There are so many safe and healthy herbs that guinea pigs can eat. However, a few herbs are toxic and even potentially dangerous to your piggy. We’ll cover all of them in this list and help you determine which are best to feed to your guinea pig.
Herbs have a lot of benefits and are a very natural part of a guinea pig’s diet.
Guinea pigs are herbivores, meaning their wild ancestors’ diet consisted of mostly grasses, herbs, and other natural forage.
Nowadays, domesticated guinea pigs consume a diet of 80% hay, with herbs and other vegetables providing the Vitamin C and other nutrients they need.
Herbs pack a lot of nutritional value and benefits, but it’s crucial not to go overboard when feeding them to your guinea pig.
Herbs usually contain a lot of calcium, which can be dangerous in large amounts. Because of this, all herbs are best fed in limited quantities 2-3 times a week at most.
Safe Herbs for Guinea Pigs
The following is a list of safe herbs that you can feed your guinea pig. Remember to offer all herbs in small quantities, as many are very calcium-rich!
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Arugula/Rocket Salad?
Arugula (also known as rocket salad) is safe to feed guinea pigs. Many piggies like the unique flavor of this leafy green. Arugula contains high levels of calcium, like many other herbs on this list. In addition, rocket salad does not provide a high source of Vitamin C, which guinea pigs need in their regular diet.
For this reason, arugula should not be a staple veggie in your guinea pig’s food rotation. It’s okay to feed a few leaves once or twice a week if your guinea pig loves them.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dandelion?
Dandelion is a safe plant to feed to your guinea pig. They are abundantly found outdoors, and most piggies love them! Guinea pigs can safely eat all parts of this plant; the leaves, stems, flowers, and even the roots!
Dandelions contain some Vitamin C and other nutrients, but they are high in calcium. For this reason, don’t go overboard when feeding this herb.
It’s also crucial to make sure you pick dandelions from a safe, untreated area that has not been exposed to other animals or exhaust fumes from vehicles. Also, rinse them thoroughly before offering them to your pig.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Clover?
Guinea pigs can eat all types of clover you can find outside. However, moderation is key! Clover is relatively high in calcium, so it shouldn’t make up a large portion of your guinea pig’s greens.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Basil?
Basil is a safe herb to feed, and many guinea pigs love the taste. This herb contains a bit of Vitamin C, but it has high calcium levels.
This yummy herb can be offered to your piggies in moderation like most other herbs. It’s best not to make it a staple addition, but it is great as a treat and adds some variety to your guinea pig’s diet.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Mint?
Mint has a lovely sweet fragrance and taste that some guinea pigs love. Both peppermint and spearmint leaves and stems are safe for guinea pigs. Mint leaves also contain a reasonable amount of Vitamin C.
Unfortunately, it is one of the highest herbs in calcium. It contains less than thyme and oregano, but this sweet green is higher in calcium than other popular guinea pig herbs.
Mint is a healthy green for piggies, but it should be limited to once or twice a week at most. Offer just a couple of leaves at a time, and be sure to mix it with several low calcium vegetables.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Parsley?
Parsley is one of the most popular herbs for guinea pigs, and for a good reason; this leafy green is very nutrient-rich and contains plenty of Vitamin C.
However, parsley is quite high in calcium and oxalic acid. Both of these can contribute to the formation of bladder stones if your guinea pig consumes too much.
Although many guinea pigs love parsley, you need to be proactive and limit the feeding of this dark green herb to a couple of times a week at most. Offer only a few stems at a time.
Also, look out for any dried white pee stains in your cage, which indicates your guinea pig is consuming too many calcium-rich foods.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cilantro/Coriander?
Cilantro (also known as coriander) is a robust and fresh-smelling herb that many guinea pigs enjoy. Some piggies may be put off by the intense smell at first. One of my boys even threw his head up in utter distaste the first time he took a whiff of cilantro. However, once he adapted to the scent, he realized that he loved the flavor.
Cilantro contains a reasonable amount of Vitamin C, along with some calcium, at 67mg per 100 grams. However, it is not as high in calcium as the other herbs on this list. It also has good calcium to phosphorus ratio, thus reducing the chance of stones developing.
One slight concern with cilantro is that it has been shown to slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding. This means it’s best to avoid feeding it to pregnant or injured guinea pigs. It is perfectly safe for the majority of healthy guinea pigs.
This herb can be fed up to a few times a week, but it’s still best to offer only a few stems at a time. It makes a great addition to toss in with the rest of your guinea pig’s vegetables.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dill?
Dill is a healthy and safe herb to feed your guinea pig. This feathery green is very high in Vitamin C, making it a great choice for guinea pigs. It is high in calcium at 208mg per 100 grams.
For this reason, dill is a good addition to your piggy’s diet, but don’t go overboard when feeding it. You can offer a small stem or two a couple of times a week.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Fennel?
