One of the most important things you need to know about the pet you have or the pet you want to get is their diet. Just like humans, animals need a balanced and healthy diet in order to prevent diseases and to live longer.
Now, guinea pigs are known for being picky eaters. Their digestive system doesn’t allow them to eat whatever we want to feed them. For starters, guinea pigs are not allowed to eat cooked food just because their digestive system cannot process it. So, what’s left?
Fruit, vegetables and different plants are what you need to give them. A well-balanced diet will ensure a healthy lifestyle for your little pet.
So, can guinea pigs eat ferns? The safe answer is no, they can’t and they shouldn’t eat ferns. The most common thing to know about ferns is that most of them are toxic to living creatures. Better safe than sorry. However, there is a certain type of ferns they can eat: fiddlehead ferns. Fiddlehead ferns are furled leaves of ferns harvested as vegetables. This type of fern is beneficial for a guinea pig.
What are ferns? I feel like I need to describe this plant a little bit as I really think a lot of people don’t know what it is, even though they probably saw it at some point. The fern is a wild plant. There are about 12.000 different species of ferns! Of course, there is not enough knowledge about them, but generally, they are known to be toxic. These plants have no flowers or seeds, so they reproduce via spores. They have a toxin called latex sap in their leaves and stems.
Health Benefits of Guinea Pigs Eating Ferns
These plants are high in vitamin C, low on fat and calcium, so they are very good for guinea pigs. The high content of vitamin C supports the proper functioning of their sensitive organisms while the little amount of calcium helps with bones without being harmful (too much calcium causes bladder stones).
The benefits of these two essential substances are endless: fight diseases, help the immune system, bones, teeth, and joints stronger, preventing scurvy. Generally, without these substances, their bodies cannot work properly.
Nutrition Facts of Ferns
This is the most important vitamin for guinea pigs. This is due to the fact that guinea pigs, just like humans, cannot produce by themselves and store vitamin C. This means that if you don’t feed them foods high in vitamin C, they can develop scurvy, a certain disease (caused by vitamin C deficiency).
Vitamin C fixes calcium in bones, contains antibacterial properties, fights diseases, helps the immune system. Also, it absorbs excess calcium.
The amount of vitamin C guinea pigs need daily is between 10 to 30 mg. This amount is necessary, but don’t be scared if you accidentally feed them a little more than they need: the excess vitamin C will be eliminated through urine.
Scurvy is a condition that happens when guinea pigs don’t have enough vitamin C in their diet. The symptoms are lack of energy and appetite for food, difficulty in walking (lack of vitamin C affects the bones and joints), rough hairs. If you observe any of these symptoms, take your guinea pig to the veterinarian. Scurvy can be treated by supplementing vitamin C. However, if it is not treated properly, it can cause death (the death might also be very sudden).
Calcium is also a vital substance for guinea pigs. It is essential for the healthy development of bones and teeth. However, the most important role calcium has for guinea pigs is balancing the magnesium and phosphorus. Also, guinea pigs can eliminate calcium, so if you see white substances excreted by your little pet, it is probably calcium.
Quick Facts on Ferns
- There is an insane number of species of fern world-wide. Depending on the species, they can be as small as 2 or 3 inches or as tall as 30 feet.
- Also, some of them may live up to a century.
- Ferns are very old (‘ancient’) organisms – they appeared 400 million years ago.
- Their leaves are called fronds.
- Ferns develop neither flowers nor seeds. They reproduce via spores.
- They can also ‘reproduce’ through rhizomes (roots) and fronds (leaves).
- Mice and bats eat these spores.
- Most of them are toxic, but a few of them are used in the diets of humans.
- Ferns have a lot of uses in the world. They are known to fertilize the air. They do that by absorbing the nitrogen from the air. Also, they can absorb heavy metals from the soil and air. They are very important for fighting pollution.
- The tallest ferns are not thin plants – they are actually trees. Those species are used in the building industry.
- Most of the species of fern grow in shady, wet places, like a jungle. However, they can be found pretty much anywhere – they are very adaptable.
- Some of the species are considered weeds.
- There is a species of fern – called the bracken. This is the most poisonous type of fern known until now. It is said that it was consumed in Japan at some point. Anyway, it is now scientifically proven that it can cause cancer.
- How often can I give fiddlehead ferns to my guinea pigs?
Looking at the nutritional facts of fiddlehead ferns, their high content of vitamin C and low content of fat is crucial. This is the reason you can give your guinea pigs fiddlehead ferns 3 to 4 times a week.
- How does a well-balanced diet look like for guinea pigs?
If you already own a guinea pig, you should know this by now. However, if you want to get a guinea pig, let me offer you the basics.
Guinea pigs can only eat raw, fresh food – fruit, vegetables, plants and pellets. Water needs to always be replaced; they need fresh water all the time – just like humans do. Water is crucial for them, as it is for us.
Something else they need to always have nearby is hay – this is the plant they love and need the most. Hay contains a lot of essential nutrients and helps with their health and the length of their teeth.
Pellets also contain a lot of nutrients, but an eighth of a cup is enough daily. Vegetables and fruit are meant to offer more nutrients and an interesting diet. Guinea pigs get sick of the same food all over again, so make sure you have a variety of foods that you can give them.
Before I let you go, one final thought on food. With food, you can’t ever be too careful which is why I get all guinea pig food from a reliable source such as Amazon. If you are not sure what to order but believe your little piggies deserve some great treats please check our Helpful Guide to the Best Guinea Pig Treats to get some ideas. We have also made a full list of foods that guinea pigs can and can’t eat (150+ Types of Foods). Be sure to also check our recommended products page for everything you will ever need to assure a happy life for your Guinea Pigs. Hope this information was helpful and you have found the answer you were looking for.
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