We know that hamsters have cheek pockets where they can store as much food as half their own weight. But do you know that hamsters can switch their salivary glands on and off?
It is because of this ability that this little furball can keep their cheek pockets dry and preserve fresh food not only limited to seeds, leaves, and plant materials but even insects and animal materials too.
If that is the case, can hamsters eat cheese? Or is cheese on the banned list?
Cheese In the Menu
To answer the above question, yes, hamsters do eat cheese!
Opinions vary in letting hamsters drink milk because of their lactose intolerance as well as the high amount of calorie and fat in cow’s milk. You can still feed your hammy some cheese and yogurt, however, since these already have undergone a bit of bacterial process that breaks down some food material that your rodent friend’s gut might have difficulty processing.
Cheese may be given to your hamster because of the various nutrients it provides; but it has to be in moderation and not as a staple. This is because cheese has high-calorie content which is why only cheese that is mild and low in fat and salt content are acceptable.
Hard and mild cheeses, as well as cottage cheese, are good for them. Although some pet parents will give their hammies an occasional pasteurized goat or feta cheese for a treat (non-pasteurized one may contain unhealthy, if not parasitic bugs).
Serving Cheese and Other Food
It is important to note that since your hamster’s salivary glands can be switched on and off, you have to take care of its cheek pockets by feeding it (aside from muesli and other hamster mixes) foods that are 1) small and properly cut-up, 2) not sharp (you can even have those carrots in little round balls), and 3) not sticky.
Cheese – even the hard ones – may be shredded, cut up small, or served in non-stick curds, and always served in small quantities only occasionally. Ideally, a teaspoon of cottage cheese a week or a few shreds of mild cheese at most twice a month should be okay. Mozzarella is also recommended because of its low fat.
A few pet parents would occasionally give a couple of shreds of cheddar, although it is not recommended because of its high salt content.
It is also important not to feed your hamster cheese in full course outright. The first time your hammy eats cheese has to be in a really small amount to check for lactose intolerance or any unhealthy reactions within the next two days.
There is no need to worry if your hamster does not eat cheese. It could be that it’s out of preference. Besides you can still give it the nutrients it needs through pasteurized yogurt, alfalfa, and other foods in your possible menu list.
Additionally, do not give hamsters cheese with onion, garlic, and chive content. They contain toxic substances that can make your poor hammy anemic.
A Foodie Who Can Outwit You
Even when domesticated, hamsters still practice hoarding; which is why great care should be given in considering the amount as well as the quality of their food.
Do not be fooled by their empty cheek pockets. As their pet parent, you should only give one to two tablespoonfuls of food every day; give or take, depending on the size.
Additionally, hamsters have to vary their diet so, a spoonful of hamster mix is definitely not equal to a spoonful of carrot. Heck, you are not even supposed to give them so much carrot unless you don’t mind them becoming diabetic!
It is not just the carrot that you have to look out for. You can only feed them so much plant material as too much will give them diarrhea. Citrus foods and citrus food products are also a no-go since these are too acidic and will give the furballs an upset stomach.
Animal products like mealworms, crickets, a small amount of hard-boiled egg, and a tiny bit of lean meat may be given to them.
Mind, however, that a healthy diet has to have only as much as 16 percent protein and 5 percent fat so as not to spoil the meat, dairy, and poultry because of hoarding; as well as to keep your hamster from becoming obese.
A Healthy Tip
Always check with your vet regarding your tiny furball’s first intake of food. Hamster meals are a-okay, but a few bits and knickknacks of fresh vegetable and cooked meat or properly served dairy and poultry products will not hurt, so long as your hammy should add a little oomph to their nutrition.
Feeding a hamster can be, in a way, a kind of game. The important thing is not to be fooled by these hoarders. Have them exercise a bit with their wheels and balls to get rid of excess calorie from whatever they managed to hoard out of outwitting you.
These little hoarders, after all, were originally tiny masters of their own arid environment.