Creamy in texture, sweet potatoes are really sweet as the name suggests. Everyone loves sweet potatoes—while some like them baked, others like them roasted. Yet others blend them into a tasty soup. Perhaps, you love sweet potatoes as well and now you are wondering if you can share this heavenly food with your guinea pig. Can guinea pigs eat sweet potatoes? Are sweet potatoes good for guinea pigs?
Guinea Pig Diet
Guinea pigs are natural herbivores. In the wild, they survive by grazing on grass and foraging for leafy greens. However, in captivity, it is our duty to provide for all the nutritional needs of guinea pigs.
The bulk guinea pig food should consist of timothy hay and guinea pig pellets. Guinea pigs’ teeth keep growing every day; to keep the teeth growth in check, guinea pigs should be provided with timothy hay throughout the day, which limits their teeth growth. Though the timothy hay and guinea pig pellets contain vitamin C, it does not make up for all the vitamin C requirements of guinea pigs.
Therefore, it is crucial that we also offer our piggies either vitamin C supplement pills or vitamin c drops for guinea pigs. Otherwise, in case of vitamin C deficiency, guinea pigs might develop scurvy.
Guinea Pig Sweet Potato
Once reserved for holidays, today sweet potatoes have become ubiquitous—they can be found in every next kitchen. Given that sweet potatoes are being eaten in every other American home, it is pertinent that we resolve all the apprehensions and doubt surrounding “can guinea pigs eat sweet potatoes?” So that the next you are having sweet potatoes ad you are tempted to share them with your guinea, your doubts do not stop you from sharing this delicious and nutritious snack with your guinea pig.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat sweet potatoes but as with all other fruits and vegetables, only in moderate amounts and that too occasionally as a treat. Given that sweet potatoes are laden with starch, they could cause gastrointestinal issues in your guinea pigs if they eat sweet potatoes in excess.
Nutrient Profile of Sweet Potatoes
Here is a list of some important nutrients present in 100g of sweet potatoes, according to USDA Food Central.
|Nutrient||Amount per 100g|
Do Guinea Pigs Like Sweet Potatoes?
Everyone likes sweet potatoes and so do our guinea pigs. The sweet taste, the creamy texture—what’s not to like. Just like other fresh veggies and fruits, our guinea pigs are always ready to sink their teeth into the yummy and delightful sweet potatoes.
Can Guinea Pigs Have Sweet Potato Peelings?
Yes, guinea pigs can have sweet potato peels. Just like the inner sweet potatoes, their outer layer is also safe for guinea pigs to eat. But just as you have to be careful and feed only smaller amounts of inner sweet potato, you should also feed sweet potato peels to your guinea in moderate amounts as it also contains a bit too much starch, which could cause tummy troubles in our piggies. Just an inch of sweet potato peel would be enough for your little friend.
One more thing, if you are going to share a potato peel with your guinea, make sure that the potato is well scrubbed. Scrubbing would not only get rid of the dirt and bacteria but would also wipe off potential chemicals and pesticides, which could be dangerous for our little furry friends.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Sweet Potato Leaves and Vines?
Yes, fresh leaves and vines of sweet potatoes are safe and would be much appreciated by your guinea pigs. But as with the sweet potato itself, you should only give vines and leaves to your guinea pigs in small amounts. You may also consider mixing leaves and vines into their salad, every now and then.
Can Pigs Eat Raw Sweet Potatoes?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat raw sweet potatoes. Actually, we should only give them sweet potatoes in raw form—never cooked or baked. This is because the digestive systems of our guinea pigs are not designed to deal with processed food. Eating guinea pigs might cause digestive issues in guinea pigs.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Mashed Sweet Potatoes?
Since guinea pigs cannot eat processed food, eating mashed sweet potatoes would be a big No-No for them. It would be best if you can just peel the sweet potato, slice it into small cubes and offer one or two small cubes to your guinea pig to crunch on.
Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes for Guinea Pigs
Loaded with useful vitamins and minerals, sweet potatoes have a litany of health benefits for humans and are often considered a superfood for humans, but can we say the same about our guinea pigs. Are sweet potatoes good for guinea pigs?
Below we have discussed some of the health benefits that guinea pigs can enjoy by eating sweet potatoes.
Eating Sweet Potatoes Improve Guinea Pigs’ Vision
Eating sweet potatoes helps our little guineas maintain good eyesight. Actually, sweet potatoes contain vitamin A and beta-carotene, which are ideal for good vision. These compounds not only help prevent guinea pig eye infections but also improves piglets’ eye vision by furthering the production of new light detectors.
Antioxidants in Sweet Potatoes Help Fight Free Radicals
Sweet potatoes owe their rich color to natural compounds called carotenoids, which are excellent antioxidants. These antioxidants help our guinea pigs fight free radicals that cause cell damage, which often leads to complications and even cancer in guinea pigs.
