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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Just about everyone loves to be able to give their pets treats. Out of all the treats that you can give your pet, you may be more concerned about giving small animals any sort of food that is out of their usual range of what they eat. After all, when you are working with an animal that is as small as a hamster, even a tiny bite of something toxic to it can be lethal.
Because of this, there is always going to be some degree of risk when you feed your precious hamster something new. Thankfully, with a bit of research on a hamster’s natural diet, you can feel comfortable knowing what kinds of foods are going to be good for it.
When you have a good idea of what your little hamster can safely eat, you will have a good sense of what fruits and vegetables you can give to it as a treat.
A Hamster’s Ideal Diet
Before you plan on giving your little hamster a treat, you may want to do some research on what a hamster’s natural diet is supposed to be. Of course, any pet hamster is going to have a slightly different diet than a wild hamster would, but it can still be helpful to learn what the wild counterpart would eat if it had the chance to do so. Learning this can give you a good idea of what you can and cannot give your hamster as a treat.
Out in the wild, hamsters are naturally omnivores. This means that they will eat equal parts of plant matter and animal matter, being able to properly digest both components to absorb all of the nutrients that it needs. Hamsters will eat wild-grown fruits and vegetables that it comes across to take care of its need for vegetation, and they will usually eat bugs and mealworms to take care of its need for animal-based proteins.
Because hamsters are entirely prey animals, they cannot hunt down and consume most other animals that one would typically think of, such as rats, mice, and other hamsters, although they may kill them out of defense. Instead, hamsters are more inclined to dig in the ground for mealworms, consume other insects, and will go after frogs and lizards that are nearby the habitat.
With this being said, a hamster that lives in a cage in your home is probably going to end up getting the occasional fly for its meat. Most hamsters get their animal-based proteins and nutrients from their food pellets, with more variety being focused around the hamster’s fruit and vegetable choices. Your captive hamster’s diet should, at minimum, contain 16% protein and 5% fat.
With as much variety as there are with fruits and vegetables, you might find yourself wondering if you would be able to feed your hamster some cauliflower. Hamsters, being able to eat a number of different vegetables, will generally be more than happy to eat some raw, uncooked cauliflower. The question then becomes a matter of whether or not it is safe, and if it is, how much can your hamster have.
Can a Hamster Eat Cauliflower?
In short, hamsters can absolutely eat cauliflower. Much like with broccoli, they tend to enjoy the florets more than anything else, but if your hamster has been craving something new or different to chew on so that it can wear its teeth down, the stem of a cauliflower can actually do the job quite well. Hamsters will almost always appreciate the raw and unaltered version of cauliflower more than a dried or steamed variant.
When it comes to giving your hamster some cauliflower, there is a choice that you will need to weigh and decide. You should always, always make sure to wash the cauliflower before you serve it to anyone, but depending on where you got it from, you may feel more comfortable cooking the cauliflower lightly to make doubly sure that anything that may have been on it is cooked away.
At the same time, hamsters are generally not as much of a fan of the texture and taste of a cooked cauliflower, which means that they may not be inclined to eat this well-meaning treat that you have left for them.
If you are working with the cauliflower and you know that it came from a location that is free of any sort of pests and parasites, then you can probably safely feed your little hamster a piece of the cauliflower to eat.
If you aren’t entirely sure about the cleanliness of the cauliflower, you may want to give it a thorough wash and inspection before deciding whether or not to feed it raw to your hamster. If you really feel unsure about how you should feed the cauliflower to your hamster, you can consider steaming it.
When cooking the cauliflower, it is imperative that you do not add anything to it. Hamsters are very small and they cannot handle most of the seasonings that people use to flavor their own foods. You should not use any seasonings, oil, butter, or any other additions to the cauliflower when you are cooking it. You should simply let it steam plainly so that you are only feeding your hamster a piece of cauliflower that has been cooked and cleansed of any potential bugs that may have been living in it.
While it might sound disgusting to steam a completely plain piece of cauliflower, you need to remember that this cauliflower isn’t for you, or someone who has the expectations that a person would. You are feeding it to your hamster, who would normally eat the cauliflower completely raw.
Speaking of eating the cauliflower raw, you may also want to know whether or not your little rodent friend can eat the leaves that come with the cauliflower. As long as the leaves have been thoroughly washed, you can feed them to your hamster. Remember to only give a very small portion of the leaf to the hamster, roughly one third of what you would normally feed it, as the leaves can cause digestive issues.
How Much Cauliflower Can a Hamster Eat?
The truth is that the amount of cauliflower that your hamster can eat depends entirely on the type of hamster you have. Hamsters are small creatures and the biggest risk you run with feeding your hamster cauliflower is that it will fill itself up completely on cauliflower and not eat the food that was designed for it to consume, leading to nutrient deficiencies.
For the large Syrian hamsters that are common in pet stores, you can usually get away with feeding your hamster about one teaspoon of cauliflower four times a week. You should always leave some space between the times that you give your hamster some cauliflower and when you do give it some cauliflower, you should chop it into small little pieces.
Campbell’s dwarf hamsters are much smaller than your standard Syrian hamsters, so they are understandably going to be able to eat less cauliflower than them. These hamsters can typically get away with having about half a teaspoon of cauliflower three times a week, or every other day. Winter white dwarf hamsters are not only the same size as Campbell’s dwarf hamsters, but they are also in the same boat of only being able to eat half a teaspoon of cauliflower every other day.
Roborovski hamsters are similar in size to the Syrian hamsters that you can purchase and are often a fair bit larger. They can eat one full teaspoon of cauliflower four times a week, much like the Syrian hamster can. Finally, the Chinese hamsters can only eat about half a teaspoon of cauliflower three times a week.
If you feed your hamster too much cauliflower, it will end up becoming overweight, bloated, and may even develop stomach pains and diarrhea. When you are talking about animals that are as tiny as a hamster, diarrhea quickly leads to severe dehydration, which is something that you will absolutely want to avoid in your little hamsters. It is crucial to make sure that you moderate how much cauliflower that your hamster can eat.
Finally, hamsters have a habit of storing food for later in their cages. While this is normally fine, it does mean that there is a risk that your hamster may forget about the cauliflower and the cauliflower could develop mold. When your hamster rediscovers the cauliflower, it may not recognize that the mold on it is not a good thing and may consider eating the moldy cauliflower. Hamsters, or any animals, should not eat mold.
If you notice uneaten cauliflower in your hamster’s cage, you should remove it as soon as you can to prevent this from happening. When you are playing with your hamster, you may want to run your hand through its food storage simply to make sure that there isn’t any molding cauliflower hidden away as a snack for later.
Before you know it, you will be able to safely feed your hamster the food that it needs to be happy as well as some treats to make it the happiest little creature in your house.