Many of us have guinea pigs as our pets and we take care of them as family, often wondering about their food habits, specifically, can guinea pigs eat basil?
But most of us may be unaware that guinea pigs have been domesticated since 5000BC, and a lot has been known about their habits and behaviors.
Guinea pigs are the most adorable rodents one can have as a house pet.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Basil?
Guinea pigs can be taken care of by a child as young as four years; this means that they can have them as their first pets.
The best part of rearing guinea pigs is that they are budget-friendly pets, mostly in matters concerning food.
What Are the Foods Guinea Pigs Eat?
Guinea pigs have a variety of foods they can eat without any problem.
They eat fruits like bananas, apples, cherries, apricot, blueberry, grapes, mango, pineapple, pumpkin, strawberries, etc.
They also love eating veggies and herbs like cabbage, capsicum, cleavers, clover, basil, silverbeet, tomato, kale, green beans, etc.
Providing an unlimited amount of Timothy hay to guinea pigs every day helps in digestion and limits the growth of their teeth, which never stops growing since they are born.
Not all fruits and veggies are edible to guinea pigs, some are very toxic and can lead to serious health problems.
These include avocados, raisins, garlic, onions, coconut, chives, and grapes.
Also, avoid feeding your guinea pig ‘human junk’ and since onions are toxic to them, cooked foods are also off-limits.
You can feed some pellets to the guinea pigs by using an eighth of a cup and maybe supplement it with the Timothy hay
The key to a happy and healthy guinea pig is a happily varied diet.
The good news is that there are so many choices to choose from as we have seen above, so making that outstanding diet for your pet is very easy.
You can mix up the different types of foods and you’ll get a very healthy and happy guinea pig for years to come.
Now let’s find out more about this herb known as basil.
Basil, a member of the mint family, is a culinary herb that is popularly grown for its strong aroma and tasty flavor.
Its scientific name is very unique, Ocimum Basilicum.
The basil leaves are oval-shaped, with smooth or slightly toothed edges that cup slightly, and are arranged oppositely along the square-shaped stems.
There are very many theories involving the basil and guinea pigs.
Are these animals able to eat this aromatic and tasty herb?
Well, let’s find out.
What Are the Varieties of Basil?
There are several varieties of the basil plant which include:
- the Mediterranean basil which has large leaves
- the lemon basil that has a citrus flavor
- the Greek basil having small peppery leaves
- holy basil
- cinnamon basil
- Genovese basil
- lettuce basil
- green ruffles
- African blue basil
- summer long basil
- spicy globe basil
- cardinal basil
- lime basil
- Thai sweet basil
- the purple basil
These leaves are used fresh or dried, to flavor meat, sauces, and fish salads.
The basil plant is usually frost-sensitive and grows perfectly in warm climates.
It is susceptible to blight and downy mildew especially when grown in humid areas.
If you decide to store the basil, keep fresh basil leaves in a refrigerator layered in 2 damp paper towels and stored in a plastic bag where they can last for at most four days.
Dried basil should be kept in a cool dry place and used for 6 months, keeping in mind that the jar could have been in a grocery store for quite some time.
This plant is not only eaten by humans but also by animals.
We shall be talking about how to feed the basil to guinea pigs, their nutritional value, benefits, risk, and also the side effects they have on them.
In case you think of planting basil in your kitchen garden, then you can buy them here.
What Are the Benefits Of Feeding Guinea Pigs Basil?
The basil plant has plenty of nutrients that guinea pigs need in their day to day lives.
Some of these benefits are very helpful in keeping these rodents healthy and happy.
We shall take a look at a few of them and discuss how helpful they are to guinea pigs.
Vitamin C is the biggest benefit basil has to offer
We can say it’s actually a lifesaver.
Vitamin C improves the immune system of guinea pigs.
Sadly, the guinea pigs are not able to produce this vitamin naturally, and when they ingest it, they’re not able to store it too.
If there is an undersupply of Vitamin C, the guinea pig is at risk of getting scurvy and when this happens, the pig will have a rough coat, be fatigued, no appetite, nose, and eye discharge.
Another benefit of a guinea pig eating basil is that it has natural fibers and proteins that improve digestion and provide energy for a whole day.
Vitamin K is required for healthy bones and blood clotting in case of injury.
Another essential benefit of basil is the antioxidant manganese that helps in reducing all risks of all diseases in general
Vitamin A is an antioxidant and boosts the guinea pig’s immune system.
