Guinea Pigs are small animals that are great to keep as pets. They originated in South America and are very social creatures. They are low-maintenance pets, but they do need some care.
- 1 Everything You Need to Know About Guinea Pigs and Houseplants
- 1.1 What do Guinea Pigs eat?
- 1.2 What plants are poisonous to Guinea Pigs?
- 1.3 Can I let my Guinea Pig eat any of my houseplants?
- 1.4 FAQ
Everything You Need to Know About Guinea Pigs and Houseplants
Like any other animal, what they eat is important to their health. In the wild, Guinea Pigs eat a variety of plants and vegetables. But, as pets, they may not have access to such a varied diet.
They also have a habit of exploring and nibbling on anything they might run into around the house. Knowing which houseplants to keep out of reach, or not to keep at all is critical as a Guinea Pig owner.
What do Guinea Pigs eat?
Their diet consists of hay, fresh vegetables, and pellets. Some people may not know this, but guinea pigs can eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables.
One downside of Guinea Pigs is they are sensitive to many different types of plants. It’s important to know which of your houseplants or outdoor plants are safe for your Guinea Pig.
Most often, if your Guinea Pig has eaten a bite or two of a harmful plant or food, it will be fine. But you should keep an eye on them for any symptoms for up to two weeks following.
If you think your guinea pig has ingested a large quantity of a poisonous plant, it is important to contact a vet immediately.
What fruits & veggies can I feed my Guinea Pig?
Vegetables that are great for Guinea Pigs are broccoli, carrots, parsley, kale, celery, and spinach.
As for fruits, apples (without the seeds), bananas, blueberries, and strawberries are all great options.
It is important to note that you should never feed your guinea pig avocado as it can be poisonous. Tomato leaves and apple seeds are also dangerous and should be avoided.
What plants are poisonous to Guinea Pigs?
There are a variety of household plants that can be poisonous to Guinea Pigs. Some of the most common include aloe vera, chrysanthemums, dieffenbachia, and philodendron.
That said, it’s hard to keep up, so we have a few go-to resources we love to have on hand.
The ultimate list of common houseplants that are poisonous to Guinea Pigs
From lilies to tulips to daffodils, we’ve included the most common plants to watch out for.
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera is a succulent plant known for its healing properties. Unfortunately, the leaves of this plant are harmful to Guinea pigs. Aloe contains saponins which cause gastrointestinal issues and in the worst cases, death in guinea pigs.
- Lilies: Lilies like Peace Lily and the Lily of the Valley are moderately toxic for animals. While they are especially toxic to cats, they can also harm your Guinea Pig. Ingesting lilies can cause liver damage, kidney damage, and respiratory problems.
- Pothos plants: The pothos plant (also called the devil’s ivy) and the golden pothos are popular houseplants that can help purify the air in your home. If Guinea pigs eat the leaves of this plant it likely will not be fatal. That said, the plant is locally toxic. This means rinsing the mouth with water should help remove the toxins from their mouth. Guinea pigs cannot vomit, so symptoms to watch out for are mouth or throat irritation and reduced appetite.
- Philodendron plants: The philodendron plant is a popular houseplant that is toxic to guinea pigs. While this plant can help improve the air quality in your home, you’ll want to make sure your guinea pig does not have access to this. Your guinea pig will likely be able to handle having one bite, but keep an eye on their appetite and for signs of lethargy after ingestion.
- Dieffenbachia: Commonly known as dumb cane or leopard lily, Dieffenbachia can cause mouth pain, burning of the throat, difficulty swallowing, drooling, and tongue swelling.
- English Ivy: The English Ivy’s foliage is more toxic than its berries, but with continued ingestion, can lead to kidney failure in guinea pigs.
- Ficus Alii: Ficus plants, including Ficus Ali, Ficus Lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig), and Ficus Elastica (Rubber Plant) can cause irritation through their poisonous sap. This can lead to respiratory issues and dermal and gastrointestinal inflammation.
