Guinea pigs are by far one of the most popular pocket pets out there. Who can resist feeding these sweet critters some sweet treats like juicy melon. But wait…. not all foods are safe for guinea pigs? Can guinea pigs eat cantaloupe melon?
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 2.5 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 Cantaloupe Melon…
Cantaloupe is a type of melon and is also known as a muskmelon, sweet melon, rockmelon, or spanspek.
The North American Cantaloupe is a firm, round, orange-fleshed fruit with juicy inside and a thick tan to green-colored rind on the outside.
Vitamin C: Cantaloupe melon is full of 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!
Cantaloupe has a high sugar content. Something to take note on and to keep in mind when feeding to guinea pigs!
It also contains a high percentage of water, which is great when looking to maintain hydration.
Fiber: Cantaloupe provides fiber which helps in constipation and improves gut motility. Too much though, can lead to too much gut motility… and that’s not a good thing either!
Antioxidants: Cantaloupe contains antioxidants which help prevent cellular damage in living things. Cell damage can lead to cancers and other health concerns that you would rather not deal with.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cantaloupe Melon?
Well after learning about some of the health benefits and some of the risks that the consumption of cantaloupe 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 cantaloupe as a treat to your guinea pig on occasion is totally fine and they will likely LOVE you for it!
Mideration = A couple little cubes of cantaloupe is enough melon 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 this amount no more than 2-3 times per week and no two days in a row.
How About Cantaloupe Seeds?
The seeds of a cantaloupe are slippery and slimy.
They are also the perfect size to get lodged in a guinea pig’s throat and cause them to choke.
Always remove any cantaloupe seeds prior to feeding the melon to your piggy.
Do NOT feed your pet cantaloupe seeds.
- fresh melon
- Cutting board
- Kitchen knife
- Make sure the cantaloupe melon is fresh and at room temperature.
- Cut the cantaloupe open and remove the seeds.
- Peel off the rind and discard it.
- Cut the melon up into small pieces of cantaloupe.
- Serve it to your guinea pig while still fresh and juicy!
Is Cantaloupe Melon Harmful to Guinea Pigs?
Yes, it can.
Remember that too much melon 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.
Another issue is the rind…….
The thick rind needs to be cut away and not served to the pet or can become a hazard to them.
And then there are the seeds, a potential choking hazard in and of itself. Don’t feed melon seeds to your guinea pig.
Alternative Fruits For Guinea Pigs:
- Butternut Squash
So weigh the pros and cons of feeding melon to your pet before tossing them a sweet sweet snack, and if you do decide to give them a juicy treat, remember, it’s safe in moderation.