Safe and Unsafe Food and Plants

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Please remember, all hamsters need a base hamster mix, all fruit, vegetable and plants are treats or supplements to their diet. By no means should a hamster live on a diet of fresh food alone.

Remembering how small hamsters are, how small their stomachs are and that they have the habit of storing their food, all fresh food should be fed in very small quantities once a week. As your hamster becomes used to a diet including fresh food, you can increase it to maybe 2 or 3 portions a week.

Hamsters eyes seem to be bigger than their stomach so if you give them the chance to take more, they will do, but it will get stored in their nest and go mouldy and slimey and can make your hamster ill.

When you buy a hamster, you have to remember that it probably won't ever have had fresh food before, just regular hamster mix. Leave the hamster to settle in for 2 or 3 weeks before offering a small ammount of fresh food and introduce the hamster to the fresh food slowly.

If a hamster does eat too much fresh food, the side effects are mainly diarrhoea, this can look very similar to the disease Wet Tail in Syrian Hamsters and can cause much worry. The diarrhoea is rarely deadly and should be cured simply by reducing the fresh food or cutting it out altogether. Fresh foods can always be reintroduced slowly in smaller amounts.


Safe Fruit, Vegetables, Salad & Herbs

  • Alfalfa
  • Apple (not the seeds)
  • Apricot
  • Asparagus
  • Aubergine (Eggplant)
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Basil
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Blackberry
  • Blueberry
  • Brocolli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Cherries (not the stones)
  • Chestnuts
  • Chicory
  • Coconut
  • Coriander
  • Corn-On-The-Cob
  • Courgettes (Zucchini)
  • Cranberry
  • Cress
  • Cucumber
  • Dates
  • Dill
  • Endive
  • Fennel (the 'leaves' not bulb)
  • Fig
  • Grapes (seedless)
  • Green Beans
  • Hemp (seeds)
  • Kale
  • Kiwi
  • Loganberry
  • Lychee
  • Mange Tout
  • Mango
  • Marrow
  • Melon
  • Mint (the plant)
  • Okra
  • Papaya
  • Parsley
  • Peach (not the stone)
  • Pear (not the seeds)
  • Peas
  • Peppers (red, yellow, green etc)
  • Plum (not the stone)
  • Potato (cooked)
  • Prune
  • Raddish
  • Raspberry
  • Rocket (the plant)
  • Rhubarb (cooked)
  • Runner Beans
  • Sage
  • Spinach
  • Squash (e.g. butternut)
  • Star Fruit
  • Strawberry
  • Sweet Potato (cooked)
  • Swede
  • Sweetcorn
  • Turnip
  • Water Cress
  • Water Melon

Unsafe/Risky Fruit, Vegetables, Salad & Herbs

  • Cayenne
  • Chili
  • Garlic
  • Kidney Beans
  • Leek
  • Onion
  • Potato Leaves
  • Ramson
  • Rhubarb Leaves
  • Spring Onion
  • Tomato Leaves

Safe Plants & Flowers

  • Bramble (blackberry) Leaves
  • Chickweed
  • Clover (red, white and the grass kind)
  • Cornflower
  • Cow Parsley
  • Cress
  • Dandelion Flower
  • Dandelion Leaves
  • Dock Leaves
  • Grass
  • Hawthorn Leaves
  • Plantain
  • Rose (petals)
  • Sweetpeas
  • Trefoil
  • Water Cress

Unsafe Plants & Flowers

  • Acorns
  • Bindweed
  • Bluebells
  • Bulbs (of any sort)
  • Buttercups
  • Clematis
  • Crocus
  • Deadly Nightshade
  • Elder
  • Evergreen Plants (e.g. fir, yew, holly etc)
  • Horse Chestnut (Conkers)
  • Laurel
  • Oak
  • Privet
  • Ragwort
  • Speedwell

Safe Treats For Your Hamsters To Enjoy

Natural Treats are the best treats you can give your hamster! Treat them like your kids, you dont want kids snacking on chocolate bars and sweets all day as it can lead to obesity and teeth problems, it is the same for hamsters.

Remember that these *are* treats though and should be fed in small quantities as some can be rather fattening, such as nuts. Also, nuts make great chew toys if you leave them in the shell or partially crack them so the hamster has an incentive to start chewing it! The only exception is Almonds, this is because the shell of almonds contains traces of Cyanide which is a chemical deadly to humans and hamsters alike.

Popular Safe Treats

  • Almonds (NOT in the shell)
  • Beech Nuts
  • Biscuits (plain such as Rich Tea)
  • Boiled Potato
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Bread
  • Cereals (Non sugary, shreddies, shredded wheat, weetabix etc)
  • Cashew Nuts
  • Chicken (plain & cooked)
  • Cheese
  • Coconut
  • Crickets
  • Currents
  • Dog Biscuits (Bonio, Pedigree Denta Rask, Pedigree Milk Bones)
  • Egg (boiled or scrambled)
  • Fish (cooked)
  • Hazel Nuts
  • Meal Worms (dried or freshly killed as they have powerful jaws and can injure hamsters)
  • Meat - Cooked (pork, beef, gammon, ham etc)
  • Nuts
  • Pecan Nuts
  • Peanuts (monkey nuts)
  • Pistachio Nuts
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Sweet Chestnuts
  • Sultanas
  • Toast
  • Walnuts

Unsafe Treats

  • Sweets (candy, toffee etc)
  • Chocolate
  • Mints

Of course, the temptation to buy treats from a petshop is huge and hard to resist. Just a pointer, these treats are full of sugar and should be used VERY sparingly, however much the hamster loves them!

The one important thing to remember is to not buy treats specifically designed for rabbits. Rabbits can often carry a parasite called Coccidia and so most products manufactured for rabbits contain a drug to combat this parasite. Hamsters dont seem to be able to get coccidia or are very unlikely to come into contact with it and so dont need this drug. This drug will actually make them very sick.

Chocolate Drops

The best chocolate drops are the ones made by Rotastak as they are hamster portion sized! The ones made by Vitakraft need to be broken in half per each portion, if not quarters! The ones made by rotastak are also quarter of the price of those made by Vitakraft!

Chew Sticks

These chew sticks are also full of sugar, the hamster ones have a higher level of sugar than those made for rats or guinea pigs! Avoid ones that actively say they are 'honey' flavoured if possible. Personally I avoid all made for hamsters and use the sticks made for rats and guinea pigs and also a few made for birds. The VitaKraft Kracker Bisquiti seems to be the best range to buy as they have the least sugar, the ones for guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, birds and chinchillas are all suitable.

Another popular type of chew stick is the Vitakraft Popcorn Kracker (the one for guinea pigs NOT the one for rabbits)

A few more of the healthier shop bought treats are:

Vitakraft Raviolos Vitakraft Carrot Slims Vitakraft Cheese Wedges Vitakraft Alfalfa Slims

As you may have heard, a lot of people feed their hamsters certain dog bones and treats to help keep their hamsters teeth short. Fancy giving it a try? Dog treats make great hamster treats too! Their are some types better than others, those that are mainly meat may be too high in protein and is a good idea to avoid, here are the main dog treats and bones that are suitable for hamsters:

  • Pedigree Milk Bones
  • Pedigree DentaRask
  • Pedigree DentaStix
  • Pedigree Markies
  • Pedigree Biscrok
  • Bonio Original
  • Bonio Puppy Milk Biscuits
  • Burns Dog Treats (Kelties)
  • Bakers Allsorts

The main thing to remember is:

Avoid: Sugar (glucose, honey etc), Citrus (lemon, lime, orange) & treats specifically for rabbits.

Article Gemma Pickering aka Moosley

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