Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes? Yes, but only in small amounts–and never the stems or leaves!
Tomatoes include great nutrients like Vitamin C, Lycopene, and Beta-carotene, and guinea pigs often love the taste of the fresh, ripe fruit. But they can irritate their digestion, so it’s important that you limit the amount of you offer your pet.
Most types of tomatoes including cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, plum tomatoes (not tinned!), beefsteak tomatoes, and many other varieties are safe for guinea pigs to eat.
For those that are interested, we’ll take a closer look at why guinea pigs can eat tomatoes in greater detail, and consider the pros and cons.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tomatoes?
Yes–in small amounts.
Every guinea pig needs a full cup of fresh vegetables every day, which should add up to roughly 10% of its total daily calories. In addition to unlimited Timothy hay and fortified pellets, this ensures that they get all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber they need.
Tomatoes can make a nice addition to these veggies, provided you keep the portion sizes small. And because they provide important antioxidants and vitamins, they can be a healthy choice for your piggies.
Are Tomatoes Poisonous to Guinea Pigs?
Yes and no.
Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, or Solanaceae, and like their close relatives, they contain some alkaloid poisons. Tomatine–and possibly solanine–two relatively weak poisons, are present throughout the tomato plant, but are more concentrated in the stems and leaves. They are present in the green fruit as well, however.
It is generally safe to say that the green portions of the tomato plant are poisonous to both people and guinea pigs. And while the amounts of these toxins are usually not dangerous to human beings, for small animals like cavies, there may be enough to cause real harm.
And though you might enjoy a fried green tomato, only ripe, red tomatoes should be fed to guinea pigs.
So what’s the take-away?
The ripe, red fruit of the tomato plant is safe for guinea pigs, but the green leaves, stalk, and unripe fruit should never be offered to them.
You may have read that tomatoes also contain oxalic acid, which is true. But the concentrations present in tomatoes are far lower than many common greens–they’re just not something you need to worry about!
Are Tomatoes Safe for Guinea Pigs?
Yes – provided that you only offer the ripe, red fruit, keeping portions to about the size of a cherry tomato, once or twice a week.
How Much Tomato Can I Give To My Guinea Pig?
Most of the veggies that you include in your cavy’s diet should be leafy greens, but tomatoes can add a touch of variety to spice things up a bit, and they do contain a healthy amount of all-important Vitamin C.
A proper portion of raw, ripe tomato is about the size of a single cherry tomato.
And keep in mind that tomatoes are treats–not everyday food! Once or two servings a week is plenty.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tomato Leaves or Stems?
No! Absolutely not!
The leaves of the tomato plant contain alkaloid poisons that can kill guinea pigs, even in small doses. This is also true of the stems.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tomato Seeds?
Provided you’re feeding your cavy fresh, raw, ripe tomatoes, the seeds are no problem at all.
How Should You Prepare Tomato For Guinea Pigs?
If you decide to offer your guinea pig some tomato, it needs to be raw and ripe–never cooked or canned.
We recommend carefully washing fresh, a fresh, ripe tomato of any variety: cherry, beefsteak, Roma, etc. Carefully remove any leaves or stems.
With small tomato varieties like cherry or grape, a single piece is perfect.
For larger varieties, a piece roughly 1 square inch is ideal.
And as we note above, there’s no reason to remove the seeds.
Tomatoes can be a healthy addition to your cavy’s diet, but there are risks as well as rewards.
They provide a great source of vitamin C and rarer nutrients like Lycopene and Beta-carotene, and they pack a decent punch of Vitamin C, too. But the green parts of the plant, including the unripe fruit, contain at least one alkaloid poison.
If you do decide to include tomato in your cavy’s diet, keep the following in mind:
- Never feed the leaves, stem, or unripe fruit. They’re poisonous to guinea pigs!
- Guinea pigs can eat the seeds and red, ripe fruit.
- Wash and portion tomatoes carefully.
- One cherry tomato-sized serving, once or twice a week, is plenty.
If you follow these guidelines, it’s generally safe to add tomato to your guinea pig’s menu.
In conclusion, Even though guinea pigs eat tomatoes, which is great as they have high levels of vitamin C. Tomatoes are a good source of Vitamin C and other nutrients that guinea pigs need. Vitamin C is essential for guinea pig diets because guinea pig bodies cannot produce vitamin C. However, it is important to give your guinea pig types of tomatoes and vegetables to ensure that they get all the nutrients they need.
The key takeaway is that cherry tomatoes make a good treat for your guinea pigs, offering many health benefits too. Only adult guinea pigs can safely eat and digest tomatoes and most other fresh fruit and vegetable. So feel free to give your guinea pig some tomatoes, but also be sure to provide them with other fruits and vegetables too.