Hamsters are by far one of the most popular pocket pets. Who can resist feeding these cute little friends some sweet treats like juicy watermelon. But wait…. not all foods are safe for hamsters! Can hamsters eat watermelon?
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 Watermelon…
Watermelon is a common type of melon.
Watermelons are a large fruit with a round green exterior rind that is quite thick, and a crisp fruit center that is red and very juicy and watery.
Watermelons come in many different varieties, including seedless watermelons and watermelon with seeds.
The watermelon plant trails along the ground and is in the same family of plant as are cucumbers and squashes.
In the U.S, Watermelons are in season during the warmer months and are a popular fruit and treat in the Summer months.
Just like with any other fruit, watermelon has its nutritional value…. as well as some things to be weary of!
Watermelon contains vitamin C. Remember that hamsters have the need for vitamin C in their diet just like many other animals! We may be onto something here….
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 hammy to have!
Watermelon has a high sugar content as well. Something to take note on and to keep in mind when feeding to hamsters!
It also contains a high percentage of water, which is great when looking to maintain hydration.
Watermelon contains fiber, especially the watermelon rind!
Watermelon provides fiber which helps in constipation and improves gut motility. Too much though, can lead to too much gut motility… and that’s not a good thing either!
Other Vitamins & Minerals:
Watermelon contains other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus, which are all needed for healthy body function.
Can Hamsters Eat Watermelon?
Well after learning about some of the health benefits and some of the risks that the consumption of watermelon 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 watermelon 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 watermelon is enough melon 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 watermelon 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 Watermelon Seeds?
And then there are the seeds, a potential choking hazard in and of itself. Don’t feed watermelon seeds to your hamster.
The seeds of a watermelon 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 watermelon seeds prior to feeding the melon to your hamster.
Do NOT feed your pet watermelon seeds.
- fresh, room temperature watermelon (preferably seedless)
- cutting board
- kitchen knife
- Make sure the watermelon is fresh and at room temperature.
- Cut the melon open and remove the seeds if there are any.
- Cut off the rind and discard it unless you are to feed a small amount of rind in small bite-sized pieces, to your hamster.
- Cut the melon up into small bite-sized pieces of melon.
- Serve it to your hamster while still fresh and juicy!
Contact your veterinarian before changing or adding any food to your pet's diet.
Is Watermelon Harmful to Hamsters?
Yes, it can be.
Remember that too much melon 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 Watermelon Rind?
Another issue is the rind…….
The thick rind needs to be cut away and served in small pieces and small amounts to the pet or it can become a digestive issue for them.
Watermelon rind can be served to your hamster. The whiter flesh of the rind is easier for your pet to chew and ingest than the outermost green, thick and tough rind.
These servings of watermelon rind should be done in moderation, as the watermelon rind contains fiber which, if too much is ingested at one time, can cause diarrhea as well.
What About Watermelon Juice?
You should not offer your hamster watermelon juice. This is because watermelon 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 watermelon juice for your hamster please!
Alternative Foods For Hamsters:
So weigh the pros and cons of feeding watermelon 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.