Last Updated on: 24th September 2023, 04:03 pm
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, so choose fresh, wild-caught seafood. Avoid crab, crab sticks, and lobster, as they’re high in salt, sugars, and fats.
Not all hamsters enjoy eating seafood. Some hamsters also pouch the seafood and move it to their burrows, where it decomposes and attracts harmful bacteria.
Can Hamsters Eat Seafood?
Hamsters can have small amounts of dried and fresh seafood. However, as mentioned, it must be cooked. They mustn’t have raw seafood, as it’s unsuitable for their digestive systems.
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 a treat and not a staple part of a hamster’s diet. Feed it alongside the following:
- Scientifically formulated pellets (lab blocks).
- Quality seeds and nuts.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Insects like crickets and mealworms.
- Fish, like salmon, cod, and sardines.
Wild and farmed seafood is high in salt, which is unhealthy in large doses.
Hamsters require around 16% protein and 4-5% fat in their diet, so incorporating some seafood a few times a week is a good way to keep a 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 different 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.
Hamsters also get mental enrichment from tearing and chewing the meat.
How Much Seafood Can Hamsters Have?
Hamsters can’t eat too much seafood in one session as it overloads their digestive systems. Hamster species vary in size, meaning they have different food requirements.
Adhere to the following feeding schedule based on the 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 these feeding limits, seafood has health benefits for hamsters:
It’s a common misconception that hamsters only eat plant-based foods. Insects are an essential part of their diet in the wild, which is why hamsters benefit from a small amount of seafood.
The amino acids in seafood aren’t available in other foods, helping the muscles and tissue grow strong. A hamster will get the optimum nutrition from a diet that incorporates the following:
- 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, 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 A and B.
According to the Nutritional Requirements of the Syrian Hamster, hamsters require vitamin A for growth.
Vitamin A is vital for nursing hamsters, as a deficiency causes slow development in pups. Alongside small amounts of seafood, carrots and green vegetables are healthy sources of vitamin A.
B vitamins are equally important. A study by The Journal of Nutrition discovered that male Syrian hamsters have malnutrition, muscular weakness, and fur changes after vitamin B₆ deficiency.
Vitamin B also counters the effects of stress, which exacerbates certain health conditions.
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 for preventing health conditions. Seafood is also a source of unsaturated fatty acids, which are an essential part of a healthy diet.
Is Seafood Bad for Hamsters?
We’ve mentioned how seafood is healthy in moderation. However, there are 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 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, which can result in diarrhea and food poisoning.
Similarly, seafood raised on farms is treated with antibiotics. This means hamsters are at risk of consuming antibiotics, and bacteria become resistant to them, making health conditions harder to treat.
Therefore, you must buy seafood from a reputable source, ensuring it’s as fresh as possible. Get wild-caught seafood whenever possible.
Shellfish and other 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.
Can Hamsters Eat Shrimp?
Shrimp has a milder taste and is low in mercury. However, not all hamsters enjoy the taste of shrimp.
Dried shrimp is easier to feed hamsters than freshly cooked shrimp because it lasts longer. That 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 it has started to decay.
Can Hamsters Eat Prawns?
Prawns are a good source of protein, selenium, and zinc, all of which maintain a healthy immune system and cells. Prawns also contain many B vitamins, which are essential for hamsters.
However, prawns are common allergens. When feeding your hamster a cooked prawn for the first time, only give it a small piece. If it develops any allergy symptoms, stop feeding it prawns.
Prawns also contain more sodium than white fish.
Can Hamsters Eat Crab?
Crab is lower in mercury than other seafood, but brown crab meat contains high levels of cadmium.
Crab is high in sodium. According to SF Gate, a 3-ounce serving of crab contains 911 mg of salt.
Even though crab contains protein and B vitamins, the risks of eating crab outweigh the benefits.
Can Hamsters Eat Crab Sticks?
Despite the name, crab sticks aren’t made of pollock, a white fish.
Crab sticks aren’t healthy for hamsters because they’re highly processed and contain too much sodium. They’re also made with sweeteners, oils, wheat starch, and food dyes.
Crab sticks lack many of the B vitamins hamsters need to be healthy, providing little nutritional value.
Can Hamsters Eat Lobster?
Lobster isn’t a good seafood choice for hamsters to eat. Like many kinds of seafood, lobster contains too much sodium, acid, fat, and sugar.
Hamsters will likely become sick after eating lobster as their small bodies struggle to process the unnecessary nutrients.
Can Hamsters Eat Crayfish?
Cooked crayfish is a good source of the following nutrients:
- 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 by the journal Heliyon suggests that crayfish contain concentrations of toxic metals.
While some seafood makes a nutritious treat, dried insects and chicken are healthier protein sources.