Like humans and other species of animals, hamsters are omnivores. This means they eat a mixture of both meat and plants. Your furry pocket friend is likely being fed a commercial store-bought diet prepared especially for hamsters, which will combine all the proteins and plant nutrients they need; however, we all like to offer a special treat to our pets from time to time. Giving treats helps to increase the bond between owner and pet, plus it brings joy to both of you. The trick is not to overdo the snacks and feed the wrong treats. So, what can hamsters not eat?
Food and snacks given as treats to hamsters shouldn’t make up more than 5% of their daily diet and caloric intake, which you will be able to work out using the feeding guideline on your food packaging. Consult a veterinarian if you are unsure of the amount.
In terms of what hamsters cannot eat, let’s check out the following foods to stay away from.
The 15 Foods Never to Feed Your Hamster
If you notice your hamster begins to exhibit signs of sickness and/or behavioral changes after eating a type of food, or should your hamster eat any of the foods listed below, have your veterinarian look over your hamster right away.
Although a staple vegetable in human diets, eggplant, or aubergine, depending on which country you live in, does contain a toxin called solanine. This can lead to digestive problems and potential health issues. Eggplant also contains high amounts of fiber, which can be too harsh for a hamster’s gastrointestinal system.
2. Raw Potato
Much like the eggplant, raw potato also contains a toxin called solanine. This can lead to digestive problems and potential health issues. Raw potatoes might be off the menu, but sweet potatoes are fine for hamsters to eat. Regular potatoes that are fully cooked whether baked, boiled, or cooked in another form are fine to eat also, but not for all species of hamsters. Always check with your vet to ensure it’s safe.
While avocados are not toxic to our furry friends, they are very high in fat and have a high acidic content. These two reasons make this fruit an unhealthy option to offer as a treat.
Onions contain a substance known as thiosulphate, which is toxic to hamsters. Eating onions may cause tummy upsets, including but not limited to diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort. In severe cases, it potentially can lead to anemia.
Garlic can cause indigestion and interfere with a hamster’s blood production, potentially causing disorders of the blood. Garlic is also classed as part of the onion family, so the warnings for onions apply to garlic too.
6. Bitter Almonds
Bitter almonds contain minute amounts of cyanide. Cyanide is a type of deadly poison, and although the amount of it in bitter almonds is tiny, it is enough to cause serious harm to your small hamster. Sweet almonds as an alternative are ok to offer your pet, but these may be contaminated with bitter almonds in the packet or box. Therefore, it is best all varieties and flavors of almonds are avoided
This is a fatty and unhealthy meat for hamsters. Pork has a high fat content, which can lead to your hamster gaining weight or suffering from obesity if it is fed in large and consistent quantities. This meat also has a high salt amount, which is unhealthy for hamsters to be consuming.
These nuts are too high in fat, contributing to weight gain and obesity. More suitable treats for hamsters will be lower in fat.
9. Citrus Fruits
All citrus fruits contain a high amount of citric acid that is too high for hamsters. Citric acid can stress the digestive system causing a myriad of tummy problems and discomfort for your hamster. The sugar content is also high in these fruits, and while it is natural sugar, it can cause dental and health issues over time.
10. Sugary treats
Your hamster may well enjoy these sugary treats and snacks, but they are very unhealthy for them! Sugary foods and treats bring on dental disease, weight gain, and medical conditions such as diabetes. If your hamster already had a medical condition, the high sugar content can interfere with this too causing imbalance and further health problems.
11. Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables
Fruit and veggies not properly washed after purchase can be dangerous to your hamsters. This is due to pesticides the vegetable or fruit may have been treated with.
The theobromine element in chocolate is toxic and is a huge problem for a lot of pets, including hamsters. In particular, dark chocolate is highly toxic. The darker the chocolate, the higher the levels of theobromine. This makes chocolate poisonous to hamsters due to the theobromine’s toxic traits in large amounts.
13. Raw Kidney Beans
These are another example of a raw vegetable that is toxic to hamsters. Cooked kidney beans cause gas and bloating and are probably best avoided too!
Much like citrus fruits, the pineapple is too acidic and sugary to feed to your pet hamster.
15. Spices and Seasoning
All spices and seasonings, even salt, can cause gastrointestinal issues and tummy upset, such as diarrhea and vomiting. They are often too rich and, in abundance, are difficult for hamsters to digest.
Feeding treats to your hamster is part of the fun of owning a pet, but these should only be given in moderation. It is worth noting that not all harmful and “off-menu” foods are toxic or poisonous. It can also refer to foods causing many other problems and difficulties for our small furry friends. It is always best to check with your veterinarian if your hamster can eat a particular food before offering it.