This nutrient combined with beta carotene helps strengthen the vision and eyesight of guinea pigs.
Folate, found in basil in small amounts, is beneficial to the guinea pigs once consumed, preventing folate deficiency.
Finally, there is another essential benefit, the zinc mineral.
It speeds up the healing of wounds, keeping DNA healthy, and protects immunity, especially in pregnant guinea pigs and their pups (offsprings).
Potassium in this herb helps reduce blood pressure by hydrating the guinea pig’s body.
There are phytochemicals found in basil that help in preventing lung, skin, and liver cancer.
What Is the Nutritional Value of Basil?
Basil is very aromatic and tasty for both humans and guinea pigs.
Its nutritional facts are just so amazing.
For each serving size of 3oz, there is:
- A total of 23 calories
- 30% Vitamin C which is the essential vitamin required by guinea pigs
- 6% phosphorus for healthy and strong bones
- 57% manganese which helps in the metabolism of sugars and calcium and balances hormones
- 6g of fiber used for healthy digestion
- 106% Vitamin A which fights inflammation, keeps kidneys, heart, lungs, brains, and vision healthy
- 2g of protein which is a source of slow-release energy
- 5% zinc for strong immunity and growth
- 18% iron for healthy blood cells
- 518% Vitamin K for strong bones
- 18%calcium which makes bones secure
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Basil?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat basil but in small amounts at a time.
It has shown to have healthy effects on them that help in their day to day lives.
It has vitamin K, phosphorus, calcium, and many more nutrients.
Despite basil having nutritional benefits it still has risks that can be harmful to the guinea pigs when consumed in large amounts or for a long period.
Guinea pigs love to eat some herbs, and to our surprise, basil is one of them.
Giving them this fresh produce, one needs to be very much care so that it can’t bring any health problems later.
Basil can be eaten in two forms, when dry or when fresh.
Guinea pigs enjoy eating the leaves of basil and are sure of saying thank you.
Do Guinea Pigs Like Basil?
This will depend on the preference of your guinea pig.
Some will love it while some will not.
To know this, give a small amount of basil to your guinea pig, and if they masticate on it hurriedly then you can feed it but if they don’t, do not feed them basil.
How Much Basil Can Guinea Pigs Eat?
Guinea pigs will eat 1-2 leaves of basil at most per serving.
We should be very keen on the quantities we give to our little rodents because we don’t want them getting ill or having complications later on.
They should be served sparsely and mixed with other vegetables to put together a balanced diet.
It is solely healthy only when gulped up moderately.
Are Guinea Pigs Allergic To Basil?
No, guinea pigs are really not allergic to basil at all.
It’s a superb choice to add basil to your guinea pig’s diet.
But once you feed them basil, make sure you observe them keenly.
If they show any allergic reaction like being uncomfortable then immediately remove it from their diet.
Which Are the Healthy Basil Herbs for Guinea Pigs?
As we saw earlier there are varieties of basil plants available in the world.
Let’s now look at the healthy varieties our little rodent pets can have.
Thai Sweet Basil
They grow in gardens and have purple flowers.
They are harmless to guinea pigs.
They can grow in a garden and also in a pot because they are small in size.
This variety of basil can be served to your guinea pig by itself, or you can mix it with some veggies.
This type of basil is green in color and is very delicious; feeding it to your guinea pig is safe.
Some of this type is sweet while the other tastes like clovers.
They are usually purple in color and are also safe to serve your guinea pig.
This type of basil has a good fragrance that a guinea pig would love and like to have a taste of it.
They have dark green leaves and are very sweet.
The cinnamon basil is one of the most appealing types of basil; it has purple stems and pink flowers.
Also, they are delicious and healthy, making sure that your guinea pig is enjoying every munch it has on it.
A guinea pig would enjoy eating lemon basil since it has a nice lemon essence in them and is harmless.
This type of basil is very nutritious despite having a bitter taste.
They can prevent kidney problems, coughs, and colds, and other health issues too.
How To Introduce Basil To Guinea Pigs?
Well, have you decided to feed your guinea pig with a taste of the strong aroma of basil?
You’re in luck!
Introducing this herb to the guinea pig needs some special attention in order not to affect its health.
These are some of the steps one needs to take in introducing basil to guinea pigs.
Pick the fresh and green colored basils.
Clean them thoroughly to remove dirt and chemicals that might be attached to them so that they don’t harm your guinea pig.
Chop them into small pieces so that the guinea pigs can munch on them easily.
