The juicy, sweet, and delicious fruits known as grapes are loved by people all over the world. Not only do they taste great, but grapes are also packed with excellent nutrients. Some of the most prominent vitamins and minerals in grapes are vitamin K, vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamine, manganese, and potassium. With grapes' great taste and health benefits, you may be wondering: Can hamsters eat grapes?
Can I Feed My Hamster Grapes?
Despite the debate about the topic, yes, hamsters can eat grapes as an occasional snack. There are some sources that state that hamsters can't eat grapes, while other sources say that they can. This controversy will be discussed in this post so that you can better decide what's right for your hamster.
What Do Hamsters Eat In The Wild?
First off, to better understand whether grapes are good for hamsters or not, we'll discuss what a wild hamster's diet consists of. Hamsters haven't been kept as pets for a long time. This means that they've been roaming throughout Syria, Belgium, Greece, Romania, and China for thousands of years, eating roughly the same food. During this time, their bodies and digestive systems have fine-tuned themselves to function excellently off of the food that they most commonly come across.
This is what makes it so important for you to match your hamster's diet to their natural eating habits -- their bodies have been optimized to eat certain foods!
Hamsters are classified as being omnivores, but upon looking at their diets, you may notice that they're not far off from herbivores. This means that hamsters are able to get their essential nutrients from wide variety of sources, but most of those sources end up being plants and plant matter. Therefore, a healthy mix of grains, nuts, and the occasional fruit and vegetable makes up a wild hamster's diet.
Hamsters are natural scavengers, meaning that they run around and eat whatever food they can find (within reason). Now, while the exact diet of a hamster varies depending on the region that they live, the same dietary trends are still clearly present. A hamster's diet naturally consists of a mix of fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains, nuts, cracked corn, insects, frogs, and lizards.
Controversy Surrounding Grapes & Hamsters
After looking at the diet of a wild hamster, you may think it's obvious that hamsters should be able to eat grapes. They don't have regular access to grapes specifically, but hamsters eat many other fruits and vegetables that are similar in nature. Despite this, there is a lot of controversy that exists -- controversy that lacks hard scientific evidence on either side.
The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is actually the primary source stating that grapes are toxic to hamsters. They state that rhubarb and grapes are poisonous to rodents and thus must be avoided. Although the RSPCA is a very credible source, there's virtually no evidence or studies backing up that claim. This idea most likely stemmed from the fact that grapes are highly toxic to dogs.
While the exact chemical in grapes that causes kidney failure in dogs hasn't been found yet, it's a well-documented hazard for dogs. However, dogs and hamsters have extremely different digestive systems. Dogs are primarily carnivorous while rodents tend to be mostly herbivorous, so it makes sense why their digestive systems would be quite different. It definitely is safer to conclude that grapes must be toxic for hamsters since they're toxic for dogs, but that doesn't mean that it's true.
Fortunately, hamster owners have been testing the claim that grapes are toxic for years, and their findings look positive. Many owners state that their hamsters love grapes, and they haven't noticed any downsides after many years. Of course, this doesn't mean grapes are good for every hamster, and some hamsters can simply not digest it too well. However, for the most part, hamsters that eat grapes see no downsides.
How To Properly Feed Hamsters Grapes
The main reason why grapes aren't the best snack for hamsters is because of their high sugar content. A wild hamster's diet doesn't show too many foods that are high in sugar. Sure, they may eat the occasional fruit or vegetable that contains sugar, but their overall daily intake is small. So, you can feed your hamster grapes, but it must be done in moderation.
In terms of how much and how frequently to feed your hamster grapes, 2-3 servings a week is generally a healthy amount. A hamster "serving" is right around the size of a small grape. These grapes can either be left whole or cut up. Cutting up the grape is generally more favorable as it's easier to eat and more appealing for hamsters.
If feeding your hamster grapes seems like something that you want to do, you first need to ensure that their specific dietary needs are being met. Grapes do contain a good amount of nutrients, but they definitely can't be a dietary staple for a hamster.
The staple food for any happy and healthy hamster is a high-quality pellet or mixed food. These foods have been crafted with the needs of hamsters in mind, ensuring that they get the majority of their required nutrients. Additionally, they're a great texture for dental health and quite tasty and nice to eat. Once your hamster's needs are being met, then you can work on supplementing their diet with treats such as grapes.
Ways Hamsters Can Eat Grapes
Grapes make for a great little snack, but they don't have to be fed the same way every time! Hamsters are smart little critters that can actually get bored of eating the same food over and over again. Below are some of the most common ways that grapes are consumed, in addition to whether or not they're good for hamsters.
Good Grape Alternatives For Hamsters
Although grapes make for good hamster snacks, there are definitely better snacks out there! Hamsters do gain some benefits from grapes, but those benefits aren't nearly as good as they would be from a dedicated hamster treat. Below are two of the most popular hamster treats that we absolutely love.
Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Lovelies Treats
These Tiny Friends Farm Lovelies are among the most popular and well-received hamster treats available.
Featuring only a handful of natural ingredients, they're relatively healthy yet still tasty for hamsters.
2-3 of these treats a week is a healthy amount that keeps a hamster's diet interesting and complete.
Brown's Tropical Carnival Natural Select
Quality seed mixes are an excellent alternative to the standard hamster treat.
This mix contains a variety of seeds from pumpkin to sunflower, and this closely resembles a natural diet.
2-3 seeds a day makes for a very tasty snack that's also great for a hamster's dental health.