Can Hamsters Eat Red Cabbage?


You have seen owners feed their hamsters some lettuce when they want to ramp up their diet. But what about red cabbage – is this acceptable?

Every pet needs some extra veggies in his diet. The only concern is whether they are able to digest them. Unfortunately, not all vegetables happen to be good for our pets. What about red cabbage – can hamsters eat red cabbage? Or should this be on the forbidden list? Red cabbage is acceptable, but not all the time.

Stay with us, and we’ll explain red cabbage on the list of veggies your hamster can munch on and is there anything you should pay attention to when feeding this to it.

Can Hamsters Eat Red Cabbage? Red Cabbage Is A “Yes”

It’s a YES. Your hamster is allowed to eat red cabbage. From your experience as a hamster owner, you probably know that including any veggies in your hamster’s diet can ramp up his health. 

So, how healthy is red cabbage exactly?

Water 90.39%
Energy31
Proteins1.43 grams
Carbs7.37 grams
Fibers2.1 grams
Calcium45 mg
Iron 0.8 mg
Magnesium16 mg
Potassium 30 mg
Sodium27 mg

With all its nutrients and vitamins, red cabbage is an excellent choice for your hamster’s diet – however – it should not be used as a substitute for his everyday food. 

The amount of red cabbage you feed to your hamster depends on the breed:

  • A Syrian hamster can have a lot of red cabbage since it is the largest breed out there. You can give your Syrian hamster half a teaspoon of red cabbage two times a week.
  • Chinese, Dwarf, and Winter White hamsters are known to be smaller breeds than the Syrian. So, you can count on 10 inches of red cabbage once a week.

Important: You should only feed the leaves of the cabbage to your hamster. You should never include the stern of the cabbage – it’s much stronger and bitter in taste.

Let’s move on to some health benefits of red cabbage: Red cabbage contains powerful antioxidants – including vitamin C, carotenoids, and flavonoid antioxidants. 

Lots of people believe that red cabbage has the so-called “anticancer potential.” This means that the ingredients contained in it can prevent cancer cells from developing. However, this is just strong speculation for now, and more research is needed.

Red cabbage contributes to weight loss, and I can’t stress enough how important this is for your hamster.  As you all know, hamsters are prone to obesity more than other animals, and including red cabbage is an excellent way of putting them on a “healthy diet.”

This is all thanks to the dietary fiber contained in red cabbage. So, if you have a hamster that needs to get rid of some excess weight – try including a teaspoon of red cabbage now and then.

High levels of vitamin A in red cabbage will help your hamster maintain good eye health. This vitamin prevents degeneration of eyesight and the possibility of cataracts.

Red cabbage also boosts your hamster’s immune system. It regulates the activity of blood cells and keeps the organism “healthy” during winter. Also, vitamin C keeps these cells connected and working properly.

The minerals contained in red cabbage increase bone density in hamsters. This helps maintain growth and prevents internal inflammation from occurring. 

Are there any risks of having too much red cabbage? Unfortunately, there are.

If you give your hamster more red cabbage than he should have on a weekly basis, it might end up having stomach problems or even diarrhea. Remember, this is a strong ingredient if consumed above recommended levels.

Another risk your hamster might be facing is choking. This has to do with the way you serve red cabbage. When you are feeding your hamster, you should carefully chop the leaves – watch out for too small or too big pieces. 

Your hamster friend might go for a larger piece his throat can’t handle, and that can quickly become a problem for you both. In cases like this, you should contact the vet right away.

Too much cabbage on a daily basis can dehydrate your hamster. This veggie is actually pretty dry, and your hamster will definitely be thirsty after the meal. So, if you are thinking of giving your pet hamster red cabbage for lunch, make sure that the water bowl is filled up completely.

The most important thing you should look out for is how you wash and prepare the red cabbage. Before serving this to your pet, you should wash the cabbage thoroughly. This kind of vegetable is prone to pesticides, so the chance of feeding your hamster an infected cabbage is not that low.

