Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cactus? Which Species of Cactus are Harmful?

No doubt, guinea pigs are herbivores by nature, as a result, they feed only on plant materials. Since vitamin C and fiber are amongst their major nutrient requirements, they eat more food with high vit c and fiber components.

Such foods include fruits, fresh veggies, and hay. However, you are free to give your piggy treats occasionally. This makes you wonder; can my guinea eat cactus?

In this article, we will answer this question and discuss in detail whether cactus is right for your guinea pig. Read on.

What is a Cactus?

If you are still getting used to feeding your guinea pigs, you may not be aware of what a cactus is. The Cactus is a green plant that belongs to the Cetacea family.

They are so numerous that they produce up to 1750 different species of plant. Cacti are known to be xerophytes, and they adapt well to dry weather conditions.

Do Guinea Pigs Eat Cactus?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat cactus. However, you do not need to always feed them with cactus, as they have high sugar content.

In other words, frequent and constant feeding of your guinea pig with cactus makes them take in more sugar than their body needs.

When this happens, they are prone to develop diabetes. As a piggy owner, you would not want your guinea pig to battle with diabetes, would you? To keep your guinea safe, only feed them with small amounts of cactus.

Since the guinea pigs are safe for consumption, are the entire 1750 species safe as well?

Let’s find out!

Are All Cactus Species Safe for the Guineas?

No, all the species of cactus are not safe for the guinea to eat. The most popular species of cactus plants such as the cactus pears, and cactus pads are quite safe for guinea pigs. In other words, they are free to eat them at any time.

However, there are other species that are not safe and are likely to cause harm to your guineas when eaten. Therefore, proper care should be taken when feeding your guinea with any species of the cactus plant.

To be on the safer side, you must ensure to know which species are safe or not as this helps you to differentiate which to feed your guinea pig.

We will look at some of the species of cactus plants, and which ones are safe for your guineas.

Which Species of Cactus is Safe for the Guinea Pig?

1. Cactus Pads

1. Cactus Pads

Cactus pads are also called ‘the green succulent leaves’. They are safe for your guinea pigs.

However, ensure you remove the spines before giving it to them. Spines found on cactus plants are easy to remove; wear your gloves and sharp knife to remove them.

In addition, try to slice the cactus pads into smaller species before they eat them. This way, they are easy to chew and digest. Luckily enough, you can find spineless cactus pads in pet stores.

2. Opuntia

2. Opuntia

This is also called cactus pear or prickly pear cactus. Opuntia is safe for your guineas to eat.

They are largely abundant in the southern US and Mexico.

Since they have high Vit C and fiber nutrients, they are beneficial to both humans.

More importantly, they have low calcium constituents, which makes them more beneficial for your piggy pals.

3. Christmas Cactus

3. Christmas Cactus

This is commonly called ‘Schlumbergera’. Christmas cactus is safe for the guinea pigs to eat.

Unlike the other two species, the Christmas cactus lacks substantial nutrients. Most times, they are better eaten in little amounts as treats.

Now that you know which species are safe and healthy for your guinea pigs, it is equally important to know the species which are harmful.

This way, you can easily prevent your guinea from eating them.

Which Species of Cactus Plant is Harmful to the Guinea Pigs?

Just like there are species of cactus that are safe for the guineas, there are others that are not. They include the following.

Euphorbia Cactus

Euphorbia Cactus

This species of cactus plant is toxic to the guinea pigs.

Often called ‘the spurge, euphorbia cactus contains toxic substances that can cause a series of eye and skin irritations.

Also, eating them may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases, death.

Peyote Cactus

Peyote Cactus

Peyote cactus is another cactus species that is harmful to your guinea. They contain psychoactive substances known as mescaline.

Masculine is a harmful substance which when taken in by the guineas, leads to severe cases such as vomiting, hallucination, and death.

The best way to avoid this is to prevent your guinea from having a taste of the peyote cactus.

Conclusion

Cactus plants are safe for your guinea pigs to eat. Species like the cactus pads and prickly pear are better fed to them as they are high in Vit C and fiber constituents.

These nutrients are good for the well-being, growth, and development of the guinea pigs.

However, species like the Euphorbia and Peyote Cactus contain toxic substances which are harmful to the guineas. Therefore, you must ensure to avoid them at all costs.

Finally, ensure you only feed your guineas with cactus in small amounts and periodically so they don’t develop diabetes due to their high sugar content.

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