A fresh, juicy piece of watermelon on a hot day is always a welcome treat, but what about serving this fruit to a guinea pig? Can a cavy enjoy eating a big slice of watermelon, and if so, how big is too big?
Guinea pigs may eat watermelon when it is served as a treat, and the flesh of the fruit is in no way harmful for them. That being said, owners should only allow their cavy to eat a tiny piece of watermelon on a limited basis.
As a pet owner, you are responsible for offering your pet a balanced and healthy diet. And although watermelon can be an excellent treat for your guinea pig, it is only healthy when fed in moderation. This article will teach you all you need to know about guinea pigs eating watermelon.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Watermelon?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat watermelon. A slice of watermelon can be a hydrating treat full of Vitamin C, but the seeds should be avoided because they are a choking hazard. Only feed once a week and follow our vet-approved serving size to prevent health problems like diarrhea, obesity, and diabetes.
"Watermelon makes for a delicious, hydrating treat for guinea pigs and even has a little extra vitamin C for your cavy's diet." says veterinarian surgeon Dr. Edele Grey.
Even though watermelon is considered a healthy food, it is not the same for guinea pigs. This fruit contains a high amount of natural sugars. "As with all treats, watermelon should only be offered as a special treat in moderation to prevent tummy upsets, obesity, and diarrhea.", Dr. Grey continues.
The diet of a cavy should be mostly hay, grass, and pellets. These are the staple foods your guinea pig enjoys and will keep him nourished and happy. You will also want to make sure a vitamin C supplement is available for your pet.
Some newbies to keeping guinea pigs might argue the fruit has Vitamin C. While this is true, the guinea pig needs to get their daily dose from a supplement, not a fruit, as the fruits are much too high in sugar and calories.
Aside from this, hay is important to the guinea pig's well-being. Remember, guinea pigs' teeth never stop growing. It means that they need appropriate food such as hay to keep their teeth at a manageable length. Hay and grass are also important for the digestive tract of the cavy.
For a daily treat, leafy greens are a better option for your pet than fruit. However, as an occasional treat, fruit such as watermelon can have health benefits for your guinea pig.
Health Benefits: Is Watermelon Good for Guinea Pigs?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat watermelon safely but only in small amounts. It has healthy properties to it that your guinea pig is sure to enjoy.
Watermelon makes for a delicious, hydrating treat for guinea pigs and even has a little extra vitamin C for your cavy's diet.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
The most prominent thing about watermelon is that the fruit contains a wonderful amount of vitamin C. It is important to remember that guinea pigs cannot create their own vitamin C, so they have to get it from their food part of the time and mostly through supplements.
Your guinea pig will thoroughly enjoy the sweet taste, and you, as the owner, can take comfort in knowing they got a great dose of Vitamin C as they enjoyed their weekly treat. It will help boost your pet's immune system and make sure scurvy never bothers your guinea pig.
It's not called watermelon because it sounds cool. It's called that because the fruit contains a high amount of good old H20.
The fruit is by no means a substitute for supplying your guinea pig with a fresh supply of unlimited water, but it is an excellent way to get a little extra hydration in their diet on a hot, summer day.
Health Risks: Is Watermelon Bad for Guinea Pigs?
Watermelon Is the Same as Candy
Watermelon is like candy to a guinea pig. Imagine if you were given only candy to eat for your meal. It might sound fun to do once or twice, but you would not get the correct nutrients, and you would likely end up feeling sick afterward. The same thing happens to a guinea pig.
Treat watermelon like you do candy- limit it and keep it down to a once-a-week treat at most. It will ensure your guinea pig does not develop diabetes or obesity and will give him something to look forward to.
It Is Not Nutritious
Yes, watermelon makes a great treat, but it does not give the guinea pig the stuff he needs to live healthily and enjoy life. The three main things your guinea pigs need to eat for health are hay, grass, and pellets.
Hay and grass are low in calories and give your piggy something to munch on all day long. The caloric content is so negligible it gives them something to do, but you, as the owner, do not need to worry about their weight. Their teeth are also kept a manageable size, thanks to the chewing.
