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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Basil? (Is It Safe For Them?)

Can guinea pigs eat basil?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat basil. Due to the high calcium content, guinea pigs should only have basil as an occasional treat. Feeding them basil a couple of times per week is enough to enhance their diet.

READ MORE: What Can Guinea Pigs Eat?

Key Takeaways:

  • Guinea pigs can eat basil in moderation, up to twice per week.
  • Basil has essential vitamins that can improve your guinea pig’s health, such as vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Too much basil for your guinea pig can lead to an abundance of calcium, contributing to bladder stones.

Is It Safe For Guinea Pigs To Eat Basil?

Basil is safe for guinea pigs to eat which includes green leaves and stems. It doesn’t contain any toxins that could harm them.

Avoid feeding your guinea pigs basil too much or too often. Your guinea pig only needs small amounts of basil to reap the benefits. Too much basil can also cause health problems by exposing your guinea pig to excessive calcium.

What is Basil?

basil for guinea pig but can guinea pigs eat basil

Basil is a safe herb for guinea pigs with culinary and medicinal uses. This herb brings out the flavors in soups and stews. You can also use it as a garnish for salads. Besides culinary use, individuals may use fresh basil to treat insect bites and worm infections. You can easily grow a small basil plant at home to feed your guinea pig.

Can My Guinea Pig Eat Different Types of Basil?

As with most herbs and produce, you can find different types of basil to try. Your guinea pig can enjoy a variety of basil leaves since they all fall under the same category. Try adding a few of the following types of basil to your guinea pig’s balanced diet.

  • sweet basil (Genovese basil) is the most common type of basil leaf
  • Thai basil
  • Italian large-leaf basil
  • Greek basil
  • Mediterranean basil

Your local grocery store or farmers market may have several different types of basil available. Look for organic basil to avoid pesticides. Enjoy the following video showing adorable guinea pigs eating basil leaves. 

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dried Basil?

Do not feed your guinea pig dried basil from the store. Manufacturers use preservatives to increase the shelf life of herbs sold in jars. You can, however, dry fresh organic basil at home to sprinkle over your pet’s food.

Health Benefits of Basil for Guinea Pigs

Basil is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, manganese, and iron. It’s also a good source of calcium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Your guinea pig needs all of the above items to remain healthy. Proper levels of vitamin C are especially important for immunity.

Below are some health benefits of feeding basil to your guinea pigs:

1. Prevent Scurvy

Guinea pigs in captivity are more prone to scurvy due to limited diets and a lack of fresh and best guinea pig food. Scurvy can occur when guinea pigs have a vitamin C deficiency.

Unfortunately, vitamin C can’t be processed or stored in their body. Guinea pigs will need a constant supply of vitamin C daily to prevent scurvy.

The following symptoms occur when guinea pigs have scurvy.

  • weakness
  • pain in their joints
  • diarrhea
  • rough coat
  • nose discharge
  • eye discharge
  • loss of appetite and weight loss

If you notice any of these symptoms, take your guinea pig to the vet immediately.

2. Helps Wounds Heal

Basil is a good source of vitamin K. Vitamin K prevents excessive bleeding for easier healing of wounds. Guinea pigs need vitamin k for proper blood clotting if they sustain an injury.

3. Strong Bones

Both vitamin K and calcium in vitamin K help keep your guinea pig’s bones strong. Guinea pigs can suffer from osteoporosis without the proper nutrients. Rember, too much calcium can cause bladder stones. In moderation, basil can help keep your guinea pig healthy.

4. Eases Bloating

If your pet guinea pig seems uncomfortable after eating or has an improper bowel movement, basil helps the situation. Basil can ease digestive issues such as bloating and constipation.

5. Relieves Acid Reflux

Guinea pigs can get acid reflux after eating. When a guinea pig has acid reflux, stomach acid flows upward inside the tube between the stomach and the mouth.

You may notice your guinea pig coughing or spitting up a small amount of fluid. While acid reflux is not usually harmful, it is still uncomfortable.

Small amounts of basil may help ease the symptoms of acid reflux. Your guinea pig only needs 1-2 leaves for each serving of basil, no more than twice weekly.

If your guinea pig does not tolerate large basil leaves, break them up and offer the basil pieces.

Can Baby Guinea Pigs Eat Basil?

Baby guinea pigs should not eat any basil. Their digestive system has not developed enough to digest the herb.

baby guinea pig with hay in front of him

Instead, baby guinea pigs should be on a diet of their mother’s milk and Timothy hay. They should remain on this diet until they are at least 3 weeks old.

Once they are at least 3 weeks old, you can introduce small basil pieces to them. They may not eat it initially; however, they should get used to it as they learn to enjoy fresh foods.

After the baby Guinea pig eats the basil, wait 24 hours to see if they have any allergic reaction to it. If they do, they may have stomach upset and diarrhea. Stop feeding basil if this happens.

