Guinea pigs are by far one of the most popular pocket pets. Who can resist feeding these cute little friends some sweet treats like bright green courgette. But wait…. not all foods are safe for guinea pigs! Can guinea pigs eat courgette?
Dr. Jess explains the answer below:
A guinea pig is a type of pocket pet that resides in the cavie family of animal, weigh up to 2.5 pounds as an adult, and with proper care it is fairly common to see these pets live 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 down their teeth, 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.
What Do Guinea Pigs Typically Eat?
Guinea Pigs 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 look a little deeper into what courgette, also known as zucchini, are so that we can better decide if they should be a part of your rabbit’s diet.
Courgette, also known as zucchini and Italian marrows, are firm and have a dark green exterior skin with a pale green center, and can grow longer than a foot in length.
They are a part of the squash family, like other vegetables such as acorn and butternut squash, cucumbers, and melons.
Zucchini/Courgette is a popular vegetable choice for many home cooks as it is easy to handle and very versatile in recipes, usually being diced or sliced with their dark green peels intact.
Courgette can offer a range of important nutrients and health benefits, such as [source]:
- High water content which is good for keeping well hydrated and keeping all body systems functioning properly.
- High in antioxidants: antioxidants may help the body deal with damage from free radicals.
- High fiber content which aids in healthy digestion and absorption of foods. Fiber can also help stabilize blood sugar levels [source] and lower the risk of heart disease [source].
- Reduce blood sugar levels which can help those with diabetes.
- A good source of vitamins such as vitamin A, B, C, and K.
They are typically quite satisfying to eat and also quite low in calories. According to the USDA, 3/4 cup of courgette gives you approximately:
- 20 calories
- 4 grams of carbohydrates
- 1 gram of fiber
- 1 gram of protein
- 0 grams of fat
Courgette is packed with nutrients, including [source]:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Niacin (vitamin B3)
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (vitamin B9)
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Courgette?
Well after learning about some of the health benefits that the consumption of courgette brings with it , wouldn’t it be nice it you could just safely feed it to your piggie?
Well, you can…. in moderation.
That’s right, feeding a small amount of courgette as a treat to your guinea pig on occasion is totally fine and they will likely LOVE you for it!
Moderation = Approximately a 1-3 tablespoon-sized amount of courgette is enough squash for one guinea pig.
If your pet does not eat all of their fruits and vegetables within 12-24 hours, then you need to dispose of it for them.
They will likely not eat it at this point, 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 one to two times per week and no two days in a row.
How To Feed Courgette to Guinea Pigs:
- store-bought fresh squash
- kitchen vegetable knife
- cutting board
- Begin by washing the 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 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 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.
Is Courgette Harmful to Guinea Pigs?
Yes, courgette can be.
Too much courgette 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.
These three factors to keep in mind include:
Harmful Reason #1: Loose Stool/Diarrhea
Too much of any fruit or vegetable can produce hypermotile, or increased movement, of one’s digestive tract.
Some guinea pigs are more sensitive to additional foods or changes in their diets, so they are more likely to have loose stool and in some cases, full-blown diarrhea.
Other guinea pigs will not be impacted by any additional changes in their diets.
Harmful Reason #2: Allergic Reaction to Courgette
A guinea pig can develop an intolerance or an allergy to any food, so there is always the possibility that your pet is allergic to courgette.
If you suspect your guinea pig is allergic to courgette do NOT feed this food to your pet.
If your guinea pig is allergic to cucumbers and accidentally ingests it, go to your nearest animal emergency room immediately.
When this happens, the attack sets off a hypersensitivity reaction and can result in any of the following symptoms:
Common symptoms of adverse/allergic reaction to food:
- Itching/Increased grooming
ALTERNATIVE FRUITS FOR GUINEA PIGS:
- Butternut Squash
Weigh the pros and cons of feeding courgette to your guinea pig before tossing them a sweet and juicy snack, and if you do decide to give them a treat, remember, it’s safe in moderation.
If you have questions about your pet’s diet, contact your veterinarian before changing or adding items to their diet.
If you notice any adverse reactions after feeding your pet, let your vet know immediately for help.