Turnip is a type of root vegetable that belongs to the mustard family. It has a creamy white/purple. The top is mostly exposed to the sun, and the entire vegetable is cruciferous. Now let’s talk about our guinea pigs and if they can have turnips in their diet. We are only going to talk about the bottom part of the turnip (its root), turnip greens (top part – leaves) can also be fed to our guinea pigs (see our previous article for more details).
So, can guinea pigs eat turnips? Yes, guinea pigs can eat turnips. Turnips are very nutritious for the guinea pigs but they should be administered only occasionally. The reason for this is because they are high in oxalic acid and sugar. Around once or twice in a week will be good for the guinea pig.
You should always try and feed your guinea pig with fresh turnips because guinea pigs are very picky eaters (they will not even try older foods). Also, fresh turnips will have more nutrients which will result in more health benefits. What makes turnips a good choice of food for guinea pigs isn’t even the taste, but the presence of vitamin C. This is a vital vitamin for guinea pigs and should be given in large portions. Turnips happen to have a sufficient amount of vitamin C.
If you want to know more about the benefits, possible risks or some fun facts about turnips as food for the guinea pigs read the following sections.
Health Benefits of Guinea Pigs Eating Turnips
There are numerous benefits found in turnips, especially for guinea pigs. The following are some of the advantages of feeding your pet turnips:
- Helps with digestion – digestion is a critical metabolic process in a guinea pig. Your pet doesn’t have the best digestive system, and that is why it depends on the food it eats for help. Turnips have sufficient dietary fiber that helps with digesting food and absorbing nutrients into the bloodstream. The fiber also aids in alleviating stomach related complications such as constipation and diarrhea.
- Reduces inflammation – swelling/inflammation is normal until it turns chronic. It is a body’s reaction to diseases and injury and it usually ends on its own after a while. When inflammation becomes chronic, it can lead to conditions such as cancer and diabetes. Turnips help to prevent this through the use of antioxidants. Also, fiber helps to reduce internal inflammation of organs.
- Lowers blood pressure – high blood pressure is deadly and it needs to be reduced if present in your guinea pigs. High blood pressure can be toned down by nitrates that are present in turnips. Nitrates have positive effects on vascular health, including lowering blood pressure. This helps to keep the guinea pig healthy and stable.
- Aids in weight loss – turnips have low amounts of calories which can help with weight loss. Besides, this veggie has dietary fiber which induces satiety or fullness in a guinea pig. When the guinea pig is feeling full it won’t eat too much, and that is how it reduces the intake of calories (weight regulation). You should note that obesity in your guinea pig is a risk factor and can be fatal for guinea pig’s life.
- Boosts immune function – guinea pigs naturally have a weak immune system, and in order to improve it they need to eat nutritious foods. Vitamin C, found in turnips, is one of the nutrients crucial to the life of a guinea pig. Note that guinea pigs are unable to create nor store this vitamin by themselves naturally, they depend on different food as a source of vitamin C. This vitamin protects the body from different diseases and infections. Also, vitamin C helps in iron absorption and with several other vital body functions.
- Helps in the development of strong bones and teeth – calcium is one essential mineral found in turnips that helps with the formation, growth, and development of strong bones and teeth in cavies. This amount of calcium is not dangerous for your guinea pig.
Nutrition Facts of Turnips
Turnips are rich in several nutrients, pre 100 g this is the nutritional value of turnips:
- Calories – 28
- Vitamin C – 35%
- Dietary fiber – 3.5 g
- Calcium – 3%
- Iron – 1%
- Sodium – 67 mg
- Phosphorous – 4%
- Magnesium – 2%
- Vitamin B-6 – 5%
- Sugar – 3.8 g
- Potassium – 191 mg
Serving size of turnips for the guinea pigs is half a cup or a handful of turnips, carefully sliced into small cubes. Feed them turnips one or two times per week.
Risks to Consider When Feeding Turnips to Guinea Pigs
There aren’t many risks associated with feeding turnips to your guinea pig:
- High nitrate content – nitrites are not healthy for guinea pigs if present in large amounts, and that is why you need to regulate the feeding of this veggie.
- Oxalic acid – this is an acid that has adverse effects for our guinea pigs, this is one other reason why the intake should be regulated.
- Allergic reactions – this is not common because not all guinea pigs encounter it. However, if your guinea pig has an allergy or if you notice abnormal behavior, please offer sufficient water to your guinea pig and stop the feeding process right away. If the symptoms persist, then it is wise to take the guinea pig to a qualified vet.
Quick Facts on Turnips
Check out the following fascinating facts about turnips:
- Since pre-historic times, turnips have been a staple food for the Europeans.
- The vegetable is low in calories but rich in essential nutrients.
- The origins of turnips are traced back to Europe.
- Selective breeding of wild turnip was used to create the turnips we consume today.
- There are different varieties of turnips, around 30 in total.
- The plant grows under a cold climate and well-drained fertile soils.
- The plant needs direct exposure to sunlight for proper growth.
- Turnips provide a source of food for many people around the world.
- They complete the life cycle after two years, making it a biennial plant.
- During WW1, turnips were primarily consumed in Germany. This was a period when potatoes and meat were scarce. The bread was prepared using turnip flour and the winter during that period even earned the name turnip winter.
- Ancient Rome and Greece used turnips as a staple food.
- The turnips seeds were used to produce edible oil used in cooking.
- The leaves of the plant taste like mustard greens and can either be cooked or consumed raw.
- When the root of the plant reaches 2-3 inches, it is ready for harvesting.
- An over-matured turnip is inedible and tastes like wood.
- 45-60 days after planting, the turnip plant is ready for harvesting.
- The flowers of the turnip are yellow and are held together in raceme inflorescence.
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.
If you found this post useful, would you mind helping out by sharing it? Just click one of the handy social media sharing buttons below so others can also learn about guinea pig food and diet!