In addition to their regular diet of hamster mix and pellets, hamsters are often given other treats by their owners. It is always important for a hamster owner to check whether a food is safe for their hamster before giving it to their pet as a treat. Some pet owners may consider giving their hamster meat as a treat, so this is an overview of whether hamsters can eat meat or not and if this has any nutritional value for the hamster’s diet.
Can a Hamster Eat Meat?
Hamsters are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and meat. In the wild, they predominantly live off grasses and grains but also eat some insects. Therefore, it is safe to give your hamster small amounts of most meats. Crickets and mealworms are the best options as this is closest to what they eat in the wild. You can also give them dog food, cooked chicken and cooked beef.
Are There Some Meats That a Hamster Cannot Eat?
There are some meats that are best avoided. Pork is the subject of debate as some people say it makes hamsters ill and others say it is fine. To air on the side of caution, it is probably best to avoid this meat. You should also not give your hamster meats that are seasoned with salt, herbs, and spices as these can make your hamster ill.
Nutritional Values of Meat and How It Benefits the Diet of Hamsters?
The nutritional values of meats vary greatly. Therefore, the following is a breakdown of the meats you are most likely to feed a hamster.
Nutritional values of mealworms as percentages:
- Protein- 53%
- Fiber- 2%
- Water- 62%
Nutritional values of crickets as percentages:
- Protein- 21%
- Fat- 6%
- Water- 69%
Nutritional value of 100g cooked chicken breast with bones and skin removed:
- Calories- 165 kcal
- Protein- 31g
- Fat- 3.6g
Nutritional value of 100g cooked beef:
- Calories- 251 kcal
- Fat- 19g
- Protein- 18g
- Vitamins and minerals- Vitamins B6, B12, and D, iron, magnesium, and potassium
The main benefit to hamsters of including meat in their diet is it gives them protein, which is lacking in many other treats you would give your hamster.
A Myth About Feeding Hamsters Meat
A common misconception is that eating meat turns hamsters into cannibals. People sometimes mistakenly believe that feeding hamsters meat gives them a taste for flesh and increases the risk of them eating their young or each other. There are some situations where hamsters have eaten their young, but this is usually because the pup is unhealthy or because they have no access to food or water. Hamsters sometimes eat each other if they are starving, but this is very rare and completely unrelated to whether they eat meat or not.
How Much and How Often Can You Feed a Hamster Meat?
As previously mentioned, you should avoid giving hamsters pork or any spiced meats. You should also check the dates on any cook meats to make sure it is fit for consumption. If you want to give your hamster a meat treat, the best option is crickets or mealworms as these are closest to a hamster’s natural diet in the wild. Half a teaspoon of mealworms or one cricket once or twice a week is enough to top up the protein in a hamster’s diet. Similarly, one small cube of cooked beef twice a week is enough.
Giving your hamster most meats is fine and it will not turn them into a cannibal. To keep their diet close to the diet eaten by hamsters in the wild, feed them crickets and mealworms. You can also offer cooked beef, chicken or dog food. The only meats to avoid are pork and seasoned meats.