This can escalate into much more severe problems such as internal inflammation, viruses, or even food poisoning. In the event of food poisoning, a veterinarian should be contacted immediately. 

Once you’ve contacted help, remove all the cabbage that is left in the cage immediately.

Although red cabbage brings a lot of health benefits, its wrong serving or excessive amounts can lead to severe diseases.

Therefore, before serving these vegetables to your pet, first, pay attention to washing the vegetables and measuring the amount.

Expiration Date and Storage

If you’re buying your hamster vegetables, you should buy them fresh, and for that reason, you need to be familiar with the shelf-life of red cabbage.

After you bring your freshly bought red cabbage home from the market, you should know how long it can last in your kitchen. Here are the facts:

A whole cabbage (untouched) can last for 2 days on your kitchen counter in the open. If you put it in the fridge, it can stay there for 5 weeks, and if you store it in the freezer, you are looking at almost 9 months. 

Now, if you’re dealing with a cabbage that you cut already, it can’t stay for more than 3 hours out in the open (on your kitchen counter or table). If you store a sliced cabbage in the fridge, it can stay there for 10 days maximum. In the freezer, your cabbage can also last 9 months before it becomes bad.

Now, how do you know when your cabbage is turning bad?

To get the best result, you will have to rely on your nose. Try smelling the cabbage and see if it has that too sour smell. If so, throw it away immediately. 

If you’re not sure about the smell, you can also cut the cabbage open and look at its center. If the color is grayish or yellowish, it’s most likely rotten. 

Now that you know how to tell if your cabbage is rotten or not, is there any way in which you can prolong its shelf-life?

A lot of people recommend storing your cut cabbage into plastic bags, and this actually helps. It might not make a difference in the long run, but it can save your cabbage for a couple of extra days.

Food Choking In Hamsters

With feeding cabbage to your hamster, the most common health hazard that can occur is food choking. And believe me, it can get ugly. 

This usually happens when the food that you gave to your pet was not correctly sliced – the pieces are either too big for it to chew or too small. Plus, we’re talking about a small-sized animal – the chances are even higher. 

So, what do you do when something like this occurs?

The first thing you can do is simply turn over your hamster and slightly press his chest. Be careful not to put too much pressure on this. 

If you notice that the object which caused the choking is near it, remove it immediately. 

Leave your hamster upside down for 2-3 minutes before he gains air again and is able to breathe properly. After a couple of minutes, turn it upright.

Another method of helping your hamster is by performing the “q-tip.” What’s this?

Well, you can perform this if you are skilled enough or if you’ve already been through a choking hazard with your hamster. Basically, what you have to do is insert the stick (toothpick with a cover) into the hamster’s mouth and through the throat.

This will push the food stuck in its throat, and your hamster will either swallow it or spit it out.

If you feel like you’re not ready for this venture, it would be best if you contacted someone who is – possibly another hamster owner or even a vet.

It’s important to mention that this method can be best performed if your hamster is unconscious. If you’re performing this while your pet is still conscious and struggling, it might be irritating for it and extremely hard for you.

The last option would be to turn to professional surgery. 

Remember: This should only be done by a professional.

The surgery implies cutting the neck open in the airway tract and removing the object that’s been causing the choking. Since hamsters are tiny animals, this should only be done by your vet. 

Surgery is reserved for severe cases only, and it often includes a period of healing and rest. During this time, you will have to pay extra attention to your hamster’s diet. Your vet might prescribe you some medication that should be included in its meals.

We’ve seen how dangerous food choking can actually be. This leaves us wondering: is there a way we can prevent this from happening to our hamster?

Yes. There are a couple of things you can do to minimize the possibility of this happening. You can:

  • Check the food before you serve it to your pet – look for slices that are too big and cut them into smaller ones
  • Avoid food that is too salty or sour
  • Look after your hamster while he’s eating his meal

In food choking, it’s essential that you act fast. The minute you see your hamster having trouble swallowing or chewing – step in and check the food.

See Also: Can Hamsters Eat Romaine Lettuce?

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