We can all agree that hamsters are voracious little beasts. Just look at all those curves on them and dare say these popular pets don’t like to have a good snack. But, as cute as it is to watch hamsters devouring their way through bowls stacked with food, we would like to remind you that such a healthy appetite can get your pet into trouble.
Yes, the hamsters are incredibly adorable, but they are not the pickiest pest you can find. As a matter of fact, they will happily munch everything you put in front of them with little regard for their health.
But, no harm can be done if you feed your favorite pets with healthy veggies like carrots, right? Well, it depends. What works for humans doesn’t have to be beneficial for small rodents.
So, can hamsters eat carrots, and if so, how should you prepare the meal to get the most nourishing results?
Let us try to find out.
A Couple Of Things We Need To Know About Hamsters
Of course, to answer these important questions, we will first need to remind ourselves a thing or two about hamsters and their digestive system. So, let’s start from the very beginning.
Hamsters are small rodents that belong to the family of Cricetidae that spends most of their lives being pets. If you managed to find hamsters in the wilderness (they usually inhabit Europe and Asia but in very small numbers), you would see these tiny cuties typically prefer to eat seeds, nuts, and grains that are easiest to find in the wilderness.
But, don’t let this behavior deceive you. Although most of us think of hamsters as herbivores, they are, in fact, omnivores. This means their diet can include meat and their bodies need a high level of protein to keep going. So, don’t be surprised if you ever see your hamster try to take down insects, lizards, and other small animals.
The fact they are omnivores also means hamsters are very versatile gourmands. Their diet also includes vegetables and even cracked corn. This information will come in handy in the following discussion.
Still, hamsters are also very sensitive to some foods and compounds. For instance, almonds that are healthy for humans contain a high level of cyanide compound that can prove to be leather to small rodents. Similarly, garlic contains too much phosphorus, calcium, and acidic content. Hamsters can’t eat it at all.
For the same reasons, hamsters shouldn’t eat raw beans, apple seeds, citrus fruit, onions, and rhubarbs as well. And then we have foods that are extremely high in sweets and fat, like chocolate and candy. They bring only trouble.
So, some veggies, fruit, and seeds are off the table, even for these voracious cuties.
Time To Learn Something About Carrots
Now that we know what hamsters like and what they don’t like to eat let’s try to learn more about carrots and then put the pieces of the puzzle together. We know they are tasty, crunchy, and very healthy. Let’s see what they hide inside.
So, two small to medium carrots (approximately 100 grams) pack the following nutritional content:
- 41 calories
- 88% water
- 0.9 grams protein
- 9.6 grams carbohydrates
- 4.7 grams sugar
- 2.8 grams fiber
- 0.2 grams fat
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin K1
- Beta carotene
As we can see, carrots are true power-bombs when it comes to the things that make humans go healthy. First and foremost, they consist primarily of water (nearly 90%) and contain next to nothing fat. The caloric value is also above the average. So carrots make anyone who eats them feel fuller without throwing in unnecessary calories into the mix.
When it comes to the hamsters, carrots don’t lose any appeal, either. Keeping in mind the eating habits of our favorite pets, carrots have everything in store to satisfy the dietary needs of these small omnivores.
Carrots contain beneficial carbohydrates, soluble fibers, a solid amount of protein, and one very low glycemic index (GI). Throw into the mix all the beneficial vitamins and compounds that can only make your pets stronger, and you have a perfect candidate for the main dish.
So, when all is said and done, can hamsters eat carrots on a daily basis?
Hamsters And Carrots – Dos And Don’ts
The answer to this question is yes, but it comes with an asterisk.
You see, our little rodent friends have one potentially very serious health problem. Your hammies have a genetic setup that makes gaining weight and diabetes extremely easy. Also, their pancreas is too small to produce sufficient amounts of insulin to process all the carbohydrates they are taking in their diet.
If they consume too many sweets, they can quickly develop type-1 diabetes. This genetic setup is especially expressed in smaller breeds like Dwarf hamsters (not so frequently in larger ones like, for instance, Syrian). The first symptoms of diabetes will manifest through increased appetite, greater thirst, excessive toiletry habits, and loss of weight.
This, in turn, can have a profound impact on their quality of life and your obligations as well. Unlike humans, hamsters are not able to manage their own insulin levels.
Furthermore, calcium can be very beneficial for the healthy development of the teeth and bones of your cute little pets, but too much of it can produce bladder stones and even lead to some more serious health issues.
So, what can we do to leverage all the benefits carrots have to offer without exposing our hamsters to all the health risks we have mentioned above.
The answer is simple – moderation.
As long as you keep the carrots intake on a manageable level, your hammy will be able to eat this delicious veggie and enjoy all of its benefits. With that in mind, how much carrot is safe?
Although the answers to this question are up to debate, we will keep the things conservative and say one to two teaspoons every couple of days (two days at least). Even if you stay at half a teaspoon every two or so days, that will be more than enough to meet hamsters’ dietary needs.
As for the carrot tops, they have very few things in common with the rest of the plant regarding nutritional content. Although no extensive research has been performed on this topic, hamster owners have been feeding their pets carrot tops without any noticeable consequences.
Can Hamsters Eat Baby Carrots?
Last but not least, we have to mention baby carrots that are also very different from full-grown fruits. Because of that, they are considered safe for hamsters, but we would keep the servings at half a spoon if you are going to use them every day.
How To Prepare Carrots For Your Hamsters?
Now that we’ve answered the question can hamsters eat carrots, let us quickly see how you can introduce this veggie to your pet’s diet in the safest possible manner. When they are introduced to a new food, hamsters can act erratically. Sometimes they will overeat. Other times they may avoid what you served and remain malnourished.
Therefore be sure to follow all the steps we will give you below.
Wash The Carrot And Cut It Into Small Pieces
These things don’t seem very relevant but believe us – they are. Carrots you can find in the markets are usually treated with pesticides, so don’t wash them below the 20-second mark. It is also highly suggested to peel off the thin outer layer of each plant.
On the other hand, cutting the carrot into very small pieces will make sure you can always properly dose the serving without going overboard for even a gram. If you go one step further and trim down the edges into rounder shapes, you will help the hamsters chew the pieces far easier.
Serve The New Food In Small Amounts
This way, you will give your hammy enough time to adjust to unfamiliar treats in the bowl. Start with one slice (for instance, one slice or small piece), and don’t add new portions until it’s gone. Even if it finds it off-putting at first, your hammy will get hungry and sooner or later overcome this adversity. Gradually increase the amount of carrot you serve to your pets until you reach the full serving size at once.
Watch For Any Digestive Changes
As soon as you start introducing carrots to the diet of your hamsters, you should immediately start monitoring are the pets able to digest this new food. Different hammies may react differently to this healthy veggie.
Take an occasional look at the hamster’s rear end. If you notice stains or smears, the poor animal may be suffering from diarrhea. Similarly, the absence of dropping in the cage may be pointing out to a case of constipation.
In any of these cases, be sure to take your pet to a veterinarian for further consultations.
We hope this article gave you all the answers you were looking for. Hamsters are adorable little animals, but they are not precisely the low-maintenance pets we all imagine them to be. This is mostly due to their specific dietary needs.
Although they are omnivores, hamsters are very sensitive to increased amounts of some nutrients and compounds, so you need to be careful when you are feeding them. But, as long as you keep the carrot servings moderate and don’t use them more than a couple of times a week, your little pets should be fine.