Fennel is one of the only safe bulbs you can feed your guinea pig. You can offer the leaves (fronds) and the bulbs of this plant. Fennel contains a bit of Vitamin C and fiber, but not large amounts. It does contain calcium like many other herbs. The bulbs are lower in calcium than the dark green feathery fronds.
Fennel should be fed sparingly, once or twice a week. Offer just one or two stems or a small chunk of the bulb at each feeding. Like all herbs, fennel is best added with other vegetables and not fed as a regular staple green in your piggy’s diet.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Thyme?
Thyme is a very nutrient-rich herb that is safe for guinea pigs. It contains a large amount of Vitamin C, with levels comparable to parsley and even bell peppers.
However, this hardy herb is very high in calcium, at 405mg per 100 grams. This is about three times the amount that parsley, another high calcium herb, contains.
For this reason, it’s best to strictly restrict the feeding of this herb.
However, thyme does contain many fantastic nutrients, even in small quantities, so it can be fed very sparingly. Limit it to a maximum of one small stem every few weeks.
Baby guinea pigs can eat it slightly more often but still in small amounts.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Raspberry Leaves?
Raspberry leaves from raspberry plants are a very healthy option for guinea pigs. They contain some Vitamin C and calcium, but not overly high levels of either. They are high in fiber and are said to have medicinal properties. Guinea pigs can eat these leaves a few times a week without adverse effects.
Raspberry plants are perennials that are easy to grow in a garden, so consider planting your own to harvest both fresh fruits and yummy leaves for your piggies.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Strawberry Leaves?
Strawberry plants are another perennial that is easy to grow in a garden. Guinea pigs love the juicy red fruit, but the leaves from the strawberry plant are healthy too.
In fact, some guinea pigs even like the leaves better than the berries themselves!
Like raspberry leaves, you can feed strawberry plant leaves to your guinea pig a few times a week.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Chamomile?
Chamomile is safe to feed to guinea pigs. This plant has daisy-like flowers and fluffy leaves. As a herb, chamomile is known to have a calming effect. Chamomile is also commonly mixed in with dried herb mixes for guinea pigs. As with all herbs, it’s best to feed chamomile in small amounts. The calming effect of this herb can be almost sedative to guinea pigs if fed too much.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Plantain?
Plantain is a common safe plant that guinea pigs can eat. You can feed both broadleaf plantain and narrow leaf plantain.
Plantain can be found abundantly outside, just like dandelion and clover.
Like any other plants you find outside, make sure you pick healthy plants from a safe, untreated yard. Rinse them off thoroughly to remove small bugs, dirt, or contaminants.
Questionable Herbs For Guinea Pigs
The following herbs are not toxic to guinea pigs but are best fed with caution and extreme moderation due to lack of qualified information or high calcium levels.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Oregano?
Oregano is not toxic to guinea pigs, but it should not be fed due to its extremely high calcium levels. Oregano contains almost 1600mg of calcium per 100 grams. Compare that to cilantro at 67mg per 100 grams, and you can see the difference is substantial!
If you give this to your piggy, it should only be a couple of small leaves once a month or less. Baby guinea pigs under four months can have a tiny stem once every few weeks at most.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Sage?
Sage is not poisonous to guinea pigs when fed in small quantities. However, this aromatic Mediterranean herb contains many essential oils that can upset your guinea pig’s stomach.
In addition, there’s little information on correct amounts to feed or possible side effects for guinea pigs. For these reasons, it’s best to avoid feeding sage or limit it to minimal amounts.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Marjoram?
Marjoram is similar to oregano. Marjoram is not known to be poisonous, and it can be fed in small amounts. However, it is high in calcium, so it’s not ideal for frequent feeding.
In addition, there is not much information on how much or how often it is safe to feed this herb, so it’s a good idea to provide no more than a small stem every few weeks.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Lavender?
Lavender is known for its calming properties. It also contains some Vitamin C.
Lavender is not poisonous to guinea pigs, but it should only be fed in small quantities once in a while. Lavender is high in essential oils, which can be harmful to guinea pigs in large amounts.
This herb is also relatively high in calcium, which can be problematic for piggies.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Rosemary?
Rosemary is not toxic to guinea pigs and can be fed in small amounts. It contains plentiful amounts of Vitamins A and C. However, it is very aromatic and high in calcium, so it’s best to limit this herb in your guinea pig’s diet.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Yarrow?
Yarrow is not known to be poisonous to guinea pigs. They can eat any part of the plant in small amounts without any adverse effects. However, since there’s not a lot of information about this herb regarding guinea pigs, it’s best to feed in small quantities. Yarrow also looks similar to many non-edible plants, so be sure to correctly identify this plant before feeding it.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tarragon?
Tarragon is safe to feed to guinea pigs in small amounts. It’s rich in many vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C.
However, not much is known about guinea pigs and tarragon, so it’s best to feed in very small quantities.
Dangerous Herbs for Guinea Pigs
The following herbs are very dangerous to guinea pigs and should never be fed. If your piggy eats any of these, it’s essential to consult with your vet right away.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Chives?
