Can My Hamster Eat My Food?

All pet owner knows that their pets are part of the family, but is it healthy for them to share our diet, as well as our living space? If you have a hamster of your own, you can testify to this species natural curiosity, and willingness to try out new foods. Our hamsters are entirely reliant on us to meet their specialised needs, and It is our responsibility as pet parents to ensure that we feed our pets a healthy and balanced diet, so what treats are suitable to share with your hamster this summer?

 

Hamster Friendly Summer Eats

As the days grow longer and the sunshine is here for more and more hours of the day, most of us are spending the weekends in the garden, with an increasing number of us enjoying BBQ food as a summer treat. Summer berries are in season, and tomatoes from the garden adorn the salads that garnish our hamburger and hot dogs. Which of our food items can hamsters have as a treat, and what foods should be avoided?

 

Salads

Nothing makes us feel like summer than fresh, crisp salad enjoyed with friends in the summer sun. You may think that everything we put in our salads is OK for our hamsters to eat, after all, it’s good for us, right? There are a few foods to watch out for that may harm your hamster that may surprise you!

Can My Hamster Eat My Food - OK for our hamsters to eat, after all/

Nothing makes us feel like summer than fresh, crisp salad enjoyed with friends in the summer sun. You may think that everything we put in our salads is OK for our hamsters to eat, after all, it’s good for us, right? There are a few foods to watch out for that may harm your hamster that may surprise you!

SAFE
Asparagus, bok choy, lettuce, corn, cucumber, peas, spinach, green beans and bell peppers all make great healthy treats for your hamster and should be offered to your hamster at least every other day

RARE TREAT
Carrots are high in sugar, and should only be given as a rare treat.
Boiled egg and pieces of tuna from your salad will also be appreciated and enjoyed by your hamster – in small portions!

TOXIC
The leafy part of tomato plants can be fatal to hamsters
Avocado contains cardiac glycosides and should be avoided
Onions can cause stomach upset as hamsters cannot digest them easily

Seasonal fruit

For hamster, All fruit is high in sugar, and should not make up the bulk - Seasonal fruit

All fruit is high in sugar, and should not make up the bulk of your hamsters diet. When introducing new fruits to your hamster, monitor their poop to ensure they do not develop diarrhea, as some fruits can upset sensitive stomachs!

SAFE
Cherries, strawberries, raspberries, mango, peaches and cantaloupe are all great treats!

RARE TREAT
Grapes are very high in sugar so should only be given in moderation.
Watermelon is high in water content, so is therefore not very nutritional for your hamster.

TOXIC
Apple cores (as the seeds contain arsenic).
Citrus fruit is likely to cause stomach upset, so should be avoided 

BBQ Meat

It may surprise you to learn that your hamster can enjoy small portions of meat with you at the BBQ table. Giving meat to your hamster does not increase the risk of “hamster cannibalism” where one hamster will eat another. This is, in fact only common behaviour when their environment is overcrowded, unclean, and/or there is a scarcity of basic resources.

Meat can be given as a rare treat, but unseasoned chicken and vegetable burgers are a healthier option for your hamster!

SAFE
Unseasoned BBQ chicken is a safe treat for your hamster and most enjoy it!
Small pieces of vegetable burger can be given, but avoid products containing onion or garlic.

TOXIC
High fat meats are very unhealthy and should never be fed to your hamster.
Pork products should also be avoided as they are easily contaminated.

Meat can be given as a rare treat, but unseasoned chicken and vegetable burgers are a healthier option for your hamster!

Summer plants and flowers

Summer plants and flowers can make great summer treats for your hamster, but should be sourced from an area free of harmful pesticides. You should also be able to positively identify the plant, and if in doubt do not take the risk and do not feed to your hamster! Thoroughly wash any harvested wild greens, just as you would your own salad!

Can My Hamster Eat My Food? - Bramble leaves are an easy to find and delicious treat for your hamsterBramble leaves are an easy to find and delicious treat for your hamster

SAFE
Dandelions, cow parsley, watercress, hawthorn and bramble leaves, clover and groundsel are popping up on lawns worldwide at this time of year and your hamster will love them!

TOXIC
Speedwell, buttercup, bindweed, bluebells, ragwort, elder, hemlock and privot are common garden plants that are toxic to hamsters. You can see photos of each species here.

Bramble leaves are an easy to find and delicious treat for your hamster

 

Herbs

Hamsters can enjoy a wide variety of herbs, most of which are easy

Mint is a healthy treat - save some for your hamster when making mojitos!

for you to grow at home. Consider creating a small herb garden on your windowsill so you hamster can enjoy herbs all year round! Safe herbs for your hamster to eat are mint, parsley and sage.