- Spider Plant: These plants are easy to care for and can help improve the air quality in your home. While not poisonous to cats and dogs, Spider plants are not safe for Guinea Pigs. They can cause skin irritation so it’s best to keep your spider plants out of reach.
- Snake Plant: Also known as Dracaena trifasciata, Sansevieria, or Mother-in-law’s Tongue, they can cause mouth pain, burning of the throat, difficulty swallowing, drooling, and tongue swelling.
- Tulips: Like other plants from a bulb, Tulips are poisonous to Guinea Pigs. Poisoning can occur after consumption of the flowers, stem, or bulb of the plant, although the bulb has the highest concentration of the toxin.
- Poinsettias: A holiday favorite, Poinsettias can cause an upset stomach in guinea pigs. While usually not life-threatening, Poinsettia leaves can irritate the mouth of a guinea pig and cause an upset stomach.
- Elderflowers: While the fruit from elderberry flowers are tasty and harmless, the stems, leaves, roots and bark (and unripe berries) are toxic. Steer clear of elderflowers for your Guinea.
- Jade Plant: We have seen Jade plants on the ‘safe’ list way too many times for comfort. As listed on the SPCA website, Jade plants are highly toxic to our animal friends.
- African Violet: One of our favorite shade plants, the African Violet, unfortunately, is toxic to Guinea Pigs. The African Violet should not be confused with Violets, which are safe to consume.
- Dracaena: While the SPCA does not highlight Guinea Pig safety, Dracaena is on the list as toxic to cats and dogs. Without further research, we assume this popular houseplant is toxic to guinea pigs.
- Carnations: Carnations are another flower that are toxic to cats and dogs. Based on this, we assume they are harmful to Guinea Pigs as well. We’d steer clear of letting your Guinea Pig eat carnations.
- Holly: Holly is an evergreen plant, which means it’s likely toxic to guinea pigs. While not life-threatening, they are likely to irritate Guinea Pigs and cause damage with long-term ingestion.
- Geraniums: Geraniums are a popular flowering plant that may be toxic to guinea pigs. While a small amount is unlikely to cause concern, they may cause intestinal upset in large quantities.
- Dieffenbachia: Dieffenbachia is a popular houseplant that contains oxalates, which can cause minor irritation if eaten. Guinea pigs may eat the leaves of this plant, but anything more than a small quantity and you should monitor for any adverse reactions.
- Caladiums: Caladiums are another popular houseplant that can irritate and cause concern for guinea pigs. While eating the leaves may not be fatal, they can cause minor reactions. Monitor your Guinea Pig for lethargic or loss of appetite.
- Heartleaf philodendron: Similar to other philodendron plants, the heartleaf philodendron is not safe for Guinea Pigs. Symptoms my include irritation of the mouth or GI tract.
Other poisonous plants to watch out for
- Gerbera Daisy can be a choking hazard
- Grape Ivy can cause skin irritation and swelling
- Jasmine can be toxic to guinea pigs
- Marble Queen can cause liver damage in guinea pigs over time
- Piggy Backs can cause diarrhea and vomiting difficulty swallowing, drooling, and tongue swelling.
- Primrose can cause liver damage in guinea pigs over time
- Skunk Cabbage can cause oral irritation, salivation, and vomiting
- Snapdragon can cause drooling, diarrhea, and vomiting
- Sweetheart Hoya can cause mouth pain, burning of the throat, difficulty swallowing, drooling, and tongue swelling.
- Wandering Jew can cause skin irritation and swelling
- Weeping Fig can cause diarrhea and vomiting
- Zebra plants can cause drooling, difficulty swallowing, tongue swelling, and difficulty breathing.
Additionally, Cyclamen, Daffodil, Tulips, Crocus, Hyacinth, Iris, Snowdrops, Bluebells and Anemone are all plants to avoid.
Can I let my Guinea Pig eat any of my houseplants?
Yes! While there may seem like an overwhelming list of harmful plants, there are actually a variety of houseplants that are safe for them to eat. Flowers like nasturtiums, marigolds, pansies, and roses are all great options.
Herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme, and sage are also safe for your guinea pig to nibble on. Leafy greens like alfalfa, arugula, bok choy, cabbage, and kale are all excellent choices. And fruits like apples, blueberries, watermelons, and strawberries make great snacks as well.
Houseplants that benefit Guinea Pigs to eat
- Violets – Be careful not to confuse these with African Violets. The violet family is a great houseplant that has the added benefit of containing Vitamin C for your Guinea Pigs.
- Rosemary – An herb that is great for people and Guinea Pigs alike. Rosemary is rich in vitamin A and C, as well as iron and calcium.
- Lavender: Lavender has relaxing qualities and will give your Guinea Pig extra fiber. They are a great houseplant for your Guinea Pig to snack on. They are also relatively easy to grow and their relaxing qualities will benefit everyone in the household.
- Hibiscus: The hibiscus is a popular flowering plant that is non-toxic to guinea pigs. They can eat the petals and leaves of this plant, and they’re easy to care for. You can even buy hibiscus treats designed specifically for Guinea Pigs as a snack for them.
Houseplants you may have at home that won’t harm your Guinea Pig
These are plants that we wouldn’t encourage our Guinea Pigs to eat, yet, if they do nibble on them — they are unlikely to cause harm.
- String of Pearls: While string of pearls are toxic to pets and even humans, they are actually well tolerated by Guinea Pigs. A study found that some herbivores like sheep, rabbits, and Guinea pigs are highly resistant to the plant.
- Boston fern: The Boston fern is a popular houseplant that is non-toxic to guinea pigs. This plant can help improve the air quality in your home, and guinea pigs can eat the leaves and fronds of this plant.
- Gerber daisies: While we wouldn’t encourage regular consumption of gerber daisies, the occasional or unintentional snack likely won’t harm your guinea pig.
- Petunias: Petunias are a popular flowering plant that are non-toxic to guinea pigs. They can eat the leaves and flowers of these plants without immediate harm, but it’s best not to promote long-term use as they may cause intestinal upset in large quantities.
- Marigolds: Marigolds are beautiful flowering plants that are non-toxic to guinea pigs. They can eat the flowers, leaves, and stems of these plants.
As you can see, Guinea Pigs are sensitive to many houseplants, so you must make sure to ‘Guinea Pig proof’ your home. If you’re ever unsure about a plant, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid feeding it to your guinea pig. Better yet, keep your plants elevated and out of reach with a raised planter or a plant stand. When in doubt, having the handbook of poisonous plants or consulting the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants are great in a pinch. And of course, if you’re ever concerned about something your Guinea Pig ate — you can ask online, but you’re best off calling your local vet.
Can Guinea Pigs eat apples?
Yes; although make sure they do not consume the apple seeds, which contain trace amounts of arsenic in them.
Can Guinea Pigs eat avocado?
No! Avocados is one of the few vegetables that are not allowed for Guinea Pigs.
Can Guinea Pigs eat aloe vera plants?
No! While it is common for us to eat the inside of Aloe Vera, the outside can be harmful to Guinea Pigs.
Can Guinea Pigs eat hibiscus flowers?
Yes! You can even buy hibiscus treats designed specifically for Guinea Pigs as a snack for them.
Can Guinea Pigs eat elderflowers?
No! Elderflowers made it onto our not-safe list for Guinea Pigs.
Can Guinea Pigs eat milkweed?
No! Milkweed is on the ASPCA toxic list and is harmful to Guinea Pigs.
Can Guinea Pigs eat wild violets?
Yes! Violets are a great snack for your Guinea Pig and will even give them an extra dose of Vitamin C.
Can Guinea Pigs eat Rosemary?
Yes – Rosemary is a great snack for Guinea Pigs. It’s also rich in Vitamin A and C.
Remember, if you are ever in doubt about whether or not a plant is safe for your guinea pig to eat, don’t give it to them. Always consult a veterinarian if you have any questions about what is harmful to your guinea pig’s diet.