Can Hamsters Eat Blueberries?

0
244
can hamsters eat blueberries?

Can Hamsters Eat Blueberries? Are Blueberries Safe For Dwarf Or Syrian Hamsters? And Do Hamsters Even Like Blueberries? Let’s Find Out!

When you love someone, you want to share the good things in life with them. This holds true regardless of species.

For instance, let’s say you are enjoying a bowl of fresh ripe blueberries. You look over and spy your hamster’s cute little face eyeing you.

He looks very curious. He looks like he is interested in your blueberries!

It is just a natural impulse to want offer him one and see what he does with it.

But before you act on that impulse, it is important to first answer the question “can hamsters eat blueberries safely?”

The short answer to that question is “yes,” but there are also some caveats to keep in mind.

In this article, we will discuss the question of can hamsters have blueberries from the perspective of exotic veterinary specialists so you have all the information you need to make your own decision.

About blueberries

According to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, blueberries have been a staple in our diet for more than 13,000 years.

From muffins to smoothies, fruit compote to yogurt, blueberries are in our lives for the long haul, and overall, our health is the better for it.

can hamsters eat blueberries?

Speaking of health, what do blueberries have to offer health-wise? First of all, they are low in calories per one cup serving compared to most other fruits.

Blueberries also have these unique superpowers:

  • Vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts immune system function, increasing healing and supporting healthy tissues.
  • Manganese. Manganese processes cholesterol, carbohydrates and proteins effectively and safely.
  • Fiber. Fiber reduces heart disease risk and promotes good digestive function and weight control.
  • Polyphenols. Also called antioxidants, these potent naturally occurring compounds protect the body from germs, fungi, disease and bugs.

Plus, of course, blueberries are very tasty!

So we can see clearly why blueberries are so popular with people. But can hamsters eat blueberries safely too?

Are blueberries safe for hamsters?

Recent veterinary research suggests that not only are blueberries good for hamsters, they can even be protective to hamster health!

What is really interesting here is that hamsters, like humans, can suffer from high cholesterol.

Perpetually high cholesterol levels can in time lead to a scary hardening of the arteries that supply oxygenated blood to the body.

This health issue, along with the weight gain that often accompanies rising “bad” cholesterol levels, can be as deadly to your little hammie as it is to many people.

But the polyphenols in blueberries will clear any “bad” cholesterol out of your hamster’s body, and the high fiber content in blueberries will also help guard against future weight gain.

This is particularly vital if you rescued a hamster that previously had a poor diet and has packed on the pounds. It could literally extend your fur baby’s life!

As well, research studies have showed evidence that feeding blueberries regularly can help reduce the risk that your hamster will contract bumblefoot, a disease with complex origins that sometimes originates with obesity.

The fiber in blueberries will help your hamster feel more full, while the fruit’s naturally high levels of Vitamin C and manganese will help speed the healing process for impacted tissues.

So here, the potential health benefits of feeding blueberry hamster treats are evident. But what quantity of blueberries is suitable for such a tiny furry pet?

Can hamsters eat blueberries and suffer any ill effects?

Are blueberries bad for hamsters?

For you, it is no big deal to pop a handful of fresh, plump, delicious blueberries into your mouth.

But what would that same quantity look like if offered to your palm-sized hamster?

Exotic animal veterinarians advise that, all together, any treat foods should never exceed 20 percent of your hamster’s total daily diet.

For a blueberry treat, what this would look like is approximately one teaspoon of blueberries (about two medium-sized blueberries) per Syrian hamster and one-half teaspoon (about one medium-sized blueberry) for dwarf hamster species.

The reason for this is simple. Like people, hamsters eat blueberries because they taste so good. Offer more blueberries, and your hamster will likely eat as many blueberries as you offer!

Since hamsters don’t have any idea of “portion control” or “recommended daily allowance” of vitamins and minerals, let alone of sugar content in foods, you have to do the hard work of ensuring your pet gets everything she needs to be healthy every day.

So here, blueberries are not bad for your hamster, providing you only offer them in portion sizes suitable for your hamster’s size and weight.

We know that the answer to can hamsters eat blueberries is a firm yes in small amounts, but are blueberries good for hamsters?

Are blueberries good for hamsters?

The answer here is slightly less simple.

Blueberries are good for hamsters so long as they are offered in appropriate portion sizes. In other words, a diet of only blueberries would be VERY bad for your hammie.

But a diet where blueberries are only offered as an occasional treat in addition to other healthful treats can mean your hamster gets the full nutritional benefit along with his tasty blueberry treat!

