Cantaloupe is a particularly sweet variety of melon distinguishable from other varieties by its pale green rough skin and bright orange flesh. It’s a refreshing fruit, high in vitamin C.
In your quest to provide it with a varied healthy diet, you might wonder if your guinea pigs can eat cantaloupe. The answer to this question is quite straight forward.
Though guinea pigs can eat cantaloupe melon, it isn’t an ideal daily food. Cantaloupe is high in sugar which can contribute to guinea pig obesity. Though it’s a good source of vitamin C, it has little fiber and is high in phosphorus which can cause kidney stones. See the best alternatives to cantaloupe you can give guinea pigs to eat as a treat.
Can guinea pigs eat all of the edible parts of a cantaloupe?
A cantaloupe melon comprises three edible components:
- Rind (skin/peel)
If offered them, a guineas pig will happily eat the rind, seeds and flesh of the cantaloupe. But should it?
There is nothing in cantaloupe seeds that’s harmful if eaten by guinea pigs. But though they look quite innocent and similar to the seeds in some guinea pig food, cantaloupe seeds are tough and just the right size to wedge in guinea pig’s small esophagus. For this reason, I would avoid giving them to a guinea pig.
As it is high in fiber, cantaloupe rind is a great guinea pig food. Some parts are tougher than others but your guinea pig will eave these parts and just eat the parts it can manage to chew.
Ideally, you should only give a guinea pig organic cantaloupe rind which is free from harmful pesticides. If yours isn’t organic, thoroughly scrub the skin before you peel it before you feed it to your guinea pig.
It is only recommended to give a few small pieces of cantaloupe flesh to a guinea pig as an occasional treat – once or twice a week maximum. The reason being, it contains more phosphorus than calcium which can easily lead to the development of kidney and bladder stones.
When phosphorus outweighs calcium, it binds to it to form hard deposits. These collect in a guinea pig’s kidneys. From there, they can travel to its bladder and cause blockages in the urinary tract, necessitating risky surgery.
This doesn’t happen if these types of food are fed occasionally but can quickly occur if they are eaten on a frequent basis.
As there are safer alternatives (mentioned a bit later on), I would really suggest avoiding feeding cantaloupe to guinea pigs other than in tiny amounts once or twice a week.
The pros and cons of giving guinea pigs cantaloupe melon
Though cantaloupe is a seemingly healthy, low-calorie fruit, to a guinea pig it is a high sugar food and one that they will happily devour far too much of all too easily.
We are about to show you how the negative aspects of feeding guinea pigs cantaloupe far outweigh the positives.
The benefits of cantaloupe in a guinea pigs diet
Cantaloupe flesh is high in vitamin C which guinea pigs need for growth, development, and tissue repair. It also has a high water content so will help keep a guinea pig hydrated.
The orange coloring of a cantaloupe’s flesh comes from the antioxidant beta-carotene. A guinea pig’s body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A which is essential for eye health, a strong immune system, healthy skin and healthy mucous membranes
Cantaloupe rind is high in fiber which is good for a guinea pig’s digestive health.
Fiber helps to maintain the balance of healthy bacteria in a guinea pig’s gut and stimulates gastrointestinal motility. It is also crucial to keep a guinea pig’s teeth at the right length.
The negative aspects of feeding guinea pigs cantaloupe
Being such a little creature means a guinea pig can easily gain weight. Fruits contain naturally-occurring sugar which has just as many calories as the sugar you spoon into hot drinks.
Feeding a guinea pig too much fruit such as cantaloupe can help it pile on the ounces!
As mentioned earlier, cantaloupes contain enough phosphorus to pose a risk of kidney stones developing if it is given to guinea pigs too often.
The best fruit treats for guinea pigs
Adding fruit to a guinea pig’s diet is a great way of meeting their vitamin A and C demands. Fibrous fruits are good for their digestive health.
The ideal fruits are:
- Low sugar
- High fiber
- Lower phosphorus content than calcium
- High vitamin A and C
So if you’re looking for a fruit that meets these requirements, what should you choose?
As it happens, most fruits have more phosphorus than calcium so should be limited in a guinea pigs diet. What this means is:
- a guinea pig should not eat any fruit daily
- a guinea pig should have a small portion of fruit once a week
Guinea pigs can eat:
Of the above, the lowest in sugar are raspberries and strawberries so are the best choice for guinea pigs.
If you feed any type of fruit to a guinea pig, try to make it organic. If not, make sure you thoroughly wash it to remove any pesticide residue.
How much fruit should a guinea pig have as a portion?
A guinea pig should not be fed a whole piece of fruit as you would eat. A guinea pig portion size should be much smaller!
- Two or three small strawberries
- A thin wedge of apple
- A slice of banana
To get an idea of a guinea pig portion size, don’t give it any more than you could fit in a small matchbox.
Can guinea pigs eat cantaloupe melon? – Conclusion
If you want to feed your guinea pig cantaloupe melon, it’s no more harmful than any other fruit.
Bear in mind, too much may lead to kidney stones so only offer fruit once or twice a week and just a matchbox-sized portion. Don’t forget the sugar in fruit can make a guinea pig gain weight.
If you really want to give your guinea pig plenty of vitamins and fiber without the sugar hit, then vegetables are a better choice.
Remember some can be quite high in phosphorus (for example green beans) so again be mindful of portion size.
Don’t forget that seeds from cantaloupe and other fruits may be a choking hazard for guinea pigs, so be careful about offering these as a snack.
Finally, good old fashioned grass is a guinea pig’s favorite, is safe and free!