Seafood is packed with vitamins and nutrients that hamsters need to stay healthy.
While hamsters shouldn’t eat seafood too often, a small amount as an occasional treat can be beneficial. However, it must be cooked and free from added ingredients, such as oil, salt, and seasonings.
Shrimp, prawns, and crayfish contain protein, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and B-vitamins.
However, seafood is high in sodium and contains mercury. Choose fresh, wild-caught seafood. Avoid crab, crab sticks, and lobster, as they’re high in salt, sugars, and fats.
Not all hamsters enjoy seafood. Some hamsters pouch the seafood and move it to their burrows, where it decomposes and attracts bacteria. If your pet hamster does this, remove the seafood from its tank.
Can Hamsters Eat Seafood?
Hamsters can have small amounts of dried and fresh seafood. However, as mentioned, it must be cooked. Hamsters mustn’t have raw seafood, as their digestive systems can’t handle it.
Seafood isn’t part of a hamster’s natural diet in the wild, so it’s not something they should have too often. Consider seafood as a treat and not a staple part of your hamster’s diet.
Feed it alongside:
- Scientifically formulated pellets (lab blocks)
- High-quality seeds and nuts
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Insects, like crickets and mealworms
- Fish, like salmon, cod, and sardines
Be careful about where you source your seafood from. Wild and farmed seafood is high in salt, which is unhealthy in large doses. Not only that, but seafood is often contaminated with harmful bacteria.
Seafood is a good source of protein. Hamsters require around 16% of protein and 4-5% fat in their diet. Incorporating a small amount of seafood a few times a week is a great way to keep your hamster healthy.
Do Hamsters Like Seafood?
While seafood is rich in flavor, it’s an acquired taste that many hamsters don’t enjoy.
It’s not uncommon for hamsters to ignore seafood in favor of a more preferable protein source, such as plain cooked chicken or dried insects.
There’s no harm in offering your hamster different seafood varieties to see how it responds. You may find that it likes a particular type and leaves the rest.
Hamsters also get mental enrichment from tearing and chewing the meat.
How Much Seafood Can Hamsters Have?
Hamsters can’t handle too much seafood in one go as it overloads their small digestive systems. Hamster species vary in size, meaning they have different food requirements.
Stick to the following feeding schedule according to your hamster’s species:
- Dwarf hamsters: a teaspoon of seafood every month
- Roborovski hamsters: a teaspoon of seafood every other week
- Syrian hamsters: a teaspoon of seafood every week
Nutritional imbalances occur when hamsters overeat seafood, so don’t exceed these limits.
Is Seafood Safe for Hamsters?
As long as you adhere to the recommended feeding limits, seafood has the following health benefits for hamsters:
Hamsters are omnivores, which means they need a certain amount of protein to survive.
It’s a common misconception that hamsters only eat plant-based foods. Insects are an essential part of their diet in the wild. That’s why hamsters benefit from a small amount of seafood.
The amino acids in seafood aren’t available in other foods, helping your hamster’s muscles and tissue grow strong.
Your hamster will get the optimum nutrition from a diet that incorporates:
- Boiled or scrambled egg
- Plain cooked chicken
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The American Journal of Pathology confirms that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for preventing skeletal muscle lesions. Omega-3 also prevents inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
Seafood contains several minerals, including:
While hamsters need only small quantities of minerals, they’re essential for their health and function.
Seafood is high in vitamins, including vitamin A and B-vitamins.
According to the Nutritional Requirements of the Syrian Hamster, hamsters require vitamin A for normal growth. Vitamin A is particularly vital for nursing hamsters, as a deficiency causes slow development in babies. Alongside small amounts of seafood, carrots and green vegetables are healthy sources of vitamin A.
B-vitamins are equally as important. A study conducted by The Journal of Nutrition discovered that male Syrian hamsters have malnutrition, muscular weakness, and fur changes after a period of vitamin B₆ deficiency.
Vitamin B also helps counter the effects of stress. Stress exacerbates certain health conditions, meaning vitamin B can keep hamsters healthy and disease-free.
According to Nutritional and Biochemical Techniques in Fisheries, fish and seafood are excellent sources of natural antioxidants.
Antioxidants are essential for the body’s immunity and preventing health conditions. Seafood is also a source of unsaturated fatty acids, which are an important part of a healthy diet.
Is Seafood Bad for Hamsters?
