A guinea pig’s diet consists of pellets, hay, vegetables, and fruits. Guinea pigs can also munch on herbs if they want to.
However, you need to keep two things in mind— one, not every herb is good for your guinea pig’s health, and two, herbs should only be offered in moderation.
This is why when you start introducing herbs into your guinea pig’s diet, limit it to twice a week.
Furthermore, not all guinea pigs like the taste of herbs. Some lean towards bulky and crunchy vegetables, such as cucumbers.
This is why it is better to experiment with different herbs to find out which ones match your guinea pig’s taste buds.
Let’s discuss the herbs your guinea pig can eat:
What Herbs Can Guinea Pigs Eat
Below are the herbs that are safe for your guinea pig to consume.
Fennel is at the top of our list of herbs that you can feed to your guinea pig. This herb is rich in Vitamin C, which is vital for your pet.
It helps keep its immune system strong and prevents scurvy.
You can feed this herb to your guinea pig every day.
If you are still a bit skeptical about giving fennel to your guinea pigs, you can always feed your guinea pigs other herbs.
Full of Vitamin C, parsley is also great for guinea pigs. In fact, it is better than most herbs and can be fed more than twice to guinea pigs.
It does contain oxalic acid and calcium, which can cause kidney stones, but its high Vitamin C content more than makes up for it.
This sweet-scented plant is a treat for guinea pigs.
They will munch on it happily and scarf it down in a matter of seconds.
The good news is that you can add a small amount of it into their daily diet as it helps lower small intestine contractions.
Tarragon is a great herb for guinea pigs.
It supplements your pet’s diet with Vitamin A, B, and most importantly, C.
It is rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients that keep your guinea pig healthy and active. In fact, it reduces the chances of diseases.
The only problem is that tarragon is high in calcium.
While guinea pigs less than 6 months old need calcium for development, giving this herb to older guinea pigs can cause stones to form in their stomachs.
Also called coriander, cilantro is good for guinea pigs, but it should only be fed occasionally.
Like mint, coriander also has a strong smell, which can be a little off-putting for guinea pigs. Too much of it can also cause diarrhea and indigestion.
Coriander contains phosphorus and Vitamin C that help prevent diseases and make your pet’s immune system strong.
Basil is a better choice than other herbs containing calcium. You can feed it to your guinea pig with a one-day gap.
Basil’s above-ground herb and stem are both safe for your pet.
Basil should not be the largest part of your guinea pig’s diet, but other than that, it is a good herb to feed to your guinea pig.
Rosemary is another safe herb for guinea pigs.
It does contain calcium, but the high amount of antioxidants in it makes it a good herb for your pet.
It has a pleasant aroma, which appeals to guinea pigs.
Apart from preventing scurvy, it also ensures a steady production of red blood cells, which keeps your guinea pig healthy.
Arugula (Rocket Salad)
Full of calcium and containing very little Vitamin C, arugula is also a good herb that you can give to your pet.
However, the calcium concentration is low, unlike other herbs, which is why you can feed it to your guinea pig twice a week.
No two guinea pigs are the same.
They have different tastes, which is why while one guinea pig might love the taste of lavender, the other might be repelled by its strong aroma.
Like tarragon, lavender also contains a high amount of calcium.
Since this herb has essential oils and has no beneficial nutritional value, it is not always recommended to add it to your guinea pig’s diet.
However, you can give lavender as a treat to your guinea pig once a month.
There are different strains of mint and each one differs based on its strong taste and smell.
This herb is also safe for your guinea pig but in moderation. Mint contains Vitamin C in modest amounts and calcium in a high amount.
Nutritionally, mint is not that fulfilling, which is why this herb should also be given to your guinea pig only twice a week.
Thyme should be introduced into your guinea pig’s diet when it is older.
The herb is full of Vitamin C, so it is a good choice; however, feeding it too early to your pet can cause tummy aches.
While it is rich in calcium, you can still include it in your pet’s diet at least twice a week.
Sage is quite addictive for guinea pigs. They might refuse to eat any other vegetable or herb if you give it to them regularly.
Like lavender, sage also has essential oils and its strong aroma is what attracts guinea pigs.
Since sage has no significant nutritional value, cutting it off will not affect their health in any way.
You can consider this herb as a treat that you can give to your guinea pig twice a month.
Oregano does not hold much appeal to guinea pigs. It has a strong smell and a distinct taste, which makes it inedible.
However, if you are looking for variety, then adding this herb to your guinea pig’s diet is a good choice.
Feed oregano in small amounts to your pet because it is quite high in calcium and can lead to kidney and bladder stones.
The side effects of excessive oregano feeding are severe, and they will necessitate expensive veterinary visits.
All guinea pigs love endives.
In fact, they seem to enjoy it immensely.
It does contain a bit of calcium, but not enough to cause any long-term problems.
It contains very little Vitamin C, which does not make it very nutritious. Include endives in your guinea pig’s diet at least twice a week.
Having a high amount of calcium, dill should also be seldom given to your older guinea pigs.
Yes, it is safe food, but it is not safer than sage.
Your guinea pig might not like sage’s bitter undertones and its strong taste is not loved by all pets. So, give it to your guinea pig sparingly.
Chamomile leaves, as well as flowers, are great for guinea pigs. The flower helps clean its coat and makes it shiny.
The leaves add a healthy touch to it and keep the coat conditioned. As for the leaves, it is anti-inflammatory and helps reduce any digestive complaints.
Herbs You Shouldn’t Feed to Your Guinea Pig
It probably never crossed your mind that some of the herbs that you feed to your guinea pig can cause some harmful problems, such as intestinal discomfort, discolored poop, or a decline in red blood cells.
Two main herbs that you can’t feed to your guinea pig include:
Chives are the biggest “NO” on the herbs list. This herb is extremely dangerous for your guinea pig because it contains disulfide.
These sulfur-containing molecules can cause a drop in the count of your guinea pig’s red blood cells.
This can cause numerous health complications and lower your pet’s quality of life.
Shallots, garlic, and onions are a few other herbs that have similar side effects.
Most owners keep feeding their guinea pigs chives, as they don’t see any change in their health.
This is because chives slowly destroy your pet from the inside and by the time you notice a change in your guinea pig’s health, it is too late!
Curry leaf is a pretty strong herb.
It is inflammatory and not recommended for your guinea pig’s diet. Its taste is mostly bitter, and it can cause intestinal problems.
Here is a list of some other herbs that you can’t add to your guinea pig’s diet:
- Autumn crocus
- Christmas rose
- Lily of the valley
- Tree of Life
Now that you know what herbs you can feed to your guinea pig, one thing you need to remember is that everything should be fresh.
If you see even a little yellowing on the leaves, throw them away immediately.
If your guinea pig doesn’t eat the herbs within 24 hours, replace them. Lastly, wash the herbs thoroughly before feeding them to your pet.
Remember — any herb that is high in calcium should be fed in moderation.
Too much of it and your pet might start to develop health problems! Other than that, you can mix up different herbs from the list mentioned above and feed them to your guinea pig daily.
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