Guinea pigs are one of the most loved 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 zucchini! Nonetheless, numerous human foods aren’t safe for your guinea pig to eat. So, can guinea pigs eat zucchini?
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 upto 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 Zucchini?
Zucchini, also known as courgette, is a summer squash.
It is in the Cucurbitaceae plant family and is actually considered a fruit just like spaghetti squash, melons, and cucumber.
It can grow up to 3 feet long but is usually harvested when still immature — typically measuring under 12 inches.
The different varieties of zucchini occur range in color from lighter yellows to vibrant dark green.
This thinned-skinned food is treated as a vegetable in most U.S. cooking groups and is a popular green “vegetable” served alongside main courses, typically steamed, sauteed, or baked for human consumption.
Many animals can also have a delightful chew on a piece or too of zucchini, but not all animals can.
Types of Zucchini:
There are many different varieties of zucchinis, that range in size, shape, and color.
The more yellow zucchinis contain slightly higher levels of antioxidants (see ‘antioxidants’ below) than light green or darker green summer squashes.
Yellow Squash is very similar to summer squash in shape, taste, and texture and is commonly grouped with zucchini when the question of if you can feed zucchini to guinea pigs is asked.
According to Wikipedia’s description of the nutritional benefits of this summer squash:
“Zucchini are low in food energy (approximately 71 kJ or 17 kcal (or “food calories”) per 100 g (3.5 oz) fresh zucchini) and contain useful amounts of folate (24 μg/100 g), potassium (261 mg/100 g), and provitamin A (200 IU [10 RAE]/100 g). Zucchini can be shaped into noodle-like spirals and used as a low-carbohydrate substitute for pasta or noodles.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zucchini
Zucchini has a particularly large supply of vitamin A that can help support vision and the immune system.
Zucchini is also rich in different antioxidants, with research proving that the skin of the zucchini plant contains the highest levels of antioxidants in the entire plant.
Antioxidants are plant compounds that help protect the body from damage by free radicals, which can cause degenerative diseases.
Carotenoids — such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene — benefit your eyes, skin, and heart, and helps protect your body against certain types of cancers, are found in zucchini.
Zucchini also has a decent amount of fiber to help with digestion and can sometimes help in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Yellow squash typically has a slightly higher sugar content compared to zuccchini.
Do Guinea Pigs Like Zucchini?
Most guinea pigs like the softer, tender inside of the zucchini. many piggies don’t tend to favor the outer thin skin of the fruit.
Many cavies prefer the yellow squash over the zucchini squash, maybe due to the slightly higher sugar content which would give off a slightly sweeter taste to your pet.
Is Zucchini Healthy For Guinea Pigs to Eat?
Zucchini 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.
Zucchini also has a decent water content to help keep your little friend hydrated.
As mentioned in the nutritional content of zucchini section, zucchini 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.
Zucchini 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.
Zucchini is packed with a multitude of nutrients which are great for the health of your pet guinea pig.
Can Zucchini 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 zucchini altogether, so you will have to experiment with your pet’s affinity for the fruit.
How To Serve Zucchini to a Guinea Pig:
Serve only fresh, raw zucchini squash to your pet guinea pig.
Begin by washing the zucchini thoroughly as you’ll need to remove any bacteria, pesticides, or other chemicals that may have been placed on the zucchini.
Then, you’ll want to cut off and discard the thick stem.
You don’t have to peel the zucchini but if you have a pickier piggie that eats around the skin then you can peel it if you feel compelled.
Cut the zucchini 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 zucchini from the cage within a few hours of serving so that bacteria does not form and grow on it.
- Cutting board
- Kitchen knife
- Begin by washing the vegetables thoroughly as you’ll need to remove any bacteria, pesticides, or other chemicals that may have been placed on the zucchini.
- Then, you’ll want to cut off and discard the thick stem.
- You don’t have to peel the zucchini but if you have a pickier piggie that eats around the skin then you can peel it if you feel compelled.
- Cut the zucchini 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 zucchini from the cage within a few hours of serving so that bacteria does not form and grow on it.
Stop the feeding of zucchini immediately and contact your veterinarian if any signs of ill health appear.
Can Zucchini Be Bad For Guinea Pigs?
Zucchini 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 zucchini.
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 zucchinis.
Too much of a good thing should be another warning to guinea parents. Feeding too much zucchini to your pet can lead to gastric upset with signs of vomiting or diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and other health issues.
How Much Zucchini Can a Guinea Pig Have?
Like with every type of food you should never go overboard.
Fruits, like zucchini, 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 zucchini 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 zucchini treat and doesn’t show signs of abnormal behavior, then try a second small piece of zucchini in the next day or two.
A common rule of thumb is to serve no more than approximately 100 grams of Zucchini to our guinea pig in a day. That is about 2 small bite-sized pieces per offering.
Try to mix up the offered zucchini pieces with other vegetables and prepare a salad for your guinea pig.
The right combination of zucchini 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 Zucchini:
It is pretty safe to say that zucchini 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 zucchini to your guinea pig up to 6-7 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 zucchini 3 times per week but your furry friend doesn’t eat the offered zucchini 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 zucchini 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 zucchini pieces, is just fine as long as that store-bought and properly-cleaned zucchini 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 zucchini to your buddy.