Blueberries are an excellent snack year-round, especially in the summer months. Aside from tasting delicious, these little berries are also packed with nutrients such as fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin B6, in addition to being a great antioxidant. With all of the health benefits that come from blueberries, you may very well be wondering: Can hamsters eat blueberries?
In short, yes, you can and should feed your hamster blueberries as an occasional snack. Hamsters tend to love the taste of blueberries, and they can definitely benefit from having one every once in a while. However, there are a few caveats when it comes to feeding hamsters and guidelines you must follow.
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What Do Hamsters Eat In The Wild?
In order to understand what your hamster should be eating, it helps to know what they eat naturally in the wild. For thousands of years, hamsters have roamed free throughout Syria, China, Romania, Greece, and Belgium. During this time, these hamsters have eaten roughly the same foods, and their digestive systems have become fine-tuned for digesting those specific foods.
Because of this, it’s very important that you closely match your hamster’s diet to the diet of a wild hamster. Their bodies are designed to eat certain foods, so matching that diet will help them digest their food better and get much more value out of what they’re eating.
Hamsters are omnivorous animals, but they have a diet that very closely resembles that of your everyday herbivore. This means that hamsters eat a wide variety of different foods to get their essential nutrients, with most of those foods being a type of plant matter. So, you’ll frequently see a wild hamster eating a diet that primarily consists of a mixture of grains, nuts, seeds, and the occasional fruit and vegetable.
Because they’re scavengers, hamsters run around and eat basically any food that they can find. Of course, the specific food that they eat depends on the current season and geographic location of the hamster, but they all stick to the same general food groups. The primary, staple foods of a wild hamster’s diet are grains, seeds, nuts, cracked corn, fruits, vegetables, insects, frogs, and lizards.
Health Benefits & Dangers Of Blueberries
Upon analyzing the diet of a wild hamster, it may seem obvious that they can definitely eat blueberries and benefit from it. While they don’t have access to blueberries specifically, wild hamsters do eat a variety of fruits and vegetables that are similar in nature. This is a correct observation, but precautions must be taken to ensure your hamster’s good health.
One characteristic that you may notice about a wild hamster’s diet is that it’s quite low in sugar. Yes, a hamster will eat a couple fruits and vegetables per day that contain sugar, but their daily intake is quite low. So, if you want to match your hamster’s diet to a natural diet, they can’t eat many foods that have a higher sugar content. Unfortunately, blueberries are fruits that are packed with nutrients but also high in sugar.
When hamsters have a diet that’s too high in sugar, a few complications can occur. The most common and obvious complication is excessive weight gain. While a chubby hamster may be absolutely adorable, it’s something that you’ll absolutely want to avoid. Obesity in hamsters can lead to other health problems, all of which can result in a premature death. It can also cause quite a few issues with their digestive system, resulting in diarrhea that can cause dehydration and general distress.
Despite those downsides, blueberries are one of the best snacks that you can feed your hamster. These berries are absolutely packed with nutrients — more so than most other fruits and vegetables. So, when fed properly and not in excess, blueberries can provide your hamster with excellent nutrients that they’re sure to benefit from.
How To Feed Your Hamster Blueberries
Although blueberries are extremely healthy, they aren’t the best snacks for hamsters because of their higher sugar content and their slight acidity. Hamsters don’t naturally have a diet that contains a lot of sugary or acidic foods, so you shouldn’t give them a lot of food like that. Therefore, in order for your hamster to fully enjoy the blueberries you give them, you need to be conservative with your feedings.
As far as serving sizes go, a small hamster can eat 1 small blueberry 2-3 times per week, while a large hamster can eat 2 small blueberries 2-3 times per week. Of course, these serving sizes can be smaller or larger depending on what else you’re feeding your hamster, but these are generally safe amounts. Just keep in mind that snacks such as blueberries should only make up about 20% of a hamster’s diet.
If you do want to start feeding your hamster blueberries, you need to ensure that you’re helping them meet their nutritional needs through other foods. Blueberries are definitely nutritious, but they shouldn’t be a staple food in your hamster’s diet. Excess consumption of blueberries can cause quite a few problems, so hamsters need to get the bulk of their nutrients through other sources.
It’s highly recommended that every single hamster is given a high-quality pellet or mixed food as their staple food. These pellets and mixes are crafted specifically for hamsters, meaning that they give hamsters the nutrients that they need without many fillers. Additionally, they taste great and are fantastic for dental health. Once your hamster’s dietary needs are being met through one of these foods (for the most part), you can then focus on supplementing their diet with snacks.
Ways Hamsters Can Eat Blueberries
Blueberries are great snacks because they’re not only nice to eat as they are, but they can also be eaten in several different ways! Hamsters are small creatures, but they know when they’re getting tired of eating a certain food. Providing your hamster with the same fruits but served in different ways is a great way to diversify their diet and keep things interesting.
- Fresh blueberries – This is a standard blueberry, and it’s one of the best snacks that you can give your hamsters! These berries can either be purchased from an organic market or grown in your own backyard. A small blueberry makes for an excellent snack that you can easily give your hamster, and they’ll absolutely love it. Make sure that you clean up any uneaten scraps, though, as they can start to rot and cause health problems.
- Dehydrated blueberries – These are just blueberries that have had around 90-95% of water removed from them. Although it’s a small change that can be done with a standard food dehydrator, it makes quite a difference. Hamsters will love the different texture and slightly different flavor. One thing to note, though, is that these must be fed less frequently than fresh blueberries. With the lower water content, the sugar concentration is much higher, so you need to factor that into your feeding schedule.
- Dried blueberries – Dried blueberries are blueberries that have had even more water removed from them. At this point, they get more compact but are still very tasty. Once again, the sugar concentration of these is higher than in fresh berries, so feed these less frequently.
- Blueberry jam – While blueberry jam can be very tasty, and hamsters would absolutely love it, it should never be fed to them. Jam simply contains way too much sugar and not enough nutrients to be a safe food for hamsters. Jams also contain either pectin or lemon juice, and both of these are unhealthy for hamsters. Therefore, it’s best to stick to your standard blueberry!
Good Blueberry Alternatives For Hamsters
Blueberries are among some of the best snacks for hamsters — that much is obvious. However, there are some downsides to them, so they aren’t the best. There are some specialty hamster treats that are made that are focused around being easy to digest and very nutritious. So, if you’d rather not feed your hamster blueberries, one of the treats highlighted below could be a good choice for you.
Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Lovelies Treats
Standard hamsters treats are excellent when done right, and these Lovelies treats are done right.
They’re made with only a handful of natural ingredients that hamsters love and benefit from.
Just 2-3 of these treats a week is enough to help keep a hamster satisfied and their diet well-rounded.
Brown’s Tropical Carnival Natural Select
Seed mixes are a great alternative to the standard hamster treat, and this seed mix is one of the best.
Featuring a few quality seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower, this mix mimics a hamster’s natural diet.
2-3 seeds a day makes for a great snack that hamsters will go crazy for.