On the other hand, if the baby Guinea pig doesn’t have any digestion issues and seems to enjoy eating it, you can feed them more. Limit them to a small piece of basil once a week until they become adults.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Basil Stem?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat basil stems. The stem is tough, and the guinea pigs may just nibble on them. Simply give your guinea pig an entire basil leaf with the stem attached to see their reaction.

You can learn what your guinea pig likes best by watching how they eat the basil pieces.

How To Feed Basil To Guinea Pigs

Like any other food, if this is the first time basil is being fed to your guinea pigs, you should test if they’ll have an allergic reaction to it. This applies to both young and adult guinea pigs.

If you adopt an adult guinea pig, you may not know about their diet at the previous home.

Start by giving your guinea pig a small amount of basil and monitor them for 24 hours. If you notice any adverse reactions, such as diarrhea or upset stomach, don’t feed them more basil.

On the other hand, if the guinea pigs don’t have any allergic reaction and seem to enjoy eating it, you can continue to feed them. Feed them just a small piece of basil once a week and gradually increase it each time.

Should I Cook My Guinea Pig’s Basil?

Cooked basil should be reserved for your human recipes. Guinea pigs do best with fresh foods. Humans usually put basil in recipes with other seasonings and foods that guinea pigs cannot eat, as well. I

f you take a cooked basil leaf out of your meal and give it to your guinea pig, they may get exposed to another food that is dangerous for them.

How Much Basil Can Guinea Pigs Eat?

basil for guinea pig but can guinea pigs eat basil

While basil doesn’t contain any toxins for guinea pigs, it does contain calcium. Too much calcium leads to urinary stones and an expensive vet visit. Limit snacks with the basil to 1-2 times per week.

Baby guinea pigs should not eat basil leaves. Their digestive system is not developed enough to digest the herb. They should be fed a diet of alfalfa hay and their mother’s milk at this age.

Adult guinea pigs should be given one or two basil leaves each time you offer it, up to 2 times per week.

How Often Can Guinea Pigs Eat Basil?

Basil should be fed to them in moderation. Once or twice a week is plenty of basil for your guinea pigs.

While the vitamin content is an excellent addition to your guinea pig’s healthy diet, too much calcium from basil leaves can cause bladder stones.

Other Herbs That Guinea Pigs Can Eat

1. Parsley

Parsley makes a good treat for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs can eat the leaves and the stem of parsley, just like basil. They can have several springs of parsley 2-3 times per week.

2. Dandelion Greens

Your guinea pig may also enjoy dandelion greens. Not only can they eat the green parts, but they can also enjoy the flower! Give your guinea pig a beautiful dandelion and snap some cute pictures of your pet holding the flower.

3. Rosemary

Rosemary is another herb that makes an excellent treat for guinea pigs. However, this herb is also high in calcium. Too much of this mineral can pose a health risk for them, so limit servings to once or twice weekly.

If you plan to feed both rosemary and basil each week, feed smaller portions since they both have calcium. You can also give each one only once per week to minimize risk.

READ MORE: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Green Leaf Lettuce?

FAQs

Where can I buy fresh basil leaves?

Look in the produce section of your local grocery store to find fresh basil. You may also enjoy growing your own basil leaves. Purchase seeds or a basil plant from a local nursery or garden center.

How do I add fresh foods to my guinea pig’s diet?

a guinea pig eating lettuce

When introducing your guinea pig to new foods, always research the safety and quantity of the food. You should also offer one new food to make it easier to recognize allergic reactions.

How many times per day should I feed my guinea pig?

Guinea pigs should have a fresh supply of Timothy hay in their cage. They need to eat hay throughout the time they are awake for healthy digestion.
Follow the directions on the food package to get the right amount of pellets each day. Feed your guinea pig twice a day and offer fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs with meals or as separate snacks.

Conclusion

Now that you have the answer to “Can guinea pigs eat basil?” you can start feeding this nutritious food to your guinea pig.

While basil leaves are not toxic to guinea pigs, the calcium content can cause health problems. You can avoid excess calcium in your pet’s diet by limiting intake of basil leaves to 1-2 times per week.

Introduce basil leaves and other herbs to your guinea pig as part of an overall healthy diet. 

guinea pig trying to eat basil but can guinea pigs eat basil

So, did you ever feed basil to your guinea pigs? Let us know in the comments section!

References

  • 1. Baskaran-Makanju S. How to Dry Fresh Basil Leaves [Internet]. Urban Farmie. 2021. Available from: https://urbanfarmie.com/how-to-dry-fresh-basil-leaves/
  • 2. The Guinea Pig Vet [Internet]. www.facebook.com. [cited 2022 Oct 29]. Available from: https://www.facebook.com/theguineapigvet/posts/lets-talk-about-bladder-stones-guinea-pigs-are-very-prone-to-bladder-conditions-/701850903579912/
Alina Hartley
Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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