If you’re in search of a small pet that requires minimal care, a hamster may be the perfect pet for you. Syrians, Dwarf Roborovski, Golden, and other species of hamsters are commonly kept as pets due to their docile nature and ability to be easily tamed.
These cute rodents do very well on commercial diets, blocks, or pellets that contain at least 16 percent protein and 5 percent fat, according to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.
In addition to their primary meal, you can choose to give your hamster the occasional treat. However, not all treats are healthy for hamsters. Here’s a look at some of the best treats to feed hamsters and some foods to avoid.
Best Treats to Feed Hamsters
Apples are an excellent treat for hamsters as they are full of vitamin C which helps promote healing and lowers the risk of the critter developing scurvy. Vitamin C is also important for healthy skin and immune system functioning. Apples are low in calories and provide the fiber needed for a hamster’s digestive system. Most hamsters also enjoy the texture and flavor of apples, both red and green varieties. When feeding your hamster apples, avoid the skin and seeds.
Salads are not just a healthy snack for humans. Hamsters too can enjoy a piece of romaine lettuce as a snack. Crisp romaine lettuce contains a large amount of water, making it a refreshing treat. It is a low-calorie snack that is a great source of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K, and B vitamins. Of course, you’ll want to feed your hamster in moderation. Only feed your hamster a piece of romaine about the size of a quarter, about once a week.
If you’re enjoying a banana, you may be wondering if your pet hamster can have a nibble too. The short answer is yes, in moderation. Bananas are a great source of fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and potassium. However, they are also high in carbs and sugar. Therefore, it’s important to only feed your hamster tiny bits of banana on occasion and not every day. Ideally, hamsters shouldn’t get bananas more than two to three times per week.
Carrots are a popular treat for hamsters, especially the top of the carrot. Carrot tops refer to the frilly greens that grow on top of a carrot. These edible and highly nutritional leaves are rich in minerals, protein, and vitamins. They are also a great source of calcium and potassium and contain six times the vitamin C of the root. However, you don’t want to give your pet the entire top. Instead, feed it small pieces occasionally.
Ripe pears can be a delectable dessert for small critters when served in tiny amounts. Pears contain many essential nutrients, such as vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K. It is important to remember that the sweetness of pears comes from sugar which hamsters cannot have a lot of. When feeding your hamster pear, stick with a very small piece and continually check for signs of upset stomach, such as diarrhea.
Broccoli is a healthy treat for hamsters when served in the proper quantities. Opt for raw broccoli that is clean, unsalted, and unsweetened for the most nutritional impact. Broccoli contains antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fibers. However, too much can cause diarrhea and even choking if the pieces are not cut small enough. In addition to the stalks, hamsters can enjoy broccoli florets, broccoli juice, and dried broccoli.
Many hamsters love the sweet taste of strawberries. This type of fruit is also a safe choice for these critters if offered in tiny amounts just two to three times per week. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and pack a powerful amount of antioxidants which have been found to fight against cancer, heart disease, and inflammation. Strawberries can be a healthy part of a balanced diet for your hamster when you avoid giving your pet too much.
Timothy hay provides hamsters with a good source of fiber and minerals. It is a staple in many hamsters’ daily diets as it helps meet a variety of nutritional needs and aids in maintaining a healthy digestive tract. Timothy hay can also be useful for managing your pet’s weight. This health supplement also doubles as bedding for many hamsters and you may find them using it to make their nests. Consider giving your hamster a small amount of timothy hay at least two to three times per week.
What Not to Feed Your Hamster
While there are many healthy treats that you can feed your hamster safely in moderation, there are also some foods that should be completely avoided. These include the following:
- Apple seeds
- Raw potatoes
- Raw beans
- Citrus fruit
- Rhubarb leaves or raw rhubarb
- Surgery foods
- Salty foods
- Junk food
Hamsters require a balanced, nutrient-packed diet to stay healthy and happy. This diet can include the occasional treat but it’s important to feed your pet tiny amounts and to avoid foods that could cause harm. When the proper foods and portions are offered, feeding treats can be a great bonding experience for you and your hamster.