Welcome to our complete guide to hamsters and grapes! A pet food safety guide from Squeaks and Nibbles. Let’s find out the answer to that all important question – can hamsters eat grapes?
If you just cannot get enough of the fluffy cuteness of your happy little hamster as he runs in his exercise wheel and explores his tunnels, then you may be tempted to reward those adorable behaviors by giving your hamster treats whenever you can.
And occasional fruity treats are A-OK. The ASPCA’s own hamster care sheet even states that the recommended hamster diet should include one fruit or vegetable serving every few days.
Only a few foods are placed on the avoid list and include chocolate, sweets, uncooked beans, and onions.
If you are giddy that the sky seems to be the limit when it comes to hamster treats, then hold your horses momentarily. Because just because something is safe, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best idea.
Treats are great, but you need to think before you feed. And in this respect, grapes may seem like a natural choice.
In this article, we take a closer look at whether or not hamsters can eat grapes and when, if it all, you should feed your furry pal a juicy grape.
So, can hamsters eat grapes?
Can You Feed Hamsters Grapes?
Can you feed hamsters grapes? is a question that many rodent and small animal owners often ask.
The good news is that hamsters can eat grapes.
Grapes are a distinctive no-no when it comes to dogs, so many people think they are just not safe for animals.
However, grapes do not contain some sort of poisonous substance that is toxic to all pets.
In fact, dogs are reported as the only animals that show a negative reaction to the fruit.
Studies are inconclusive as to what the grape toxin actually is, but we do know it can cause renal failure. Even though some dogs seem immune to the effects.
This information about grapes is awfully confusing to a lot of people.
Basically, if you are concerned about grapes, there is probably no reason to be when it comes to your hamster.
The only caveat is that animals can be allergic to certain foods and they also may not tolerate certain fruits and vegetables as well as humans can.
It is always wise to ask your veterinarian if grapes are an acceptable food.
Once you get the OK, start with a very small piece of grape.
How Can You Start To Feed Your Hamster Grapes?
So we have answered the question, can hamsters eat grapes. But what is the best way to feed them safely?
When you start adding grapes to your hamster’s diet, start with one-eighth of a grape to begin.
This will let you see if your hamster has any ill effects from the fruit, or if it will become your pet’s new favorite food.
In many ways, this tiny tidbit technique is very similar to the way rodents try out new foods they come across in the wild.
When they find a new food when scavenging, they try only a bit and then they return to their nests.
If the food makes them ill, then the rodent will remember the food and avoid it in the future.
If the item is safe though, then they will eat it when they find it again, but with far less caution the next time around.
If you see your hamster nibbling on the grape and then leaving some of it for later, then he is using his food testing skills.
This is completely normal.
What Problems Should You Look Out For When Feeding Hamsters Grapes?
Even though your hamster will likely test the piece of grape before nibbling the entire treat, you should look out for some telltale signs that the fruit is not agreeing with your pet.
One of the things that you may think to look for is whether or not your hamster vomits after eating the grape.
However, as strange as it may sound, hamsters and other rodents cannot vomit!
Research studies show that rodents do not possess strong enough diaphragms to do this.
Their stomachs are not positioned in a way that contents can be forced back up the esophagus either.
Also, your hamster’s brain simply does not have the mechanism that can coordinate and cause vomiting.
While you may not see your hamster vomit, you may see him eating non-food items in his habitat.
This behavior is called pica and it helps to soothe the stomach.
The behavior is most often noted in rats, but you may see your hamster chewing on a bit of his bedding material if the grape does not agree with him.
Also, you should look to see if your hamster develops diarrhea.
Loose stool is one distinctive sign that grapes may be a bit bothersome to your hamster’s digestive system. You also may notice a lack of appetite and a bit of lethargy.
If these symptoms do not pass quickly or if diarrhea last for longer than a day, then take your furry friend to the veterinarian.
Dehydration is a serious issue if diarrhea continues.
How Do You Feed Hamsters Grapes Regularly?
Grapes, like other fruits, are a sometimes food for your hamster.
They should only be given on occasion and they should be alternated with other fruits, like apples, pears, and bananas.
On a side note, do not give your hamster any citrus fruits.
The high acidic content of oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and tangerines can lead to discomfort and diarrhea.
