Have you ever wondered: can guinea pigs eat tomatoes? You’re not alone. Every month, thousands of guinea pig owners ask themselves the same question. It’s a great question to ask yourself, and asking questions like this is evidence that you’re a responsible pet owner. After all, as pet owners, it’s our responsibility to feed our piggies the right foods. Having a healthy guinea pig starts with them having a healthy diet so feeding them the right foods is of utmost importance.
Today, we’re going to take a closer look at whether or not tomatoes are safe for guinea pigs to eat. To do so, we’re going to take a closer look at what exactly a tomato contains, that way we can see if there’s anything in it that’s harmful to your cavy. Also, we’re going to discuss whether or not it’s healthy for them to eat, and whether they can eat the seeds, stems, and leaves. Furthermore, we’ll go over some precautions that you must adhere to if you decide to feed this fruit to your guinea pig.
If you’re in a hurry, the short answer to the question at hand is this: Yes, guinea pigs can eat tomatoes, but it should by no means be a large part of their diet. Cherry tomatoes and regular tomatoes are both fine, as long as they’re fully ripened. Do not feed your guinea pig unripened tomatoes. Further, make sure that you avoid feeding your cavy the leaves or the stems because those are toxic.
I do recommend reading the whole article to be fully prepared when feeding tomatoes to your guinea pig.
Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes and are they good for them?
In order to answer the question of whether guinea pigs can eat tomatoes and if this fruit is good for them, I always like to start off by taking a look at what exactly a tomato contains. Fun fact: many people mistakenly assume that tomatoes are a vegetable, but they are in fact a fruit!
So, a small raw tomato of about 100 grams (0.22 pounds) contains the following macronutrients:
- 18 calories
- 95% water
- 0.9 grams of protein
- 3.9 grams of carbs
- 2.6 grams of sugar
- 1.2 grams of fiber
- 0.2 grams of fat
As we can see from the list above, tomatoes consist largely of water, are relatively low in calories and fat, and are a decent source of fiber. But that’s not all, tomatoes also contain a lot of vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin K1, and Folate.
It’s good news that tomatoes contain a decent chunk of vitamin C because, according to veterinarians, vitamin C deficiency is one of the most common problems that guinea pigs face. Guinea pigs are unable to synthesize this important nutrient themselves and therefore need to get it from their diet and they do not always get enough.
Furthermore, studies have been conducted that have proven that guinea pigs benefit from having a source of Folate in their diet. Since tomatoes contain a decent amount of folate, this is good news.
Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes every day?
On the whole, we can say that guinea pigs can definitely benefit from eating tomatoes. However, while they are a healthy snack for your guinea pig that does not mean that they should eat a lot of them. Tomatoes should only be offered to your guinea pig as an occasional snack, not an everyday staple of their diet.
The reason for this is that these fruits are quite acidic and relatively high in sugar. For these reasons, I suggest feeding your guinea pig no more than a single small cherry tomato or a single slice of a large tomato per serving and no more than twice per week.
Can guinea pigs eat tomato seeds and skins?
Tomato seeds and skins are not dangerous to guinea pigs and do not have to be removed. In fact, some studies suggest that the seeds and skins are the most nutritious part of the fruit so it’s recommended to leave them on.
Precautions when feeding tomatoes to your guinea pig
Now that we’ve established that tomatoes are generally safe for guinea pigs to consume it’s time to go over some precautions that you must take when feeding.
- Only feed red, ripe tomatoes. Green or unripe tomatoes contain high amounts of Solanine. Solanine is bad for your piggy. Because of this, unripened tomatoes are not safe for guinea pigs to consume and should be avoided.
- Wash the tomato carefully before feeding. It’s no secret that much of the produce we consume is contaminated with pesticides. A study done by the USDA found residue of 35 different pesticides on tomatoes! In small quantities these pesticides don’t pose a serious threat to humans but guinea pigs are much smaller and thus have a much lower tolerance. To avoid your guinea pig ingesting pesticides you should wash the tomato before feeding. It’s recommended to soak the fruit in a mixture of baking soda and water for a few minutes and then rinsing it with tap water. A study by the University of Massachusetts has shown that this is the most effective way of getting rid of pesticides.
- Do not feed the leaves or stems. Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family and the leaves and stems of the tomato contain high amounts of tomatine and solanine. These are the defense mechanisms of the plant and are very dangerous to many animals including guinea pigs. Thus, when feeding tomatoes to your cavy it’s very important that you ensure that you do not accidentally feed them any of the leaves or stems.
- Do not overfeed. In order for your guinea pig to be healthy, they need a balanced diet that consists of around 80% of Timothy Hay, with the rest consisting of a large variety of fresh vegetables and the occasional piece of fruit. If you feed your guinea pig too much tomato it will result in nutritional imbalances. Not to mention the fact that tomatoes are an acidic fruit that can lead to mouth sores if fed in excess.
- Introduce slowly. When offering your piggy a new type of food it’s always prudent to introduce them to it slowly by giving them a very small amount to start with. The benefits of doing so are twofold; first, you will be able to see how they react to this new food. Secondly, it gives their digestive sy stem some time to adapt to the new food.
Can tomatoes kill guinea pigs?
Ripe, red tomatoes can not kill guinea pigs in small quantities, but the leaves, stems, and green unripe tomatoes definitely can. As previously mentioned, the leaves and stems contain high amounts of Solanine which is a poisonous compound that is present in plants in the nightshade family.
Solanine is also present in high quantities in green, unripe tomatoes. The ripening process removes most of the solanine. For comparison, an unripe tomato contains up to 500mg of Solanine per 1 kg while a ripe tomato contains only 5mg per 1 kg, so the ripening process gets rid of 99% of the solanine. That’s the reason why it’s so important to only feed your guinea pig tomatoes that are fully ripe.
Do guinea pigs like tomatoes?
Most guinea pig breeds like tomatoes, but definitely not all. Every guinea pig has their own preferences when it comes to food. Some guinea pigs will love a particular kind of food, while others will not care for it at all.
Since small quantities of tomatoes are safe for guinea pigs to consume the best way to figure out if your particular cavy is a tomato-lover is by simply offering them a small piece of tomato. If they like it they will eat it. If they do not like it they will simply ignore it. If your particular piggy doesn’t seem to be very interested in tomatoes, don’t worry, guinea pigs do not necessarily need to eat tomatoes to be healthy. There are plenty of other fruits and vegetables that they can eat instead that offer them similar nutrition.
If your guinea pig is not interested in this particular fruit, here are some other guinea pig-approved fruit and veggies that you can try feeding them:
- Bell Peppers (highly recommended due to high vitamin C content)
Now you know everything you need to know about feeding tomatoes to your precious piggy. As we’ve discussed, tomatoes are safe for guinea pigs in small quantities. As long as the fruit is fully ripe, you wash it properly, do not overfeed, and avoid the stems and leaves there should not be any problems when feeding this juicy red fruit to your piggy.