We’ve mentioned how seafood is healthy in moderation. However, there are some issues to consider:
Hamsters can have allergic reactions to food and bedding. It’s not that unusual for them to be allergic to seafood.
The most common signs of allergies include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Discharge from the eyes or nose
- Changes to the fur
Certain types of shellfish are high in salt. Shrimp and crab contain more sodium than other types of seafood, with an average of 947 mg and 395 mg of sodium per 100 g.
Sodium is dangerous in large doses and can be fatal for hamsters. Most hamsters get the salt they need from their pellets and seed mix, so restrict the amount of seafood you give your pet.
Not all seafood is fresh out of the water. Due to the ocean’s high pollution levels, seafood is commonly contaminated. This can result in diarrhea and food poisoning, which takes a toll on a hamster’s small and fragile body.
Similarly, seafood from farms is contaminated. Seafood raised on farms is routinely treated with antibiotics to prevent infections.
Not only does this mean hamsters are at risk of consuming the antibiotics, but it means harmful bacteria become resistant to them, making health conditions harder to treat.
Therefore, you must buy any seafood you intend to give your hamster from a reputable source, ensuring it’s as fresh as possible. Aim for wild-caught seafood wherever you can.
Shellfish and other types of seafood are likely to contain a build-up of metals, including mercury.
Smaller seafood is more likely to be contaminated than larger species. Thankfully, shrimp is low in mercury, but most seafood contains small traces, so feeding in moderation is so important.
Can Hamsters Eat Shrimp?
Shrimp is one of the most popular and commonly-fed seafood varieties hamsters eat.
It’s not quite as fishy as other types of fish and has a milder taste. We’ve mentioned that it’s low in mercury. As it’s a light meat, it doesn’t sit too heavily on a hamster’s stomach.
However, not all hamsters enjoy the taste of shrimp. Dried shrimp is easier to feed hamsters than the freshly cooked kind. It lasts longer and doesn’t need to be removed from your hamster’s enclosure. That being said, dried shrimp has a more potent flavor, which may put some hamsters off.
Don’t feed your hamster slimy or faded shrimp, as this signifies that shrimp’s started to decay.
Can Hamsters Eat Prawns?
Prawns are a rich source of protein, selenium, and zinc, all of which work hard to maintain a healthy immune system and cells. Prawns also contain many B-vitamins, which are essential for hamsters.
However, prawns are common allergens and can cause an allergic reaction. When feeding your hamster a cooked prawn for the first time, only give it a small piece to see how it reacts.
If it develops any allergy symptoms, immediately stop feeding it prawns. Prawns also contain more sodium than white fish, so they’re strictly an occasional treat.
Can Hamsters Eat Crab?
There’s little research surrounding the safety of feeding hamsters crab. We know that crab is lower in mercury than other seafood, but brown crab meat contains high levels of cadmium.
This is a chemical element that’s toxic in high doses. Crab is also high in sodium. According to SF Gate, a 3-ounce serving of crab contains 911 mg of salt.
Even though crab contains protein and essential B-vitamins, the risks of eating crab outweigh the health benefits.
Can Hamsters Eat Crab Sticks?
Despite the name, crab sticks aren’t made of pollock, a type of white fish.
Crab sticks aren’t a healthy option for hamsters. They’re highly processed and contain too much sodium. They’re also made with sweeteners, oils, wheat starch, and food dyes.
These ingredients aren’t good for hamsters to eat. Not only that, but crab sticks also lack many of the B-vitamins hamsters need to be healthy, so they provide little nutritional value.
Can Hamsters Eat Lobster?
Lobster isn’t a good seafood choice for hamsters to eat. Like many other kinds of seafood, lobster contains too much sodium, as well as acid, fat, and sugar.
Hamsters are likely to become sick after eating lobster as their small bodies struggle to process the unnecessary nutrients. Stick to healthier seafood instead.
Can Hamsters Eat Crayfish?
Cooked crayfish is a rich source of:
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B12
Crayfish is high in amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for eyesight, ensure healthy joints, and prevent muscular degeneration.
Despite these health benefits, research published by the journal Heliyon suggests that crayfish contain concentrations of toxic metals, so you must only give your hamster tiny amounts.
While some types of seafood make a tasty and somewhat nutritious treat, dried insects and plain chicken are healthier protein sources and essential vitamins. Many hamsters also prefer the taste.