You may have heard that guinea pigs need to be especially careful to get enough Vitamin C. If you haven’t heard it, you have now. And there are few better sources of this essential vitamin than oranges. But can guinea pigs eat oranges? Are oranges good for cavies? Or are oranges bad for them?
The answer is yes, they can eat oranges, but sparingly and with caution.
Vitamin C is an important part of guinea pigs’ diet–and ours. It plays several vital roles in maintaining health. Vitamin C is important for a healthy immune system. It also holds cells together, helps them to function, and protects them from damage.
The problem is, guinea pigs, unlike many other animals, can’t synthesise this essential nutrient. They need to take it in regularly through their diet.
Like people, guinea pigs suffering from a deficiency in Vitamin C can develop scurvy. Scurvy is a serious and potentially fatal disease. It’s very painful, too, and can result in secondary conditions that require additional treatment. Symptoms include:
- Lethargy, reduction in activity
- Frequent vocalisations (can be a sign of pain)
- Weight loss
- Tooth grinding
- Dental problems
- Bruising to the body
- Small red dots on the gums and skin
- Joint pain
- Swollen joints
- Diarrhoea and loose faeces
- Rough coat
- Changes to the fur
- General unwellness
A Vitamin C deficiency can also cause abnormalities in blood vessels, connective tissues, and bones, if left untreated.
How Much Vitamin C Does a Guinea Pig Need?
Adult guinea pigs need around 10 to 30 milligrams of dietary Vitamin C per kilogram of body weight every day. Pregnant and nursing guinea pigs need a bit more.
Although Vitamin C is water soluble, and excess amounts leave the body through urine, giving your guinea pig too much (over 100 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day) can cause problems, such as kidney and bladder stones, poor growth in young guinea pigs, and worsening arthritis in older guinea pigs.
Safe Sources of Vitamin C for Guinea Pigs
- Tomatoes (not the leaves)
- Bell peppers
- Turnip greens
- Dandelion greens
- Carrot tops
- Leafy greens
Some other fruits that you can safely add to your guinea pig’s diet include:
- Apricots (fresh fruits only, and remove the pit first)
Be careful feeding any sort of fruit to your pet guinea pigs, however. Many guinea pigs enjoy fruit, but too much sugar isn’t good for anyone. It can harm guinea pigs’ teeth and cause a guinea pig to become overweight.
You can give guinea pigs oranges, but you can also purchase a number of different types of fortified products, including guinea pig food and vitamin supplements.
Some types of guinea pig food (like ours) comes fortified with Vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals. You can also buy supplements formulated especially for guinea pigs. Oxbow Natural Science Vitamin C Supplement provides 25 miligrams of hay-based C per wafer, and guinea pigs like them.
We would recommend against feeding guinea pigs supplements made for humans or other animals. The formulation and concentration may be different, and many supplements contain additional ingredients that may be bad for your guinea pig.
We also recommend against putting liquid supplements into your guinea pigs’ water. First, it may encourage the growth of bacteria that may harm your guinea pig. Also, it may change the flavour of the water so that your guinea pig won’t want to drink it.
But Can Guinea Pigs Eat Oranges?
Can guinea pigs eat oranges? What about a mandarin orange? Can guinea pigs eat clementines? Can guinea pigs eat satsumas? Do guinea pigs eat tangerines?
Fresh oranges, (fresh) mandarin orange, blood oranges, satsumas, tangerines –when it comes to eating oranges, it’s all good. In addition to that all-important C, oranges provide fibre and calcium, both of which are very important in your pet’s diet.
Most guinea pigs love fruit, and you can feed your guinea pig any of these…in moderation. The more acidic the fruit (like a mandarin orange) the more moderation guinea pig owners should use, even if guinea pigs can eat it.
Of course when it comes to fruits, especially acidic fruits like oranges, a guinea pig doesn’t need more than a few bites a few times a week.
Also, guinea pigs should not eat the pips, as they are a choking hazard. Make sure to remove orange seeds before offering the fruit to your guinea pig.
