Can you feed your hamster bread?
Can hamsters eat white bread? Or only whole grain bread?
Are there any benefits to your furry friend from eating grain? Or is it better just to pass altogether?
That’s what we’re here to explore!
Can I Feed My Hamster Bread?
Who doesn’t love bread? Garlic bread, buttery bread, bread with goat cheese, toast! You name it.
Bread is possibly one of the most versatile food items out there! (And is probably the reason I could lose a couple of pounds!)
However, just because humans seem to thrive on bread, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for our animals. This is why it is important to always check before sharing your food with any of your pets!
We’ll look closely at this common food and at your hamster’s diet to find the answer to this question!
What Exactly Is Bread, Anyway…?
Bread, in its most basic form, is dough mixed with flour and water.
However, there are many types of flours and grains. Which means that the exact taste, texture, and shape of bread can change dramatically depending on what, exactly, is in it.
Bread can also be affected by the seasonings and toppings put on it. As I’m sure you know!
Because of this versatility, bread is very popular throughout the world, and was even eaten in ancient times.
Actually, despite misconceptions that they only ate meat, studies have found that prehistoric men produced and ate bread as well!
Because bread is so widespread, it is reasonable to ask whether we can give it to our hamster friends or not. Let’s look at the diet of a hamster to see if bread fits in.
What Should Hamsters Eat?
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), hamsters eat a well-rounded mixture of seeds, grains, and insects in nature. This ensures that they get all their necessarily vitamins and minerals.
In our homes, hamsters generally eat a nutritionally balanced mix of pellets and seeds that are provided by commercial pet food companies.
However, on top of this it is extremely important to ensure that your hamster eats at least one good protein source, such as soybeans, egg whites, or boiled chicken.
They should also get some fresh, green vegetables each day.
What about dwarf hamsters? Can dwarf hamsters eat bread? Since their stomachs are smaller, they generally eat less food, which means it is even more important to ensure that they eat nutrient-dense foods.
Now that we know what hamsters need to eat, let’s look at what bread contains.
What Is in Bread?
Bread is almost exclusively carbs, especially without added flavors.
For example, wheat bread is over 72% carbs and only 16% protein. Wheat bread does contain some helpful nutrients, such as niacin.
However, white bread has almost all of this nutrient content taken out. Because of this, it is not nearly as nutrient-dense as whole wheat bread.
As we have seen, hamsters need a relatively high amount of protein as well as nutrient-dense foods. Bread, whether whole grain or white, is neither of these things.
Bread is, in other words, full of empty calories.
Does this mean hamsters can’t have any bread at all though?
Can Hamsters Eat Bread?
Hamsters can consume small amounts of bread. Plain, wheat bread does not contain anything that hamsters are outright allergic to.
So there is no need to call your vet if your hamster has been munching on sandwich crusts.
However, this does not mean that bread is healthy for your hamsters.
Because it is so high in carbs and offers little in the way of nutrients, you should generally only offer your hamster small amounts of bread, if any.
Furthermore, bread can contribute to obesity and diabetes in your hamster because of high carbohydrate content.
Let’s take a look at both of these common conditions to get a better look at why bread is not the best treat for hamsters.
Obesity in Hamsters
Obesity is, sadly, common in hamsters.
Hamsters in the wild can run for miles in search of a mate or food. When taken out of this environment, it is not uncommon for them to become obese.
While hamsters are pretty good at avoiding overeating, they can easily become overweight if they are simply offered the wrong foods or presented with an unbalanced diet.
Daylight and temperature levels can also affect obesity in hamsters. This happens because their natural instinct is to pack on pounds for the winter.
Diabetes in Hamsters
Many hamsters are genetically dispositioned to diabetes.
However, this does not mean that they will get diabetes. You can take precautions to help your hamster steer clear of this disease.
While diabetes usually has genetic factors, it is extremely difficult to predict in hamsters due to the genetic complexity of the disease.
However, it’s still important to check a hamster’s family medical history before purchasing one, if possible. You should do this for all pets, as genetic factors can greatly affect their health.
Diet also plays a huge role in whether a hamster develops this disease or not.
Diabetic animals suffer from abnormally high amounts of sugar in their blood. High-carb foods, which are full of sugars, can be detrimental to hamsters prone to developing the disease.
So, Can Hamsters Have Bread?
While hamsters are not blatantly allergic to bread, it is probably not the best food for them.
Bread in high amounts can cause obesity and diabetes in hamsters.
Plus, if your hamsters are filling up on bread instead of nutrient-dense foods, they can miss out on important vitamins and minerals that they need to survive. This can shorten their lifespans considerably.
Remember, hamsters are very tiny. A small amount of bread to us can be a huge amount to them!
It is better to provide your hamster with nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables than it is to give them bread.
While eating bread every so often will probably not cause any issues, you should avoid introducing it as a central food in your hamster’s diet.
References and Further Reading
Lippi, Marta Mariotti (2015). Multistep food plant processing at Grotta Paglicci (Southern Italy) around 32,600 cal B.P. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. A healthy diet for hamsters.
Self-Nutrition Data. Bread, wheat Nutrition Facts & Calories.
Wade, George (1982). Obesity without overeating in golden hamsters. Physiology & Behavior.
Wade, George (1983). Dietary obesity in golden hamsters: Reversibility and effects of sex and photoperiod. Physiology & Behavior.
Gerritsen, G. (1970). Studies on the prediction and development of diabetes in offspring of diabetic Chinese Hamsters. Diabetologia.