Guinea pigs love sweet juicy fruit as treats. But as many piggie owners know, not all produce that is safe for us to eat, is safe for our little furry buddies to consume. So what about ripe juicy mangos that are so perfect this season? Can guinea pigs eat mango? Read on to find out!
Dr. Jess explains the answer below:
Let’s Talk Mango:
Mangoes are a fruit that is somewhat pear-shaped, in colors of green, orange, yellow, and red.
The mango fruit has a tough, thick peel or rind, and juicy sweet edible fruit inside.
Mangoes are used in many recipes, both food and in drinks, and even are used in sauces or dried for a snack.
Mangoes have a list of health benefits, but also have some health drawbacks too.
Mango Health Benefits:
Mango is a great source of antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals.
Let’s take a look at an overview of the contents, nutrients, and minerals of mangoes:
- High Sugar Content: This is not that surprising as it’s a fruit, and most fruit have a fairly high sugar content.
- Fiber Source: Fiber is important because it helps with digestion and makes blood sugar release slow down.
- Contains Calcium & Potassium: Important in maintaining healthy body function.
- Source of Vitamin C: The vitamin C content is extremely high compared to most other fruits and vegetables. Remember – guinea pigs require vitamin C in their diets.
What is a Guinea Pig?
A guinea pig is a type of pocket pet that resides in the cavie family of mammals.
They are small animals that grow up to approximately 10-11 inches long, and can weigh up to 2.5 pounds as a healthy adult.
In captivity and with appropriate care, it is fairly common to see these pets live to 10+ years of age.
One of their main physical “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 whomever they are comfortable with 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?
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!
The Importance of Vitamin C For Guinea Pigs
Like humans and certain other animals like birds and bats, guinea pigs do not have the ability to make vitamin C.
Instead, guinea pigs must get this essential nutrient from the foods they eat in their diet.
Guinea pigs in the wild get their vitamin C from fresh grass sources.
Pet guinea pigs receive supplemental vitamin C from leafy greens, fruit and veggies, specialty fortified pellets or supplemental droplets placed in their water bottles.
Do Guinea Pigs Like Mangos?
Although a very few guinea pigs will turn their noses up to mango, most really like the taste of mangos.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Mangoes?
After reading up on some of the health benefits and some of the risks that the consumption of mango can bring with it, wouldn’t it be nice it you could just safely feed it to your pet guinea pig?
Well, you can feed your guinea pig mango…. but only in moderation. This means – in limited amounts!
Moderation = 1-2 bite-sized pieces of mango is enough of this fruit 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.
And that 1/4 – 1/2 cup should not consists solely of pieces of orange!
Remember, orange pieces are an acceptable treat to feed to guinea pigs as long as it is an intermittent treat.
If your piggy does not eat the orange, it will only sit in their cage and get old and eventually become unsafe to eat.
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 throw it away for them.
The rest of their diet, the other 90% or so, should be made up of guinea pig food and hay.
You should feed this amount no more than 1-2 times per week and no two days in a row.
Is Mango Healthy For Guinea Pigs?
Even though mangoes are a sweet snack, they do have some health benefits.
Mango contains some essential nutrients including calcium and vitamin C that can be helpful in keeping your cavy healthy.
Mango also has some other potential health benefits for your pet guinea pig too. Let me discuss…
Like I mentioned above, the main advantage of mangoes is that they contain high amounts of vitamin C.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning that guinea pigs MUST have it in order to be healthy and for their body systems to function properly.
Vitamin C helps support a healthy immune system and is in general “essential” because your guinea pig cannot produce it themselves.
Scurvy is just one example of a disease or health concern seen among guinea pigs which occurs due to lack of vitamin C in their systems.
Mango also contains a nice amount of vitamin A and vitamin B-6 which aid in overall growth and contribute towards a healthy metabolism for your guinea pig.
Mango has some other lesser-known health benefits too.
Mangoes also contain calcium.
The correct balance of calcium is necessary for your guinea pig, especially when considering their bones and with pregnant female guinea pigs.
However, too much calcium often can lead to bladder stones and other medical concerns in guinea pigs.
Calcium and phosphorous are an integral part of a diet which is necessary for proper bone development and movement, dental (tooth) growth, and other nervous system needs.
An insufficient amount of calcium in guinea pigs has been shown to be connected with multiple physical abnormalities such as:
- Decreased appetite
- Muscle spasms
- Brittle bones, broken bones and teeth
- limb paralysis
- Decreased phosphorus uptake
Mangoes contain antioxidants, which studies have shown, may help to reduce the possibility of cancer and other very serious health issues.
How? Well, antioxidants are powerful and are known to fight free radicals which would therefore lower the chances of cell damage.
This decreased cell damage could theoretically help your guinea pig recover better and faster from injury.
Magnesium & Potassium:
Magnesium and potassium are two of the most important minerals for your guinea pig that are found in mango.
These minerals help maintain the guinea pig’s cardiovascular system, keeping it healthy and functioning smoothly.
In fact, they work together to maintain the regularity of blood pressure and help promote properly working blood vessels.
Fiber is essential in your guinea pigs digestive health.
Fiber helps keep things running through the gastrointestinal smoothly and efficiently.
