At a certain point in life, we all have consumed yams, they are basically a variety of sweet potato, and they look quite similar as well. With a yam, every meal becomes even healthier and just as tasty as with regular potatoes. We consume them in many different ways, but can our guinea pigs eat yams too? Let’s find out.
Can guinea pigs eat yams? Yes, guinea pigs can eat yams, they are healthy for the guinea pigs because they contain vitamin C, which is the absolute must-have nutrient for the guinea pigs. They can eat yams twice per week.
Your guinea pig can’t have cooked yams, because cooked foods are not allowed for the guinea pigs. Wash the yams, peel them and cut them up into small chunks, in order to make it easier for the guinea pig to eat them and to avoid choking.
The yams are very nutritious and beneficial, not just for us, but also for our guinea pigs. In the sections below we will cover all the health benefits from yams, but also any potential risks they can present to your guinea pig.
Health Benefits of Guinea Pigs Eating Yams
- Antioxidants – vitamin A in the yam will boost the overall immunity. This vitamin is an antioxidant, which means it will improve the health of all organs in the body. It will also fight the free radicals and the damage they cause to guinea pig’s health. With good antioxidant protection, the body is at less risk for many diseases.
- Scurvy prevention – in yams there is also vitamin C. This vitamin is incredibly beneficial to the guinea pigs and it protects them from the scurvy disease. When the guinea pigs lack this vitamin, they get a disease called scurvy which presents itself with these symptoms: loss of appetite, weight loss, loose stool, rough coat, discharge and bleedings.
- Healthy blood– the iron and vitamin K in the yams will contribute to healthier blood, and with them, there will be less fatigue and immune system will improve.
Nutrition Facts of Yams
Here are the nutrition facts per 100 g (3 oz) of yam, raw:
- High in calories – 118 calories. Usually, we don’t consider this too many calories per 100 g of some food but since you will give just a few chunks to the guinea pig, it isn’t a great risk for the weight of your pet.
- High in carbs and low in protein – yams are quite rich in carbs, 27.9 g but low in proteins 1.5 g.
- Fiber – 4.1 g. Unlike some veggies, yams have a lot of fiber. This amount is good and optimal, more than this can cause loose stool (and lack of fibers can cause indigestion)
- Sugar – 0.5 g. Luckily, yams don’t have a lot of sugar as some other veggies. This amount isn’t a big problem for the guinea pigs. Otherwise, they cannot digest excess sugars very well and if they consume sugars they will have stomach pains and loose stool.
- Vitamin A – 3%. This vitamin acts as an antioxidant. It keeps the heart, kidneys, lungs, skin, brain, vision healthy. It also boosts immunity.
- Vitamin C – 28%. Guinea pigs don’t make this vitamin naturally, and when they get it, they can’t store it either. So, any food that has a lot of C, like yams, is welcome. The vitamin C prevents the dangerous scurvy disease (when guinea pigs lack vitamin C, they are more prone to it).
- Vitamin E – 2%. The vitamin E improves skin quality, prevents some cancers, boosts the immunity, reduces inflammation, also it prevents against heart diseases and promotes better eye health.
- Vitamin K – 3%. Vitamin K is important for producing the prothrombin, a protein needed for healthy blood.
- Thiamin – 7%. Thiamin is the B1 vitamin. This vitamin prevents problems with the nerves, muscles, brain, stomach, intestines, and heart. Also, it improves the electrolytes flow to the nerves and muscles.
- Riboflavin – 2%. The other name for this vitamin is B2. The B2 converts the foods into energy, and it allows for better oxygen flow through the organism.
- Niacin – 3%. Niacin is the B3 vitamin; it lowers cholesterol, prevents against heart problems and diabetes, and it improves the skin quality too.
- Vitamin B6 – 15%. The B6 helps with producing serotonin (happiness hormone), reduces stress, and improves the quality of sleep.
- Pantothenic acid – 3%. The pantothenic acid is the B5 vitamin. It converts foods into energy, but it also creates new blood cells.
- Calcium – 17mg. Calcium is responsible for the creation of strong bone tissues. It is good for guinea pigs only when they are young. But, for grown guinea pigs this mineral is harmful to their urinary tract.
- Iron – 3% – it gives energy and it boosts the immunity too.
- Magnesium – 5%. Magnesium prevents diabetes and heart problems, and it makes bones stronger too.
- Potassium – 23%. With potassium, there is less risk of kidney stones, less risk of losing muscle mass, and blood pressure will be at a normal level.
Risks to Consider When Feeding Yams to Guinea Pigs
- Urinary complications – yams have calcium, and we mentioned how this mineral can cause problems in grown guinea pigs. When the cavy is young and still has to develop and grow, calcium is not harmful. But, in adult guinea pigs, when there is excess calcium they are prone to bladder and kidney stones, blood in the urine, painful urinating and frequent infections in that urinary tract. This needs to be treated in time because it can progress to renal failure (which is fatal).
- Weight changes – yam is rich in carbs and really high in calories. When you feed yams to the guinea pig, you will give it just a few pieces, not too much so the carbs and calories shouldn’t present a problem. But, if you give yams in large quantities to guinea pigs, and too often, the guinea pig could be at risk for gaining rapid weight.
Quick Facts on Yams
- There are around 600 varieties of yam worldwide.
- The yam is a native veggie in the warmer regions of the hemispheres.
- Mostly, the yam is grown in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Caribbeans.
- In Africa and New Guinea, the yam is the main agricultural produce and is the main element in some rituals too!
- The yams have a cylinder shape with skin that is brown or blackish, even bark-like. The flesh is red, purple, or white color.
- Yam can taste different, depending on the variety, it can be bitter to almost tasteless.
- Yams are available all year round, compared to other crops.
- In Canada and USA, the word ‘yam’ is used for some varieties of sweet potato.
- The name ‘yam’ comes from the Portuguese ‘inhame’, and this word originates from the West African languages.
- It is believed the first yams were cultivated in Asia, around 8000 BC.
- Yams grow in huge sizes on the Ponape island in the Pacific. There the yams are called ‘2 men’ or ‘4 men’, or ‘6 man’ – depending on how many men are needed to lift the huge yam! Some yams have even reached 6 feet in length, and weight of 600 pounds!
- Annually, over 30 million tons of yam are produced worldwide
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!