Hamsters are quite resilient creatures, yet owners still need to pay particular attention to what kind of hamster food they buy for their little companion. To show our affection to our pet, we tend to treat them with delicious fresh foods, yet not all treats are safe for your hamster and knowing what you can offer, and how to offer it is important.
Just because you or your other pets can eat a type of food safely, does not necessarily mean that your hamster can. In the article below, we have gone and examined the opinion of experts, as well as fellow hamster owners to draw a list of the types of foods that you should avoid, and the steps you should take to make certain ingredients safe to eat.
While chocolate seems like an obvious item to avoid feeding your hamster, there are still many owners that don’t think it is harmful to let their pet get a small taste of this sweet treat. Chocolate can be very harmful and even lethal.
The main reason for this is that chocolate contains theobromine, which has a toxic effect and remains in the system for prolonged periods. Since hamsters are so small, even a tiny amount of chocolate can be hazardous for them. Prolonged ingestion of theobromine can cause testicular damage.
Caffeine is another dangerous ingredient of chocolate, and it can affect the central nervous system of the animal, increasing arousal and heart rate. This can lead to stress and even death. Chocolate is also extremely toxic for the unborn hamsters of pregnant pets since it can pass through the placenta and can even get in breast milk.
If you are looking to feed almonds as a tasty and fresh treat for your pet, you should take great care of the type that you are offering. Sweet almonds are entirely safe, but you should be very careful that you don’t feed it the bitter variety instead. Bitter almonds contain a cyanide compound, and eating even one bitter almond can kill your cuddly friend.
Even if you buy a pack of sweet almonds from your local store, the danger is still there. The US Department of Agriculture allows for packs of sweet almonds to contain up to 1% bitter almonds, which means that it is entirely possible to accidentally feed your pet some of the bitter almonds that are mixed with the sweet variety.
Before feeding almonds to your hamster, you should take the time to sift through them. Remove any that don’t have the perfect almond shape since almonds that feature an irregular shape, or that are wider and shorter than your typical almond can be of the bitter variety. It is still recommended that you don’t exceed one almond per week since they are high in fat.
Celery, whole stalks, and lettuce
The stringy texture of celery and whole stalks make them a choking hazard for small hamsters. Instead, you should take the time to remove the strings and to cut the food into small pieces that are safer for your furry companion to nibble.
Iceberg lettuce, in particular, might sound like a safe choice for your pet but the truth is that it contains very little nutrition for your hamster and it can cause diarrhea. You can instead opt for other green leafy vegetables such as romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, and kale since they are not only safer but also more nutritious.
Other foods hamsters can’t eat
Peanuts are another type of food that is very similar to almonds, and while they are not toxic for hamsters, they’re very high in fats, and the salted variety can lead to dehydration. Similarly to almonds, you should limit your pet to one unsalted, human-grade peanut per week.
Hamsters like sugary products but if you choose to feed them such items, the chances are that they will instead decide to gnaw at these empty calories instead of eating their healthier foods. Not to mention that an excess of sugary products can cause diabetes for hamsters, too.
While most fruits and vegetables are safe for hamsters to eat, unless you are confident of their source, you should never serve them unwashed. Because of pesticides, unwashed vegetables and fruits can pose a real danger to hamsters. If possible, try and focus on organic choices, especially if you also wish to feed the skins of the fruits and vegetables.
Some of the other foods that you should avoid giving to your hamsters include garlic, uncooked kidney beans, onions, spicy or seasoned products, tomato leaves, parsley, oregano, radishes, avocado, oranges, and lemons.
Get the right food
Finally, we thought it would be adequate to take the time and talk a bit about how to choose the right type of food for your pet. It is essential to make sure that the current diet that you offer or that you plan to provide to your hamster contains all the nutrients required for a healthy and happy life.
The food that you get should be formulated specially to meet the nutritional needs of the pet. You should go for foods that can offer the right protein balance. Owners and veterinarians alike recommend a diet that consists mostly of pellets as this food comes with all the protein, fiber, and fats that your tiny pal requires.
Variety is also essential seeing as hamsters are foragers and they need to eat a variety of different items. This is why a diet consisting only of pellets is not recommended since your pet can get bored of it quickly. Together with the pellets, which should consist of about 90% of the diet, the rest of 10% can consist of a quality loose mix containing dried fruits, vegetables, and seeds.
The quality of the ingredients is also important. You should try to avoid options that contain fillers and added artificial ingredients. Hamster food is not very expensive, and since they eat so very little of it, it is not hard for owners to avoid falling in the trap of buying the cheapest options that offer sub-par nutrition.