Can Guinea Pigs Eat Oranges?
When we talk about eating oranges, we are usually referring to the family of plants Citrus x sinensis. These oranges are commonly known as sweet oranges and they have all share certain characteristics common to citrus fruit. Although originating in China, these oranges can now be found all over the world and have been grown in places like the Mediterranean for millennia. They are delicious and nutritious for humans, but this doesn't mean all animals should eat them.
At AnimalWised, we ask can guinea pigs eat oranges? We ask whether they can eat the flesh of the fruit, the peel or any part of it at all. The fruits known as mandarin oranges and tangerines can also be included, as well as other fruit we refer to as oranges.
Is orange good for guinea pigs?
Before explaining whether oranges are good for guinea pigs, we must make an important note about their diet and nutritional requirements. Guinea pigs are types of herbivorous animal whose diet must consist of three fundamental components:
- Hay (70%)
- Fresh food (20%)
- Guinea pig feed (10%)
As you can see, the vast majority of a guinea pig's diet is based on hay. In addition to providing essential nutrients, it provides roughage for intestinal transit and helps wear down their ever-growing teeth. Within the category of fresh food, three quarters should be devoted to leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, lamb's lettuce, watercress, cabbage, collard greens, etc. The remaining 25% must be made up of other fruits and vegetables suitable for guinea pigs.
Can guinea pigs eat oranges?
Orange is one of the fruits that can be included in the diet of guinea pigs. It does not contain anything which is considered toxic to cavies and it has certain nutritional benefits. However, a series of considerations must be taken into account before giving this fruit to guinea pigs. Inappropriate feeding of oranges can lead to significant damage to their health.
Before we find out how much orange to give to guinea pigs and other considerations, you might be interested in finding out what foods are forbidden for guinea pigs to eat.
Benefits of orange for guinea pigs
Although oranges need to be eaten in moderation, there are certain nutritional benefits they can provide guinea pigs:
- Low-calorie fruit: including orange in the diet of guinea pigs does not lead to a notable increase in the energy value of their daily food requirements. This helps to maintain stable body condition in these animals. This is especially important in the case of guinea pigs since they are rodents with a great tendency to be overweight.
- High amount of vitamin C (ascorbic acid): an essential micronutrient for guinea pigs. Like people, primates, and some bats, guinea pigs are unable to synthesize vitamin C on their own. This means they must consume it through food. Oranges are a good source of vitamin C, so their contribution contributes to meeting the needs of this micronutrient in guinea pigs. We talk more in depth about this topic in our related article on the importance of vitamin C for guinea pigs.
- Carotenoids with provitamin A activity: carotenoids are transformed into vitamin A in the body and act as antioxidants, helping to protect the body against the harmful effects of free radicals.
- Organic acids: oranges contain organic acids such as malic acid and citric acid. The latter enhances the action of vitamin C, favors the intestinal absorption of calcium and facilitates the elimination of toxic waste from the body.
- Rich in flavonoids: such as hesperidin, neoshesperidin, naringin, narirutin, tangeretin and nobiletin. These phytonutrients have many properties, among which antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity stand out.
How to feed orange to my guinea pig
The orange should only be offered fresh. Orange juice, dehydrated orange and preparations such as marmalades or jams should never be added. This is mainly due to their high sugar content. It is also not recommended to offer the fruit too cold (frozen or directly taken from the refrigerator), but is best served at room temperature.
To prepare the orange, we need to remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into into small pieces that are easy for guinea pigs to ingest.
How much orange to give to guinea pigs
As we have seen, oranges are a suitable fruit for guinea pigs. However, this does not mean that they can consume this fruit daily or in large quantities.
Guinea pigs should consume a daily ration of fresh food that includes about 5 different vegetables (mainly leafy greens). Once a week, this fresh food ration can include a small serving of fruit. You can offer orange to your guinea pig as this weekly serving of fruit, but it is best to change it every week. One segment of a large orange is enough for each guinea pig, but they may be able to eat two segments of small oranges such as mandarins.
Can guinea pigs eat orange peel?
Although we should peel the orange when we provide the flesh of the fruit, this doesn't mean it will cause the guinea a pig any harm. In fact, orange peel has high concentrations of vitamin C, so it can benefit a cavy with ascorbic acid deficiency.
Simply ensure the orange peel is clean and offer it to the guinea pig. Whether the guinea pig enjoys orange peel will depend on their personal preference.
Side effects and contraindications of orange for guinea pigs
Although guinea pigs can eat oranges, it must be taken into account that an excessive intake can produce some harmful effects on the health of these animals. They include:
- The calcium/phosphorus ratio is high, which can favor the formation of stones in the urinary system.
- Its acidity can cause sores or ulcers in the mouth.
- Its sugar content can cause obesity and favor the proliferation of harmful bacteria in their intestinal tract.
- Its sweet taste and juicy texture can make some guinea pigs prefer fresh food and reject dry food (hay and feed), which can cause significant nutritional imbalances, as well as dental and digestive problems.
In addition, there are certain situations in which giving oranges to guinea pigs should be prohibited. This is the case with:
- Guinea pigs with urinary disorders
- Guinea pigs with food allergies or intolerances
- Guinea pigs may not tolerate this fruit well and have diarrhea after consumption
Whenever any fruit or vegetable is introduced into the diet of guinea pigs, it should be offered for 2-3 days in a row in small quantities. If any negative effect on their health is observed after this time, it should be removed from the diet and not offered again.
If you want to read similar articles to Can Guinea Pigs Eat Oranges?, we recommend you visit our Homemade diets category.
- Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Orange. Citrussinensis. Retrieved from: https://www.mapa.gob.es/es/ministerio/servicios/informacion/ Naranja_tcm30-102369.pdf