Hamsters are one of the most loveable of all pocket pets, it’s easy to want to give them human foods we enjoy, like tasty bananas! However, many human foods are not safe for hamsters to eat. So, can hamsters eat bananas? Dr. Jess explains it all below:
What is a Hamster?
A hamster is a small rodent that is commonly seen as a pocket pet here in the U.S. Hamsters are covered in a soft fur, with large eyes, round bodies, and short stumpy tails.
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.
Hamsters are small mammals. Their coats are soft and come in many different coat colors and color patterns. There are many different types and breeds of hamster.
A common hamster is about 4-10 inches long, with some breeds shorter than that average and some breeds longer than that average.
Adult hamsters can weigh anywhere from half an ounce to over 10 ounces, depending on age and breed of hamster.
Hamsters are nocturnal, meaning that they typically sleep during the day and are active at night. Therefore, if you or a family member is a light sleeper or has issues sleeping at night, it is not suggested to house your hamster in that same room, as they will be active during the night.
A hamster’s teeth are continually growing. Therefore as a reliable pet owner, you need to provide your pet hamster with materials to help them keep their tooth length at bay.
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.
Hamsters have a cute personality. Some are outgoing and friendly with others,while other hamsters like to live a life of solitude.
Hamsters like to burrow and tunnel, so having some sort of tunnel system is fun for many captive, caged hamsters.
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
Lets Talk Bananas?
Bananas are a very popular fruit because of their mild tasty flavor, beautiful yellow exterior peel which makes it easy to pack as a snack, and its many uses in cooking, especially in desserts.
Just like with any other fruit, bananas have their nutritional value…. as well as some things to be weary of!
Bananas have many nutritional benefits as well as tasty benefits.
Bananas contain antioxidants that may help to prevent cell damage that harmful free radicals can cause. These antioxidants can help with things like preventing certain cancers and diseases.
With how tasty they taste, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that bananas contain sugar but not as much sugar as some other fruit choices contain. Too much sugar can cause health concerns such as obesity in your hamster, so be careful.
Packed with Vitamins and Minerals!
Bananas contain vitamins A B1, B6, and C, which aid in maintaining the hamster’s immune system, eye sight, reproductive system, and body growth while they are young.
Bananas also come packed with essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron, which strengthen bones and tissues throughout the hamster’s body systems.
Potassium helps regulate fluid balance, nerve signaling, and aids in muscle function.
More on the Importance of Vitamin C:
Vitamin C is one of the major players of helping to prevent a disease known as scurvy.
Let’s just say that vitamin C is extremely important for your hamster to have!
Can Hamsters Eat Bananas?
Well after learning about some of the health benefits and some of the risks that the consumption of bananas brings with it , wouldn’t it be nice it you could just safely feed it to your hamster?
Well, you can…. in moderation.
That’s right, feeding a small amount of banana as a treat to your hamster on occasion is totally fine and they will likely LOVE you for it!
Moderation = A couple little cubes of banana is enough for one hamster.
In total, your hamster should have around 10% of their diet made up of fresh fruits and vegetables combined everyday, and no more than that.
If your pet does not eat all of their helping of 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 these few small pieces of banana no more than 2-3 times per week and no two days in a row.
Do Hamsters Like Bananas?
Yes they definitely do!
The reason why hamsters love bananas is because of the incredibly sweet taste from their high content of fructose (sugar).
Bananas are like candy to hamsters!
But bananas can be harmful to some pets. Are they toxic to hamsters too?
Are Bananas Harmful to Hamsters?
Yes, they can be.
Remember that too much banana 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.
Some bananas can have pesticides on them that can severely harm or even kill your hamster.
It is incredibly important to thoroughly wash all produce, including bananas, before offering it to your pet.
Besides the choking hazard, bananas can be dangerous to pets if they contain parasites or certain harmful microorganisms, making the pet sick after ingestion (eating).
But just as it’s not good for us to have too much sugar, neither is it a good idea to give loads of sugar to your hamster. So too much banana could mean detrimental effects to your buddy, such as diabetes or obesity. Feed bananas in moderation!
So yes, consuming banana has its risks.
Can Hamsters Eat Banana Peels?
Another issue is the peel…….
Yes, your hamster an eat the peel along with their banana bites.
However, don’t be surprised if your hamster doesn’t eat the peel, but scarfs down the banana fruit itself.
The peel is much less tasty (and has less sugar content to boot!) to your hamster than the soft fruit of the banana inside of it.
How To Serve Bananas To Your Hamster:
Make sure to introduce any new foods, including bananas, to your hamster slowly and in small bite-sized amounts.
If your furry friend shows any signs of digestive discomfort, loose stool, diarrhea, or decreased appetite, stop feeding them banana immediately and contact your local veterinarian.
- 1 fresh, store-bought ripe banana
- cutting board
- kitchen cutting knife
- Check your banana for signs of parasites or irregularities. If there are concerns with your fruit, do not feed it to your pet.
- Peel the banana peel away and discard the peel. Cut the banana into small slices, pieces, or bites, totalling no more than 1 teaspoon-worth for adult hamsters, or 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon for smaller or dwarf hamsters.
- Remove any remaining banana that has been in the cage for longer than 12-24 hours.
- Monitor for signs of GI upset or adverse reaction.
Contact your veterinarian before changing parts of your pet's diet. Stop the feeding of bananas immediately and contact your veterinarian if any signs of ill health appear.
How Much Banana Can Hamsters Have?
Bananas are best reserved as a special treat for your furry friend.
Why? Because The amount of sugar involved in this tasty fruit.
Remember that bananas contain a high amount of sugar, something that you need to monitor closely in your hamster, espcially if they are overweight.
Therefore it is important to not overfeed banana to your pet.
A limit of 1 teaspoon worth of banana, offered to your hamster properly (more on that in a second!), is all that should be given at one time.
If you have a dwarf hamster or just a smaller-sized hamster, feed up to 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of banana to your hamster.
Banana should be given at a maximum of 1-2 times per week.
How Often Should Hamsters Eat Bananas?
Your hamster can have their banana pieces as a snack one to two days a week.
These days should never be back-to-back. In fact, the days should be spread out a few days apart from one another.
Alternative Foods For Hamsters:
Your cute little hamster deserves the best – best home, best health, and best treats.
Weigh the pros and cons of feeding bananas to your hamster before tossing them a sweet and tasty snack, and if you do decide to give them a treat, remember, it’s safe in moderation.
Treating your pet to some of your favorite snacks, like banana, is just fine as long as that store-bought banana is cleaned and prepared properly, served correctly (correct amounts and correct pacing), and only to healthy hamsters.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact your local vet before feeding banana to your buddy.