Today we discuss if Guinea Pigs can eat coconut.
- Coconut is; despite it’s name technically a drupe and not a nut at all. Drupes are fruit with a fleshy outer skin and seed containing stone inside. Cherries and olives are also drupes.
- Coconut derived ingredients are surprising in most cosmetics and toiletries. Lauryl Acetate and Lauryl Sulfate which is present in most shampoo is coconut derived.
- Coconut is generally not toxic and is often considered hypoallergenic *(please see below…).
- Coconut flesh is very high in fat (approximately 90% saturated fat).
- This is higher proportionately than butter and even lard (both around 40%). Too much saturated fat in a diet can lead to weight gain, high cholesterol and heart problems. This is true for all mammals including Guinea Pigs.
- Coconut has very little vitamin C (3.3mg per 100g compared to 245mg in bell peppers) which we know is vital for Guinea Pig health.
- However Coconut can be very moisturising to the skin and hair, it is also sometimes used as a cleanser.
- Hairless breeds like Skinny Pigs can benefit from coconut oil skin treatments because without such treatments their skin can become dry and flaky.
- Any breed can benefit from using coconut oil to clean clogged grease glands.
- Long haired breeds can benefit from using coconut oil as a detangler and/or conditioner.
- In each of these uses coconut is used because it is considered safe in small quantities for the pig to clean off their body if they choose.
- Coconut oil is very smooth and with a soft coconutty taste it is generally very palatable, because of its high fat content it is often fed to human adults and children that have trouble maintaining weight. Similarly, I have heard tales of people feeding small quantities to struggling underweight piggies.
So can Guinea Pigs eat Coconut?:
- As detailed above a little bit will not hurt them and can be used in ways beneficial to their lives.
- However unless the pig is particularly underweight coconut will not particularly help them either. It is simply too high in fat to be fed regularly.
- I wouldn’t feed the flesh directly with their main staple diet, my piggies are generally quite chubby enough, however when included on a treat toy such as the Rosewood Wintery Hay Cottage it’s certainly not going to hurt them, and may encourage vital chewing to help wear down their teeth.
- Have your Guinea Pigs ever tried Coconut?
*Slightly Interesting Point: Coconut is generally considered hypoallergenic however my eldest daughter ‘Squidgygirl’ is actually allergic to it. She can’t even use ‘normal shampoo’. According to her paediatrician, allergist coconut is; “one of the fastest growing allergies in the UK”.