Sunday, October 15, 2017

Ask a Guinea Pig: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Lamium (dead-nettles)?

It's time for another installment of Ask A Guinea Pig! For today's question, Tavia R. asks: "Can my piggies eat Lamium (Dead Nettle)?"

Answer: According to Wikipedia, "Lamium (dead-nettles) is a genus of about 40–50 species of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae, of which it is the type genus. They are all herbaceous plants native to Europe, Asia, and northern Africa, but several have become very successful weeds of crop fields and are now widely naturalised across much of the temperate world." Some of the species are noted as being edible (for humans), including:
  • Lamium album (white nettle): "The young leaves are edible, and can be used in salads or cooked as a vegetable."
  • Lamium amplexicaule (Henbit dead-nettle): "The leaves, stem, and flowers of the plant are edible and have a slightly sweet and peppery flavor, similar to celery. Henbit can be eaten raw or cooked."
  • Lamium purpureum (red dead-nettle, purple dead-nettle): "Young plants have edible tops and leaves, used in salads or in stir-fry as a spring vegetable. If finely chopped it can also be used in sauces"

Purple dead-nettle. (source)
We've also heard of people feeding purple dead-nettle to rabbits (although that doesn't necessarily mean it's safe for them). But what about guinea pigs specifically? It seemed like a lot of people just did not know. However, we did find warnings about one Lamium species (Lamium amplexicaule) for alpacas and sheep. And, according to Toxic Plants of North America, "Because of the uncertainty regarding their intoxication potential, the other species of Lamium should be considered suspect as well." So it looks like there's just not enough evidence to say for sure, but what evidence does exist is cause for concern. I'd avoid feeding your piggies dead-nettles if I were you!

There are lots of things that you can safely feed your piggies instead of dead-nettles, such as these pink pearl apples!
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