Hamsters are one of the most popular pocket pets. Who can resist feeding a cute little hamster a sweet treat like a juicy strawberry? But be cautioned…not all foods are safe for hamsters! Can hamsters eat strawberries?
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 Strawberries:
The strawberry plant is a flowering plant that is perennial, which means that it can survive and come back year after year.
The strawberry plant produces heart-shaped red berries that are coated on their exteriors with small, hard strawberry seeds.
The top of each strawberry has a stem and strawberry leaves attached it’s strawberry top.
When ripe, they have a sweet taste and once bit in to, a sweet, juicy fruit inside.
Strawberry Health Benefits:
Strawberries are high in water content and fairly low sugar content (compared to water content) low in calories, high in vitamin C and antioxidants. According to a recent Healthline article,
They’re an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese and also contain decent amounts of folate (vitamin B9) and potassium. Strawberries are very rich in antioxidants and plant compounds, which may have benefits for heart health and blood sugar control.”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/strawberries
Strawberries also contain a notable amount of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and folate.
According to other studies, strawberries may also be good for lowering your blood pressure and may also be good for your heart [source].
Another study even concluded that strawberries may be beneficial when it comes to diabetes and glucose metabolism [source].
Is It Healthy For a Hamster to Eat Strawberries?
A strawberry contains some essential nutrients including calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin C that can be helpful in keeping your hamster healthy.
Calcium and phosphorous are an integral part of a diet which is necessary for proper bone development, Teeth growth, and other nervous system needs.
They also has some other potential health benefits for your pet hamster:
- Inflammation/Antioxidants: Multiple studies show that strawberries are a great source of anti-inflammatory compounds that help in fighting against inflammation.
- Vitamins: A strawberry contains a high amount of vitamin C and smaller amounts of other notable vitamins such as vitamin B9. Hamsters need vitamins to stay healthy and to allow their bodies to function properly. Vitamin C helps hamsters stay safe and adequately protected from diseases and strengthens their immune system.
- Diabetes/Blood Sugar: Strawberries may help with glucose levels and glucose metabolism in the bloodstream.
May Reduce Inflammation
Multiple research studies have shown that strawberries are a source of anti-inflammatory compounds, which effectively can help fight different forms of inflammation found inside the body.
As mentioned above, strawberries are packed with these potential anti-inflammatory molecules called antioxidants.
Antioxidants are thought to help reduce inflammation inside the body by binding (attaching) to and suppressing (decreasing) inflammation-promoting molecules known as free radicals. [source]
Source of Fiber:
Strawberries also contain a good amount of fiber, which is an essential part of a hamster’s diet as it helps in maintaining their digestive tract and gastrointestinal health.
Can Hamsters Eat Strawberries?
Well after learning about some of the health benefits and some of the risks that the consumption of strawberries 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 strawberry 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 strawberry is enough strawberry for one adult 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 strawberry 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 Strawberries?
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 Strawberries to A Hamster?
You will need to start by using a high-quality, fresh strawberry.
Make sure that you wash it well to remove any dirt, debris, pesticides, etc. from its surface.
Then cut the strawberry into bite-sized pieces so that your hamster can easily eat it.
Remove any uneaten strawberry pieces with 12-24 hours of offering it to your hamster to prevent bugs and food rot.
- 1 fresh store-bought strawberry
- cutting board
- vegetable knife
- You will need to start by using a high-quality, fresh strawberry. Make sure that you wash it well to remove any dirt, debris, pesticides, etc. from its surface.
- Then cut the strawberry into bite-sized pieces so that your hamster can easily eat it.
- Offer the proper amount of strawberry to your hamster according to your hamster's size.
- Remove any uneaten strawberry pieces with 12-24 hours of offering it to your hamster to prevent bugs and food rot.
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 Strawberry Leaves?
There’s no reason your hamster can’t enjoy chewing on strawberry leaves unless they just don’t like strawberries 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 strawberry 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 Strawberry Seeds?
Your hamster should have no problem munching away on a fresh slice of strawberry with the seeds intact.
There is no reason why these small strawberry seeds need to be removed before serving strawberry pieces to your pet hamster.
Can They Have Strawberry Tops?
Hamsters can eat strawberry tops, but they may very well prefer the sweetness of the berry over its top.
The strawberry top has much less sugar than the rest of the berry, which is good for your pet’s health, but not good in respect of flavor.
Can Hamsters Have Strawberry Juice?
Fruit juices typically contain high amounts of sugars as well as other additives in some juices. This added sugar content is not safe or healthy for your pet hamster. Don’t offer your pet strawberry juice.
Can They Eat Dried Strawberries?
Because dried fruits contain a higher amount of sugars, I can not advise you to feed your hamster dried strawberries even if it is for a small snack.
It is unsafe to do!
Can They have Frozen Strawberries?
No, hamsters should not be given frozen strawberries. Frozen fruits such as strawberries are a choking hazard, something that your pet should not be offered.
Can Hamsters Eat Strawberry 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 strawberry varieties.
Are Strawberries 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.
Allergic Reactions to Berries:
A hamster can develop an intolerance or an allergy to any food, so there is always the possibility that your pet is allergic to strawberries.
If you suspect your hamster is allergic to strawberries, do NOT feed this food to your pet.
If your fur baby is allergic to berries and accidentally ingests it, go to your nearest animal emergency room immediately.
When this happens, the attack sets off a hypersensitivity reaction and can result in any of the following symptoms:
Common symptoms of adverse/allergic reaction to foods:
- Itching/Increased grooming
What About Strawberry Juice?
You should not offer your hamster strawberry juice or soda. This is because strawberry 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 strawberry juice for your hamster please!
Alternative Foods For Hamsters:
So weigh the pros and cons of feeding strawberries 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.