For guinea pigs, corn husks are the most nutritious part of an ear of corn. Corn husks are also well-liked by most guinea pigs because of their taste and texture. Just like hay, corn husks are high in fiber and low in protein, exactly what guinea pigs need![toc]
It’s so cute to watch guinea pigs eat their little treats, and they always seem to be in the mood for more.
Guinea pigs are master beggars and have a limitless appetite. It seems like every treat has its drawbacks, though. Commercial treats are convenient and marketed toward guinea pig owners, but they’re expensive and unhealthy, filled with sugar, starch, and artificial colors and flavors.
Some of them, like yogurt drops, actually have dairy! Guinea pigs are lactose intolerant, so giving them any dairy will cause discomfort and illness.
Veggies are healthy enough to be considered necessary, 1 cup per piggie per day, but they come with their own restrictions. Nothing can be cooked since guinea pigs can’t digest cooked food.
Go easy on the broccoli or the piggie will get gas. Watch the sugar. Make sure you’re giving enough vitamin C. Lettuce is wonderful! As long as it’s not iceberg lettuce.
Fruits are guinea pig favorites, but they’re high enough in sugar that each piggie should only get 3-4 servings per week total (consider them the guinea pig equivalent of ice cream). Berries and oranges are a little healthier. Bananas are super indulgent.
Corn husks have exactly zero of those problems, and guinea pigs love their texture and taste!
Benefits of Corn Husks and Silks
Guinea pigs need a large amount of fiber because of how their digestive system works. Fiber helps maintain a healthy gut ecosystem and gut motility.
Corn husks and silks have that fiber without too much protein that would cause a nutritional imbalance.
While fiber should make up approximately 35% of a guinea pig’s diet, protein should only make up about 16-18%. Many veggies high in fiber, especially dark leafy greens, are also high in protein.
Corn husks also wear down guinea pigs’ teeth. Without enough tough and fibrous foods, the teeth will grow too long, causing discomfort, pain, and eventually, severe health problems.
Guinea pigs’ front teeth, the incisors, continue to grow throughout their life. However, the premolars and molars inside the mouth also continue to grow. If these grow too long, eating will become impossible.
As a bonus, corn husks do not contribute to obesity, a common problem among guinea pigs. It is very easy for guinea pigs to become overweight or obese.
Obesity can lead to many health problems in guinea pigs, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, bumblefoot, and breathing problems.
Grass hay and other highly fibrous foods, like corn husks and silks, prevent obesity by helping the piggie feel full without packing on the ounces.
Risks of Feeding Corn
Corn kernels are an extremely indulgent treat for guinea pigs. If sweet and sugary fruit is a scoop of ice cream to a guinea pig, consider corn a giant slice of ice cream cake, frosted with chocolate, topped with whipped cream.
It will contribute to obesity and may also cause bladder stones in guinea pigs who are prone to them because of their high calcium content.
The general consensus now is that corn is to be fed to guinea pigs a maximum of twice a week, if at all.
The corn cobs themselves aren’t guinea pig favorites, which is a good thing. They tend to get stuck on guinea pigs’ teeth. They have no nutritional value whatsoever. Cobs can occasionally break apart awkwardly, leading to cuts inside the mouth, obstructions, and choking hazards.
While some guinea pigs like to gnaw on them and occasionally even swallow a bite, it’s best to stick to the husks and silks.
How to Feed Corn Husks
Choose corn grown organically and use the husks closest to the corn cob. Those are less likely to have pesticide residue on them, and guinea pigs are very susceptible to the chemicals used in pesticides. Still, rinse them thoroughly.
While feeding the husks to the guinea pigs whole is acceptable, it’s easier and more comfortable for the piggies if they’re cut into thin strips.
They can be served immediately, which the guinea pigs love for the fresh taste and soft texture. They can also be dried and braided or tied into chew toys.
To dry the corn husks, cut them into strips for easy eating and drying. Lay them out in one flat layer on the counter, or leave them outside on a hot and sunny day. They can also be dried in the oven. Place corn husks on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet in a 140 degree Fahrenheit oven for 8 hours with the oven door propped open. This is good for drying husks in humid areas.
Corn Husks Are The Perfect Guinea Pig Treat
Corn husks and silks are nutritious and high in fiber. Guinea pigs think they’re delicious and fun to chew on, and they’re pretty much the perfect treat!
They can be given fresh or dried and made into chew toys. To do that, simply braid or tie them together, then use another length of dried husk to tie them to the cage wall.
Remember that the corn kernels are extremely indulgent and should be given sparingly. The cobs have no nutritional value. Kernels have enough sugar in them to cause a piggie who eats them too often to become overweight and enough calcium to cause bladder stones in a piggie who’s prone to them.
Next time you’re at the farmer’s market or organic grocery store, pick up some corn on the cob. If you’re lucky enough to be doing this during corn season, you’ll see people shucking their corn before they take it home. Ask for their husks, especially those pale ones near the corn that would normally just go in the trash can.
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