Do you need guidelines to properly feed your hamster? We will first remind you of what the hamster’s natural diet is, and then give you a list of about twenty foods that should not be given to your companion because they are toxic and dangerous for him.
How does a hamster feed in the wild?
The diet of an animal is defined according to its metabolism, the result of adaptation over several thousand years to its environment.
Most free-living hamsters in the wild are found in desert areas where temperatures vary widely and rapidly, between the extreme heat of the day and the freezing cold of the night. To survive, they have developed a thick coat, the ability to dig galleries, where the ambient air is of an almost constant temperature, and the ability to build up food reserves. Domestic hamsters are the heirs of these wild hamsters and retain their instinctive behaviors.
Wild hamsters are first and foremost granivorous. But they are able to adapt their diet to what they find in their environment, thus expanding the range of foods they can eat. They readily turn to fruits, vegetables, stems, leaves or roots. A hamster feeds throughout the day and night, breaking up its food intake into many small meals.
The ability to build up reserves may represent a danger for the animal in captivity. The wild animal stores a chosen food while in captivity the hamster stores whatever is provided to it, regardless of the fact that fresh food can rot. We must therefore be vigilant and visit the reserves regularly to eliminate uneaten fresh food.
The food of the domestic hamster
Industrial foods suitable for hamsters are practical and meet the hamster’s needs, provided they are of good quality and balanced. Make sure they contain 2-8% fiber, 15-17% protein and no more than 4% fat. If the proteins are lacking, it is possible to regularly give the hamster hard-boiled egg (never raw), very small pieces of plain cooked meat (never give raw meat, cold meats and too fatty meats such as pork ) or mealworms.
Milk and other dairy products cause diarrhea in this animal. The hamster should not eat cakes, whether sweet or savory, even made with ingredients from organic farming, because they correspond to a diet too rich in sugar and fat for what his body can. support. If you want to give it a little reward, choose a raisin, a hazelnut or a piece of walnut.
In addition to the pellets, the hamster can eat carrots, cucumber, broccoli, endives, strawberries, apples, pears, bananas… These are just a few examples. The list is long. Conversely, are there any foods that would be toxic or dangerous for the hamster? Yes, you cannot feed your hamster just any plant. But it is difficult to see clearly to identify what is dangerous for the hamster because what is tolerated by our organism may not be tolerated by that of this small animal. To help you, we present a list of foods that can be toxic to the hamster.
The seeds and stones of certain fruits
The seeds of apples and pears, the kernel of apricots, cherries, peaches and plums contain amygdalin, a substance which, when ingested, breaks down and turns into hydrogen cyanide, which can be lethal from a certain amount.
The entire citrus family should be banned from the hamster’s diet: lemons, oranges, grapefruits are characterized by an acidity which can be particularly aggressive for its digestive system and cause severe disorders in the hamster.
Garlic, onion, leek and all the cabbage
Garlic contains thiosulfate which can cause anemia in hamsters.
Onions, leeks and all plants of the allium genus such as cabbages are made up of methiine, a sulfur compound capable of destroying red blood cells involved in particular in the transport of oxygen in the blood.
Potato and eggplant
Raw potatoes contain solanine. Sprouted, green or damaged potatoes contain even more. It is a very toxic alkaloid for many animals, which causes digestive disorders in them but also nervous disorders.
Eggplant also contains a lot of solanine and should be avoided for the same reasons.
Radishes and some salads
The radish contains, like onion, methiine.
Some salads, such as lettuce and curly leaves, should also not be fed to hamsters as they contain a lot of nitrogen and nitrite.
Rhubarb and almonds
Rhubarb and almonds contain oxalic acid which reacts in the body with calcium to form kidney stones. Also, too much oxalic acid intake can cause more serious kidney disease.
Chestnuts and macadamia nuts
Chestnuts can cause neurological conditions leading to epileptic seizures. Macadamia nuts are known to be toxic, although we don’t really know why. No particular molecule has yet been identified.
Theobromine is a molecule contained in cocoa which damages the hamster’s cardiovascular, nervous and renal system.
This list of foods to be excluded from a hamster’s diet is not intended to be exhaustive.
In general, you should aim for a balanced diet for your hamster. If you want to diversify, don’t overdo it and don’t try to be too original. Your hamster will have a completely balanced diet with a palette of 10 fresh fruits and vegetables that you can be sure of.