Hamsters are one of the most popular pocket pets. Who can resist feeding a cute little hamster a sweet treat like a juicy blueberry? But be cautioned…not all foods are safe for hamsters! Can hamsters eat blueberries?
Dr. Jess explains the answer 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
Let’s Talk About Blueberries:
The blueberry plant is a flowering plant that is perennial, can survive and come back year after year.
It produces small round berries that are either a shade of blue or purple, hence their name.
The berry itself actually starts out very small and green and becomes larger and blue once ripe.
When ripe, they have a sweet taste and once punctured, a juicy fruit inside.
Blueberry Health Benefits:
Blueberries are low in calories, high in fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K. According to a recent Healthline article,
Antioxidants protect your body from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage your cells and contribute to aging and diseases, such as cancer. Blueberries are believed to have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all common fruits and vegetables.”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-blueberries#section2
Another study even concluded that blueberries may be beneficial when it comes to diabetes and glucose metabolism [source].
Are Blueberries Healthy For Hamsters to Eat?
A blueberry contains a low amount of calories and fat so it a better snack if your pet is overweight or has diabetes than other treats with higher caloric content.
Blueberries also have a high water content to help keep your little friend hydrated.
As mentioned in the nutritional content of blueberries section, blueberries have a high amount of vitamin B, C, E, K, etc. in it – vitamins that help with the protection of important body systems that keep the body running and functioning appropriately.
Blueberries have a fiber content that will help your hamster keep their digestive system running smoothly and can also help with keep blood sugar level stable if you have a worrisome diabetic hamster.
A blueberry is packed with a multitude of nutrients which are great for the health of your pet hamster.
Can Hamsters Eat Blueberries?
Well after learning about some of the health benefits and some of the risks that the consumption of blueberries 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 blueberries 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 blueberry is enough blueberries for one adult hamster. That equates to 1-2 regular-sized blueberries.
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 blueberry 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.
Can Baby Hamsters Eat Blueberries?
I do not recommend feeding a baby or juvenile hamster such a sugary fruit as it can lead to some pretty big internal issues with just small bites of this fruit.
How to Serve Blueberries to A Hamster?
You will need to start by using a high-quality, fresh blueberries.
Make sure that you wash it well to remove any dirt, debris, pesticides, etc. from its surface.
Then cut the blueberries into bite-sized pieces if they are large, so that your hamster can easily eat it.
Remove any uneaten blueberry pieces with 12-24 hours of offering it to your hamster to prevent bugs and food rot.
- Fresh store-bought blueberries
- Make sure to wash the blueberries thoroughly, removing any possible dirt, chemicals, or pesticides.
- When first introducing your hamster to blueberries, you want to see how they do after giving them one small piece!
- You may need to consider mixing the blueberries with vegetables, up together to help discourage picking through their food bowl and eating only the preferred items in their dish.
- Any food left in your rabbit's enclosure that is not eaten up after 12-24 hours will start to get old and become unsafe for your hamster to eat. Clean out any uneaten foods.
- Monitor your pet for 24 hours for adverse reactions to the newly introduced food. If you notice any unusual activities or reactions, contact your veterinarian immediately and stop feeding the new food.
Consult with your pet's veterinarian before introducing a new feed into your pet's diet, and ask them any questions or concerns that you may have.
How About Blueberry Leaves?
There’s no reason your hamster can’t enjoy chewing on blueberry leaves unless they just don’t like blueberries at all.
They love having little things in their mouths to chew on and to keep them occupied and entertained throughout their busy days!
The stem texture is not too tough, so as long as the stem is short and thin, then it’s okay for a small bit of stem to still be attached to the blueberry for them to nibble on.
But just like anything else that they can stick in their mouths, these can be a choking hazard so monitor your hamster while snacking on this berry treat!
Can Hamsters Eat Blueberry Seeds?
Your hamster should have no problem munching away on a fresh slice of blueberry with the seeds intact.
There is no reason why these small blueberry seeds need to be removed before serving blueberry pieces to your pet hamster.
Can They Eat Dried Blueberries?
Because dried fruits contain a higher amount of sugars, I can not advise you to feed your hamster dried blueberries even if it is for a small snack.
It is unsafe to do!
Can Hamsters Eat Blueberry Jam or Jelly?
Jellies and jams have added sugars, spices, and/or preservatives or additives in them.
Therefore, it is not advised to feed your little pet any fruit jam or jelly, including the blueberry varieties.
Are Blueberries Harmful to Hamsters?
Yes, it can be.
Remember that too much sweet fruit 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.
What About Blueberry Juice?
You should not offer your hamster blueberry juice or soda. This is because blueberry 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 blueberry juice for your hamster please!
Alternative Foods For Hamsters:
So weigh the pros and cons of feeding blueberries 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.
And as always, contact your veterinarian before changing any part of your pet’s diet.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.