Most people love strawberries, and they’re delicious and good for us too! But is the same true for your small and furry hamster friend? Can hamsters eat strawberries, and if so, are strawberries actually good for them? Let’s find out!
To briefly answer the first question, most hamsters can safely eat strawberries as a small supplement to their daily diet. For some hamsters, though, they’re not a good idea. Dwarf hamsters are at high risk of diabetes, so foods that are high in sugar, like strawberries, should be avoided.
Strawberries should never be fed to replace the nutrition that your hamster gains from their regular diet of pellets, hay, and vegetables.
Pros of strawberries
Strawberries are rich in antioxidants, as well as containing high levels of vitamin C. They can help keep our hearts healthy, as well as reduce the effects of inflammation.
Vitamin C is essential for healthy vision and cardiac function and is used to rebuild cells within the body. Hamsters can sometimes be deficient in vitamin C, so adding foods that are rich in this vitamin to their diet can be a good idea.
Strawberries contain fiber, which is important in helping your hamster’s gastrointestinal system remain healthy. They also contain plenty of water, which helps your little hamster stay hydrated.
Strawberries taste sweet and most hamsters love the taste. So, if your little hammy is a bit fussy, this treat can often tempt them to eat. But this sweetness comes from a high sugar content, which leads us to the not-so-good things about strawberries.
Cons of strawberries
Strawberries, like most fruit, contain quite a large amount of sugar. This can cause weight gain and increase the risk of certain illnesses, like diabetes and fat deposits around organs like the liver.
Feeding your small hamster too many strawberries may give them digestive issues like diarrhea.
Some hamsters may be allergic to strawberries, so the first time you feed any to them, you need to watch your hamster’s reaction carefully.
How to introduce strawberries to your hamster’s diet?
Start by feeding your hamster a small piece of strawberry, around a quarter of a teaspoon in size. In total, hamsters should have no more than 1 teaspoon of mixed fruit, twice per week. Strawberries can make up a small amount of this.
Keep a close eye on your hamster over the next 48 hours, to check that they’re not suffering from any adverse reactions after they’ve eaten the strawberry. Things to watch out for include:
- Diarrhea. If your hamster develops diarrhea or loose poop after eating strawberries, don’t feed them more of this fruit. Left untreated, diarrhea can lead to serious dehydration. If it hasn’t resolved itself within 24-48 hours, you may want to call your vet and ask for advice.
- Lethargy. If your hamster seems less energetic than normal after their first time trying a strawberry, they may be finding it difficult to digest.
- Lack of appetite. This can be another symptom indicating that your hamster may be struggling to digest the new food, and they may not want to eat their usual food in the meantime.
- Pica. This is defined as an animal eating something that doesn’t have any value nutritionally. This can include their bedding, poop, or anything that may be in their cage that isn’t food! Pica can be a sign that your hamster is trying to soothe their stomach, which can indicate that whatever they ate previously didn’t agree with them.
You may want to call your vet and schedule an appointment for a check-up if any of these signs continue for more than 2 days.
Strawberries should always be washed before feeding to your hamster, as many of them are sprayed with pesticides as they grow. Organic strawberries are the best option, as these will be pesticide free, although you may still want to give them a quick rinse.
It’s best to feed your hamster their regular pellets and vegetables first and give them a small amount of fruit as a treat once they’ve finished. This also helps make sure they’re not filling themselves up on fruit first but gaining the maximum nutrition from their pellets instead.
What fruit can hamsters eat?
Some hamsters do love fruit, so you may decide to feed your hamster a small portion of these once or twice a week. This should be no more than a teaspoon-sized serving of small pieces of fruit. You can mix strawberries with:
- Grapes (peeled and de-seeded)
Hamsters love to store some of their food for later, so always check your hamster’s cage carefully to make sure they haven’t hidden any pieces of fruit that may then start to go moldy.
How many strawberries can a hamster eat?
About 99% of your hamster’s daily nutrition should be gained from their regular diet of pellets, vegetables, and hay. If your hamster particularly enjoys fruits like strawberries, then you can feed them these twice a week as a special treat.
Fruit should never be used to provide nutritional benefits, and if your vet thinks that your hamster may be suffering from a deficiency of some kind, then it’s far better to re-balance the rest of their diet first.
Can hamsters eat dried strawberries?
It might seem logical that if your hamster can eat fresh strawberries, they can eat dried strawberries too, but it’s actually safest to avoid the dehydrated version of this fruit. They’re much higher in sugar than fresh strawberries, and as it takes more dried strawberries for your hamster to feel full, they may end up eating more than you intended.
Any fruit snack that’s high in sugar should be limited to very small amounts.
Can dwarf hamsters have strawberries?
In short, no. Chinese Dwarf hamsters are far more at risk of developing diabetes than any other hamster breed. The high sugar content of strawberries can make it even more likely that your Chinese dwarf hamster may suffer from this condition.
Another variety of hamster that’s at high risk of developing diabetes is Campbell’s hamsters. You may decide that it’s better not to feed these little rodents any sweet fruit treats.
Your vet will be able to help to work out which variety of hamster you have if you’re unsure. It’s usually safe to feed Roborovski or Syrian hamsters a small amount of fruit, as they have a smaller chance of becoming diabetic.
Final, can hamsters eat strawberries?
Most hamsters will enjoy the occasional treat of chopped pieces of strawberry, but remember to keep their portions small, and never feed your hamster fruit more than twice per week. Strawberries don’t contain any nutritional value that your hamster can’t obtain from their regular diet. Some hamster owners decide not to feed their hamsters any fruit at all.
Check your hamster’s cage to make sure they haven’t stored any pieces of strawberry that could start rotting.
You may want to check with your vet before starting to feed your hamster strawberries. They may want to check which variety of hamster you have, as some are at much higher risk of developing diabetes than others and shouldn’t be fed any sweet treats.
If your hamster loves strawberries, let us know in the comments!
Waiting for our next post here.