Walnuts have been consumed for thousands of years. These nuts have a range of health benefits that make them a recommended food for humans. Small animals have different nutritional needs and digestive tracts to us, though. Can guinea pigs eat walnuts? As you’ll find out very shortly, the answer is no.
What are Walnuts?
Technically, walnuts are not nuts at all. Walnuts are the seeds of a deciduous tree. Deciduous is not a type of tree, but rather a descriptive term. It refers to trees that shed ripe fruit and seeds once they reach maturity. Walnuts are just one of the foodstuffs that these trees provide.
Walnuts are grown on trees that belong to the Juglans genus. These trees are native to the Middle East and the mountain ranges of the Himalayas and Carpathia. Naturally, this means that all walnuts purchased in the United States have been imported.
Are Walnuts a Good Food for Guinea Pigs?
Walnuts are commonly regarded as a superfood for humans. When we consider the health benefits of consuming walnuts as a food, it’s not hard to see why. Some of the benefits of walnuts include:
- Walnuts are high in protein, carbs and fat. This means they provide a constant release of energy throughout the day
- Walnuts are moderately high in fiber, which promotes superior heart health
- Walnuts have a high level of Vitamin C
- Walnuts have high amounts of iron and copper, which encourages healthy blood flow in the body of a guinea pig
- Walnuts are tasty and guinea pigs will enjoy the challenge of crunching through the tough shell
Now, some of these benefits can also apply to guinea pigs. Despite this, guinea pigs cannot safely eat walnuts. You should keep your cavy far away from walnuts, in fact. Allow us to explain why this is.
Why are Walnuts Not Good for Guinea Pigs?
There are many reasons why guinea pigs cannot enjoy walnuts, and you should not feed these nuts to a cavy. The warnings assigned to walnuts pertaining to guinea pigs include:
- Many guinea pigs are allergic to walnuts. A cavy may experience serious side effects from eating them
- Walnuts tend to break into small, sharp pieces. These can cause cuts to the stomach or mouth of a guinea pig
- As discussed, walnuts are high in fat and calories. This is much a curse as a blessing – guinea pigs that eat too many walnuts will quickly gain weight and grow obese
- Walnuts contain sugar. Not a huge amount, but enough to upset the delicate digestion of guinea pigs
- The seeds of a walnut be a choking hazard for guinea pigs
- Walnuts are packed with calcium. That’s good for a young, growing cavy, but once guinea pigs reach adulthood a high intake of calcium becomes dangerous and can cause bladder problems
As you’ll see, walnuts are high risk, low benefit food for guinea pigs. You should not allow your cavy to eat walnuts, no matter how much it may cry and beg. There are plenty of better alternatives out there which will keep guinea pigs safer. Walnuts are far from the best source of Vitamin C for a pocket pet.
Can a Guinea Pig Ever Eat Walnuts?
Based on the information above, guinea pigs cannot be offered walnuts. No ifs, no buts, no maybes, no exceptions. You may think that you can take steps to make walnuts a safe food for your guinea pig. This is hugely unlikely to be the case. It really isn’t worth taking any chances.
Can a Guinea Pig Eat Shelled Walnuts?
Guinea pigs must never be offered a shelled walnut. On paper, a cavy will enjoy nibbling away at the tough exterior shell of a walnut.
In reality, this shell is brittle and guinea pigs have sharp teeth. Before you know it, the shell will split. This leaves your cavy at risk of cuts to the mouth or stomach once the fragments are swallowed.
Naturally, this also creates a choking risk. If your guinea pig grows impatient, it may attempt to swallow a piece of walnut shell before it is small enough. This can lead to a fatal mishap.
Can a Guinea Pig Eat Chopped Walnuts?
If you must feed walnuts to guinea pigs, the only to do so is to chop them as fine as possible. This will involve the use of a pocket blender.
Once you have chopped the walnuts small enough they are not a choking hazard, you can sprinkle a verysmall amount over the food of your guinea pigs
Here’s the thing, though – we do mean very small amounts. So small, in fact, that your guinea pigs will barely gain any benefit from the high levels of Vitamin C in their snack.
To help guinea pigs enjoy this perk, you’ll need to place their health at risk by over-feeding the calcium, fat, sugar and calories. Really, it just isn’t worth the effort.
Alternative Guinea Pig Foods to Walnuts
Having established that guinea pigs cannot safely eat walnuts, you’ll want to consider alternatives. In truth, you’re best served steering clear of any kind of nut for your guinea pig. All nuts are high in fat, provide choking risk, and have enough calcium to wreak havoc on the internal organs of a guinea pig,
Give your guinea pig plenty of fresh hay to chew on. This will be just as effective as the shell of walnuts for filing down teeth and has none of the associated risks. Add some fresh fruit and vegetables to your guinea pigs food too. These will be tasty and provide all the goodness a cavy needs.
All you’ll see, the answer to our question, “can guinea pigs eat walnuts” is a firm no. When it comes to food, guinea pigs need a very particular diet. Walnuts do not provide enough of what your pocket pet needs, and they place the health of guinea pigs at risk. Don’t take any chances with walnuts. There is little to gain and plenty to lose.