In this brief article we will answer the query,”Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes?” We will explain how often you should feed tomatoes to your guinea pigs. We will also look at the health benefits of feeding tomatoes to your guinea pigs. We will finally briefly discuss if baby guinea pigs should be fed tomatoes.
Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat tomatoes although they need to be fed tomatoes in small amounts. You should also note that there are certain parts of a tomato that are unsafe for consumption by your guinea pig such as the tomato leaves and stems. Unripened tomatoes are also unsafe for consumption by guinea pigs.
Tomato leaves and tomato stems all contain a compound known as tomatine. Tomatine is also referred to as tomatin or lycopersicon and it’s a glycoalkaloid poison which is concentrated in the stems and leaves of tomatoes.
The tomato fruits contain small amounts of tomatine which are not poisonous to humans. However, guinea pigs are small animals and because of their size, the compound can result in health issues in them.
You should therefore ensure that you only feed your guinea pigs safe ripened tomatoes and avoid parts such as stems and leaves of tomatoes which have high tomatine levels.
How often should I feed tomatoes to my pigs?
You can feed your pigs one cherry tomato a day which can be added as a daily inclusion in your guinea pig’s diet. However, take note that tomatoes are high in oxalic acid and too much of them can result in a condition known as cheilitis.
Cheilitis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the lips and results in scabs forming on the mouth of the guinea pig which is sometimes painful. If you notice that your guinea pig has scabs you should immediately take it to a veterinarian.
This is why you should not feed your guinea pig more than one cherry tomato in a day or even on a second day. Tomatoes are a good treat for your guinea pigs and you should only add a small amount in your guinea pigs house or hutch once in a while.
What are the health benefits of feeding tomatoes to guinea pigs?
High water content
Tomatoes have a high water content of about 95 percent water which is important for keeping guinea pigs well hydrated.
Good source of Vitamins A, C and B6
Tomatoes are a good source of Vitamins A, C and B6 which help in many body functions. Vitamin C for instance is a powerful antioxidant which can help your guinea pig from oxidative damage as it neutralizes any free radicals.
Good source of fiber
Tomatoes are a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber is good for the overall digestive health of your guinea pigs. It can assist in prevention of constipation in your guinea pigs and also reduce some gastrointestinal issues.
Good source of potassium
Tomatoes are also a good source of potassium. Potassium is an important mineral to your guinea pigs as it assists in the proper functioning of nerve and muscle cells. It also helps prevent hypokalemia in your guinea pigs.
Hypokalemia is a condition whereby your guinea pigs have a deficiency of potassium in their bloodstream.
Good source of antioxidant lycopene
Tomatoes are also a good source of a powerful antioxidant known as lycopene which helps prevent cell damage by fighting any free radicals that might be present in the body.
Can baby guinea pigs be fed tomatoes?
No, you shouldn’t feed baby guinea pigs tomatoes. This is because they have very sensitive gastrointestinal systems which are not well developed. Baby guinea pigs should not be fed any types of fruits or veggies until they are about 12 weeks and their digestive systems have matured.
When you first introduce them to juicy fruits you should only feed them very small portions and observe them for 24 hours for any adverse effects and reactions. If they seem to be fine you can continue introducing them to the fruits slowly as their digestive system adapts.
In this brief article we have answered the query,”Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes?” We have explained how often you should feed tomatoes to your guinea pigs. We have also looked at the health benefits of feeding tomatoes to your guinea pigs. We have finally briefly discussed if baby guinea pigs should be fed tomatoes.