Strawberries are one of the most popular berry fruits in the world. These red, heart-shaped, plump bursts of sweetness, are often quite difficult for us humans to resist. Apart from their sweet, delicious taste, they also offer us numerous health benefits.
However, can hamsters eat strawberries?
The answer is YES; strawberries are safe for most hamsters to eat.
However, they may cause some health problems if fed in excessive amounts or if they are given to specific breeds of hamsters.
In this article we will discuss the benefits and also any possible risks of feeding strawberries to your hamster, so you can make an informed choice of what is best for your pet.
The Health Benefits of Strawberries For Hamsters
Strawberries are a good source of vitamins C and K, antioxidants, dietary fiber, folic acid, and potassium.
Let’s take a closer look at the health benefits these might offer your hamster:
Vitamin C(1) is important to protect and repair cells in the body, and for the healing of wounds. It is also needed for the function of a healthy immune system, to help the body fight against diseases.
Vitamin K(2) is important for the normal blood clotting process in the body.
Antioxidants prevent cellular damage in the body, even helping to protect against cancer and disease. Some studies in hamsters have shown that strawberries helped to reduce the incidence of oral cancer, as well as reducing the pathways leading to cancer, including excessive cell proliferation and new blood vessel formation(3) (4).
The high fiber content in strawberries slows digestion, encourages a healthy digestive system and helps to regulate blood sugar levels(5).
This mineral is important for normal reproduction in hamsters (6). It is also required for the production of new red blood cells, which helps prevent anemia.
Potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte in the body. It is necessary for the function of the muscles, helping to control water balance, blood pressure, the heartbeat and breathing(7).
How Much Strawberry Should I Feed My Hamster?
In this instance, more is definitely not better. When feeding strawberries to your hamster, it is best to restrict the amount to a few mouthfuls once or twice a week.
This amount offers variety and flavor to your hamster’s diet, provides essential vitamins and minerals but also helps to prevent the risk of feeding too much strawberry.
What Are the Risks If A Hamster Eats Strawberries?
Introducing a new food, especially fruit, into your hamster’s diet always comes with a risk of upsetting its digestive system. This can lead to problems such as diarrhea.
If this happens, just stop the new food, ensure your hamster is eating and drinking normally, and bring him to a veterinarian if there is no improvement within 24 hours. To reduce the risk of digestive upset, introduce a new fruit to the hamster’s diet slowly and in tiny amounts.
Remember to choose strawberries that appear fresh, firm, and deep red in color. Wash the berries first, to remove any residues of chemicals or pesticides that might be present. Also make sure there is no mold on the berries, which could make your hamster sick if they eat it.
Strawberries are naturally rich in sugar, which gives them their delicious, sweet taste. However, if your hamster is fed too many strawberries it my put it at risk of gaining weight or developing diabetes.
Which Hamster Breeds Should NOT Eat Strawberries?
Dwarf hamsters, especially Chinese hamsters, are very prone to diabetes. Diabetes in hamsters has been studied considerably to allow us to learn more about diabetes in humans(8).
Common signs of diabetes in hamsters include weight loss, increased drinking and cataracts. If you have a Chinese hamster, then you can help delay or prevent diabetes by feeding your hamster a healthy and suitable diet.
Unfortunately, it is best if sweet fruit like strawberries, and commercial hamster treats are not included in their diet!
Strawberries are a safe and healthy option for most hamsters.
They are a good source of vitamins C and K, antioxidants, dietary fiber, folic acid, and potassium.
However, due to their high sugar content, your hamster should only be offered a few mouthfuls as a treat, as part of a good quality and balanced diet.
Care should be taken with Chinese hamsters due to their predisposition to develop diabetes, and it is usually best if they do not eat strawberries.
Always introduce new foods to your hamster slowly and in small amounts to help prevent digestive upsets, like diarrhea. If you are unsure about your hamster’s diet, then it is always best to seek veterinary advice. Now you know all about feeding strawberries to your hamster, you can make an informed decision about your pet’s diet. Lets help our hamsters have the best opportunity to have a long lifespan.
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Margarita graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2011, earning a Bachelor of Veterinary Science with distinction. Having enjoyed working in both small animal and equine practice, she chose to focus solely on companion animals. She has a special interest in small animal internal medicine and ophthalmology. Her interests outside of work include traveling the globe, writing and volunteering.