The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Owning a hamster is something that many, many people can get enjoyment out of. Hamsters are small little animals that can often fit in the palm of your hand, depending on the type of hamster you get.
They are different from the usual cat or dog that people own, which makes it important for you to make sure that you do the right amount of research on hamster care before you adopt one.
Hamsters, while easy to care for, are delicate little creatures that are sensitive to the world around them, meaning that doing something wrong could potentially harm your furry little friend.
One of the most important parts of hamster care that you are going to need to pay attention to is going to be caring for your hamster’s dietary needs.
Hamsters are pretty straightforward in terms of what their usual diets should be, but this doesn’t stop people from wanting to give their little pets some treats every so often, and sometimes, those treats can be table scraps or vegetables.
However, not all vegetables can be digested by a hamster. Some vegetables are too harsh on your hamster’s gut or they are not something a wild hamster would normally grow up with, meaning that it does not have the gut flora to be able to digest the food properly.
As an example, you might begin to wonder if hamsters can eat brussels sprouts without an issue, since these are fairly common vegetables that could be leftover on the table. When all is said and done, brussels sprouts are safe for hamsters to eat.
Bringing New Foods to Your Hamster’s Table
It’s always fun to introduce a new food to a pet, especially when it is a treat. It is important to keep in mind that, especially in hamsters, each animal has its preferences as to what it likes or dislikes.
This means that if you have multiple hamsters, some hamsters might appreciate brussels sprouts, while others leave them to rot in the enclosure. Even if your hamster doesn’t seem to appreciate the brussels sprouts, you don’t have to worry because they are a safe vegetable that you can feed your little hamster friends.
What you will need to keep in mind is that they should be a treat and nothing more than that. Brussels sprouts, while tasty to most hamsters, are not a food that is sustainable enough for it to become a staple food and there should never be an opportunity when your hamster relies on the sprouts as their main source of food.
Brussels sprouts, in your hamster’s diet, serve the purpose of being purely a nutritional supplement and should not have a more prominent role in your hamster’s day than that. They are there to not only be a treat for your hamster, but to also be a resource to the nutrients and vitamins that your hamster needs to live the best life that it can.
You shouldn’t feed more than a little bit of brussels sprouts to your hamster every other day or so, to ensure that this food remains much closer to a “treat” or “supplement” status rather than being something that your hamster begins to forsake its pellet feed for.
Remember that hamsters are often pretty small, so a small amount of brussels sprouts to a hamster is even less than it would be if you were serving it for yourself.
When feeding your hamster a new treat, you will either want to include it in your hand when you are spending some quality time with it, as a form of social bonding, or you can leave it on their food as a topper feed.
Keep in mind that if your hamster ends up having no interest in the brussels sprout, you should remove it from the cage so it does not begin to rot and cause problems that way.
Feeding Your Hamster Brussels Sprouts
While you are looking at what treats your hamster can enjoy, you might begin to wonder exactly what good brussels sprouts can do for your hamster if they are meant to be purely a supplemental food.
The truth is that they can offer your hamster quite a bit in terms of nutrients, which is why it is considered one of the best kinds of vegetable treats that you can offer your hamster.
Brussels sprouts have a good amount of the nutrients and vitamins that hamsters already need in their usual diet, meaning that it is almost akin to feeding your little hamster a multivitamin in terms of what it gets out of it. However, brussels sprouts can offer even more than just vitamins and nutrients.
Brussels sprouts carry a fair amount of water in them, and by nature, hamsters will naturally absorb the water that they ingest from their greens, making it a wonderfully hydrating snack for your hamster as well.
Like with people, there are very few ways that hamsters can over-hydrate themselves, so adding what foods you can to help it stay hydrated is one of the many ways that you can keep your hamster at the peak of its health.
In addition to this, brussels sprouts (when kept and fed to the hamster raw) are somewhat crunchy. This crunch is not just a matter of taste and texture for your hamster, but it is actually incredibly important for its overall health.
As a rodent, hamsters need to constantly chew and gnaw their teeth down so that they do not end up overgrowing and interfering with the hamster’s daily life.
While it may not seem like much, especially to people, the crunch of brussels sprouts can actually end up making this kind of difference for your hamster’s comfort, giving you all the more reason to feed it “crunchy” vegetables such as raw brussels sprouts.
Speaking of the raw brussels sprouts, you should always make sure to feed the hamster raw brussels sprouts. Boiling brussels sprouts will not necessarily do anything harmful to them, but they will not benefit your hamster either.