Meanwhile, pellets offer vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Watermelon has lots of helpful vitamins and minerals, but the sugar content makes it a poor choice as a staple food.
Watermelon does contain calcium, and too much of it given to your guinea pig may result in damage to the urinary tract of the piggy.
The best thing to do is to make sure your guinea pig eats only a small amount of the flesh to ensure that their urinary tract stays healthy.
Serving Size and How to Feed?
So, you now understand the risks associated with guinea pigs and watermelon, and the benefits. Great! Here we will now discuss the methods of feeding your guinea pig this fruit safely.
Keep It in Moderation
The rule of thumb is to make sure your piggy gets this treat once a week or once every two weeks. Keep the slices small, because after all, your guinea pig is a very small creature.
A suitable portion of watermelon for the average adult guinea pig should be a cube of approximately a half-inch in size, even smaller the first time you offer it so that you can be sure of no adverse effects.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Make sure all watermelon is washed thoroughly before serving. This will rid the fruit of any pesticides or dirt that could make your piggy sick.
It is best to buy organic when you can – this way, you can be sure the dangers of pesticides are minimized for your pet. Now double-check the fruit to make sure it looks healthy- if you would not eat it, your guinea pig should not, either.
Although the seeds of the watermelon are not toxic to guinea pigs, they may pose a choking hazard, and it's better to remove them before serving to your pet.
Cut out a small piece of the fruit's flesh, place the fruit into the enclosure, and allow your piggy to try it out. If he likes it, great – let him at it for two hours. If your piggy does not care for it, or two hours have gone by, remove the fruit and discard. A watery and high-sugar food like watermelon can easily go bad and become a health hazard if left to rot in the cage.
Per 100g of watermelon, you get:
- 30 calories
- 91g water
- 6g sugar
- 112mg potassium
- 7 mg calcium
- 8 mg Vitamin C
The vitamins and minerals in this fruit are helpful:
Vitamins C and A are supporters of the immune system and help guinea pigs with tissue development and fighting disease. Scurvy is nearly unheard of in human beings, but guinea pigs are at serious risk for this affliction due to their inability to create their own Vitamin C.
Calcium is also present, and although excess amounts are not good for a guinea pig, the cavy needs it to ensure his bones and teeth stay healthy. If you have a pregnant guinea pig, you will need to make sure she gets a bit more calcium in her diet so that the youngsters are born with healthy bones and teeth as well.
Lastly, potassium is also a big help here: The nutrient is a natural way to keep fluid in balance within the cavy's body. The nutrient is also key in the prevention of bladder and kidney stones.
The main takeaway here is that guinea pigs can absolutely enjoy watermelon, and the owners should serve it to them as a small, occasional treat when it is in season.
The guinea pig benefits from the great taste and the health benefits, and gets to enjoy a bit of enrichment by eating a special treat.
Make sure to take extra care in washing, cutting, and serving the fruit. Remove any uneaten parts after two hours and do not serve too much, no matter how cutely your guinea pig stares at you for more. It's easy to enjoy this great fruit and do so responsibly!
Can guinea pigs eat watermelon rind?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat watermelon rind. Actually, the rind is healthier than the flesh because it contains less sugar and water but more fiber and loads of nutrients like vitamins C, A, and B6. However, you should follow our feeding guidelines as watermelon rinds contain calcium, which may cause bladder stones and problems with urinary health.
Scurvy, no longer a major problem in humans, but a disorder that remains a concern for cavies.
Guinea pigs can't produce their own Vitamin C, and scurvy is caused by a deficiency of this vitamin, which is essential for making collagen. Luckily, if your guinea pig is receiving a balanced pelleted feed and some fruits and veggies alongside their hay, extra supplementation may not be needed.
However, it's good to add a little extra through foods such as watermelon.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Edele Grey, BSc, MVB, PGCertESM, MRCVS was born and raised in Ireland on a farm, so she was destined for veterinary-related work from a young age. Dr. Grey attended the only veterinary university in Ireland, the University College Dublin, and graduated in 2013. Since graduation, Dr. Grey has worked with a range of exotic, companion, and production animal species.
NOTE: Advice provided within this article is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your guinea pig's specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.