Guinea pigs require a diverse and fresh diet to keep them healthy and happy. Cherries are a dark red fruit that is full of nutrients and antioxidants for humans. But are they safe for guinea pigs too?
Generally speaking, guinea pigs can eat cherries on occasion. However, they should be given in moderation and not frozen or dried. The cherry pit should also be removed before feeding, as it can be a choking hazard for your guinea pig.
Continue reading to discover the benefits and drawbacks of feeding cherries to guinea pigs, as well as how often to offer this sweet red fruit.
Are Cherries Bad for Guinea Pigs?
Cherries are incredibly healthy for guinea pigs in moderation. They’re low-calorie, have a high nutritional value, and are high in fiber, which is essential for your guinea pig’s gut health. However, the pits are toxic to guinea pigs, so you must remove them before giving out any cherries.
Cherries are also pretty acidic and can potentially upset your guinea pig’s stomach. Fiber is crucial, but too much can result in constipation and digestive troubles. Additionally, guinea pigs can gain a lot of weight if they eat too many cherries.
It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Every being needs a balance of vitamins, but too much of anything can lead to illness, and cherries are no exception.
Additionally, many fruit pits, including apples and cherries, contain amygdalin, which the body converts to cyanide. A human would have to eat pounds of these seeds for them to have any serious adverse effects on the body. However, guinea pig bodies are naturally much smaller, so even trace amounts of this compound can lead to severe illness.
How Often Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cherries?
Cherries are best fed in moderation to guinea pigs. They should eat no more than 1-2 cherries once a week due to the sugar and acidity in this fruit. Also, it’s important to spread out the feeding of cherries from other sugary fruits so your guinea pig is not consuming vast amounts of sugar all at once. It’s also best to feed cherries separately from acidic foods like oranges, pomegranates, or tomatoes.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Sour Cherries?
Guinea pigs can eat both sweet and sour cherries as long as the pits are removed first. You’ll likely find that your guinea pig prefers one flavor over the other. This can vary from one piggy to another.
As with all foods, keep an eye on your guinea pig after they try sweet or sour cherries for the first time, and remove them from the menu if you notice any lethargy, adverse effects, or other odd behavior from your guinea pig.
Nutritional Value of Cherries
Cherries contain a variety of different vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for your guinea pig’s health. I’ll list the nutritional value of sweet raw cherries per 100 grams in the table below:
|Vitamin C||7 mg|
|Vitamin A||64 IU|
|Vitamin K||2.1 µg|
Benefits of Cherries for Guinea Pigs
Fruits like cherries that are high in nutrients are exceptionally good for guinea pigs. Cherries contain a host of healthy vitamins and minerals, such as:
- Good Source of Fiber: Containing 2.1 grams, cherries are a pretty good source of fiber. This is essential for keeping food moving through your guinea pig’s GI tract. Soluble fiber also feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut, helping the body to fight off infections.
- Rich in Antioxidants: Due to their dark red pigment, cherries contain a wealth of powerful antioxidants which help the body to fight off harmful free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body.
- Low in Calcium: Cherries are a pretty low-calcium food, meaning it’s a suitable treat for guinea pigs prone to stones and other urinary health conditions.
- High in Potassium: This nutrient is essential for many bodily functions including nerve, muscle, kidney, and heart function.
- Guinea Pigs Love Cherries: This sweet fruit is often loved by guinea pigs. Some piggies will always prefer leafy greens in favor of sweet treats, but cherries are often favorites of guinea pigs with a sweet tooth.
- Nutrient-Dense: In addition to the nutrients mentioned above, cherries also contain small amounts of protein, manganese, iron, magnesium, and vitamins C, K, and A that benefit your guinea pig’s health in many ways.
Risks and Drawbacks of Feeding Cherries to Guinea Pigs
While cherries have many great nutrients for guinea pigs, there are a few things to take note of before including them in your furry potato’s menu.
- High in Sugar: Like many fruits, cherries are quite high in sugar. Guinea pigs evolved to consume fibrous grasses and low-sugar diets, so they are not well equipped to digest large amounts of sugar. This can lead to digestive upset or diarrhea in some piggies. Too much sugar can also lead to excess weight gain over time.
- Acidic: These fruits have some acidic qualities, which can upset your guinea pig’s stomach or cause mouth sores. It’s important to monitor your guinea pig for any changes in behavior after eating cherries and stop feeding them if you notice any adverse effects caused by their consumption.
