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Can Hamsters Eat Meat? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Kerry-Ann Kerr Profile Picture

By Kerry-Ann Kerr

hamster on wooden table

Hamsters can eat meat, but before you rustle up a steak for your hammy, there are some things you should know first. Hamsters are omnivores, which means they can obtain the nutrients they need from a mixture of plant matter and animal protein. In the wild, the “meat” part of a hamster’s diet generally consists of insects like small worms or crickets.

A pet hamster can also eat these little critters, alongside other meat sources like chicken, but there are some factors to consider. So, let’s dive right in!


Benefits of Eating Meat

A hamster can go their whole life without being fed meat; their nutritional needs can usually be met with a pellet-based diet. There are some benefits, but your hamster won’t miss what they’ve never had. Not every meat source is healthy for your hamster, either. But the benefits of a good meat source include:

  • Source of protein: Animals are an excellent protein source that will aid in the development and growth of muscle.
  • Provides stimulation: Live insects like crickets and mealworms can be a source of exercise and fun for your hamster. Food that can move is more entertaining than food that doesn’t.
  • Provides variety: If your hamster is turned off by their food, insects introduce something new and provide a little variety to an otherwise boring mealtime.

Risks of Eating Meat

vet holding a white hamster
Image Credit: v-svirido, Shutterstock

Meat isn’t an essential part of a hamster’s diet, and if you feed them too much or pick the wrong sources, it can be harmful. Some meat, for example, is easier to digest than others.

Light meat like fish or chicken is easier on your hamster’s digestive system than red meat. Keep the meat plain and avoid spices, oil, or seasoning. Boil or bake it, and remove any bones to prevent your hamster from choking on it.

Unless it’s an insect, the meat should also be cooked. You should feed them meat in moderation and use it as a treat. A thumbnail-sized portion occasionally is plenty.


What Pet Hamsters Usually Eat

Ideally, a hamster’s diet should consist of commercial hamster pellets, hay, a small amount of fresh vegetables, fruit, and herbs. They also enjoy the occasional treat like boiled eggs, nuts, or insects such as mealworms. Your hamster should always have access to fresh, clean water.

The ideal hamster diet should consist of:
  • 15–25% protein
  • 35–40% carbohydrates
  • 4–5% fat
  • 5% crude fiber

This balance will usually be found in a good quality hamster food, and you can work with your veterinarian to determine your hamster’s specific caloric needs. It will be based on their health, breed, age, and size.


Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Hamsters Find Meat in the Wild?

Hamsters don’t exactly go fishing in the wild, but they will hunt down the odd grasshopper or cricket. Live insects aren’t a significant feature in their regular diets because they can be tricky to catch! This makes insects much more work than foraging for grains or seeds.

What Types of Insects Can Hamsters Eat?

Hamsters can enjoy a variety of insects in moderation, including the following:

  • Earthworms
  • Caterpillars
  • Crickets
  • Grasshoppers
  • House fly
  • Mealworms
  • Silkworm pupae
  • Waxworms

If you would like to add some insects into your hamster’s diet, only ever source them from a reputable pet supplier. Never catch them from your garden, as theyay have been exposed to pesticides or contain parasites, and you can cause your hamster serious harm if you select the wrong species.

Dead Cricket
Image Credit: JumpStory

Can Hamsters Eat Any Other Meat Sources?

Hamsters can eat ground beef in very small quantities as long as it’s plain and cooked thoroughly. It’s easier for hamsters to digest because it’s softer than other sources of red meat.


Final Thoughts

Hamsters can eat meat, but not all meat is good for them. Generally, a small amount of chicken or fish, cooked thoroughly and kept plain, is a safe choice. Hamsters can also enjoy the occasional insect as a treat. Meat is an excellent protein boost but should always be served as a treat since the hamster should get most of their nutrients from their regular diet.

Featured Image Credit: Remus Rigo, Shutterstock

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