Can hamsters eat bananas? The Squeaks and Nibbles team take a look at whether it’s safe for your hamster to snack on a banana.
Hamsters need to eat a diet rich in carbohydrates and vitamins. Bananas are a great source of these nutrients, and are not toxic to hamsters. But bananas are not enough on their own.
Hamsters should eat a wide variety of foods. So how much banana can hamsters have? And should it be fresh, dried, peeled or chipped?
Are Bananas Safe For Hamsters?
Simply put, bananas are safe for hamsters — in moderation. And there are some important considerations when it comes to a hamster’s diet.
Bananas are a type of large edible berry. Yes, you heard that right. They’re technically a berry. They’ve been cultivated since at least 5000 B.C.E. and are native to much of Central America.
However, bananas quickly caught on when they were discovered and brought to areas in Madagascar, Africa, and Asia. Eventually, they made their way to Europe and the rest of the world.
Bananas, like many berries, are high in carbs. They actually contain mostly carbs – 93%, with only 3% fats and 4% protein. They are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese.
But what does this mean for our hamsters? Let’s look at bananas for hamsters in more detail.
Hamsters And Bananas
In the wild, hamsters are omnivores and eat a variety of foods ranging from nuts to roots to bugs. While domesticated, hamsters can live exclusively off commercial hamster food as long as it is nutritionally complete.
The best diet for a domestic hamster is one that is as close to the wild as possible. However, many owners love to give their hamster vegetables and fruits as treats.
Since hamsters are omnivores, this is not necessarily a bad thing. They are designed to eat fruits and vegetables.
In fact, some vegetables and fruits offer many benefits to your hamster and can help keep their diet appropriately diverse. As we have seen, bananas contain almost exclusively carbohydrates. One study discovered that hamsters should eat around 62% carbohydrates to be as healthy as possible.
Obviously, hamsters should be consuming mostly carbs, which is good news since bananas are almost completely made out of carbohydrates. Hamsters also benefit from many of the nutrients found in bananas.
Do Hamsters Like Bananas?
As any hamster parent will tell you, hamsters like to nibble on just about anything that they can reach. And bananas are no exception!
Of course, we all like to share our treats with our animals, especially when it looks like they’re begging for a tidbit. But it is extremely important not to assume that your hamster can eat something just because you can.
Are Bananas Bad For Hamsters?
Bananas are not toxic for hamsters, and they can have bananas in moderation. However, the key word here is definitely “moderation.”
Hamsters are very small animals, and they shouldn’t be gorging themselves on any food. For a healthy hamster diet, they should only have good foods in small amounts. Too much of a good thing is still too much.
Are Bananas Good For Hamsters?
We’ve already covered how the carbohydrates in bananas are good for hamsters. There are other benefits, too.
Fiber is also good for hamsters, as it helps their digestion stay regular. But because hamsters are so tiny, they do not need as much fiber as their human counterparts.
Plus, different types of fiber work better for hamsters than others. The fiber found in bananas, according to one study, is not particularly useful for hamsters and does not lead to the health benefits other forms of fiber do.
However, this does not mean that it is completely not useful. Fiber is still fiber, even if it works slightly less well than other forms.
Hamsters And Vitamin C
Like many rodents, hamsters also require their diet to contain vitamin C. Hamsters do not store vitamin C, and therefore need to consume it regularly to stay healthy.
Hamsters are prone to scurvy, which is simply a vitamin C deficiency. If a hamster does not have enough vitamin C, problems such as reduced clotting and production of collagen can occur.
These problems can then intensify into issues with walking, swollen joints, bleeding under the skin, and internal bleeding.
As you can see, hamsters require vitamin C even to function normally. Bananas provide this necessary vitamin readily, and therefore fit in very well with a hamster’s nutritional needs.
Hamsters And Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 deficiency can also be a problem for hamsters. Hamsters do not make their own vitamin B6, which means that they must get it from their food instead.
If they do not consume enough of it, they will exhibit an arrest in growth after their stores are depleted, in approximately two to three weeks. If the deficiency continues, they will perish within 13 weeks.
Hamsters simply cannot function without an appropriate amount of vitamin B6. Fortunately, bananas do have a rich amount of vitamin B6.
A medium banana includes about 0.4 mg of B6, making it a good source of this nutrient for hamsters.
Can Syrian Hamsters Eat Bananas?
There are actually a number of different hamster species that are commonly kept as pets. Syrian hamsters, however, are one of the most common.
