Can hamsters eat blueberries? Yes, they can. Research has even shown that the fruit may provide certain health benefits for hamsters. However, portion control is vital, especially because of the sugar content of blueberries.
Are Blueberries Safe for Hamsters?
When you love someone, you want to share the good things in life with them. This holds true regardless of species.
It is just a natural impulse to want to offer our pets the foods we like and see what they do 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. Blueberries are perennial flowering plants bearing blue or purple berries as fruits. Native to North America, this fruit is pretty safe for hamsters.
The only issue is that like all good things, it should be eaten in moderation. The natural fruit sugars in blueberries may be too much for your hammy if eaten excessively.
Let’s look at blueberries for hamsters in more detail.
Hamsters and Blueberries
Hamsters are mammals with an interesting diet.
Contrary to what many may think about hamsters, they are omnivores. This means that, unlike guinea pigs and other small mammals, hamsters eat plants and animals. They often feed on nuts, plants, and even insects. Fruits are not off the table for these cuties either.
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.
What about blueberries, though? Well, 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.
Blueberries contain a variety of necessary vitamins and minerals both for humans and animals. They also contain fiber and antioxidants. Fiber is great for helping hamsters regulate bowel movement. On the other hand, antioxidants are particularly special. They are known for helping mammalian cells fight off oxidation that could cause cancer.
Why Do Hamsters Like Blueberries?
Do hamsters like blueberries? That’s a reasonable question to begin with if you wonder — “can hamsters have blueberries.” Like people, hamsters do tend to like blueberries very much.
These berries are sweet due to natural fruit sugars. As a result, blueberries are a type of food that scientists call highly “palatable” (i.e. tasty).
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!
Hamsters don’t have any idea of “portion control” or “recommended daily allowance” of vitamins and minerals. They can’t measure the sugar content in foods, either. So, you have to do the hard work of ensuring your pet gets everything they need to be healthy every day.
So are blueberries bad for your hamster? No, blueberries are not bad for your hamster, as long as you only offer them in portion sizes suitable for your hamster’s size and weight.
Now, 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?
Yes, certainly. Blueberries are good for hamsters. They have many health benefits both for humans and hamsters. If you didn’t know, blueberries are known as a superfood, thanks to their myriad health benefits.
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. Also, the high fiber content in blueberries will 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!
Health Benefits of Blueberries for Hamsters
Speaking of health, what specifically 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 delicious!
So we can see clearly why blueberries are so popular with people. But can hamsters eat various blueberry forms safely too?
Can Hamsters Eat Blueberry Muffins?
Your hamster may eat blueberry muffin crumbs (small quantities) safely. However, this should by no means form any real part of their diet. Baked goods often have sugar and carb content that is unhealthy for hamsters and can cause obesity.
Can Hamsters Eat Cooked Blueberries?
While they technically can, it is best to feed hamsters fresh fruits and veggies as these typically contain more nutrients.
Can Hamsters Eat Blueberry Leaves?
Yes, they can! But don’t hold your breath. Although the leaves may contain higher antioxidant levels than the actual fruit, they’re not half as tasty. So, don’t be surprised if your hammy isn’t a fan.
Can Blueberries Treat Bumblefoot in Hamsters?
No, blueberries cannot treat bumblefoot.
However, research studies have shown 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, making them eat less. Then, the fruit’s naturally high levels of Vitamin C and manganese will help speed the healing process for impacted tissues.
Bumblefoot is a bacterial infection of the foot in rodents. It can show up as sores and inflammation (redness) of your hamster’s foot. This condition can be managed using antibiotics, so be sure to take your hammy to the vet if you notice any changes with their feet.
Can Baby Hamsters Eat Blueberries?
No, they shouldn’t for the first four weeks at least. Hamsters are mammals, so their young drink their mother’s milk. But after about three to four weeks, they begin to be weaned onto solid food.
You may wean baby hamsters with soft food first (such as cooked vegetables), and then they can slowly progress onto pellet food.
Can Hamsters Eat Blueberries Every Day?
No, blueberries should not be served every day or 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. You’ll also avoid them eating too many blueberries and gaining weight from the fruit sugars.
Overall, you should aim for 16 percent protein and 5 percent fat in your hamster’s daily diet. The remainder of his nutrients should come from healthy, nutritious, fibrous and low-fat vegetables, grasses and some fruits.
It is very important to measure out your hamster’s food carefully to ensure a balanced diet.
So let’s clarify – can hamsters have 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 for your dwarf hamster. They will surely be better off for enjoying an occasional blueberry dwarf hamster treat.
The key to answering the question, “can dwarf hamsters eat blueberries?” is to adjust the portion size for the size of your individual hamster.
The smallest dwarf hamster may top out at just two inches (5.08 cm) long and weigh just 0.5 ounces (14.17 grams). Whereas, the average weight of a single normal blueberry is 0.02 ounces (0.57 grams).
Therefore, smaller dwarf and hybrid hamster cousins will typically do fine with around one tablespoon (14.18 grams) of food per day.
This gives you a good sense of how much and how often to feed blueberries as a treat to the tiniest dwarf hamster. You can see now that one-half blueberry once or twice per week is more than sufficient to deliver the needed nutritional benefits.
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 whether Syrian hamsters can 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).
And as we saw, a blueberry weighs an average of 0.02 ounces (0.57 grams). So, your Syrian hamster can have one or two blueberries as a treat every week with a high degree of safety.
Quantity-wise, the larger Syrian hamsters can pack away as much as two tablespoons (28.3 grams) of food per day.
Hamster Blueberry Treats
If you’re like us, you may want to spice things up for your little hamster. To provide a variety of blueberry treats for them, you can try any of the following options:
- Dried blueberries
- Complete hamster food with blueberries on the side
- Fresh chunks of blueberries chopped into smaller sizes
Alternatives to Blueberries for Hamsters
Some other fruits and veggies with a rich supply of vitamins and minerals may be useful for your hammy. These options are safe (and tasty) to feed as treats.
Can Hamsters Eat Blueberries? – Summary
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.
Hamsters can have blueberries — best served raw — but in controlled portions. This superfood is chock-full of nutritious goodness. With antioxidants and fiber, it can help prevent obesity and bumblefoot or pododermatitis in your hamster. Just remember to keep blueberry treats to once or twice weekly.
Have you given blueberries to your hamster? You can let us know about your experiences with hamsters and blueberries in the comments below.
References 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
- Healthline. Palsdottir, H., MS. Blueberries 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits.
- CBC News. Blueberry leaves might be a smarter snack than berries, says pharmacy student.
Can Hamsters Eat Blueberries has been updated for 2019.