In fact, boiled brussels sprouts do not have as much hydration and nutrients in them as raw ones do, and they lack the crunch that many hamsters seem to appreciate.
You can still feed your hamster cooked brussels sprouts though, assuming they are not cooked with any other vegetables, seasoning, or anything in this vein, it just won’t be as good for the hamster as it could have been if you had fed it raw.
In general, as long as you keep the brussels sprouts to being just raw sprouts every couple of days, your hamster will not only be adorable when it is eating it, but will also be even healthier than it otherwise would.
To make sure that your hamster remains in peak health, you should also be caught up on what hamsters can and cannot eat.
A Hamster’s Ideal Diet
For the most part, a hamster’s diet should consist mostly of its pellet feed. Commercial hamster feed is designed to take care of a hamster’s base needs, ensuring that it is fully healthy and happy on the feed alone, although many people recommend making sure that you include other foods along with it for a more balanced and beneficial diet.
Besides your hamster’s feed and pellets, you should include an occasional supply of fruits and vegetables on an every other day basis so you are not overwhelming your hamster’s digestive system but you are making sure that it gets the ingredients that it needs. With that being said, there are some foods that are better for your hamster than others.
For vegetables, you should stick with dark leafy greens, not limited to just brussels sprouts. This can include carrots (and carrot greens), cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, and so on, with the crunchier the vegetable the better, and with most of these being fed raw to preserve the crunchiness that your hamster can benefit from.
For fruits, you should consider feeding small amounts of apple, pear, or peach to your hamster. Many fruits are either too acidic or too sweet for most hamsters to digest healthily, even if they are fed in small quantities.
Be mindful that when you are feeding your hamster some apples that you take out the seeds. As many people know, apple seeds contain a small amount of naturally occurring cyanide, and while the amount may not affect humans, it may be enough to hurt a creature as small as a hamster.
Your hamster can also enjoy a variety of herbs, even ones freshly picked from right outside the house. These herbs include basil, sage, parsley, and coriander, and are often best given to your hamster when they are fresh.
Be mindful that you know where your herbs come from and that you are certain they have not been sprayed with pesticides or insecticides, as the small amount that still remains on the plant may affect your hamster’s health.
This is one of the many, many reasons why you should always wash the produce that you are planning to feed your small animal so that you can protect its health.
This also applies to fruits and vegetables, though not as much as it does with herbs. With most fruits and vegetables, there is less harsh chemicals used on them to deter pests, making them a bit better for your hamster to serve fresh from the store, but it is always going to be best for you to wash them thoroughly to remove dirt and pathogens that may have attached themselves to the foods.
Hamsters should never be given citrus fruits, as these are far too acidic for a hamster’s digestive system. Hamsters have not evolved to be able to safely eat fruit with such a concentrated acidity level as citrus fruits do, meaning that they can cause serious harm to your hamster’s health, especially if they get to eat it on a regular basis.
You should never feed your hamster anything more acidic than an apple, which excludes all citrus fruits, grapes, strawberries, cherries, and many other berries. Be truly mindful of what you feed your little hamster, as even the smallest amount of something wrong can hurt such a small little animal.
Helping Your Hamster’s Diet
While the next list of items you should include in your hamster’s home may not be exclusive to food, they are just as important to your hamster’s livelihood as food.
Hamsters are rodents, so it is imperative that they have something that they can chew and gnaw on to keep their teeth at a manageable level, making it just as crucial as getting enough food in the day.
Some popular items that can help your hamster that also fall into the category of food include apples, pears, and several kinds of nuts as these all have somewhat hard surfaces your hamster can enjoy chewing on, and will often give way to tasty treats after the tough skin, such as with apples. The nuts that hamsters can safely eat include hazelnut.
A great and natural way to help your hamster out is to offer it some wood. Be careful as to where you get your wood from and make sure it is sourced from a location that cleans the wood and does not expose the wood to any chemicals that could be harmful to your hamster friend.
In these cases, it is often best to purchase the wood from a pet store rather than going outside to grab some from the yard, as you may never know what has touched the wood outside or made its home in the wood.
Some types of wood that you can include are elm, dogwood, hawthorn, poplar, and quince. These all make wonderful and viable chewing and gnawing options for your hamster and will make for an excellent burrowing environment.
You can also use items that you found around the house to help you out with this. The best examples of household material that can be beneficial for a hamster’s health and teeth include cardboard, paper, and the tubes that remain after you finish a roll of toilet paper.
These are just some of the easy ways you can keep your hamster happy.