So if you’re wondering, “Can hamsters have bananas?” then the odds are you’re wondering specifically about a Syrian.
The answer is yes, Syrian hamsters can have bananas — but in appropriate amounts.
Can Dwarf Hamsters Eat Bananas?
Dwarf hamsters are another common pet. They too can eat bananas and have similar dietary needs to a Syrian hamster.
But, remember, dwarf hamsters are small, and their portion sizes should be especially tiny.
Don’t feed a dwarf hamster as much banana as you would feed a Syrian hamster. Again, the important thing is portioning appropriately.
Can Hamsters Have Banana Chips?
What about dried banana chips? Can hamsters have bananas that have been dehydrated?
One of the most important things to remember about banana chips, and dried fruits in general, is that there are often additives that go into the dehydrating process.
If you want to give your hamster banana chips, look for all natural chips without additives. Even better, simply make some yourself!
Remember to limit portions to a small amount.
Can Hamsters Have Banana Peel?
Just like the bananas themselves, there’s nothing toxic to hamsters in a banana peel.
And since hamsters like to nibble on whatever’s in front of them, they may be just as happy to get a small piece of peel as they would be to get the banana itself.
But the same general rule still applies: only in moderation, and best given as a treat!
Can Bananas Treat Constipation In Hamsters?
Constipation can be a real problem for hamsters. It could come about because the hamster has eaten his bedding, or it could be a sign of something more serious, such as tapeworms or a condition known as intussusception.
Some may advocate eating fruit, such as bananas, to treat constipation. However, it is always advised to talk to your vet immediately if you notice signs of constipation.
It is vital to identify the cause of constipation in hamsters in order to treat it in a timely fashion.
Can Baby Hamsters Eat Bananas?
What about baby hamsters? Hamster pups should be eating solid foods by the third week after birth. Up until then, they rely mainly on nursing from their mother.
Once the pups are old enough, you can try adding a little bit of banana in with their complete nutrition diet.
However, remember that bananas shouldn’t take the place of the other foods they need, especially as they continue to grow.
Can Hamsters Eat Bananas Every Day?
Since bananas contain so many vitamins that hamsters need, you might be considering giving your hamster large quantities of bananas, even every day.
While bananas are not poisonous to hamsters and contain many useful vitamins, they do not contain everything a hamster needs to live.
A hamster needs a complete, balanced diet in order to live a healthy life. Bananas alone do not provide that.
Instead, bananas should only be given as a treat and in very small amounts.
While they do contain many useful ingredients, we must remember that hamsters are very tiny. A banana really should be only a snack, which is a very small amount to a hamster.
Since you have the all-clear to give bananas to a hamster as a treat, what type of banana will you choose?
- Fresh cut banana
- Banana with the peel still on
- Dried banana chips
- Baby bananas
- Fruit salad with bananas
Alternatives To Bananas For Hamsters
Or maybe you’re more interested in other, non-banana options for your hamster. Here are a few for you to consider.
All of these follow the same rules as bananas for hamsters — they are safe in small, appropriate portions, do not replace a complete nutrition diet, and can be given as treats.
Can Hamsters Eat Bananas Summary
The answer to, “Can hamsters have bananas?” is, “Yes!”
As we have seen, your hamster eating a banana is not a problem as long as it is appropriately portioned. Bananas do contain many nutrients that hamsters need, and they fit their diet quite well.
However, bananas do not contain everything a hamster needs and need to be given in only small amounts.
Have you given bananas to your hamster? You can let us know about your experiences with hamsters and bananas in the comments below.
References and Further Reading
- Musser, G. Hamster. Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Zeller, F. (2005). Herkunft, Diversitat und Zuchtung der Banane und kultivierter Zitrusarten. Beiheft Nr. 81 zu Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Tropics and Subtropics. Kassel University Press, GmbH.
- SELF Nutrition Data, Bananas, raw Nutrition Facts and Calories.
- National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on Laboratory Animal Nutrition (1995). Nutrient Requirements of the Hamster. Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals: Fourth Revised Edition. National Academies Press: Washington, D. C.
- Martinez-Flores, H (2004). Effect of high fiber products on blood lipids and lipoproteins in hamsters. Nutrition Research, 24(1).
- Shwartzman, G. and Strauss, L (1949). Vitamin B6 deficiency in the Syrian hamster: Ten Figures. The Journal of Nutrition, 38(2).
- Disorders and Diseases of Hamsters. Merck Veterinary Manual
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