- Low in Vitamin C: Although this is not a risk, it is a drawback for guinea pigs, as this nutrient is the most important for a guinea pig to get through their diet. As long as cherries are fed sparingly and combined with foods that are high in vitamin C, guinea pigs can still benefit from the countless other nutrients that are found in cherries.
- Pesticide Residue: As with many fruits and vegetables, cherries are often grown with pesticides. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the cherries before feeding them to your piggy, or buy organic produce if you can.
How to Feed Cherries to Guinea Pigs
Prepping these tasty red fruits for the guinea pigs to eat is essential so they don’t suffer from digestive upset. Here’s what you need to do:
- Wash the cherries. Giving the cherries a thorough rinse removes dirt and pesticides that could be present on the fruit.
- Remove the pit and stem. De-pitting any fruit you give to your furry friend is crucial, as fruit pits usually contain cyanide.
- Introduce gradually: It’s important to always introduce new foods gradually and monitor your guinea pig for any changes in behavior or signs of diarrhea. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it’s best to stop feeding the fruit immediately and consult an experienced exotic vet for advice.
- Don’t feed them too many cherries. Fruit is healthy for guinea pigs, but 80% of their diet should consist of high-quality grass hay. 1-2 cherries per pig should cover them for the week.
Not every pet is the same, so if you notice that yours isn’t responding well to dietary changes or certain foods, it’s time to change things up. Your guinea pig doesn’t have to eat a weekly dose of cherries if they don’t like them or have a bad reaction to them.
Mix It Up! More Fruits and Vegetables to Include In Your Guinea Pig’s Diet
If your piggy doesn’t like cherries, there are plenty of other fruits and vegetables that contain just as many vitamins that you can give them instead. I’ll list some other great options to include in your guinea pig’s menu below:
- Bell Peppers: These are one of the best foods to feed your guinea pig daily. Sweet peppers can be found in all colors and they are extremely rich in Vitamin C.
- Peaches: These sweet treats are rich in potassium and countless other vitamins and minerals. They make a great occasional treat for guinea pigs.
- Berries: One of the most antioxidant-rich types of fruit, guinea pigs can eat several kinds of berries including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and even cranberries.
- Leafy Greens: If your guinea pig isn’t a fan of sweets, you’ll likely find that they love leafy greens like lettuce, endive, radicchio, fennel, basil, kale, or collard greens.
- Dandelion Greens: Found abundantly outside, these greens are often a favorite food for guinea pigs. Be sure to pick them from an untreated area that is completely free of pesticides and other chemicals.
Guinea Pig Dietary Requirements
Cherries and other fruits are great for guinea pigs, but in reality, they make up a tiny fraction of your pet’s total recommended diet. Your guinea pig’s diet should consist of 80% grass hay, a small amount of pellets formulated for guinea pigs, and 1 cup of low-sugar vegetables per day. Fruits and other treats should make up only 5% of their diet.
Below is a list of foods guinea pigs should have available daily:
- An unlimited supply of fresh hay
- Fresh clean water changed daily
- A small bowl of nutrient-rich, high-quality pellets to supplement their diet
- Vegetables low in sugar and calcium such as bell peppers, zucchini, fresh grass, or corn husks.
Try and keep a few food options in rotation to keep their diet varied and ensure they’re not getting too many or too few of certain nutrients. For example, if you give them beetroot one day, give them cauliflower the next.
Ensure you refrigerate these vegetables before giving them to your pet, as leaving them out increases the risk of them going bad. While a slightly brown leaf of lettuce isn’t the end of the world, rotten fruit and veg are bad for your guinea pig’s health.
It’s also vital to keep your guinea pig hydrated, especially since they’re consuming dry foods like hay most of the time. Be sure to keep your guinea pig’s water bowl or bottle filled with clean water, and refill it daily to keep it tasting fresh.
You can give your guinea pig a maximum of 1-2 cherries a week. Cherries are good for them, and they love them! However, it’s important to avoid giving them too many, and always de-pit them first.
It’s a good idea to supplement their diet with other fruits and vegetables and rotate their food selection weekly. There are so many great foods you can add to your guinea pig’s menu.
Be sure to select foods that are a good source of vitamin C, but limit calcium-rich foods to prevent urinary problems in your guinea pig. For more ideas, you can also check out our Guinea Pig Food Chart, which lists all the foods your guinea pig can eat along with the calcium and vitamin C levels of each food.