This question may have been in the back of your mind for some time. But it wasn’t until you were walking down the grocery aisle and saw a nice fresh bag of Roma tomatoes on sale for only 89 cents that you finally forced yourself to ask:
Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes? Guinea pigs can only eat ripe tomato fruit. They should not be fed the stem, leaves, or unripened tomatoes. In their natural state, unripe tomatoes contain solanine, a toxic chemical that could fatally harm your guinea pig.
Tomatoes are nutritious fruits that can benefit your little pets a great deal in moderation. Along with regular garden tomatoes, they can also eat grapes, cherry, and plum tomatoes. Just make sure you don’t feed them unripe tomatoes because the solanine present in them could be lethal to your pets.
In this article, we will explore all aspects of feeding tomatoes to the guinea pigs, including their nutritional contents, health benefits, risks involved, moderation, and more.
Are tomatoes healthy for guinea pigs?
Since guinea pigs are herbivorous rodents and can eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
While tomatoes might be a safe treat for them, what about their nutritional value? Can eating tomatoes benefit your pet rodents in any way, or are these solely for fulfilling their hunger? If these questions have crossed your mind, you’re going to find their answers in this section.
Before we proceed to discuss the health benefits of tomatoes for guinea pigs, let’s take a quick peek at what these fruits are made up of, nutritionally:
The nutritional value of tomatoes
|Vitamin A||42 mcg|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.037 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.019 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.594 mg|
|Vitamin B4 (Choline)||6.7 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.089 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.08 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||15 mcg|
|Vitamin C||13.7 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.54 mg|
|Vitamin K||43 mcg|
|Potassium, K||237 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||24 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||11 mg|
|Calcium, Ca||10 mg|
|Sodium, Na||5 mg|
|Iron, Fe||0.27 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.17 mg|
|Manganese, Mn||0.114 mg|
|Copper, Cu||0.059 mg|
|Dietary fibers||1.2 g|
Serving size: 100 grams
Now that you’re well acquainted with the nutritional contents of tomatoes, we can talk about the advantages of feeding these fruits to your little pets:
- First of all, the calorific count of tomatoes is meager, in addition to the presence of dietary fibers that can give your guinea pigs a sense of fulfillment. Together, the combination of low-calories and high-fiber might lead to a healthy weight loss for your pet rodents.
- In addition to making your pets feel satiated, the fibers present in tomatoes are also great for their digestive health. They enhance your pet’s capacity for nutrient absorption and prevent digestive issues like constipation.
- Tomatoes are a great source of Vitamin C, which has a miraculous effect on the immune health of guinea pigs. This vitamin is crucial in improving the functioning of their white blood cells, which ultimately ward off all kinds of diseases.
- Tomatoes are also rich in Vitamin K and Calcium, both of which are essential in keeping your pet’s teeth and bones healthy. Additionally, Vitamin K plays an indispensable role in their blood coagulation process.
- Lycopene, a plant nutrient that is rich in antioxidant properties, is present in tomatoes. It is known to offer nourishment and protection to your pet’s skin.
- Tomatoes contain both lycopene and beta-carotene, antioxidants that are believed to be most closely related to the reduced risks of strokes and other heart-related problems in your pet.
- In addition to lycopene and beta-carotene, a large number of other antioxidants are also present in tomatoes. These antioxidants can tackle the free radicals in the guinea pig’s body. If not dealt with properly, these radicals can wreak havoc on their cell health, leading to various diseases. Antioxidants are also beneficial in reducing inflammation caused by a disease or an injury.
- Lastly, as you can see in the table above, 95% of a tomato is basically water. If your pets eat tomatoes, they would never face the risk of being dehydrated, which could turn into a severe problem during the summers.
The threat of feeding unripe tomatoes to guinea pigs
Before we move ahead, I must clarify that all the health benefits we discussed in the previous section would only be gained from eating red, fully-ripened tomatoes.
If you feed your pet rodents green ones that are not fully ripened, the results will be quite the opposite. Wondering why? It is because of the presence of solanine in these tomatoes.
But what is solanine? Let me tell you.
Solanine is glycoalkaloid poison present in all nightshade plants, including tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, etc. It works as a natural defense mechanism to keep insects and pests away from their fruits.
For some reason, solanine is only found in the green parts of these plants, making their fully-ripened fruits and vegetables perfect for the consumption of your pets.
On the other hand, the green tomatoes are rich in solanine, making them dangerous to all animals and birds, including humans. However, it would take a large amount of solanine to poison us, while for your little pet rodents, even a single unripe tomato could be lethal.
