It turns out that dandelions have health benefits for hamsters. All parts of dandelions, from the root and stem to the leaves and flowers, are used for medicinal purposes.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has even approved dandelions and dandelion roots as safe to consume.
Wild hamsters eat dandelions, so why shouldn’t you feed them to your caged hamster?
Nutritional Value of Dandelions
According to Romanian Biotechnological Letters, dandelions have been used as a treatment for many disorders and diseases, including:
- Counteracting water retention
- Reducing cholesterol
- Regulating blood sugar
- Reducing inflammation
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving metabolism
- Reducing the risk of cancer
- Boosting the immune system
- Aiding digestion
- Skin health
- Improving liver health
Dandelions are a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, such as:
- Beta carotene
- Non-provitamin A carotenoids
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- B-complex vitamins
Because hamsters are susceptible to many of the same illnesses and diseases as humans, they could benefit from including dandelions in their regular diet.
Are Hamsters Allowed to Eat Dandelions?
The short answer is yes; hamsters are allowed to eat dandelions. Whether your hamster will eat dandelions or not is another story.
Mammal Review stated that weeds like dandelions make up a large portion of the food supply for wild hamsters. However, there isn’t enough information to determine if hamsters choose to eat dandelions or eat them because their food choices are limited.
To determine if your hamster will eat or even likes dandelions, you’ll have to give them a try. Put some fresh or dried dandelions in the hamster’s cage and see if it indulges.
Are Dandelions Safe for Hamsters?
Dandelions are safe and healthy for hamsters to eat. As mentioned, dandelions are a good source of vitamins and minerals that will benefit your hamster’s health.
That said, some risks may be associated with giving dandelions to a hamster.
Risks of Feeding Dandelions to Hamsters
Even though feeding dandelions to your hamster is safe, they could cause adverse reactions to your hamster’s health.
Hamsters can experience allergic reactions to certain things just like people can. Many of us are allergic to flowers, weeds, and grass, so it’s safe to assume that your hamster could be.
Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction that develops in the form of an itchy rash on the skin when an irritant comes into direct contact with the skin.
A rash may be hard to see underneath your hamster’s fur but perform occasional checks after introducing dandelions into its diet.
Allergic reactions can occur in the form of respiratory issues like asthma attacks or difficulty breathing. If you notice your hamster is struggling to breathe, this could signify an allergic reaction to the dandelions.
If your hamster is allergic to dandelions, they may cause digestive issues like stomach upsets or diarrhea.
You’ll have difficulty determining if your hamster’s stomach is upset, so this may be a difficult symptom to watch unless your hamster also has diarrhea.
If your hamster suddenly starts sneezing soon after you put the dandelions in its cage, it could be allergic to them.
The safest thing would be to remove the dandelions and see if the sneezing stops.
While feeding dandelions to your hamster is safe overall, you need to ensure the dandelions won’t poison your hamster.
Accidental poisoning can happen if the dandelions have been exposed to chemicals, animal waste, or other pollutants.
This is mostly an issue if you go outside and pick dandelions from your yard, fields, or parks.
If you’re unsure if the dandelions from outside are safe, obtain dandelions from a reputable source that grows dandelions specifically for consumption.
You could also grow dandelions in a pot to be sure they’ll be free of anything that may harm your hamster.
Picking dandelions that are wildly growing near your home can run the risk of having been sprayed with pesticides or weed killers, and these chemicals can be deadly to your hamster.
According to Cell Reports, hamsters can contract Prion disease by eating grass, weeds, or other plants contaminated with urine or feces from other animals.
Prion disease causes progressive brain degeneration, leading to rapid deterioration of the neurological system and death.
It was also stated that the prions could be absorbed into plants, grass, and weeds through the soil nearby and don’t necessarily have to be directly in contact with the urine or feces to be contaminated.
Dandelions can become contaminated with pollutants such as car exhaust and oil if they’re growing near roads. These pollutants can be deadly to your hamster if they’re ingested.
How To Prepare Dandelions for Hamsters
Hamsters can eat every part of the dandelion, making preparation easier.
These steps for preparation assume you have grown dandelions, either in your yard or garden or in a pot, and you’re sure they’re free of any contaminants that could harm or poison your hamster.
Dig Up the Dandelions
Don’t just pick the dandelions. Since hamsters can eat the whole plant, dig them up from the roots.
Rinse and Dry Them
You’ll want to rinse the dirt off the plants using clean, warm water. Then, set them on a clean paper towel to dry.
Cut Them Up
You don’t want to put an entire dandelion into your hamster’s cage, even though the whole plant is edible. Cut it up to make it easier for your hamster to handle.
While keeping all the plant parts separate is unnecessary, you may find it easier. Cut the root off the stem, remove the leaves and the flower petals, and cut the stem into pieces.
Dry the Pieces
You can feed the dandelion parts to your hamster fresh if you want. You can mix them in with other foods or throw them into the cage alone.
You also have the option to dry out the dandelion, giving it a crisper texture for your hamster to enjoy.
To dry dandelions, you can either set the cut pieces out in the sun or roast them in the oven. Set the oven temperature to 250 degrees and roast the dandelions for 2-3 hours.
After the dandelions are dried, you can store them in an airtight container or glass jar.
Try giving your hamster fresh and dried dandelions to see which your hamster prefers.
How Much Dandelion Can Hamsters Have?
Hamsters can eat 2-3 dandelions per week. Academia has stated that giving hamsters greens, which includes dandelions, 3 times a week is optimal nutrition.
It’s important that your hamster continues eating a well-balanced diet, so spreading the extra treats throughout the week will ensure that it continues eating its regular diet.
Remember to watch for allergic reactions or other weird behaviors that may signal that your hamster isn’t tolerating the dandelions well.