While broccoli is a vegetable that an equal amount of people hate and love, there’s no denying its health benefits. Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamins K and C, folate, potassium, and fiber. There are also a few different ways that broccoli can be prepared, making it a diverse and tasty food. So, with all of the benefits that come from broccoli, you may be wondering: Can hamsters eat broccoli?
In short, yes, you can feed your hamster broccoli as an occasional tasty snack. Hamsters love the taste of broccoli and can definitely gain some benefits from eating it. However, it is a vegetable that much be eaten in moderation in order to keep your hamster happy and healthy.
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What Do Hamsters Eat In The Wild?
To better understand why broccoli makes for a good snack, it helps to know what hamsters eat in the wild. Hamsters have only been kept as pets for a short while, so that means for thousands of years hamsters have roamed free throughout Syria, Greece, Romania, Belgium and China. During this time, they’ve eaten roughly the same foods, and their digestive systems have become optimized for digesting and processing those foods that they commonly encounter.
This is why it’s important to match your hamster’s diet to the diet of a wild hamster — their bodies are optimized for certain foods!
Hamsters are omnivores, but they actually end up eating a diet that could almost be confused with that of your standard herbivore. This means that hamsters can and do eat a wide variety of different foods to get their essential nutrients, with most of those foods consisting of plant matter. Therefore, nuts, grains, seeds, and the occasional fruit and vegetable makes up the bulk of a wild hamster’s diet.
Hamsters scavenge around for their food, eating basically anything that they can find. The specific food that they eat does vary depending on a hamster’s location and the time of year. However, all hamsters eat the same general foods, regardless of where they’re located. Some of the most common foods in a hamster’s diet are seeds, grains, nuts, cracked corn, fruits, vegetables, insects, frogs, and lizards.
Health Benefits & Dangers Of Broccoli
After looking at the diet of a wild hamster, it may seem obvious that they would be able to eat broccoli and benefit greatly from it. Hamsters may not have specific access to broccoli in the wild, but they do frequently eat other fruits and vegetables that are similar in nature. While this is mostly true, there is one caveat that hamster owners need to be made aware of and adjust for accordingly.
Analyzing the diet of a wild hamster, you may notice that there are not a lot of foods in it that are high in water. Sure, they do eat the occasional fruit or vegetable that contains a good amount of water, but their overall daily intake is quite low. In fact, the smallest hamsters drink 10 milliliters of water a day, while the largest only take in 20 milliliters. Therefore, their bodies aren’t equipped to handle a diet that contains a lot of water. Unfortunately, broccoli has a high water content, consisting of 89% water.
When a hamster consumes a lot of water, there’s a few complications that can occur. Excess water can actually dilute the sodium and electrolytes within your hamster, robbing hamsters of some essential nutrients and resulting in hyponatremia. A few major issues can arise from this, including bladder problems, gastritis, and kidney and liver infections. Additionally, too much water almost always results in diarrhea, which ironically results in dehydration.
Although there are downsides from excess broccoli consumption, it can still make for an excellent snack when fed properly. This food is packed with nutrients that hamsters can benefit from, even if they’re only eating a small amount at a time. Additionally, the taste and texture of broccoli is quite unique, and it’s something that hamsters seem to love. So, when fed properly, broccoli should only be a healthy snack without any of the downsides.
How To Properly Feed Your Hamster Broccoli
The reason that broccoli isn’t the best food for hamsters is because it’s quite high in water. Excess water consumption results in a few problems that can potentially lead to an early death. Therefore, if you want to feed your hamster broccoli, you need to do so in an appropriate and responsible way.
As far as how much broccoli hamsters can eat, a piece about the size of their head given 2-3 times per week is generally a healthy amount. Of course, this amount can differ based on the size of your hamster and the other aspects of their diet, but this is a good baseline to go off of. It’s up to you to know your hamster’s nutritional requirements and make sure that they’re being met.
If broccoli seems like a snack that you want to integrate into your hamster’s diet, you first need to make sure that their dietary needs are being met. Yes, broccoli is a healthy and delicious snack, but it can’t be anything more than that. It’s a vegetable that’s simply too high in water and not dense enough with nutrients. Therefore, your hamster needs to get their essential nutrients from other foods.
Every single hamster needs a high-quality pellet or mixed food as their primary food. These pellets and mixes are crafted specifically for hamsters, doing an excellent job providing essential nutrients. In addition to being very nutritious, these foods are delicious for hamsters, quite diverse in taste, and help to ensure good dental health.
Ways Hamsters Can Eat Broccoli
Broccoli is a great snack for hamsters in its raw form, but it can also be eaten in a few different ways! Hamsters may be small creatures, but they’re still able to know whether or not they’re enjoying what they’re eating. Serving broccoli in different ways is a great way to keep your hamster’s diet unique and interesting. Below are some of the most common ways that broccoli is served.
- Raw broccoli – This is a very common way that broccoli is eaten, and super easy to serve! Raw broccoli is the most nutritious way that broccoli can be eaten, and it can either be grown in your own backyard or purchased from an organic market. Hamsters are able to eat 2-3 small pieces of raw broccoli a week. Just be sure that you remove any uneaten broccoli from your hamster’s cage, as it can start to go bad.
- Steamed broccoli – Steamed broccoli is an extremely easy way to prepare broccoli, but it’s still great for hamsters. The only difference here is that the broccoli is much softer, which can be a nice texture change for your hamster. Be aware that this kind of broccoli may contain more water than raw broccoli, though, so you’ll need to adjust serving sizes accordingly.
- Dehydrated broccoli – This is an interesting way to prepare broccoli, but hamsters seem to love it. You can create dehydrated broccoli by placing small pieces of broccoli into a food dehydrator. Doing so creates small, tough pieces of broccoli that hamsters love. This also removes most of the water from broccoli, making it safer to eat in slightly higher quantities.
- Roasted broccoli – Roasted broccoli is made by placing pieces of broccoli on a baking sheet and placing them in a 450°F oven for about 20 minutes. This creates crispy pieces of broccoli that also come with a unique texture. Although olive oil and seasonings are added to roasted broccoli that’s intended for human consumption, don’t add these things. If you opt to feed your hamster broccoli, there can be no additives to it.
Good Broccoli Alternatives For Hamsters
While broccoli is a great hamster snack, it isn’t the only thing that you can be feeding your hamster. Whether you want to further diversify your hamster’s diet or just avoid broccoli altogether, there are some great alternative treats available on the market. Below are two of our favorite hamster treats that are both tasty and nutritious.
Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Lovelies Treats
These Lovelies treats are some of the most popular and well-received hamster treats available.
They’re made from a handful of natural ingredients that come together to form a tasty little treat.
Just 2-3 of these treats a week is enough to keep your hamster’s diet more well-rounded and interesting.
Brown’s Tropical Carnival Natural Select
An alternative to the standard hamster treat is a quality seed mixture, and this is one of the best mixes.
There are a few quality seeds in this mix, such as pumpkin and sunflower, that mimic a hamster’s diet.
2-3 seeds per day is an excellent way to round out your hamster’s diet and promote good dental health.