Fiber is incredibly important to your guinea pigs health, espcially with their diets full of hay!
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Mango Skin?
Mangoes, as well as other fruits, are often coated in chemicals and pesticides that are unsafe for your pet.
The mango’s skin texture is pretty tough and is a choking hazard when your piggie gives it a potential swallow.
It’s better to peel off the skin before feeding it to your pet.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat frozen Mango?
No, guinea pigs should not be offered frozen mango.
Very cold foods can lead to digestive system upset so it is best to stay away from feeding frozen mango to your guinea pig.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Mango Leaves?
Mango leaves are fine for them to eat.
Some guinea pigs will eat the leaves, others will turn it away and want the actual fruit instead.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dried Mango?
Fresh mango is a better option for guinea pigs than dried mango.
Dried mango has a higher sugar content than fresh mango and therefore is not the best option to feed your guinea pig.
Some dried mango also contains preservatives to help it last longer as a human snack.
These preservatives could potentially be harmful for your guinea pig.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Mango Seeds/Pits?
No. Mango seeds are hard and slippery and just not worth the choking risk.
Can Guinea Pigs Drink Mango Juice?
Mango juice is also higher in sugar content and this increased amount of sugar can wreak havoc on your cavy’s digestive system.
This is highly ill-advised to offer to your guinea pig.
How To Feed Mango To Guinea Pigs:
Some Guinea Pigs will love the taste of mango and other cute cavies will find their favorite fruit flavor somewhere else.
However, it is most often one of their favorite fruits to snack on.
So how do you safely feed mango to your pet guinea pig?
- fresh store-bought mango
- kitchen knife
- kitchen cutting board
- Wash the mango properly to rid it of chemicals and pesticides.
- Peel off the skin of the mango.
- Cut the mango in small bite-sized pieces.
- Place the cut mango pieces in their fruit or vegetable bowl.
- Remove any uneaten mango from the cage after a few hours because of potential bacterial growth.
If this is your first attempt at offering your guinea pig mango, start with giving them just one small piece of mango, waiting to see of any adverse reactions, before giving them more mango to enjoy. Contact your veterinarian before changing or adding new foods to your pet's diet.
Make sure to use a clean knife and cutting board that are food-safe to do the cutting.
Then you can cut the ripe mango into small bite-sized pieces, seed removed, before offering your piggie one piece of mango.
How Much Mango To Serve To Your Guinea Pig?
When introducing your guinea pig to anything new, you’ll always want to take it slowly and be very careful.
Start off by offering your pet just a single bite of mango the first time, and then watch for about 12-24 hours for any adverse reactions, such as digestive upset, diarrhea, decreased energy, not eating, etc.
If your cavy shows any signs of distress or discomfort, then you’ll want to stop feeding the mango pieces and contact your veterinarian about the current situation for further guidance.
That being said, most guinea pigs take to mango very well.
As long as your guinea pig shows no signs of an adverse reaction, you can gradually increase the amount of mango you are offering until they’re enjoying a full serving- which still isn’t a lot of the fruit!
It’s best to give mango once or a few times a week and to not exceed that.
You should serve no more than 1 – 2 small bite-sized pieces of mango to your guinea pig a day and no more than once or twice a week.
Those few times a week also need to be spaced out – no two days in a row!
Is Mango Harmful To Guinea Pigs?
Yes, it can be harmful if not prepared, served, and monitored appropriately.
Too big of pieces could lead to the potential of being a choking hazard. Not good!
Feeding too much mango has its own set of issues to.
Guinea pigs can show digestive upset like diarrhea, decreased eating or anorexia, dehydration, lethargy, etc., that can lead to more dangerous health issues of not treated by your veterinarian.
Due to the sugar content and the small bodies of the guinea pig, guinea pigs are prone to becoming overweight (and also diabetes!) from eating too many fruits and snacks, such as mango, which has quite a bit of sugar.
Fruits, like mango, can give your guinea pig some uncomfortable side effects.
If your guinea pig shows signs of any of these after introducing them to any new food in their diet, contact your local veterinarian immediately for more help.
There are some major health risks to consider before feeding your guinea pig any fruit.
Mango can be unhealthy in large amounts, despite the many health benefits.
And just like any food at any time, your guinea pig may have, or may develop a food allergy to anything that they put in their mouths, including fruits like mango.
Alternative Foods For Guinea Pigs:
There are many fruits, veggies, and herbs that are good for your guinea pig and for you!
Unfortunately, some foods are toxic to guinea pigs that are not harmful to us.
For this reason, it is very important to research every new food you plan to give your guinea pig and its corresponding serving size.
Find out about other common foods that you may find in your kitchen.
Are these foods safe to feed your guinea pig?
- Butternut Squash
Make sure to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of feeding mango to your guinea pig before tossing them a delicious fruity snack, and if you do decide to give them a delicious treat, remember, it’s safe in moderation.
Moderation is small amounts on every once in a while.
If your pet experiences a change in their everyday activities, such as activity level, sleeping patterns, elimination patterns, or behavior, after eating a new food such as oranges, contact your veterinarian immediately for assistance on what to do next.
If you have any questions or concerns with feeding your guinea pig this juicy fruit, contact your veterinarian before attempting to feed it to your loved pet.