Last Updated on: 24th September 2023, 07:17 pm
Hamsters are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and meat. Although nutritious and a good source of vitamins and minerals, hamsters mustn’t over-consume animal protein.
The healthiest types of meats for hamsters are plain-cooked chicken and turkey. Lean beef and lamb are also okay in small quantities as a snack, but they’re fatty and high in sodium (salt).
Excessive red meat and processed meat (like bacon, sausages, and lunch meat) can lead to weight gain and health problems like heart and kidney disease.
Can Hamsters Eat Meat?
Hamsters primarily eat grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and insects. They don’t eat animal protein, as it’s not something they usually encounter when foraging for food.
Small amounts of meat can be beneficial because it contains essential amino acids that aren’t found in plant-based foods. That said, not all meats are healthy.
Hamsters require approximately 16% protein in their diets, which should be considered in the context of an overall food intake of around 11-14 grams per day.
Can Baby Hamsters Eat Meat?
According to Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals, baby hamsters (pups) require small amounts of protein to grow. Pups start eating solid foods once they reach 10 days old.
Mother hamsters need extra protein while they’re pregnant or nursing their young. So, small amounts of plain-cooked meat keep them strong and healthy while replenishing depleted resources.
What Meats Can Hamsters Eat?
Aside from crickets, mealworms, and other insects, hamsters don’t eat animal meat in the wild.
So, some hamsters won’t eat meat. However, hamsters can eat some kinds of meat, but it should be free from preservatives and added ingredients, like salt and flavorings.
Can Hamsters Eat Cooked Meat?
Cooked meat is more suitable for hamsters than raw meat. Forbes explains how raw meat can cause sickness if it is contaminated with bacteria, so it’s best to cook food.
However, meat fried in oil will be too fatty. Also, cooked chicken is likely to contain more water, risking diarrhea. It’s better to overcook meat than undercook it.
Hamsters also pouch meat and store it in their burrows. If left for too long and not removed from the cage soon enough, meat can go rotten, making the hamster sick.
Can Hamsters Eat Chicken?
Hamsters can eat plain cooked chicken breast. Chicken is lean meat, so a small piece occasionally won’t make your hamster fat. Most hamsters enjoy eating chicken due to its subtle taste and soft texture.
What’s more, chicken is a good source of the following nutrients:
- Vitamins B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 (folate).
Chicken is low in carbohydrates and fats, making it one of the healthiest animal protein options.
Chicken nuggets and chicken tenders are unsuitable for hamsters. The breadcrumbs are cooked in oil and contain harmful ingredients that could make your hamster unwell or obese.
You may also wonder whether chicken bones are safe. Sharp bone fragments could pierce a hamster’s cheek pouches or lead to cheek pouch impaction.
Can Hamsters Eat Turkey
Turkey is a similar type of white meat to chicken. As long as it is cooked plainly without any added ingredients, it’s a suitable option for hamsters occasionally.
Hamsters can even eat cooked turkey skin, but it must be plain and free from additives. Never provide the hamster with turkey bones because they can fragment and become dangerous.
Can Hamsters Eat Lunch Meat?
Lunch meat, such as ham, is high in salt and preservatives to keep it on supermarket shelves for longer. It’s also heavily processed and packed with water to make it heavier, making it an unhealthy option.
Lunch meat bought from butchers is less processed, but it’s not the healthiest option and should be avoided in favor of fresh, leaner cuts of meat.
Can Hamsters Eat Fish?
Fish is a healthy source of animal protein and contains many essential nutrients, including vitamin D, calcium, iron, phosphorus, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish can help keep a hamster’s immune system, bones, brain function, and energy levels healthy.
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that hamsters that consumed fish oil enjoyed increased antioxidant status and inhibited oxidative stress levels.
However, one of the main negatives of fish is that it’s high in sodium, mercury, and pollutants due to declining water quality in certain places. For example, tuna is particularly high in mercury.
Can Hamsters Eat Pork?
While pork is a good source of animal protein, it’s red meat. Two of the main problems with pork, particularly sausages, are they’re too salty and fatty.
Fat causes hamsters to become obese, increasing the risk of heart, liver, and kidney problems. Besides, pork is notoriously easy to undercook, especially when reheated.
Pork rind is often fried, making it unhealthy for hamsters. Pork chops are the leanest type when grilled or cooked in an air fryer.
Is Bacon Safe for Hamsters?
Bacon is unhealthy for hamsters to eat. Like pork, bacon is fatty and high in salt.
Hamsters have a low tolerance for fatty foods, as they raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of strokes and heart disease.
Can Hamsters Eat Beef?
Beef can be a good meat option for hamsters as long as it’s thoroughly cooked. The main problem with beef, particularly steaks and minced beef, is that it’s often cooked in oil, rendering it unhealthy.
It’s also fatty red meat, so it must only be fed in tiny quantities as a treat.
Corned beef, beef jerky, and beef sticks are processed and are unsafe for hamsters.
Is Lamb Safe for Hamsters?
Lamb is among the fattiest meats, so many owners prefer not to feed it to their hamsters. However, a small amount of lamb every once in a while is unlikely to harm a hamster.
If you feed a hamster meat, only offer a small amount at a time. Most meats are high in fat and salt.
Feeding more than a tablespoon a week for Syrian hamsters and half a tablespoon for dwarf species will cause them to gain weight and develop high blood pressure (hypertension).