Eating Sweet Potatoes Help Maintain Guinea Pigs Brain Health
Sweet potatoes contain another very useful compound named anthocyanin, which prevents brain damage in our guinea pigs. So, eating sweet potatoes increase our guinea’s brain function and also reduce the risk of many diseases. After all healthy brain equals a healthy guinea pig.
Sweet Potatoes Provide Anti-inflammatory Agents
Our guinea pigs often suffer from injuries and illnesses that lead to swelling and inflammation. Our little guineas keep running in tragic accidents that lead to swelling every now and then. Given the anti-inflammatory properties of sweet potatoes, they can help prevent and reduce inflammation and swelling in guinea pigs, thereby reducing their pain and suffering.
Munching on Sweet Potatoes Limit Guinea Pigs’ Teeth Growth
Our guinea pigs’ teeth continue to grow every day, If this continuous teeth growth is not limited, piggies might develop dental issues. While eating timothy hay throughout the day keep the teeth growth in check, crunching on hard-textured raw sweet potatoes would also help limit guinea pigs’ teeth growth. The texture of sweet potatoes is just the ideal teeth-friendly texture our guineas can find.
Consuming Sweet Potatoes Help Guinea Pigs Maintain Cardiovascular Health
Eating sweet potatoes also helps our cavies maintain their cardiovascular health. Sweet potatoes contain vitamin A, which saves the heart from free radical damage. More so, sweet potatoes are laden with potassium—100 grams of sweet potatoes contain 337mg of potassium—which help in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of a heart attack but potassium in sweet potatoes keeps blood pressure in check by controlling the contraction and relaxation of heart muscles.
Vitamin C in Sweet Potatoes Prevent Scurvy in Guinea Pigs
Just like us humans, our guineas are not capable of producing their own vitamin C, therefore, requiring an external source of vitamin C. If our guinea pigs do not receive an ample amount of vitamin C in their diet, the vitamin C deficiency in guinea pigs would result in scurvy. As sweet potatoes contain vitamin C—2.4 mg per 100g—it could help prevent scurvy in guinea pigs.
Given that the amount of vitamin C is not much in sweet potatoes and guinea pigs can only eat sweet potatoes in small amounts, we should make sure that we provide vitamin C supplements to our guinea pigs every day.
Sweet Potatoes Aid in Digestion and Enhance Gut Health
Sweet potatoes are loaded with soluble and insoluble fibers which makes them an ideal booster for digestion in guinea pigs. Soluble fibers soak up water inside guinea pigs’ bodies and help make the stool softer. Thereby, making it easy for guinea pigs to empty their bowels. These soluble fibers also prevent constipation in guinea pigs.
Potential Risks of Feeding Sweet Potatoes to Guinea Pigs
Despite the abundance of benefits of sweet potatoes for guinea pigs, there are several potential health risks that one should consider while feeding sweet potatoes to guinea pigs.
High in Starch and Sugar
In addition to containing many useful minerals and vitamins, sweet potatoes are also laden with starch and sugar, which are unhealthy for guinea pigs.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with starch, which is a bit difficult for guinea pigs to digest. So it is best that we only offer sweet potatoes to our guinea pigs in small amounts. Otherwise, they will develop several gastrointestinal issues.
Increased Risk of Obesity
Though sweet potatoes contain a lesser sugar content as compared to many other fruits and veggies that are perfectly safe for guinea pigs to eat; but the presence of high starch in combination with sugar makes sweet potatoes a tummy trouble risk. The high carb ingestion also increases the risk of obesity in guinea pigs. It also increases the risk of teeth decay and diabetes in guinea pigs.
High in Phosphorous
Sweet potatoes contain a lot of phosphorus, which is an unhealthy element for our guinea pigs. The excess phosphorous can lead to magnesium deficiency in guinea pigs and it can also cause stones in guinea pigs.
Increased Balder Stone Risk
The high phosphorous content and oxalates present in sweet potatoes increase the risk of urinary bladder infection in guinea pigs. Guinea pigs with bladder stones can face difficulty passing urine and in severe cases, surgery would be required to get rid of the stones.
Beware of the Allergic Reaction
Just like we humans have allergies, our guinea pigs may also be allergic. Therefore, while feeding sweet potatoes to guinea pigs, you should be careful. If eating sweat potatoes, anything seems out of the ordinary, you should immediately stop feeding sweet potatoes to your guinea pig. If his health continues to deteriorate, you should seek veterinary help.
Final Verdict: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes make a healthy treat for guinea pigs but only in moderate amounts and that too occasionally as a treat. Eating sweet potatoes helps our guinea pigs maintain their brain health, gut health, cardiovascular health, and eyesight. Sweet potatoes also help in limiting teeth growth in guinea pigs, prevent scurvy and fight off free radicals. Conversely, while feeding sweet potatoes to guinea pigs, one should also consider that they contain a risky combo of sugar and starch, and are high in oxalates and phosphorous, posing a risk of balder stones in guinea pigs.
The bottom line is sweet potatoes are healthy for guinea pigs as far as they are being fed in small amounts, once or twice a week.
Check out other guides to what guinea pigs can or cannot eat: