Hamsters are meant to be easy pets that are suitable for children, and, in many ways, they are. Their needs are simple and, usually, quite easy to follow, particularly with appropriate research and veterinary support. However, hamster diets are not as flexible and easy as some people think, and a care-free attitude to hamster diets can lead to a number of health issues. Most notably, obesity is a very common issue in hamsters.
Feeding Hamsters Fruit
Fruit is the main perpetrator of hamster obesity, although vegetables can also become a problem. Although there are many fruits that hamsters are able to eat, their potential nutritious benefits are outweighed by the negative impact their sugar can have on a hamster. Unfortunately, fruit is delicious for hamsters, and many even start to refuse normal food in favor of treats. There are two common mistakes that hamster owners often make in regards to their hamster’s diet and fruit:
- High-sugar diets
Many hamster owners mistakenly feed their hamsters fruit, and high-sugar vegetables like carrots, as a central part of their diet. While your hamster can eat some fruits and high-sugar vegetables, they should be considered treats. Too much sugar can result in obesity, diarrhea, vomiting, and many other health problems.
- Portion sizes
Another way that some owners can mistakenly feed their hamster too much sugar, is if they are providing excessively large treats. Even if you are only giving your hamster fruit as a treat after they have finished their balanced diet of pellets and leafy greens, you may be giving your hamster very large servings. Keep in mind that a single grape is often far too large for one hamster to have every day. Try to aim for a quarter teaspoon of fruit twice a week, or contact your vet for more specific advice on individual fruit portions and benefits.
Although many people don’t realize it, avocados are fruits. They are considered a berry with a single seed. As described above, their sugar content is too high for many hamsters to be able to process healthily. As well as this, there are other nutritional concerns that may mean that avocados are unsuitable for your hamster to regularly consume:
- Avocados are very high in fat, which will mean that just a few bites will take up most of their daily calorie allowance.
- They are very acidic, which can cause intestinal issues if eaten in large quantities.
- They are rich in phosphorus, salt, and calcium, which are not nutritious for hamsters, particularly when eaten in excess.
While avocados do not have any nutrients that can be considered toxic for hamsters, and so can be enjoyed in very small, managed quantities, they are rich in many nutrients that your hamster will not benefit from. At an approximate 160 calories in every 100 grams – way more than 1 calories per gram – avocados are not a recommended addition to any hamster diet. If it helps, you should think of avocados for hamsters as comparable to ice-cream for humans. It is not healthy, beneficial or essential, but can be eaten in proportionately tiny amounts as part of a balanced, healthy diet.
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Avocado Health Concerns
Their lack of nutritional value is not the only issue that can occur with avocados, there are also other health concerns you should be aware of. First of all, you need to watch out for choking hazards. Generally, avocado stones are far too large for your hamster to even try to swallow. However, both the stones and skin can splinter into smaller, pieces that can pose a risk of choking. It may be tempting to pop a pit that still has a lot of avocado flesh into your hamster’s cage for them to nibble off, but be aware that they could nibble off a little more than they bargained for. If you offer avocado to your hamster, remove all traces of pits and skin.
Secondly, avocados can be very damaging for your hamster’s teeth. This may be surprising when you consider how soft avocados are, but its soft, sticky texture can be just as damaging to teeth as something rock solid. This is because sticky foods will get stuck to your hamster’s teeth and cause tooth decay. Hamsters are particularly vulnerable to this due to their food pouches. Impacted cheek pouches are a fairly common health problem for hamsters, and avocados are a typical example of the type of food that can cause it. If you are worried that your hamster is suffering from tooth decay and abscesses, watch out for these symptoms:
- Swelling around the mouth
- Excessive salivation and drooling
- Difficulty eating
- Signs of pain, such as cowering or vocalizations
Hamsters and Guacamole
A common avocado product that humans enjoy is guacamole. You may be thinking that, as guacamole is mostly avocado, a small taste is appropriate for your hamster. However, this is not necessarily true. Unfortunately, guacamole can have a wide variety of other additions that may be unsuitable for your hamster. At a bare minimum, it is likely to have added salt and lemon. Considering plain avocado already has too much salt and acidity to be considered healthy for a hamster, it is not advised that you feed them guacamole, which has even more salt and acidity.
As a general rule, do not give guacamole to your hamster, but, in particular, never offer store-bought guacamole to your hamster as you can never be sure what has gone into the product. Other ingredients may be toxic or harmful to your pet. If your method of making guacamole at home is just mashing ripe avocados, and you do not add any other ingredients, then a very small serving of a quarter of a teaspoon may be safe for your hamster as a treat. However, it still not a nutritious snack for them to eat.
Should You Feed Avocado To Your Hamster?
You can feed your hamster avocado if you want to as it is not toxic. Perhaps they are showing signs of interest and curiosity in the fruit, or have enjoyed it in the past. However, avocado is most definitely a treat to be offered sparingly to your hamster. Be careful to remove all traces of the pit and skin, and keep an eye on their oral and dental hygiene. Ultimately, it is worth highlighting that there are more nutritious and beneficial treats that you can offer to your hamster, which they may even enjoy more! Make sure to offer a nice variety to your hamster to ensure they are getting a nutritious, balanced diet.