A guide to feeding your hamster fresh foods
Now I know hamsters are not known for their discerning palates; and having previously researched and written information on what we should and shouldn’t be feeding them; I was still somewhat confused about certain food sources. Therefore, I decided the time was right to produce an informative guide answering all your common (and not so common) hamster food questions.
From gorging on cooked or raw fruit and vegetables to offering them blueberries, spinach or lettuce, we set out to bust your hamster eating myths and set the record straight when it comes to what’s best to feed your furry friend.
The first thing to state is that any fruit or vegetables given to your hamster should be done in addition to providing them with a bowl of regular pellet or muesli blend. These pre-mixed bags contain all the essential minerals and nutrients your hamster requires in order to stay fit and active.
Are hamsters carnivores?
Hamsters are carnivores and in the wild will forage for pretty much anything. From grains and grass to seeds, fruits, nuts and tasty insects, these food sources are diet staples for your pet hamster too.
I remember when we first got Oscar, although he was our first real pet, previously we had been given a large tank of stick insects. As time went on, they started to die off and the interest in them waned. We, therefore, took the decision to give them a more organic life outside of the confinements of a plastic tub and set them free in our spacious privet bush. However, the ending of this story could have been very different, as one lady in our local pet store suggested feeding them to our hamster as a fabulous source of protein.
Luckily for them, we declined and now he happily munches on mealworms instead.
Can hamsters eat blueberries?
The same rule applies to blueberries as for most fruit and vegetables when it comes to feeding them to your hamster. In small amounts, they are perfectly fine but many more and they may upset their tiny tummies. In fact, most vets advise that treat foods should make up less than 20% of your hamster’s overall diet with fresh fruit and vegetables equating for just 10%.
Blueberries are regarded as superfoods thanks to their anti-oxidants and the same great health benefits that blueberries offer humans are the same for hamsters. They are high in minerals, vitamins and fiber and research has even shown that they are known for helping cells fight off oxidation that could cause cancer. And the good news doesn’t end there.
Hamsters are known for suffering from high cholesterol – which is why it is so important that we monitor their food intake. But the polyphenols in blueberries help to rid hamsters of any “bad” cholesterol and the high fiber content assists with regular bowel movements, guarding against future weight gain.
Hamsters love blueberries for the same reasons we do, and that is because they are high in natural sugars and incredibly sweet and tasty. But by following the 90/10 rule as stated above, when feeding blueberries to your hamster you should only serve 1-2 blueberries per day to a Syrian hamster and only 1 per day to a dwarf hamster.
Should hamsters eat lettuce?
We all know that rabbits and guinea pigs love to gorge on a fresh bed of lettuce (just ask farmer McGregor), but what about hamsters – should they eat lettuce too?
Lettuce has long been a controversial hamster food topic with some people believing that the toxins can be deadly. Whilst this is simply a misconception, portion control should be exercised when handing out leaves, as overindulgence can lead to your hamster suffering from digestive issues and diarrhea.
The daily recommended consumption of lettuce leaves for a Syrian hamster is around a third of a leaf whereas a dwarf hamster should have a third less.
When it comes to picking which type of lettuce to place in your hamster’s cage, you should steer clear of iceberg as it contains mainly water and has little nutritional value. You should also be mindful to wash the leaves well beforehand as most lettuces bought in our superstores are grown using pesticides which could be passed onto your hamster.
Is spinach bad for a Syrian?
“Eat your greens” is a common phrase in our household but does this mantra ring true for hamsters too? The answer is yes – spinach is a suitable snack for a Syrian hamster.
As Syrian hamsters are larger than their dwarf cousins, it stands to reason that they can be given slightly more spinach leaves. We would recommend feeding them around the same amount as other leafy vegetables. This is around 1-2 leaves a week.
Although spinach is high in iron, calcium, magnesium and other minerals, one of its unfortunate side effects is that it can trigger your hamster to have gas and can lead to gastrointestinal problems if given too much.
Top tips for feeding your hamster fresh foods
- Any fruit and vegetables (over and above their usual commercial mix), which is given to your hamster should equate to just 10% of their overall diet.
- Fresh fruit and vegetables should be discarded if left uneaten.
- Wash all fresh food thoroughly before placing in the cage.
- Depending on which type of hamster you have, will affect the amount of food they can consume.
- Hamsters, especially dwarfs, are prone to diabetes, so select fresh fruit and vegetables with a low natural sugar content.
We have all grown up believing that fruit and vegetables are good for us. And for humans they are, but when it comes to hamsters, we should always air on the side of caution.
Providing you feed your hamster a good pellet or muesli mix, then there is no real need to add fresh fruit and vegetables to their diet. Chunky, raw vegetables such as broccoli, corn and carrots are great for keeping teeth in top condition and are low in natural sugar so great for including in your hamster’s cage. Lettuce and spinach offer variety and some nutritional value, whereas most fruits (with the exclusion of blueberries), are tasty but do have a high sugar content and when consumed in large quantities are bad for their overall health.
If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!
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