Yes, guinea pigs are able to eat tomatoes but they can not eat unripened tomatoes.
Tomatoes are a great source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and folate helping guinea pigs with digestion, bone and tissue development.
Read on below what parts of the tomato are best, how much is too much and the benefits guinea pigs can get from tomatoes.
Are Tomatoes Safe for Guinea Pigs?
Yes, tomatoes are safe for adult guinea pigs. You should be careful feeding newborn or baby guinea pigs less than 12-16 weeks of age tomatoes.
You should never feed your guinea pig unripened tomatoes, tomato leaves or the tomato stem. These contain a compound called “tomatidine” which is very poisonous to your guinea pig.
If you feed your guinea pig tomatoes and are seeing any signs of a health problem in your guinea pigs, such as diarrhea or scurvy you should speak with your vet immediately.
Benefits of Tomatoes for Guinea Pigs
Tomatoes offer a wide range of important nutrients for your guinea pig such as:
- They have a high water content.
- A good source of vitamins (A, C, B6 & K)
- Tons of antioxidants.
- Low in fats.
- Good source of fiber.
- Good source of potassium.
Guinea pigs are unable to produce most vitamins, such as vitamin C, and rely on their diet to fulfill these needs. Tomatoes are a great source of all the vitamins guinea pig’s need to promote bone, tissue and digestive health.
Tomatoes also have one of the highest water contents compared to other fruits meaning your guinea pig can supplement their water intake with tomatoes to stay hydrated.
The antioxidants in tomatoes help prevent cell damage and cell growth if your guinea pig ends up getting hurt or while they are growing. Since these are low in fat and have less sugar as a fruit they are often a popular choice for your guinea pig’s snack.
Hazards to Feeding Guinea Pigs Tomatoes
Tomatoes can be a good alternative for most other fruits that are high in sugar. However, tomatoes also come with a little bit more risk and things you should watch out for.
Do not feed your guinea pig unripened tomatoes, tomato leaves or the tomato stem as it can make them very sick due to a toxin called tomatidine.
Before feeding your guinea pig tomatoes, you should keep the following in mind:
- Pesticides: Tomatoes should always be washed before you feed them to your guinea pig to remove any pesticides or chemicals used to promote growth.
- Parasites: Tomatoes should be thoroughly checked over for any parasites (worms, bugs, etc.) before your guinea pig digests them.
- Rotting: You should never feed your guinea pig a rotting tomato.
- Processed Tomatoes: You should never feed your guinea pig processed tomatoes such as canned tomatoes, ketchup, etc. as it makes the tomato more acidic which will make your guinea pig sick.
- Sugar Intake: Tomatoes do contain sugar, much like other fruits, and too much sugar can give your guinea pig digestive problems.
- Weight: Too much sugar can lead to weight gain, dental problems and even diabetes.
- Solanine/Tomatidine Toxins: The green parts of the tomato plant are very toxic to your guinea pig. If they ingest these parts you should talk to your vet immediately and monitor them for diarrhea, bloat or stomach pain.
- Newborns or Babies: You should not feed newborn or baby guinea pigs tomatoes until they are at least 12-16 weeks old.
When Can Guinea Pigs Start Eating Tomatoes?
You should avoid feeding tomatoes to newborn or baby guinea pigs until they are at least 12 weeks old. Tomatoes can contain a toxin and sugar which will hinder the guinea pig’s growth.
As a newborn guinea pig they should only be eating hay, pellets and drinking their mother’s milk. If your guinea pig is older you can start to feed them chunks of tomatoes but avoid any of the green parts.
Recommended Serving Sizes & Methods
Your guinea pig can have small pieces of ripe, clean tomato in moderation. Too much tomato can cause health problems for your guinea pig.
You should try to keep your tomato portion to the size of one cherry tomato and you should only feed your guinea pig tomatoes 1-2 times per week.
It is very important to not overfeed your guinea pig. You should not feed your guinea pig tomatoes every day. Instead you should save them for a special occasion such as a treat for doing something good or while training your guinea pig.
You should try to have a balanced diet for your guinea pig.
If your guinea pig starts acting abnormal or gets diarrhea after eating tomatoes you will want to monitor and make sure it doesn’t get worse. If it lasts beyond a normal time period you should speak to your vet.