Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes?
Guinea pigs can eat all types of tomatoes. The ripe fruit and seeds of the tomato are safe for guinea pigs to eat in small amounts.
But, do not give guinea pigs the stem, plant, vine, leaves, or even unripe tomatoes. As these parts are toxic to guinea pigs.
You should always wash tomatoes before feeding them to your guinea pig. And remove any uneaten pieces to prevent mould.
Are Tomatoes Safe For Guinea Pigs?
There are lots of different types of tomatoes available in the world. You have cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes, beef tomatoes, and more.
Guinea pigs can eat any type of tomato, as long as they just eat the flesh.
Tomatoes are an edible fruit from a plant that belongs to the nightshade family. The ripe flesh of this fruit is safe for guinea pigs to eat in small amounts.
But they should never eat unripe tomatoes, or the vine, stems, or leaves of tomato plants.
Tomatoes are a sugary, acidic fruit. Excess sugar in guinea pig diets can contribute to obesity and tooth decay.
And too many acidic foods can contribute to mouth sores and conditions like cheilitis (inflammation of the lips).
Let’s look at tomatoes for guinea pigs in more detail.
Guinea Pigs and Tomatoes
Do guinea pigs eat tomatoes as part of their natural diet? Guinea pigs are herbivores. So, they have a plant based diet and eat no meat.
The majority of a guinea pig diet will be made up of high-fibre grazing foods like hay or grass. This helps their digestion, but also grinds down their teeth, which never stop growing!
Tomatoes have a high level of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which guinea pigs need. Like humans, guinea pigs have lost the ability to biosynthesize ascorbic acid. So, it needs to be supplemented into their diet.
Lack of vitamin C can lead to problems like scurvy. But, there are other less sugary vegetables that also contain this important nutrient.
The sugar in tomatoes can be problematic for guinea pigs. It can lead to obesity and can also cause dental problems.
Why do Guinea Pigs Like Tomatoes?
Most guinea pigs will like tomatoes because they, like most fruits, are sugary.
Guinea pigs are concentrate selectors. This means, naturally they will choose the foods that seem the most nutrient dense.
It also means they can be quite picky eaters. Given the choice between some fibrous hay, and a nice sweet piece of fruit, they are likely to eat the fruit.
But, this can prevent them from getting the balance of nutrients they actually need to stay healthy.
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C for guinea pigs. But too much of this fruit can be harmful.
Are Tomatoes Bad For Guinea Pigs?
Too many sugary foods are bad for guinea pig health. They can contribute to obesity and dental problems.
Guinea pig teeth never stop growing. So they need constant access to high-fiber foods like hay and grass. These fibrous foods will grind down their teeth to keep them at a healthy length.
Too many soft foods won’t be able to do this, so your piggy’s teeth can become overgrown. Unfortunately, overgrown teeth can lead to abscesses in the cheek and mouth.
On top of this, tomatoes have a high acidity content. Too many acidic foods can cause sores to develop in and around your guinea pig’s mouth. It can also potentially upset your piggy’s stomach.
So, tomatoes should only be given in moderation, as a treat.
Are Tomatoes Good For Guinea Pigs?
Tomatoes have high levels of sugar and a natural acidity, so guinea pigs should only eat them as a treat.
However, this doesn’t mean that this fruit is all bad.
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C.
Guinea pigs are like humans in the way neither of us can naturally produce vitamin C. So, we need to find ways to supplement this nutrient.
Having the right levels of vitamin C can prevent problems like scurvy. Vitamin C levels are highest in tomatoes when they are red and ripe. So, this is the best time for your guinea pig to eat them.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cherry Tomatoes?
Cherry tomatoes are a common variety of the tomato fruit that is often grown in people’s gardens. So can guinea pigs eat cherry tomatoes?
If you let your guinea pig explore your garden, you might be wondering if it is safe to have cherry tomatoes there!
Guinea pigs can safely eat the ripe fruit of cherry tomatoes. But, they should not eat the plant, leaves, or stems.
Make sure you wash cherry tomatoes before giving them to your guinea pig to remove any pesticides and bacteria.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tomato Plants?
Guinea pigs should never eat tomato plants, leaves, or stems. Like most nightshades, these plants contain high levels of solanine and tomatine.
These alkaloids are toxic for guinea pigs. They can make your guinea pig very sick if it eats any.