Solanine consumption could cause convulsions and fits in your guinea pigs and might even lead to death from heart failure ultimately.
Other risks involved with feeding tomatoes to guinea pigs
While red and ripened tomatoes are fully safe and healthy for the guinea pigs, it doesn’t mean that you can go on feeding them as many tomatoes as you can.
You must understand that no matter how nutritious these fruits are, they cannot be fed to your pets as a staple diet. There’s a reason why veterinarians recommend you to use them as a treat for your pets.
If you don’t limit the number of tomatoes your pet rodents are eating, they could suffer from the following problems in the long run:
- It might come as a surprise to many of you, but there’s a chance that your pet might be allergic to tomatoes. If their mouth and throat swell up after eating these fruits, it’s a clear sign of an allergic reaction. When such a thing happens, your best course of action is to take away tomatoes and feed them plenty of water. If the allergy gets worse, contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Although the amount of sugar present in tomatoes is moderate, when your pets consume more sugar than they can burn, it can be problematic. Over time, all the extra sugar gets deposited inside their body and can even lead to diabetes. While diabetes is uncommon among guinea pigs, some cases are reported, making it a possibility.
- Many guinea pig owners have claimed that their pets have developed lip sores from eating too many tomatoes too often. Unless you want your pets to go through the same predicament, feed them tomatoes in moderation.
Are other parts of tomatoes safe for guinea pigs? (calyx, stem, leaves)
In the wild, guinea pigs are used to eating leaves and stalks in their surroundings. Does this mean that the leaves and stalks of tomato plants are also edible to them? No, absolutely not.
As we’ve discussed earlier, all green parts of a nightshade plant are rich in solanine. This includes their leaves, stems, and the calyx of tomatoes as well.
In other words, all parts of tomato plants, except their fully-ripened fruits, are unsafe for your pet rodents.
Can guinea pigs eat the outer skin of tomatoes?
Because the outer skin of tomatoes is so soft and thin, most people don’t even think twice before eating them.
For your guinea pigs, it’s pretty much the same as well. They can safely eat the skin along with the flesh within it.
However, you should always wash these fruits thoroughly in running water before feeding them to your pets. This would alleviate the risk of toxic chemicals being ingested by them.
What about tomato seeds? Can guinea pigs eat them?
You might have noticed small, yellowish seeds that the inner flesh of tomatoes is filled with. Are these seeds safe for your guinea pigs? Yes, they are.
Not only are tomato seeds free from any toxic compound, but they are also far too small and squishy to act as a choking hazard for your pets.
Therefore, you shouldn’t worry about getting rid of these seeds before feeding tomatoes to the guinea pigs.
Can you feed yellow tomatoes to guinea pigs?
Have you ever offered yellow tomatoes to guinea pigs? If you have, you must’ve noticed how these little guys like them more than the regular tomatoes. It is because yellow tomatoes have a higher sugar content than them and are, therefore, sweeter and more appealing to the guinea pigs.
These tomatoes also have a nutritional value similar to regular tomatoes so that you can feed them to your pets in a similar moderation.
Can you feed cherry tomatoes to guinea pigs?
Cherry tomatoes are born out of crossbreeding between wild-currant tomatoes and regular garden tomatoes. Just as the name suggests, their size is much smaller than the tomatoes we commonly eat and resembles a cherry. Besides red, cherry tomatoes are also available in green-yellow and black colors.
These tomatoes can be fed to your guinea pigs just as much as the other tomato varieties. In fact, because of their small size, these little guys can fit in more of these inside their mouths, which might be fun for them.
Canned tomatoes for guinea pigs: safe or not?
Canned tomatoes are a processed form of tomatoes often used in making pasta, soup, and casseroles. While canned tomatoes are harmless to us, it is a bad idea to feed them to your guinea pigs.
It is because these tomatoes are processed foods and contain several chemicals and additives. And since the health of the guinea pigs is extremely fragile, they shouldn’t be eating canned tomatoes or any other canned food manufactured for human consumption, for that matter.
Conclusion: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tomatoes?
We know guinea pigs need vegetables in their diet, but do they also need fruit and can guinea pigs eat tomatoes? I hope I’ve given you enough information to decide what is best for your cavy.
Yes, guinea pigs can eat ripe tomatoes. In fact, it is a great treat for them and can provide an important source of vitamins and nutrients their diet may be lacking.
I hope you found it helpful! If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Don’t forget to share it with your friends too.