Can guinea pigs eat orange peels? Surprisingly, yes! And many guinea pigs love the peels. Orange peels are also rich in Vitamin C. Before handing over the peel, though, make sure to wash the outside of the orange thoroughly to remove any pesticide traces.
And, as with the fruit, only offer a small amount of orange peel in one day.
Can guinea pigs eat canned oranges? Or canned mandarin oranges? That would be a ‘no.’
Canned orange often contains other ingredients, including sugars, acids, sodium, and preservatives, which can hurt your guinea pig. So while your guinea pig can eat oranges, feed your guinea pig only fresh oranges.
In addition, your guinea pig should not drink orange juice, as orange juice is too high in concentrated sugars and acid. Likewise, your guinea pig should never eat orange marmalade.
Yes, you can feed oranges to your guinea pigs, but when it comes to other citrus fruit, give it a miss. Grapefruit, lemons, and limes are highly acidic. They can cause painful mouth sores and digestive issues, too.
Cautions When Feeding a Guinea Pig Oranges
Feeding oranges to most guinea pigs is safe and has many health benefits. But it’s important to do so sparingly. Too much orange can be bad for guinea pig’s health in a number of ways.
First, the acidity of oranges can harm your guinea pigs if they eat too much of it. It can give them painful sores inside their mouths. It can also upset your guinea pig’s stomach and digestive system.
The sugar content can also be a problem for your guinea pig’s teeth and weight, if you provide it in excess. Although guinea pigs need calcium, too much calcium can cause painful stones in the bladder and kidney.
How to Safely Feed Oranges to Guinea Pigs
Do you have questions about serving oranges to your guinea pigs? We have answers.
First, although small quantities of orange are an acceptable treat, too much can cause a variety of problems. Serve oranges sparingly and in moderation. How much orange? A few bites a few times a week should suffice.
So how do you prepare orange for your cavy?
First, don’t just chuck them a whole orange. Cut your pig a small slice of orange, carefully removing the pips, as your cavies should never eat orange seeds. You can leave the peel intact if you wash it thoroughly, first.
Avoid canned oranges, especially those that come in sugary syrup. These have a fairly high sugar content, which is bad for guinea pigs (though they would probably love the sweet taste). Also avoid serving orange seeds, orange juice, or orange marmalade. Also avoid highly acidic citrus fruits like lemons.
Once your cavies have finished their small serving, remove any uneaten fruit from your guinea pigs’ cage.
Finally, guinea pigs need all-day every day access to fresh water, so make sure to provide this. Do not add supplemental vitamin C to water, to prevent bacteria bloom. And remember that many vegetables and leafy greens have a high vitamin C content, and would make a healthy, tasty way to increase your guinea pig’s intake of this essential nutrient.
What Are Guinea Pigs Not Allowed to Eat?
Guinea pigs need a diet that’s high in fibre and low in fat and sugar. This means lots of high quality feeding hay. In fact, your guinea pigs’ diet should consist of at least 80 percent hay, 10 percent high quality guinea pig nuggets, and 10 percent vegetables and leafy greens. The occasional treat is fine, too.
But there are definitely foods that cavies should avoid. These include:
- “Human food”
- Commercial food for other animals
- Grass clippings
- Dairy products
- Dried fruit
- Nuts and seeds
In addition, many common types of flowers and plants are poisonous for guinea pigs, so be mindful of what you give them to eat…and what they may forage for themselves if left unsupervised.
Yes, guinea pigs can eat oranges. In fact, some citrus fruits, including satsumas, tangerines, and clementines, can have definite health benefits for your guinea pigs.
But not all citrus fruits are good for cavies. Those with a lot of ascorbic acid, like lemons, can be harmful. And though guinea pigs can eat small quantities of orange peels, never give them marmalade, seeds, or orange juice.
And remember that too much of a good thing can be bad for anyone.
Do your guinea pigs like oranges? What else do they like to munch on?