If you grow tomatoes in your garden, make sure your guinea pig is unable to get to the plants.
And, remove any leaves and stems before giving your guinea pig any tomato as a treat.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Unripe Tomatoes?
Unripe, green tomatoes have higher levels of unsafe alkaloids than ripe tomatoes. These can be toxic to your guinea pig.
Plus, the vitamin C content is highest when a tomato is ripe.
So, you should not give your guinea pig unripe tomatoes.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tomato Seeds?
The seeds inside a ripe tomato are safe for your guinea pig to eat.
In fact, one study suggested that the skin and seeds contain the highest proportion of nutrients and antioxidants in tomatoes.
So, you don’t need to remove tomato seeds when giving this treat to your piggy.
My Guinea Pig Ate Tomato, What Should I Do?
If your guinea pig has eaten a ripe, washed tomato, you don’t need to worry.
But, if your guinea pig has eaten unripe tomatoes, or the plant, leaves or stem of a tomato, you should call your vet immediately.
These parts of a tomato can be toxic. So you should act fast if your guinea pig has eaten them.
Can Baby Guinea Pigs Eat Tomatoes?
Can baby guinea pigs eat tomatoes as a snack? Yes, they can!
You should introduce new foods to your guinea pig when it is young, as younger piggies will adapt to dietary changes more easily.
However, it is important to remember that baby guinea pigs are smaller, and still growing. So do not feed them as much tomato as you would feed an adult guinea pig.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tomato Every Day?
Guinea pigs should not eat tomato every day. Their main diet should be made up of hay and leafy greens, with a very small amount of fruit.
You can give your guinea pig tomato a couple of times a week. But, serving size should be no bigger than one cubic inch, or a small cherry tomato.
Guinea Pig Tomato Treats
Whenever you give your guinea pig tomato treats, make sure serve washed, ripe fruit. Here are some serving suggestion ideas:
- Thin slices of fresh tomato
- Complete guinea pig pellets with small pieces of tomato
- A single cherry tomato (skin included!)
Cooking tomatoes has been shown to reduce the vitamin C content. So, always serve your guinea pig fresh tomato.
Alternatives to Tomato for Guinea Pigs
Not every guinea pig will like tomatoes. And that’s okay! If your guinea pig doesn’t want to have tomato treats, there are plenty of other great fruits you can provide.
Make sure you are offering enough vitamin C by checking our other guinea pig food guides below.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tomatoes Summary
Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes? Yes, the fresh, ripe fruit of tomatoes is safe for guinea pigs as long as it is washed. Your guinea pig can have a small serving of tomato once or twice a week.
Ripe tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C for your guinea pig. And your piggy is likely to love the sweet flavor.
Never feed your guinea pig tomato plants, leaves, stems, or unripe tomatoes. These are poisonous for guinea pigs, and can cause a great deal of harm.
Have you given tomatoes to your guinea pig? You can let us know about your experiences with guinea pigs and tomatoes in the comments below.
References and Further Reading
- Toor, R. ‘Antioxidant Activity in Different Fractions of Tomatoes’, Food Research International (2005)
- Mancinelli, E. ‘Guinea Pig Husbandry – Housing, Diet, and Handling’, Vet Times (2016)
- Marconi, O. ‘Organic Acids Profile in Tomato Juice by HPLC with UV Detection’, Journal of Food Quality (2007)
- Lachapelle, M. ‘Inactivation Dates of the Human and Guinea Pig Vitamin C Genes’, Genetica (2010)
- Boulekbache-Makhlouf, L. (et al), ‘Effects of Cooking on the Nutritional Properties of Tomato Fruit’, Conscienta Beam (2016)
- De Tullio, M. ‘The Mystery of Vitamin C’, Nature Education (2010)
- Kohles, M. ‘Gastrointestinal Anatomy and Physiology of Select Exotic Companion Mammals’, Exotic Animal Practice (2014)
- White, S. (et al), ‘Dermatological Problems in Guinea Pigs’, VetLearn (2003)
- Kasali, F. (et al), ‘Assessment of Antidiabetic Activity and Acute Toxicity of Leaf Extracts from Solanum Nigrum L. in Guinea Pigs’, International Journal of Herbal Medicine (2016)
- Bednarz, H. (et al), ‘Mass Spectrometry Imaging of the Spatial and Temporal Localization of Alkaloids in Nightshades’, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2019)