Bread is easily one of the most prominent foods in many of our diets. Without bread, we wouldn't have sandwiches, croutons for our salad, or rolls to snack on. It also has healthy amounts of protein, calcium, fiber, iron, and several other essential vitamins and minerals. With the tastiness and health benefits of bread, you may be wondering: Can hamsters eat bread?
Yes, hamsters can eat bread, but it must be fed in moderation. Bread isn't the healthiest snack for hamsters, and some kinds must be avoided altogether. However, properly feeding your hamster small portions of bread can make for a great snack that they'll love!
What Do Hamsters Eat In The Wild?
In order to better understand why bread isn't the best snack for hamsters, it helps to know what hamsters naturally eat in the wild. Due to the fact that humans have only kept hamsters as pets for a short while, they've been roaming free throughout Syria, Romania, Greece, China, and Belgium for thousands of years. During this time, hamsters have been eating roughly the same food. So, their digestive systems have become optimized to efficiently digest the food that they most commonly encounter.
Therefore, it's very important that you try and match your hamster's diet to what they would be eating in the wild -- their bodies are optimized for that!
Hamsters are technically classified as omnivores, but once you look at their diet, it appears that they eat very similarly to a herbivore. So, hamsters are able to get all of their essential nutrients from a wide variety of food, but the majority of that foods actually ends up being plant matter. A healthy mix of seeds, grains, and the occasion fruit and vegetable keeps hamsters happy and healthy.
Wild hamsters scavenge for their food, so they eat really whatever they can find around themselves! While the specific diet of a wild hamster varies depending on their exact location in the world, they all stick to the same general food groups. The most prominent foods in a hamster's diet are seeds, nuts, grains, fruits, vegetables, cracked corn, insects, lizards, and frogs.
Health Benefits Of Brown Bread
After looking at the diet of a wild hamster, it's clear why bread isn't the most incredible snack for them. Sure, they do eat a few grains, but nothing to the extent of bread. So, hamsters can definitely benefit from the occasional bread snack, but any more than that should be avoided.
Brown bread, or whole-grain bread, has been eaten for thousands upon thousands of years. Whole grain kernels are made up of three parts, and those are the bran, endosperm, and germ. All three of these components contain different nutrients that are extremely beneficial for most living creatures, including hamsters.
Aside from just being a nutritious component of any creature's diet, whole grains have quite a few health benefits. They help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and diabetes, in addition to helping prevent cancer. While these are all benefits found in humans, and while there hasn't been a lot of research done on their effects in hamsters, it's safe to assume some of those benefits carry over.
Whole grain bread is also just irresistible for hamsters! Many of these breads even contain seeds within them, which makes them similar to the natural diet of a hamster. This bread can be prepared in several different ways to keep things interesting, such as toasting it or soaking it in milk for young hamsters.
Dangers Of White Bread For Hamsters
While whole grain bread is quite healthy for hamsters to have on occasion, white bread is something that needs to be avoided completely. While it is quite tasty, it's tasty for a reason. That reason is that white bread is largely loaded up with sugar -- something that hamsters can't have a lot of.
If you look at the natural diet of a hamster, you'll notice that they don't eat many foods that are high in sugar. Sure, they consume a few fruits and vegetables that have sugar, but their overall daily intake of sugar is quite low. Because of this, their bodies simply can't handle excess amounts of sugar -- something that white bread would absolutely deliver in a standard serving.
White bread is also lacking in many health benefits. Some nutritional value is present, but it's nowhere near what whole grain bread or dedicated hamster food provides. Therefore, if you're feeding your hamster white bread, you're basically giving them empty calories that they're not going to benefit from.
High sugar consumption can result in obesity in hamsters, and while a plump hamster is cute, it's not healthy. Obesity in hamsters can easily result in serious complications if not death. So, it's a much better idea to feed your hamster something healthier as a snack.
How To Properly Feed Your Hamster Bread
It's clear that white bread shouldn't be fed to hamsters on any occasion, but whole grain bread can be fed occasionally. However, no matter how healthy whole grain bread is, it shouldn't make up the majority of a hamster's diet by any means.
When feeding a hamster whole grain bread, it needs to be done occasionally and in small amounts. A piece a bit smaller than a hamster's head given to them 2-3 times a week is generally a safe amount that still helps to keep things interesting. If a bread has any trace amounts of sugar, it should be fed in even smaller amounts, so be sure to check the ingredients.
If feeding your hamster bread still seems like a good idea, you first need to make sure that they're having their dietary needs met. Bread is quite healthy, but it's nowhere near as healthy as a dedicated hamster food. Therefore, it should never be used as a staple for a hamster's diet.
The staple food of every single hamster's diet should be a high-quality pellet or mixed food. These foods take the dietary requirements of hamsters into mind and do a great job delivering the nutrients that they need. Not only are they great nutritionally, but they're also very tasty for hamsters and do a great job keeping their teeth healthy.
Good Bread Alternatives For Hamsters
Bread can be a good snack for hamsters if fed properly, but even whole grain bread isn't fantastic for hamsters. It can be a tasty snack that does deliver some good nutrients, but there are better options available. Some dedicated hamster snacks are generally better for digestion and contain more nutrients that hamsters can actually utilize. Below are two of our favorite hamster treats.
Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Lovelies Treats
Tiny Friends Farm treats are among the most popular treats for hamsters, and it's clear why that is.
These treats are made from only a handful of high-quality, natural ingredients that hamsters love.
Just 2-3 of these treats a week is enough to keep a hamster's diet interesting and nutritionally complete.
Brown's Tropical Carnival Natural Select
Seed mixes are another popular choice for hamster treats, and this mixture is an excellent choice.
Featuring pumpkin, sunflower, squash, and a few other seeds, this mix matches a hamster's natural diet.
2-3 seeds per day is a way to keep a hamster satisfied and their teeth in great shape.