Hamsters are by far one of the most popular pocket pets. They are quite active and can make great pets as long as you know how to properly care for them and all of their needs, including what they eat. Hamsters can be fed commercially-made diets, as well as certain fresh fruits and vegetables. Who can resist feeding these cute little friends some sweet treats like crisp, juicy apples. But not all foods are safe for hamsters! Can hamsters eat apples?
Dr. Jess explains the answer below:
Hamsters can have apples as a snack – but please read on as to 1. how much, 2. how often, and 3. how to prepare, apples before serving them to your hamster!
Hamsters are omnivores, eating both plant material and animal materials.
In captivity, hamsters typically have a diet that consists of items such as hamster pellets, hay, grains and nuts, and fruits and vegetables, to name a few foods.
No matter what you and your veterinarian decide is the best diet for your hamster, make sure that it is balanced for your hamsters lifestyle.
What Do Hamsters Typically Eat?
These little buddies eat an assortment of things to keep them healthy and happy.
- High-quality hamster food and Timothy hay should be the main staples of their diet.
- Up to about 10% of their diet can be made up of an assortment of vegetables and fruits, with fruits and vegetables over 12-24 hours old being discarded as soon as possible.
- Hamsters do best with diets low in fats and sugars. [source]
- Clean, fresh, filtered water. ‘Fresh water‘ means that is is changed daily. ‘Changed daily‘ means that new water is placed into a CLEAN water dispenser!
- Seeds and protein (in the form of hamster-safe insects and cooked hamster-safe meats) can also be given to hamsters in safe portions determined by your veterinarian
Let’s Talk Apples…
Apples are a common type of fruit here in the U.S.
Apples are a rounded fruit with a green or red exterior skin that can be thick or delicate, depending on variety, and a crisp fruit center that is juicy and watery.
This fruit come in many different varieties, sizes, flavors, and therefore has been used in cooked for many different uses. Apples come from apple trees and have an internal core with apple seeds at the very center of its fruit.
Just like with any other fruit, apples have their nutritional value…. as well as some things to be weary of! Here are some of the highlights of an apples nutritional profile [source]:
Vitamin C is essential to your hamster in staying happy and healthy and an apple has a healthy amount of this vitamin.
Apples have a decent sugar and carbohydrate content as well.
Something to take note on and to keep in mind when feeding to hamsters who can come down with digestive upset with increased amounts of sugar!
An apple also contains a high percentage of water, which is great when looking to maintain hydration. But too much water can be troublesome!
Apples contain a high percentage fiber too!
Apples provide fiber which helps in constipation and improves gut motility. It is also why you feel full after eating an apple – that increased fiber helps keep you feeling full for longer, or “satiated”.
Too much fiber however, can lead to too much gut motility… and that’s not a good thing either!
Other Vitamins & Minerals:
It should be noted that apples contain other vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, that is needed for healthy body function.
Can Hamsters Eat Apples?
Well, you can feed your hamster apples…. in moderation.
That’s right, feeding a small amount of apple as a treat to your hamster on occasion is totally fine and they will likely LOVE you for it!
Moderation = Approximately a teaspoon-sized amount of apple is enough apple for one hamster.
If you have a smaller hamster or a dwarf variety, cut the teaspoon on half and just give your smaller hamster no more than 1/2 teaspoon worth of seedless apple per week as a treat.
If your pet does not eat all of their fruits and vegetables within 12-24 hours, then you need to dispose of it for them.
They will likely not eat it, and it will only sit in their cage and get old and eventually become unsafe to eat.
The rest of their diet, the other 90 or so percent, should be made up of hamster food and hay.
You should feed this amount no more than once per week and no two days in a row.
How About Apple Seeds?
And then there are the seeds, a potential choking hazard in and of itself. Don’t feed apple seeds to your hamster.
The seeds of an apple are slippery, hard, and slimy.
They are also the perfect size to get lodged in a hamster’s throat and cause them to choke.
Always remove any apple seeds prior to feeding the apple to your hamster.
Do NOT feed your pet apple seeds.
- 1 fresh, store-bought apple
- kitchen fruit/vegetable knife
- cutting board
- You will need to have a visual inspection done to make sure that you are giving your hamster a ripe, healthy apple to eat.
- Next, you will need to remove the skin/peel, the core, and any seeds. Then cut, slice, chop, or dice up the apple so that your hamster can safely eat it, in bite-sized pieces.
- Offer your hamster one small piece of apple and observe for at least 24 hours for adverse signs. If no adverse signs arise, you can continue to give your hamster apple in moderation and according to your veterinarian's recommendation.
Watch your pet for choking and adverse reactions when feeding your pet a new food. Contact your veterinarian before changing or modifying your pet's diet.
Are Apples Harmful to Hamsters?
Yes, it can be.
Remember that too much apple fed to these little buddies can give them side effects like an upset stomach, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
This can lead to a multitude of problems including things like dehydration and electrolyte imbalances that could impart a trip to the veterinary clinic for your pocket pet vet to fix.
Can Hamsters Eat Apple Peel?
Another issue is the peel…….
Apple peel can be served to your hamster.
The thick peel needs to be cut away or served in very small pieces and small amounts to the pet or it can become an issue for them.
These servings of apple peel should be done in moderation, as the apple skin contains fiber which, if too much is ingested at one time, can cause diarrhea as well.
What About Apple Juice?
You should not offer your hamster apple juice. This is because apple juice has a high sugar content, which is not going to be good for your pet.
HIgh sugar content can cause diarrhea, obesity, etc., creating more problems than good. No apple juice for your hamster please!
Find Out If Hamsters Can Eat…
So weigh the pros and cons of feeding apple to your hamster before tossing them a sweet and juicy snack, and if you do decide to give them a treat, remember, it’s safe in moderation. If you have any questions as to what to feed your hamster, contact your local veterinarian, we are always happy to help!