Chives are NOT safe for guinea pigs. They contain disulfides, which damage the animal’s red blood cells.
They may not show an immediate reaction, but these can be fatal as the effects take hold in your guinea pig’s body.
Everything in the onion family, including chives, onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and spring onions, contains this dangerous compound and should never be fed to your guinea pig.
Unknown Plants or Herbs
Anything you’re unsure of should be treated as potentially dangerous to your guinea pig. Many garden plants (especially those grown from bulbs) are toxic to guinea pigs.
Some common toxic plants to guinea pigs include buttercups, daffodils, columbine, calla lily, other types of lilies, ferns, azalea, anemone, bluebells, foxglove, nightshade, geraniums, poppies, holly, mistletoe, hydrangea, honeysuckle, ivy, juniper, and yew. This is not a complete list, and there are so many more plants that can be poisonous to guinea pigs.
If you cannot find definitive information stating that something is safe, please assume it is not. There are many safe foods to feed your guinea pig, so there’s no need to test new or unknown vegetation.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dried Herbs?
Guinea pigs can eat dried herbs, but it’s crucial to purchase herb mixes explicitly made for guinea pigs. Dried herbs for people can contain added salt, preservatives, or even dangerous spices that can harm guinea pigs.
Dried herb mixes for guinea pigs often contain pea flakes, organic dried dandelion, rose petals, marigold, and chamomile. These mixes contain no additives and are perfectly safe for guinea pigs. Rosewood Naturals is one brand that makes these herb mixes. You can also dry your own herbs that you grow or buy fresh.
Like fresh herbs, dried herbs are high in calcium and should be offered in small quantities. They provide a fun foraging opportunity when sprinkled into hay or mixed with pellets.
Calcium in Herbs for Guinea Pigs
As you’ll see in this list, many herbs are very high in calcium. For this reason, all herbs should be fed in small amounts and no more than 2 or 3 times a week.
Choose only one type of herb to feed per week and balance out the calcium content by providing low calcium vegetables along with the herbs.
Too much calcium in the diet can lead to bladder stones, which is a very painful condition for guinea pigs. The first warning sign of this is powdery white dried pee marks in the cage.
If you see this in your guinea pig’s enclosure, temporarily cut out herbs and other high calcium veggies until the pee returns to normal. Increasing your guinea pig’s water intake can also help. The best way to do this is by syringing extra water a couple of times a day or feeding watery veggies like cucumbers. Some guinea pigs will also drink more from glass water bottles rather than plastic.
Herbs for Baby Guinea Pigs
Growing guinea pigs need slightly higher levels of calcium for proper growth, so they can be fed herbs more frequently.
However, they should still be given sparingly and no more than a few times a week. Baby guinea pigs need extra calcium, but they can overdose as well.
Young guinea pigs go through their most significant growth spurt from birth to 4 months. This is the time where they’ll need the most calcium.
Between 4-6 months, the calcium should be reduced, and by six months, they will no longer need any excess calcium in their diet.
How to Grow Your Own Herbs For Guinea Pigs
Many herbs are very easy to grow indoors or in small spaces. Many of your guinea pig’s favorite herbs, such as basil and parsley, are beginner-friendly and thrive when planted in small pots.
Growing fresh herbs is the best way to have a supply of organic and healthy herbs that your guinea pig is sure to love!
When planted in the garden, some herbs are perennials and will keep growing back year after year with little maintenance.
Some perennial herbs include thyme, oregano, sage, mint, rosemary, and lavender.
Raspberry and strawberry plants are also perennial, meaning you and your guinea pig can enjoy the fruit and the leaves year after year.
How to Feed Herbs to Your Guinea Pig
When purchasing herbs for your guinea pig, try to buy organic if you can. If not, be sure to rinse them thoroughly at home before offering them to your guinea pig.
Herbs contain many nutrients, and some are a great source of Vitamin C. They make a fantastic addition to your guinea pig’s diet, but moderation is critical!
Any herb should be fed in small quantities and no more than 2-3 times a week. It’s important not to feed herbs daily. Most are very high in calcium, which can cause a lot of problems for your guinea pig over time.
When introducing a new herb to your guinea pig, do so gradually to avoid stomach upsets. Offer a tiny amount at first, and slowly increase the amount each time.
Keep in mind that guinea pigs often take some time to try a new type of food. Don’t get too discouraged if they refuse it at first. Try putting it in the cage every day for a week and see if they change their mind.
Remember to remove any uneaten fresh food after a few hours so it doesn’t rot in the cage.
Wrapping It Up
Herbs make an excellent addition to your guinea pig’s diet, but they should not make up the bulk of your piggy’s forage or vegetables. Hay is the most essential part of any guinea pig’s diet, followed by vegetables that are high in Vitamin C. To read more about high nutrient veggies you can feed your pig, check out this next article on 15 best foods for guinea pigs that are high in Vitamin C.