Can Hamsters Eat Green Grapes?
You can choose between both red and green grapes, but opt for the seedless varieties.
Seeds are a choking hazard, so they should always be avoided. It is also a good idea to peel a grape before giving it to your hamster.
There is a very easy way to peel grapes so you do not have to struggle with them. Simply dip your grape in a pot of boiling water for a few seconds. Drop it in ice cold water afterwards, and then slip the peel off easily with your fingers. Cut the grape in half when you are done and give one half to your hamster. Voila, a treat fit for your hamster friend.
If you want to make the treat as nutritious as possible, then purchase some vitamin C supplements for hamsters. Crush one up and roll the grape in the powder.
Hamsters are prone to vitamin C deficiencies and they can develop a serious condition called scurvy if they are lacking the nutrient. The added vitamin C can help to reduce this painful condition. Of course, as with all supplements, ask your veterinarian first before giving it to your rodent.
Can Dwarf Hamsters Eat Grapes?
As you can see, grapes are a sometimes food, but your hamster will probably absolutely love the fruit. Hamsters love grapes because they contain a great deal of sugar.
In fact, grapes come in behind figs as the fruit with the most sugar.
Surprisingly, a cup of grapes contains about 15 grams of it. This is the same amount of sugar in about one-half a can of soda.
An abundance of sugar is not good for rodents, and it really is not good for any pet for that matter.
Sugar is especially bad if you have a Chinese hamster. Chinese hamsters have a greater than 85% chance of developing diabetes. The hamsters are even used to study diabetes to help researchers understand how the disease develops, progresses, and how it can be prevented.
If you have a Chinese hamster, then it is best to only give your pet a tiny piece of grape about once or twice a month at most. Consider a one-eighth piece of grape like when you started providing the fruit.
Campbell’s hamsters as well as white dwarf hamsters are likely to develop diabetes as well, but Chinese hamsters are the most at risk.
Can Syrian hamsters eat grapes?
On the other hand, Syrian and Roborovski hamsters are not prone to the disease, so you are a bit more safe with these types of rodents when it comes to grape treats.
If you are unsure about the type of hamster you have, then your veterinarian can help you to identify you rodent so you know if diabetes is a concern. Animal doctors can also test for diabetes and they can give you test strips that let your complete urine testing at home. The strips specifically identify glucose in your hamster’s waste. Glucose in the urine is one identifying factor that can point to diabetes.
If you do see signs of glucose in the urine, then this is a sure sign it is time to stop feeding your hamster foods that contain sugar.
This includes grapes, other fruits, and many of the rodent treats you can find at your local pet food store.
Speak with your veterinarian about the best low-sugar and carbohydrate hamster pellet mix to purchase so you can keep your hamster healthy and happy, even if he does develop diabetes.
Can My Hamster Eat Grapes – A Summary
Hamsters can eat some fruits and vegetables, and grapes can make a wonderful treat for your furry friend.
Although they are best avoided if you have a Chinese hamster.
For the rest, you just need to make sure that you only give your pet a small bit of a grape every now and then. You also need to take your hamster’s breed into consideration if you want to start adding grapes to their diet, mainly because of diabetes concerns.
Of course, it is always wise to check with your animal doctor before starting your hamster on a new food, so do not start peeling and cutting the grapes just yet. Drop your animal doc a line first.
What about you?
Do you have a hamster who loves shoving grapes in his cheeks, or do you have a pet with diabetes? Let us know in the comments below.
- Eubig PA1, Brady MS, Gwaltney-Brant SM, Khan SA, Mazzaferro EM, Morrow CM, Acute renal failure in dogs after the ingestion of grapes or raisins: a retrospective evaluation of 43 dogs (1992-2002), J Vet Intern Med. 2005 Sep-Oct;19(5):663-74
- Horn CC, Kimball BA, Wang H, Kaus J, Dienel S, Nagy A, et al. (2013) Why Can’t Rodents Vomit? A Comparative Behavioral, Anatomical, and Physiological Study. PLoS ONE 8(4): e60537.
- George C Gerritsen, The Chinese Hamster as a Model for the Study of Diabetes Mellitus, Diabetes 1982 Apr; 31(Supplement 1): 14-23