The delicious summertime snack known as the strawberry is a staple fruit in many people’s diets. Aside from the great taste, these little berries contain some excellent nutrients such as vitamin B9, vitamin C, potassium manganese, magnesium, iron, and phosphorous. With all of the great benefits that come from strawberries, it makes sense that you may be wondering: Can hamsters eat strawberries?
In short, yes, you can and should feed your hamster strawberries. Strawberries make for a delicious and health snack for hamsters when fed properly. However, if they’re not fed properly, they can cause a few health issues in your hamster that you’ll want to avoid.
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What Do Hamsters Eat In The Wild?
To better understand why strawberries make for a good occasional snack, it helps to understand what the natural diet of a hamster looks like. For thousands of years, hamsters have roamed free throughout Syria, Greece, Romania, Belgium and China, eating roughly the same foods. During this time, their digestive systems and overall bodies have become optimized for effectively processing the food that they most commonly encounter in their lives.
So, because of this, it’s very important that you match your hamster’s diet to the diet of a wild hamster. Their bodies have slowly been molded in a specific way, and you need to play into their dietary needs.
Overall, hamsters are classified as omnivores, but have a diet that quite closely resembles that of an herbivore. This means that hamsters eat a wide variety of foods to get their essential nutrients, and the majority of these foods end up being different forms of plant matter. Nuts, grains, seeds, and the occasional fruit and vegetable make up the bulk of a hamster’s diet.
Hamsters are scavengers, which means that they run around their environment and search for food that they can eat. While the exact food eaten by hamsters varies depending on their region, they all stick to the same food groups. The staple foods of a wild hamster’s diet are grains, seeds, cracked corn, nuts, fruits, vegetables, insects, lizards, and frogs.
Health Benefits & Dangers Of Strawberries
After looking at the diet of a wild hamster, it may seem obvious that strawberries would make for an excellent snack. Sure, strawberries aren’t specifically a part of a hamster’s diet, but they do eat many foods that are similar in nature. This allows hamsters to digest and process strawberries without frequently eating them in the wild.
If you analyze a wild hamster’s diet, you may notice that there aren’t too many foods that have a lot of sugar. Hamsters do eat the occasional fruit or vegetable that contains sugar, but their daily sugar consumption is still very low. Therefore, to match their natural diets, hamsters need to eat foods that don’t contain much sugar at all. Strawberries, unfortunately, do contain good amounts of sugar.
When hamsters have a diet that contains a lot of sugar, there are a few complications that can occur. The most obvious issue that can arise is, of course, weight gain. Yes, a chubby hamster is adorable to look at, but it’s not healthy by any means. Obesity in a hamster can quickly spiral into multiple different health concerns, all of which can easily result in a premature death.
Now, despite the higher sugar content, strawberries still make for a great hamster snack! Hamsters always seem to go crazy for strawberries, loving the unique taste and texture that they don’t get many other places. Additionally, the multitude of nutrients in strawberries will bring some benefit to hamsters. To reap these benefits, though, strawberries must be fed to hamsters in a proper way.
How To Feed Your Hamster Strawberries
Strawberries make for excellent hamster snacks, but the reason why they’re not “perfect” is because of their higher sugar content. Hamsters don’t have diets that are high in sugar, so they can’t eat many foods that contain more than a tiny bit of sugar. So, in order for your hamster to safely enjoy strawberries, you need to be cautious with how much you feed them.
In reference to how much and how frequently you can feed your hamsters, generally 2-3 small strawberry pieces a week is a healthy and safe amount. A “small piece” of strawberry is either a tiny strawberry or the remaining bit of strawberry left on the stem after you’ve eaten it. As you start to get a feeling for your hamster’s eating habits, you’ll be able to better judge how much you can feed them.
If feeding your hamster strawberries seems like a good idea, you need to first ensure that you’re meeting your hamster’s basic dietary requirements. Strawberries may be tasty and nutritious, but they simply can’t be a staple food in a hamster’s diet. Another food must provide hamsters with most of their required nutrients.
For any healthy hamster’s diet, the staple food is simply a high-quality pellet or mixed food. These foods are quite diverse and tasty for hamsters, which keeps them happy with eating the same food virtually every day. Additionally, since they’re formulated for hamsters, they do a great job delivering most of the vitamins and minerals that hamsters need to stay happy and healthy.
Ways Hamsters Can Eat Strawberries
Not only are strawberries great the way that they are, but they can be eaten in several other ways too! Hamsters may be small and seem simple, but they do enjoy having some variety in their diets. Serving your hamsters strawberries that are are prepared in a different way is a great way to add diversity to their daily diet. Below are some of the most popular ways that strawberries are eaten, in addition to whether or not they’re safe for hamsters.
- Fresh strawberries – This is just a standard strawberry, and a what a great snack it makes! These delicious berries can either be purchased at an organic market or grown in your own backyard. Hamsters can eat the stalk, a small piece, or the entire strawberry if it’s tiny. Note that you need to clean out uneaten strawberry from a hamster’s cage or else it will get moldy and cause health problems.
- Dehydrated strawberries – Dehydrated strawberries make for a fantastic snack that hamsters go crazy for! They’re very simply to make as they’re just strawberry pieces that have been through a food dehydrator. The dehydration process removes 90-95% of the water in strawberries, changing their texture and taste. Be cautious with these, though. With the lower water content, dehydrated strawberries have a higher concentration of sugar than standard strawberries. So, these should be fed in smaller amounts.
- Dried strawberries – These are strawberries that have had even more water removed from them than dehydrated strawberries. They’re harder yet still very tasty. These strawberries also have a high sugar concentration, though, so be cautious with your serving sizes.
- Strawberry jam – Strawberry jam is delicious, and there’s no doubt that hamsters would love it, but they can’t have it. Jam is simply too high in sugar and low in nutrients to be good for hamsters. Jams also contain pectin or lemon juice, which are both unhealthy for hamsters. It’s best to stick to just natural strawberries!
Good Strawberry Alternatives For Hamsters
Strawberries are great snacks for hamsters, that much is clear. However, they’re not the best treats that you could be feeding your hamster. There are treats available that contain more essential nutrients while lacking the high sugar content that comes from strawberries. Below are our two favorite hamsters treats that are commercially available.
Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Lovelies Treats
In terms of standard hamster treats, these Lovelies treats are among the most popular and well-liked.
Made with only a handful of natural ingredients, these treats are healthy yet very tasty for hamsters.
Just 2-3 of these treats a week is enough to keep your hamster’s diet interesting and nutritionally-complete.
Brown’s Tropical Carnival Natural Select
Seed blends are an excellent alternative to the standard hamster treat, and this mix does things well.
Featuring several seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower, this mix is very natural and healthy.
Giving your hamster 2-3 seeds per day is a great way to vary their diets and give them nutrient-rich food.