Meat may not be the first food that comes to mind when you think about what to feed your hamster. However, hamsters are actually omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals. As long as it’s plain and thoroughly cooked, chicken is safe for hamsters to eat in small amounts and can be a good source of lean protein.
Is Chicken Good for Hamsters?
In the wild, a hamster will cover their nutritional bases with seeds, plants, insects, and even small reptiles or lizards. Since they wouldn’t naturally feed on chicken, it isn’t considered a part of their normal diet. However, chicken can be a great, lean protein source for hamsters to eat. It will compliment well when fed occasionally with a healthy diet of pellets, hay, and fresh vegetables. Your hamster may even really enjoy chicken as a treat.
How to Feed Chicken to Your Hamster
Your hamster can live a full, healthy life without ever experiencing the taste of chicken. It’s certainly a viable option, though, that can bring them some benefits as long as you feed it properly.
If you decide to give your hamster some chicken, make sure it’s fully cooked and deboned. Only plain boiled or baked chicken is safe for them. Many seasonings in rotisserie, fried, and grilled chicken can be harmful to hamsters, and they certainly don’t need seasonings to improve the taste. Don’t feed chicken skin either as it can be very fatty.
Feed small quantities of ¼ teaspoon of chopped chicken or less once or twice a week. This will give your hamster a tasty treat without overdoing it.
Like any new food, introduce chicken to their diet slowly and monitor their droppings for any sign of stomach upset or loose stools. If it appears that the chicken might not agree with your hamster, discontinue feeding it.
You also should never feed your hamster raw meat or bones of any kind. While hamsters certainly don’t boil their meals in the wild, fully cooking meat is the best way to prevent bacterial contamination.
What Other Meats Are Safe for Hamsters?
As long as the meat is thoroughly cooked, deboned, and unseasoned, it’s likely to be safe for your hamster in small amounts. Light-colored lean meats such as fish, chicken breast, and shrimp are better for them than dark or red meats. This is because light-colored meats tend to be leaner than dark or red meats, which often contain higher amounts of fat. Of course, if you have any questions about safe meats to add to your hamster’s diet, contact your veterinarian.
If you prefer to give your hamster a snack that’s a little closer to their actual diet, you can find commercial mealworms and crickets in most pet stores.
Is Chicken Safe for Guinea Pigs?
Although they look similar, it’s important to realize that guinea pigs aren’t larger hamsters. They are a totally separate species with very different dietary requirements. That being said, you should never give meat of any kind to a guinea pig. These rodents are herbivores, which means their bodies are equipped to process plants, not meat. If you give meat to a guinea pig, they’ll likely become very sick.
As long as it’s in small portions, chicken is a safe treat to give to your hamster. As with any meat, make sure the chicken is unseasoned, deboned, and fully cooked before feeding it to your pet. While hamsters are omnivorous, their diet should chiefly consist of hay, pellets, seeds, and leafy greens such as carrot tops. If you decide to give them meat, only give them a small amount as a treat, not as a dietary staple.