If you decide to give them the leaves as a whole, use 1 or 2 leaves and let the guinea pigs munch on them.
Do this for several weeks observing its reaction to the basil.
If you find out that your guinea pigs can eat basil then you can create a schedule on how you’re going to feed them with this aromatic herb.
You can add other veggies if you feel like it.
Does it behave normally?
Is it showing signs of discomfort like having constipation and vomiting?
If it behaves normally, then you’re just on the right track, you can be able to feed basil to your favorite rodent and give it more, limiting its intake to avoid abnormalities.
But if all doesn’t go as planned, stop immediately and take the guinea pig to a vet if need be.
It’s advisable to throw away any leftovers from their dishes and water from their drinking points every day and fill them with fresh food and water to avoid health issues from the contaminated food.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Basil Stems?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat the stems of basil.
They carry a lot of Vitamin C, which guinea pigs can’t produce on their own.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Basil Flowers?
Flowers are usually pretty in nature.
Does that mean anything to the rodent?
Is it able to eat the flowers of this herb?
Yes, guinea pigs can be able to eat basil flowers.
They are edible and have a yummy taste the guinea pigs love.
But some flowers are bitter and the guinea pigs wouldn’t love the taste.
Can Nursing Guinea Pigs Eat Basil?
Yes, nursing guinea pigs will eat basil.
A nursing pig needs to be watched keenly, especially with its diet.
They need to be fed with an adequate quantity of Vitamin C, which will help them to keep their nutrients’ needs.
All this should be done only in moderation since lots of it causes digestion problems.
Pregnant guinea pigs can also munch on the basil since they provide zinc which helps in keeping DNA healthy.
Nursing guinea pigs are those that have given birth to pups.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dry Basil Leaves?
Dry basil leaves are hard and difficult to chew.
Their shape and texture are also less attractive.
Guinea pigs will find dry basil leaves less appealing to them.
Instead, give them raw fresh basil leaves which happen to be more nutritious and are easily digestible, not forgetting that they shouldn’t be boiled or cooked lest they’ll lose their nutritional value.
You will be able to get fresh basil leaves from here.
What Are the Side Effects Of Feeding Large Amounts Of Basil To Guinea Pigs?
Feeding basil to guinea pigs is good until it’s fed in large quantities which has some dreadful effects.
These effects include:
Calcium and phosphorus are key nutrients in a guinea pig, but when consumed excessively, it causes some health problems.
Excess calcium consumption leads to kidney stones and many urinary issues.
Too much phosphorus consumption can cause diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and nausea.
The fiber in basil leaves is used to help the guinea pigs in digestion, but when consumed IN excess it leads to constipation and improper bowel movement.
The moment you notice these effects you need to call a vet doctor immediately to come check on the guinea pig before they become fatal.
How To Know When A Guinea Pig Is Not Feeling Well?
Guinea pigs are very sensitive animals and you can easily notice when something’s wrong with them.
The first sign you can note is bloating.
After feeding your guinea pig basil, you can give them a light squeeze check on their tummy to check whether they are bloated.
They can as well experience diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting, drooling, a rough coat, and loss of appetite.
Basil As A Remedy
When we talk about remedy, we are talking about how we can be able to treat our little friends with basil
Basil is a nutritious herb that you can add to your guinea pig’s diet.
This tasty herb can also be used as a remedy to some health complications:
- If your guinea pigs are bloating then feeding basil to them will help
- Basil helps in acid reflux, commonly known as heartburn
- If your guinea pigs are facing digestion related complications
- Basil can be able to help in hydrating their bodies
Having basil in a guinea pig’s meal has many benefits, nutritional value, and has risks as well.
Plus it should never be a main course food to the guinea pigs.
Feeding basil to guinea pigs is recommended, but only in small amounts and given in specific intervals, not every day.
You can feed one or two leaves of the basil plants to your rodent pets at a time, either in whole or chopped leaves which is advisable.
Washing the leaves thoroughly is really necessary since we don’t have our guinea pigs eating this herb with some chemical that might have been sprayed on the farm.
Some nutrients the guinea pigs can get from munching on basil include Vitamin C which is very essential to them, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, manganese, and potassium among others.
We have also seen that feeding large amounts of basil to guinea pigs can cause some health effects like having a bloated stomach, diarrhea, urinary problems, and digestive reactions that can be fatal to the guinea pigs.
So to conclude, yes, guinea pigs can have basil, but in limited amounts.