People love variety in their diet, and spring vegetables provide a great combination of simplicity and nutrition. The delicious young shoots and plants in spring mix seem like an easy and quick way to provide a variety of nutrients for guinea pigs too.
Guinea pigs are herbivores and thrive on a mix of different greens in their daily diet. Although guinea pigs eat only plants, it is essential to check what plants are safe for them. The question of whether guinea pigs can eat spring mix can depend on a couple of factors.
As a general rule, guinea pigs can eat spring mix if it contains only guinea pig-safe vegetables. Spring mix varies according to the producer. Some may include vegetables that are unsafe for guinea pigs. If it consists of safe greens, spring mix should only form a maximum of 10% of the guinea pig’s diet.
Feeding your guinea pig the correct foods for them to stay healthy is essential. Sometimes this can be challenging when there are so many options to choose from.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Spring Mix?
Many people wonder if spring mix is safe to feed their guinea pigs. Spring mix consists of various types of vegetables, most of which are safe and beneficial for guinea pigs.
However, it’s crucial to find out which vegetables make up the spring mix you’re looking to use. Some vegetables are unsafe or should only be fed to guinea pigs in very small amounts. If your spring mix contains some of these vegetables, it’s best to avoid feeding it or make sure the unsafe greens are removed from the mix before giving it to your piggy.
What Is Spring Mix?
Spring mix is a mixture of young, newly sprouted, or tender vegetables packaged as a salad. This mix of baby greens is also known as mesclun or field greens.
The most common ingredients are a range of different types of leafy vegetables. These may include:
- Romaine lettuce
- Butter or Boston lettuce
- Iceberg lettuce
- Red and green leaf lettuce
- Maché which is also called lamb’s tongue lettuce
- Chicory or curly endive
- Arugula also known as Rocket
- Radicchio (Italian chicory)
- Red oak leaf lettuce
- Red and green mustard
This is not an entire list of the vegetables that may be included in spring greens. Some mixes may contain others, including various herbs.
What Vegetables In Spring Mix Are Unsafe For Guinea Pigs?
Some vegetables are unsafe for guinea pigs because of the way they affect the guinea pig’s gut. Others are too high in calcium, which can also cause problems for guinea pigs. Some common unsafe greens in spring mix include any kind of onion, legumes like peas, iceberg lettuce, spinach, and lambs lettuce.
Not all these are dangerous for guinea pigs, but they can cause issues if fed repeatedly. For example, legumes like peas can cause gas and bloat in guinea pigs due to their starch levels. Iceberg lettuce can cause diarrhea, and lambs lettuce is incredibly high in calcium, which can lead to bladder stone development. Spinach is very high in oxalates, so should be fed in small quantities no more than a few times a month.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Spinach In Spring Mix?
Spinach contains high levels of oxalates. Nutritionists measured one cup of raw spinach and found it contained 656mg of oxalates, which is far higher than any other raw vegetable you can feed your guinea pig.
Oxalates bind with other nutrients like calcium and prevent them from being absorbed into the body. They can also contribute to the formation of urinary stones.
Small amounts of spinach are acceptable, and some veterinarians recommend it for guinea pigs. The problem comes when they eat too much spinach.
Guinea pigs should consume less than 50mg of oxalates per day due to their small size. Since spinach is so high in oxalates, it is very easy to exceed this amount, even when feeding a few tiny leaves.
Many veterinarians and guinea pig experts recommend avoiding spinach altogether. Guinea pigs can obtain the nutrients they need from other plants without the risk posed by spinach.
It may be difficult to assess how much spinach is in the spring mix. Individual guinea pigs may be more sensitive to oxalates than others. These factors make it best to avoid spring mix that contains spinach or pick out most of the spinach leaves before feeding it to your piggy.
High Calcium Vegetables in Spring Mix
While calcium is a useful nutrient for people, it can be problematic for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs can easily develop bladder stones from too much calcium in their diet.
Bladder stones block the urinary system and are very painful for guinea pigs. Often, the only way to deal with bladder stones is through surgery.
Therefore, it’s much better to prevent these issues by ensuring that 80% of your guinea pig’s fresh produce is made up of low-calcium foods.
Some high-calcium foods often found in spring mix include spinach, lambs lettuce, arugula, mustard greens, and watercress. These veggies contain numerous benefits for guinea pigs, but moderation is key to preventing any health issues in your piggy.
Is Iceberg Lettuce In Spring Mix Bad For Guinea Pigs?
Iceberg lettuce has a very high water content compared to other veggies. This makes iceberg lettuce great for anyone stuck in a desert but not good for guinea pigs. The water content combined with the fiber often causes diarrhea in guinea pigs.
Not only does iceberg lettuce cause diarrhea, but it lacks nutritional benefits. It is best to avoid feeding your guinea pig any spring mix that contains iceberg lettuce or remove these leaves from the mix before offering it to your guinea pig.
Spring Mix With Onion Is Unsafe For Guinea Pigs
Some spring mixes include baby onions or spring onions. All types of onions are unsafe for guinea pigs. They are toxic and will endanger the guinea pigs’ health and potentially even be fatal.
Plants from the onion family, including chives, shallots, garlic, and leeks, have the same toxic effect on guinea pigs. Any spring mix containing these vegetables or herbs should not be fed to guinea pigs.
Is Spring Mix With Peas Safe For Guinea Pigs?
Spring mixes with peas or other legumes should not be fed to guinea pigs. Peas have a high sugar or starch content which disrupts the natural bacteria in a guinea pig’s stomach and can cause severe gastrointestinal problems.
Legumes such as peas also produce gas when they are digested. The gas can cause bloat in guinea pigs, which can be fatal in some cases.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cooked Spring Mix?
Guinea pigs should not eat cooked vegetables, including spring mix. The fiber and nutrient content of the vegetables is changed in cooking, making them unsuitable for guinea pigs.
How Much Spring Mix Can Guinea Pigs Eat?
Guinea pigs can eat small amounts of spring mix daily. Spring mix provides plenty of variety for your guinea pig, but it’s important to ensure that the mix you’re feeding doesn’t contain too many high-calcium greens.
Also, keep in mind that vegetables should constitute a maximum of 10% of the guinea pig’s diet. Too many vegetables can cause gastrointestinal upsets. Grass or hay should comprise 80% of the diet, with guinea pig pellets making up the remaining 10%.
Spring mix that consists of various lettuce (except iceberg lettuce), chicory, arugula, watercress, radicchio, and herbs are safe for guinea pigs. Various vegetables provide a healthy mix of vitamins and minerals that are crucial to your guinea pig’s health.
Guinea pigs can eat spring mix as long as all the vegetables and herbs are safe. It is important for owners to check the ingredients of the spring mix and research each green that is not listed in the article above.
Guinea pigs can generally eat spring mix daily but it should not form more than 10% of their food. Guinea pigs usually love raw spring mix, and these delicious greens provide a fantastic combination of flavor and nutrients for your piggy.
While most plant foods are safe for guinea pigs, it’s always a good idea to double-check before introducing a new food to your guinea pig’s diet.
Check out our complete list of safe foods for guinea pigs for an easy reference article of what your piggy can eat.
You can also check out this comprehensive list of 45 things to never feed your guinea pig for several foods to avoid in your guinea pig’s diet.