Are Hamsters Herbivores or Omnivores?

Are you among the mass who believes hamsters are herbivores? 

Hamsters that are kept as a pet maintain their good condition by eating commercial hamster foods, seeds, fruits, and vegetables which are rich in nutrients like calcium and folate. The food mixes that indoor hamsters eat are mostly plant-based that’s why some people often mistook them as herbivores.

If it’s so, can hamsters eat mealworms? Can you feed hamsters with other non-plant foods?

The answer is that being omnivorous animals, hamsters can eat a variety of plant-based and non-plant foods from meats to snacks. But that doesn’t mean that they can eat all kinds of foods.

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There are also foods which should never be given to hamsters as they can be toxic and extremely unhealthy for them. Remember to only give the necessary amount of nutrition that a hamster needs for its diet.

Actually, 17% to 19 % of hamster’s diet should consist of protein which can mostly be found in meats. In addition to that, hamsters in the wild manage to survive by eating both insects and grasses.

Non-Plant Foods for Hamsters

Hamsters eat both meat and plant foods. In fact, the ingredients of some packed hamster foods consist of animal protein like chicken and shrimp. Here is a list of acceptable non-plant foods for your pet:

1. Meats and Animal Protein

Since hamsters are omnivores, you can give meats and animal protein to your pet in moderation. Just make sure that all these foods are thoroughly cooked, either baked or boiled, and not seasoned nor fried.

  • Mealworm and Cricket Mealworms and crickets can be dry or alive. Alive mealworms are harder to find than the dried ones. To prevent them from biting the hamsters, owners prefer dried mealworms and dried crickets. These types of food are often given as a treat rather than a meal because of the high-fat content.

1 cricket or 2 to 5 worms can be given to a hamster every 1 to 2 days if they are the only protein sources that you’re feeding your hamster. Too much consumption of these foods can give your hamster different health problems.

2. Chicken

Aside from the fact that this food is a great source of protein, chicken is also rich in nutrients like vitamin A and phosphorous. Despite all the benefits, chicken also contains a high level of fats that’s why you should only give the necessary amount for your hamster.

¼ teaspoon of chicken every 1 to 2 weeks is recommended if it is the only meat you are giving to your pet. This amount of serving should be adjusted appropriately if you want to feed a hamster with multiple types of foods.

3. Beef

Beef can be fed to a hamster as long as it is cooked well to make it easier for your pet to digest the food. A quarter teaspoon every week is suggested assuming that it is the only meat you’re giving to the hamster.

Besides protein, beef is known to be a great source of vitamin B12, zinc, and iron which are also part of a hamster’s nutritional requirements.

4. Egg

½ teaspoon of egg can be given every 1 to 2 weeks to your hamster as long as it is boiled or scrambled.

One egg contains about 7 grams of protein which is high compared to other foods. Raw eggs should never be fed to a hamster because they might contain pathogens like Salmonella which are highly dangerous for hamsters.

5. Pork

Lean and uncured pork are the only ones which you can feed your hamsters. Cured pork can be dangerous because of the preservation and flavoring process it went through which can cause toxicity to hamsters. Once a week or every two weeks, you can give pork to your pet.

6. Shrimp

Shrimps can be given to hamsters only in moderation because they contain too much protein. Too much of this nutrient in a hamster’s body can cause kidney and liver damage.

Aside from that, hamsters can’t digest seafood very well. But every 1 to 2 weeks, you can give a ¼ teaspoon of shrimp to your pet.

7. Fish

Canned fish should not be given to hamsters; only the fresh ones. Plus, the fish should be cooked well. Fish is mostly preferred because it is cheaper compared to other meats like beef.

Aside from the low-calorie content, it is also good for the heart. In spite of the good effects, fish should still not be given in large quantities to avoid problems. A quarter teaspoon every 1 to 2 times a week will be enough if it is the only protein food you give your hamster.

8. Turkey

Turkey meats can be given to hamsters but only a small amount because they can be too acidic for them. Assuming that turkey meat is the only protein food you give to your pet, ¼ teaspoon every 1 to two weeks is enough.

Make sure that you balance your hamster’s diet according to its nutritional needs. Too much meat can lead to several illnesses.

9. Other Snacks And Treats

In giving these snacks, you have to make sure that the ingredients used are safe for hamsters. Unsafe ingredient for hamsters includes avocados, ham, tomato leaves, seasonings and etc. Always check the label to avoid food poisoning or diarrhea.

10. Baby Foods

Baby foods can be a great treat for a hamster as long as they are hamster-safe and they should not contain preservatives. You can try giving baby foods to your hamster especially if it has trouble digesting foods.

This type of food can be a good vitamin supplement for your pet. One teaspoon every 1 or two weeks is the recommended amount.

11. Cheese

Cheese is not really significant in a hamster’s diet but it can be ideal to be given as a treat. In small quantities, you can give it to your pet once a week. It also has to be mild and a low-fat variety like cottage cheese.

12. Peanut butter

Hamsters can enjoy a small amount of peanut butter but only as a spread or mixed in. Do not give it too often as it can cause overweight. Besides that, peanut butter is a sticky food and it can cause problems when hamsters store it in their cheeks.

13. Plain Tofu

Plain tofu can be a great reward to a hamster but you must not leave it in the cage and feed it with your hand, otherwise, it can get moldy and might cause a problem to your pet. One-half teaspoon is recommended every 1 to 2 weeks.

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Author Bio

Carlye Yancey

Carlye Yancey

Between internships, volunteering, and paid jobs over the last 4 years, I have pretty much-gained experience with domesticated animals. Currently being in school for my veterinary technology degree, I spend my leisure time with 3 critters that I own.

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