Can Guinea Pigs Eat Swede? (Benefits, Risks, Serving Size & More)

In this article, we are going to talk about root vegetable called swede. Swede is also called rutabaga. This root veggie is a blend (a cross) between turnip and cabbage. We use swede roots in many ways for different recipes, and the leaves are also sometimes consumed too in salads for example. Now we will check if our guinea pigs can also safely eat swede.

Can guinea pigs eat swede? Yes, guinea pigs can eat swede and they really love the taste of this veggie. Swede must be fed in moderation because it contains calcium, oxalic acids, and sugar, which are not so good for the guinea pigs. Apart from that, this veggie has vitamins and minerals that the guinea pig will benefit from.

Before the feeding, always wash the swede and peel it before you do the slicing. In order to achieve a well balanced and healthy diet, fed swede to the guinea pig two times per week.

Like with every food, there are good and bad things, so read more below to see all the benefits and risks that guinea pigs can have from consuming swede, as well as the nutritional information.

Health Benefits of Feeding Swede to Guinea Pigs

  • Scurvy prevention – vitamin C in swede will keep your guinea pig safe from the fatal disease called scurvy. Guinea pigs are prone to this disease when they lack vitamin C from foods or supplements. This disease manifests itself with loss of appetite, rough coat, diarrhea, bleedings, discharges, and weight loss.


  • Boosted immunity – the manganese acts as an antioxidant, but also the vitamin C, iron, zinc, selenium, and copper found in swede, they all boost the immunity in guinea pigs as well.

Nutrition Facts of Swede

For the serving, 3 oz of swede, raw, these are the nutrition facts:

  • Low in calories – 36 calories. Swede isn’t too caloric, which is good for maintaining a healthy weight in guinea pigs.


  • Proteins and carbs – there are 8.1 g of carbs, and also 1.2 g of proteins in swede. The carb content is quite higher than the protein, but still, when this is fed in moderation to your guinea pig, no major changes will happen with the weight.


  • Fiber – 2.5 g. A good amount of fibers in this vegetable. The fibers contribute to healthier digestion and regular bowel emptying.


  • Sugar – 5.6 g. Swede may be a vegetable, but it has a high amount of sugar and this is normal for some fresh produce. But, this amount is too high for the guinea pigs, because they can’t digest sugars well.


  • Fat – 0.2g. Rutabaga is low in fat and this is another proof that your guinea pig will keep a healthy weight, and also a healthy cardiovascular system (excess fats can damage the health of the blood vessels).


  • Vitamin C – 42%. There is a lot of vitamin C in this veggie, not the optimal amount, but still very good. Our guinea pigs need this to survive and to be healthy because they cannot make this vitamin on their own


  • Thiamin – 6%. The other name of this nutrient is B1. B1 boosts the health of muscles, brain, nerves, intestines, stomach, and heart. Also, it makes a better flow of electrolytes to the nerves and muscles.


  • Vitamin B6 – 5%. This vitamin reduces stress, helps to with better sleep, and boosts the production of serotonin (hormone for happiness).


  • Calcium – 47 mg. This mineral forms strong bone tissues, but in excess, it is unhealthy for the guinea pigs. Swede has a lot of calcium, so feed this in moderation as we mentioned.


  • Iron – 3%. Iron is one of the most vital minerals. Its role is to remove fatigue, to give energy and boost the immunity to fight off anemia.


  • Magnesium – 6%. Magnesium prevents diabetes, heart problems, and it helps to make the bones stronger too.


  • Potassium – 10%. This nutrient lowers the high blood pressure, keeps the density of the bone tissues, lowers the risks of getting a stroke, protects against loss of the muscle mass.


  • Manganese – 9%. This antioxidant is one of the strongest. It reduces the risk of almost all diseases, lessens the inflammations, and regulates the blood sugar as well.

Risks of Feeding Swede to Guinea Pigs

  • Kidney problems and gasses – the swede in excess can cause serious health problems for the guinea pig. For example, there is more risk of kidney stones formation due to oxalic acid. This acid is found in many plants and humans can eliminate it through the urine or stool. But, for your guinea pigs, this means more gasses or even kidney stones. The oxalic acid binds together with the calcium in foods, and this increases the health risks.


  • Urinary problems – swede also has calcium, the mineral that is not good for guinea pigs. Only for a brief period of time, the calcium is good for them – when they are young and growing. Calcium in excess increases the risk of kidney and bladder stones, painful urinating, infections and even bloody urine. The worst case scenario is renal failure (when the kidneys stop working).


  • Bad digestion – the sugar in this veggie can affect the gut health in cavies. Since sugar isn’t well digested by the guinea pigs, it can cause painful digesting, gasses and flatulence, or loose stool and cramps.

Quick Facts About Swede

  • Worldwide this veggie is called ‘swede’, but in North America, it is called ‘rutabaga’.
  • The origins are still not certain, but it is believed it was first cultivated in Russia and Scandinavia.
  • Rutabaga was widely introduced in the Americas and England in the 19th century.
  • The leaves of this veggie are used the same way as we use the spinach, and the root is cooked similar to potatoes (roasted or mashed).
  • Another name for this veggie is ‘Swedish turnip’ and the word ‘rutabaga’ comes from the Swedish ‘rotabagge’ meaning ‘baggy root’, or ‘thick root’
  • The most popular varieties of swede are American purple top, Laurentian, heirloom, gourmet, Marian, and Joan.
  • We can consume the swede raw as well, but it must always be washed and peeled well.

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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