The short and sweet answer (pun intended), is yes! Sweet potatoes are considered a crazy-healthy food for humans, and they’re just as safe for guinea pigs to eat. (Keep in mind that guinea pigs can't eat potatoes, only sweet potatoes.)
However, it’s still important to be sure of what they contribute to your guinea pig’s diet, and any side effects they may experience. We've also got a Vegetable Master List that lists common veggies that your piggy can and can't eat!
What vitamins and other nutrients do sweet potatoes contain?
While guinea pigs need Vitamin C in their diets, sweet potatoes aren’t exactly the best source of it for them. Sweet potatoes contain around 3 mg of Vitamin C in a 100 g portion! Guinea pigs need 10-50mg of the vitamin a day. Vitamin C is important because it builds up their immune system and ensures that if they ever catch an infection, whether it’s respiratory or otherwise, their body is equipped to fight it off and for them to fully recover.
It’s also great for preventing scurvy, which guinea pigs are very susceptible to. Scurvy has a multitude of effects on your guinea pig, including pain and difficulty walking, internal bleeding, and several other effects! There can be secondary symptoms from these things as well.
When it comes to guinea pigs, potassium isn’t always discussed. However, it does have some benefits to your guinea pig’s heart health! It helps promote good blood pressure, and helps reduce high blood pressure.
The main role of potassium is to help maintain normal fluid levels in your guinea pigs’ cells, and it’s the same in humans as well! It’s also super important for muscle function when it comes to muscle contraction.
What other benefits do sweet potatoes provide for your guinea pig?
Sweet potatoes are a great way for your guinea pig to enjoy something sweet without consuming too much sugar!
What are the downsides about sweet potatoes for guinea pigs?
Yes, we mentioned sweet potatoes as a sweet treat for the piggies, but overconsumption can also be unhealthy for your guinea pigs. It’s about balance! Too much sugar can lead to the development of diabetes and even cause obesity.
This means that it is important for you to limit how much of it your guinea pig has! And just to make things clear: while sweet potatoes are perfectly safe for your guinea pig to eat, regular potatoes (russet, red, etc.) can be toxic to your guinea pig.
Regular potatoes are toxic to guinea pigs because of the alkaloids that guinea pigs are unable to handle and consumption can result in a multitude health issues. Never feed them regular potatoes!
Guinea pigs can sweet potatoes, but do they like it?
Guinea pigs love anything sweet, and sweet potatoes are exactly that!
How should you go about feeding your guinea pig sweet potatoes?
In general, guinea pigs should be eating about a cup of fresh fruits and vegetables a day in addition to the hay and food pellets that they receive—this is to provide a nutritious diet filled with variety. This means your piggy should not be receiving a whole cup of any one fruit or veggie, but a mix of different ones.
According to the Humane Society, we should only give our guinea pigs sweet potatoes one or two times a week—one chunk measuring half an inch by half an inch. The average sweet potato is around 130 g, so it'd be quite a small amount! Remember when preparing this for your guinea pigs to thoroughly clean and scrub the outside if you plan on leaving the skin on for them.
Overall, it is OK to feed your guinea pigs sweet potatoes!
However, it’s important that sweet potatoes be fed to them like a once-in-a-while sweet treat, and shouldn’t be included regularly in their daily diet. We know—it can be hard to keep something your guinea pigs love from them, but the biggest priority is keeping them healthy!
What else can guinea pigs eat?
Check out our Vegetable Master List for an extensive list of vegetables for guinea pigs!