Pig:
Serve only fresh, raw butternut squash to your pet guinea pig.
Begin by washing the butternut squash thoroughly as you’ll need to remove any bacteria, pesticides, or other chemicals that may have been placed on the butternut squash.
Then, you’ll want to cut off and discard the thick stem.
You don’t have to peel the butternut squash but if you have a pickier piggie that eats around the skin then you can peel it if you feel compelled.
Cut the butternut squash into thin slices or small bite-sized cubes.
You may want to remove the seeds present for the sake of tidiness or pickiness.
Remove any uneaten butternut squash from the cage within a few hours of serving so that bacteria does not form and grow on it.
- store-bought fresh butternut squash
- kitchen vegetable knife
- cutting board
- Begin by washing the butternut squash thoroughly as you’ll need to remove any bacteria, pesticides, or other chemicals that may have been placed on the squash.
- Then, you’ll want to cut off and discard the thick stem and any hard, thick outer peel or shell should be removed from the pieces you are planning to offer your guinea pig.
- Cut the butternut squash into bite-sized pieces.
- You will want to remove the seeds present for the sake of tidiness, pickiness, and most importantly because they are a choking hazard.
- Remove any uneaten butternut squash from the cage within a few hours of serving so that bacteria does not form and grow on the uneaten squash.
Contact your veterinarian to discuss any changes in your pet's diet before adding or making changes to their food routine.
Can Butternut Squash Be Bad For Guinea Pigs?
Butternut squash is a relatively safe treat to feed your pig in moderation.
One worry that comes up from time to time is the unfortunate allergic reaction, which can happen when any pet eats something for the first time, not just butternut squash.
It usually catches everyone by surprise when it does happen so contact your veterinarian if you sense that your pet is not themselves after ingesting something new or different to be on the safe side.
Another worry is the choking hazard which also exists with everything that a guinea pig puts into their mouth. Guinea pigs are fully capable of consuming the skin, the inner fruit, and the seeds of butternut squash.
Too much of a good thing should be another warning to guinea parents. Feeding too much squash to your pet can lead to gastric upset with signs of vomiting or diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and other health issues.
Other concerns are the amounts and ratios of minerals in certain fruits and vegetables, including butternut squash.
Because we need to keep balanced mineral ratios in our guinea pig’s diet, it is highly recommended that you do not go overboard with feeding butternut squash to them, only in moderation please!
How Much Butternut Squash Can a Guinea Pig Have?
Like with every type of food you should never go overboard.
Fruits, like squash, and vegetables are only supplements in their diet (see “Guinea Pig Diet” section above for reference).
If you increase the intake of vegetables and fruits too much, their diet of mainly of hay and feed will become disproportionate, giving your guinea pig the chance of suffering from various disorders discussed later.
If you are thinking about introducing butternut squash or any other new food into your pet’s diet, make sure that you do so gradually.
Start out with a small bite-sized piece and wait 24 hours to see how the guinea pig reacts.
If your furry friend enjoys the butternut treat and doesn’t show signs of abnormal behavior, then try a second small piece of squash in the next day or two.
A common rule of thumb is to serve no more than approximately 100 grams of squash to our guinea pig in a day. That is about 2 small bite-sized pieces per offering.
Try to mix up the offered squash pieces with other vegetables and prepare a salad for your guinea pig.
The right combination of butternut squash and other safe vegetables such as pieces of cucumbers, bell peppers and lettuce would be a great addon to your guinea pigs diet.
How Often to Feed Guinea Pigs Butternut Squash:
It is pretty safe to say that butternut squash can be used as a more frequent treat for your guinea pig over many other choices of fruit and vegetable treats.
You can safely feed a snack-sized portion of butternut squash to your guinea pig 1-2 times per week but remember to gradually work up to this frequency.
Strict monitoring should be done to avoid negative effects because too much of this food could lead to gastrointestinal (GI) upset with symptoms such as decreased appetite and energy levels as well as diarrhea and/or vomiting.
No fun, right?!?
For instance, if you are serving your guinea pig squash 3 times per week but your furry friend doesn’t eat the offered squash 3 times per week, then back down the offerings to 2 times per week and see how they react to the fruit at a decreased frequency.
This may help with ‘the desire’ to eat the butternut squash pieces.
Fruit & Vegetable Alternatives For Guinea Pigs:
Your cute little guinea pig deserves the best – best home, best health, and best treats.
Treating your pet to some of your favorite snacks, like butternut squash, is just fine as long as that store-bought and properly-cleaned butternut squash is prepared properly, served correctly (correct amounts and correct frequency), and only fed to healthy piggies.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact your local vet before feeding butternut squash to your buddy.