Mint is a healthy treat – save some for your hamster when making mojitos!

 

It’s important to consider portion sizes when giving your hamster any novel food items – a centimeter cube, or raisin sized piece of food, is more than enough for a hamster to sample a new food item. Any extra treats given should be part of a balanced diet, and you should monitor your pets to ensure they do not put on any excess weight while you are giving them extra treats this summer!

Whatever treats your hamster gets this summer, ensure he gets adequate exercise so he stays at a healthy weight, and monitor his poop to ensure the new food is not causing any stomach upset. With this in mind, you and your hamster can enjoy safely all the treats of summer and if any of your friends ask you “can my hamster eat my food?”, you can be confident in your knowledge and your reply!

Why Is My Hamster Crawling Up The Walls?

Why does my hamster climb the bars of his cage? At first glance, this behavior can be frantic and funny. But if it persists then it can quickly become concerning for pet owners. Hamsters have a wide variety of behaviors, and can be very entertaining to watch. You may have seen your hamster climbing the walls of his cage, before falling or “back flipping” down, repeating this behavior for several minutes, or even up to an hour. But what does this mean? Is it something to worry about?

My hamster crawling at the wall

Why does my hamster climb the bars of his cage? At first glance, this behavior can be frantic and funny, but if it persists then it can quickly become concerning for pet owners

If you have a habit of laughing at, stroking or otherwise praising your hamster for his athletics, then he will soon learn that crawling the bars is a good way to get your attention. The best way to stop a hamster doing this is to cease reinforcing the behavior by ignoring your hamster when he is engaging in wall climbing, therefore not rewarding this behavior. He will soon find other ways to get your attention! This technique can be used to any animal, and is the best “punishment” you could use for any animal.

 

Stress from other hamsters or pets

If your hamster lives with another hamster, then he may be climbing the walls as a means to escape. Syrian hamsters are solitary, and they are likely to fight when kept together. If you notice any signs of aggression between hamsters alongside the cage climbing behavior then you should try separating the hamsters to see if the behavior stops. If you own Russian dwarf hamsters, who live together, then adding more places for your hamsters to hide from each other should help reduce aggression.

Sometimes, a hamster may develop escape behaviors because they are in sight of our other pets. Hamsters are prey animals, and naturally want to escape the presence of predator animals. When confined to a cage, they cannot escape, and can feel trapped and endangered when your cat is in the same room.

On a biological level, the stress of being in close proximity to predators effects every organ in the body. When a hamster is stressed, their body will have elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and consistent high levels or cortisol in the blood causes extra stress on the internal organs and reduces the efficiency of the immune system, making your hamster more likely to get sick. Keeping your hamster enclosure well out of reach and sight of other house pets is a recommendation for this reason, even if you hamster is not actively behaving stressed.

 

Stereotyped behavior

A stereotypy is “the constant repetition of certain meaningless gestures or movements”. This explanation is the most likely if your hamster repeatedly climbs the walls.

Stereotyped behavior is popular in captive animals, and is caused by boredom. Zoos and Sanctuaries decrease and eliminate stereotyped behavior by using a comprehensive enrichment program where many different novel items are given to each animal every day to ensure they do not get bored. This approach works great for your hamster too!

There are lot of different ways to keep your hamster stimulated, from different textures to dig in (hamsters love to make tunnels!), to freezing or hanging novel food items, to toilet roll tubes, socks and other new bedding materials. It can be entertaining to you, as a pet owner, to make these and watch your hamster enjoy them, and even the youngest members of your family can help too.

Sometimes, stereotyped behavior can be so ingrained and self rewarding. It can be difficult to break the cycle of behavior, however hamsters are highly adaptable creatures and normally respond well to improvements in their habitat when it comes to reducing stereotyped behaviors, such as wall climbing and bar chewing.

Bar chewing is a common stereotyped behavior found in hamsters

Is Wall Crawling Really A Problem?

The behavior in itself is not cause for concern, but is definitely an indicator of an underlying issue. Therefore, we should be identify the cause where possible. Some negative behaviors can trigger others, and in extreme cases lead to self mutilation. By addressing the causes early on, you can reduce and even reverse any negative effects this may have on your hamsters’ mental and physical well being.

 

In summary, if your hamster has started to crawl the walls and bars of his cage, don’t panic! It doesn’t take much time or effort to take steps towards improving your hamsters living conditions. Ensuring they have lots of toys to keep them mentally stimulated and spending more quality time with your pet! After a long way, you can hopefully stop any wall crawling behavior and have a happy and healthy hamster!

 

Have you managed to stop wall crawling behavior in it’s tracks? Let us know your success stories, or ask for advice in the comments!