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Hamsters are very adaptable creatures and they can eat things that they weren’t meant to eat in the wild. Sometimes they enjoy eating unhealthy food too much. So what about cheese, can they eat it? We will answer that question for you in this guide.
Hamsters and milk products
Many people say that hamsters can’t consume food that is based on milk, and that includes cheese. Hamster owners are usually afraid to let their pets drink milk because it’s known that hamsters have lactose intolerance. Cow milk also contains high amounts of calories, much more than the little pet needs.
While feeding your hamster milk can be dangerous, giving it some small pieces of cheese or some yogurt should be ok. That is because these products have already gone through some transformation involving bacterial processes that break them down. Following these, your hamster’s digestive system will have an easier task processing them.
Cheese can be a good supplement to your hamster’s diet due to the nutrients it comes with. However, these nutrients are dangerous if they are too much, so serving your hamster cheese in moderation is a must. Cheese contains many calories, and too much of these make your pet ill.
This is the reason why you should only feed your pet cheese that is low in fat and salt. For that purpose, mild cheese or hard cheese, as well as cottage varieties are a good choice for your hamster. Some owners risk it and give their pets pasteurized goat or feta cheese. It all depends on the hamster and how its digestive system works.
How much cheese?
When you first start feeding cheese to your hamster, don’t give it a full course. Its first cheese bites should be extremely small. It’s very important that you first give your pet just a little bit of cheese to check for lactose intolerance or any reaction that your pet might have to the food. If nothing bad happens in two days, you’re safe to start feeding it cheese.
If you try to feed cheese to your hamster and it doesn’t want it, there’s no need to worry. It’s just that it doesn’t like it. You can still give your pet the same nutrients from other sources of food. Pasteurized yogurt is an obvious choice, but alfalfa hay is also a great source of nutrients so you can include it in the menu instead.
Many people don’t know, but the salivary glands of hamsters can be controlled and switched on and off depending on what the animals want. This is because hamsters often deposit food in their cheek pockets and they don’t want that food to be moist all the time it’s there.
As a result, they also keep cheese in those pockets for a long time and this can cause some problems if you don’t know how to feed them. First of all, make sure the pieces of cheese are small enough and that they’re properly cut, meaning that they have no sharp edges. Then, avoid cheese that gets sticky at all costs.
You don’t want your small pet to get cheese stuck in its mouth. Fortunately, most cheese varieties can be shredded or cut up very small. Remember that hamsters sometimes keep food in their cheeks, so feed only small amounts of cheese. This will avoid the risk of your hamster stockpiling too much of it in its cheek pockets and then eating it all at once.
A teaspoon of cheese a week or a few pieces of mild cheese twice a month is enough. Mozzarella is a good choice as well because it’s so low in fat. Cheddar is not recommended as it contains too much salt.
Maintain a balanced diet
Although they have been domesticated for some time, hamsters still have the tendencies to hoard all the food they can get. That is why it is up to you to be considerate of what your hamster eats and only feed it the things it needs.
Don’t let your pet fool you and keep in mind that you should only give it one or two tablespoons of food per day. And what you give in those tablespoons should vary. Your hamsters need a varied diet, but they also need some nutrients more than others.
Although they love carrots, vegetables in general or fruits, you should only feed hamsters those from time to time. The same can be said about cheese. Keep in mind that a healthy hamster diet should contain 16 percent protein and 5 percent fat, and cheese has plenty of those two. As a result, you can’t spoil your little furry friend with too much of it.
Don’t forget how much you’ve fed your hamster and keep track of the exact types of food you have given it in the past few weeks. This will help you keep the pet on a balanced diet and the risks will be greatly reduced.
But you shouldn’t only pay attention to how much cheese you feed your hamster. Its whole eating schedule should be a precise one if you want to keep it in the best shape. Pay attention to how much plant material you give to your little friend, as too much of it can cause diarrhea.
Also, stay away from fruits which have a high acidic content. These will give your hamster an upset stomach. If you feel that your pet lacks protein in its food, you can give it some animal products from time to time. These may include mealworms or crickets. Furthermore, you can even give your hamster some pieces of hard-boiled eggs, or some lean meat.
Remember, everything should be served in moderation. And to know more about what “moderation” means for your particular hamster, you should talk to your veterinarian. He or she should be able to tell you more about what your small pet needs, and if you need to change anything in its diet.
Generally speaking, a few bites of cheese or other similar products coming from milk are okay, as long as they add to the hamster nutrition. Never forget that this little rodent likes to fool you and it will always hide some food somewhere. Don’t get fooled by your hamster and make sure it always eats its food. Help it get rid of the excess calories by exercising.
Experts recommend offering your hamster the pre-packed meals that come in square blocks. They are pellets that contain all the things the animals need. They are better than mixtures for hamsters because the pets are forced to eat all of them, not only the seeds or parts that they like. And that is how they get all the nutrients needed.
Remember to only feed your hamster what it needs, in healthy quantities. A tablespoon or two of food per day are enough and when you give it cheese, remember that it might hoard it, so don’t give more cheese than necessary.