It’s all well and good knowing hamsters can eat blueberries, but do hamsters like blueberries and their taste?

Do hamsters like blueberries?

Like people, hamsters do tend to like blueberries very much.

They are sweet as a result of the natural fruit sugars, making blueberries a type of food that scientists call highly “palatable” (i.e. tasty).

However, blueberries should not be served as your pet’s only healthy treat.

As mentioned in a previous section here, blueberries should make up no more than 20 percent of the total treats offered to your hamster on a daily basis.

So depending on your hamster’s breed this might mean offering one blueberry or one-half blueberry once or twice per week along with other healthy snacks.

This way, your hamster won’t be tempted to ignore his other food in favor of waiting for blueberries or eat too many blueberries and starting to gain weight from the fruit sugars.

So let’s clarify – can hamsters eat blueberries whatever their breed?

Can dwarf hamsters eat blueberries?

Dwarf hamsters are so tiny and delicate, placing even a small blueberry next to them can make the blueberry look huge!

But blueberries do have significant health benefits that suggest your dwarf hamster will be better off for enjoying an occasional blueberry dwarf hamster treat.

The key to answering the question of “Can dwarf hamsters eat blueberries?” is to adjust the portion size for the size of your individual hamster.

The very smallest dwarf hamster may top out at just two inches (5.08 cm) long and weigh just 0.5 ounces (14.17 grams).

The average weight of a single normal blueberry is 0.02 ounces (0.57 grams).

This really gives you a good sense of how much and how often to feed blueberries as a treat to the tiniest dwarf hamster – not to mention why one-half blueberry once or twice per week is more than sufficient to deliver the nutritional benefits blueberries have to offer.

Can Syrian hamsters eat blueberries?

Syrian hamsters are more robust in length, weight and overall size than their dwarf and hybrid hamster cousins.

So when you are exploring the question of “Can Syrian hamsters eat blueberries?,” your answer will change based on your Syrian hamster’s adult weight and size.

An adult Syrian hamster will grow up to 7 inches (17.78 cm) long and can weigh up to 4.41 ounces (125 grams).

So here, if a blueberry weighs an average of 0.02 ounces (0.57 grams), this means that your Syrian hamster can have one or two blueberries as a treat every week with a high degree of safety.

Can hamsters eat blueberries?

In the wild, a hamster’s diet would mainly consist of protein and fresh produce. While in the wild, the proportion of any one nutrient can vary greatly depending on the season and availability. In captivity a much more stable daily diet becomes possible.

Overall, you should aim for 16 percent protein and 5 percent fat in your hamster’s daily diet. The remainder of his nutrients should coe from healthy, nutritious, fibrous and low fat vegetables, grasses and some fruits.

Quantity-wise, the larger Syrian hamsters can pack away as much as two tablespoons (28.3 grams) of food per day. While their smaller dwarf and hybrid hamster cousins will typically do fine with around one tablespoon (14.18 grams) of food per day.

It is very important to measure out your hamster’s food carefully to ensure this daily diet is very balanced. And contains appropriate amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrates and nutrients.

Hamsters and Blueberries

By taking the time to measure out your hammie’s food by type and nutrient, you can look forward to the healthiest, most vibrant furry sidekick.

You can even make a schedule of regular food and treat foods that you follow each week. For instance, on Mondays you might feed some fresh kale as a treat along with your pet’s regular food. Then on Tuesday, you can feed a bit of carrot (great for keeping teeth filed down!), and on Wednesday a bit of blueberry, and so on.

This way, every day offers your hamster a tasty new treat, and you don’t have to recreate your hamster’s feeding schedule from scratch each week!

We hope you have found this article useful and informative! We’d love to hear how your hamster reacts to enjoying her very first blueberry – please do share your stories with us in the comments section here for all to enjoy!

Resources and Further Reading

  • Wood, M., “Blueberries and Your Health: Scientists Study Nutrition Secrets of Popular Fruit,” Agricultural Research, 2011.
  • Sullivant, H., DVM, “Hamsters as Pets,” Eldorado Ink, 2009.
  • Brown, S., DVM, “Small Animal Nutrition,” House Rabbit Society, 2012.
  • Song, Y., et al, “Blueberry Peel Extracts Inhibit Adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 Cells and Reduce High-Fat Diet-Induced Obesity,” Journals PLOS, 2013.
  • Karr-Lilienthal, L., PhD, “Bumblefoot in Companion Rodents,” University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, 2011.
  • Blueberry Council

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here