Can guinea pigs eat strawberries?
Yes, strawberries are a safe, sweet and tasty snack for your guinea pig.
Strawberries contain lots of vitamin C and other nutrients, but because they are high in sugar, think of them in the same category as cake or ice cream for humans—a tasty occasional treat.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Strawberries?
Maybe you’ve seen cute pictures of guinea pigs with their little mouths stained red, as if they’re wearing lipstick, after eating strawberries.
In this article, we’ll talk more about the pros and cons of feeding your guinea pig strawberries.
We’ll look at:
- whether strawberries are part of the natural guinea pig diet
- the benefits and risks of eating fresh strawberries
- whether the rules are different for processed foods containing strawberries
- and some other healthy food options for your little friend.
Let’s look at the natural guinea pig diet first.
Do Wild Guinea Pigs Eat Strawberries?
Guinea pigs are strict herbivores, which means that they only eat plants.
The domestic guinea pigs we keep in our homes are a distinct species from wild guinea pigs.
The most common wild guinea pig species are the Brazilian guinea pig, the shiny guinea pig, and the montane guinea pig.
All three are native to South America. Lots of strawberries are cultivated there too, but wild strawberries are generally more associated with Europe and North America.
So in short, it’s pretty unlikely a wild guinea pig will stumble across any strawberries for their dinner.
They’re much more likely to tuck into grasses, leaves and flowers!
Strawberries In A Pet Guinea Pig Diet
Pet guinea pigs do well on a diet of dried grasses like timothy hay and alfalfa, along with quality commercial food pellets.
Their teeth are designed to chew on tough plants and will grow too long if not ground down by roughage.
Guinea pigs also require vitamin C in their diet. Guinea pigs with a vitamin C deficiency can become sick with scurvy.
Scurvy can cause a wide range of visible symptoms such as rough coat and lameness, as well as a weakened immune system that leads to an inability to fight off infections and slowed wound healing.
Strawberries are among the fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C.
So are strawberries a good source of vitamin C for pet guinea pigs?
Are Strawberries Good For Guinea Pigs?
Owners can ensure that their guinea pigs get enough vitamin C by feeding them fruits and vegetables, pellets with added vitamin C, or by giving them vitamin C supplements.
Feeding your guinea pig fresh strawberries as a treat can be a good way to provide added vitamin C to his diet.
Besides a good amount of vitamin C, strawberries also contain other nutrients like vitamin A, folate, and potassium.
But strawberries shouldn’t be the primary source of vitamin C because they contain a lot of sugar.
Alternatives To Strawberries For Guinea Pigs
There are other plant foods rich in vitamin C that are better suited to the natural high-fiber guinea pig diet, beneficial to both their teeth and digestive systems.
Keep in mind that strawberries are soft and guinea pigs require roughage.
High vitamin C plant foods with more “chew” than strawberries include vegetables like:
- Bell peppers
- Mustard greens
While strawberries are safe, limit them (and other fruits that are high in sugar) to treats, and focus on vegetable sources of vitamin C instead.
Are Strawberries Bad for Guinea Pigs?
Strawberries are not bad for guinea pigs in the sense that they are not toxic or poisonous if consumed.
A few strawberries are a good once or twice weekly treat for your guinea pig, and will provide vitamin C.
The biggest drawback with feeding your guinea pig too many strawberries is the amount of sugar they contain.
Just like with humans, eating a lot of sugar can be bad for guinea pigs. Too much sugar in the diet can lead to tooth decay, obesity, and digestive upset.
Limit strawberry intake to fresh, raw strawberries.
It’s best not to feed your guinea pig processed strawberry foods such as jams, cakes, and cookies.
Do Guinea Pigs Like Strawberries?
As we’ve seen from those lipstick-wearing guinea pigs on the internet, many guinea pigs enjoy eating strawberries!
Your guinea pig will most likely have a sweet tooth and enjoy a treat of one or two fresh strawberries once or twice per week.
But all animals are different, so it’s possible that your guinea pig might prefer another type of fruit instead.
Here are a few fresh fruit options if your guinea pig does not like strawberries:
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Strawberries?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat fresh strawberries as an occasional treat. They are a good source of vitamin C, but they are high in sugar.
Your guinea pig should get most of his needed vitamin C from fresh vegetables and commercial pellets, not sugary fruit.
You can talk to your vet about vitamin C drops and supplements if your guinea pig is diagnosed with vitamin C deficiency.
Fresh fruits like strawberries are a good treat for guinea pigs when fed in moderation, once or twice a week.
Plus, you can take a picture of that cute strawberry lipstick-stained guinea pig mouth as a bonus!
Does Your Guinea Pig Enjoy Strawberries?
What other fruits make them wheek for joy?
Let us know in the comments box down below!
References and Resources
Guinea Pig Nutrition, Melbourne Rabbit Clinic, 2018.
Scurvy Critters: How to Combat Vitamin C Deficiency in Guinea Pigs, Amherst Veterinary Hospital, 2014.
Rhody, J., Vitamin C Supplements for Guinea Pigs, Veterinary Partner, 2018.
Hebert, J, Nutrition for Guinea Pig, Centre Veterinaire Laval, 2012.