We all love to see our chubby hamsters chomping down on some bread. But can hamsters eat bread? Does it have any side effects?
Surprisingly, it isn’t. Bread provides no useful nutrition to your hamster. And if eaten in large quantities (large for a hamster), it can lead to obesity and diabetes. And certain types of bread may lead to other consequences, including fatality.
So, what’s the bottom line here? Should you be feeding bread to a hamster? And what types of bread are suitable for hamsters?
Read on to find out all this and more!
What Do Hamsters Naturally Eat?
You’ve probably already wondered this at some point. What do hamsters eat in nature?
Hamsters rely on seeds, grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and cracked corn to fulfil their diet. Hence why their body thrives on proteins and nutrients more than carbs. Each species of hamster has a different diet. If your hamster is wild, chances are, it also eats insects, small frogs, and lizards, among other smaller critters.
Of course, you’re not going to feed frogs to your hamster. But most people can arrange seeds and grains. However, your hamster also needs a good source of protein. Most hamsters can safely eat egg whites, boiled chicken, and even soybeans.
A combination of fruits and vegetables should be given to fuel their need for vitamins and minerals. These can include any good fresh green vegetables. Consider feeding spinach, artichokes, carrot tops, and broccoli. Hamsters are not fond of water-rich foods such as watermelon.
Can Hamster Eat Bread?
Let’s cut right to the chase: Yes, and no. While bread does not pose an immediate danger to hamsters, it can, over time, lead to some nasty eating habits.
You see, bread is almost exclusively carb with little to no nutrition. Now, just because humans thrive on carbs does not mean that hamsters need it too. In reality, a hamster’s diet should be well-balanced and should consist of proteins and other nutrients. Carbs should never be on the menu.
But that’s not all. Depending on how much you feed your hamster, your hamster may develop obesity or diabetes due to overeating carbs. Of course, each of these diseases is a lot more complicated than that, which is why we’ve discussed them in detail later on.
Aside from this, there are a few other side-effects of eating bread, depending on the type of bread you feed it. White flour bread, for instance, causes bloating and pathological issues. Additionally, bread made with yeast can lead to serious complications, which we will discuss later.
In a nutshell, yes, some bread now and then is fine. And if your hamster is secretly munching on bread, it’s not a big deal. But if you’re actively feeding your hamster bread as a primary source of nutrition (which it isn’t), then you could be malnourished your hamster. And too much bread can lead to obesity and diabetes.
Safe Levels of Eating Bread for A Hamster
We’ve already established that you shouldn’t feed too much bread to a hamster. But how much is too much?
You’ll be surprised to know that some breeds can show side effects at even the first feeding. It is especially true of white bread, made from white flour. Such bread will provide little to no nutrients and can lead to bloating of the intestines and potential obesity.
Types of Bread Suitable for Hamsters
Can hamsters eat bread of any kind? And do certain types have more benefits than others? Not all bread is the same, after all.
Essentially, your hamster can eat most types of bread. But some types of bread are preferred over others. If you do have to feed your hamster bread, it is recommended to feed it whole grain bread.
Whole grain bread has more nutrients than other types of bread. While you shouldn’t rely on bread as your hamster’s main source of nutrients, mixing in some nutrients in the bread isn’t going to hurt.
Dry Bread and Crackers
Who doesn’t love crackers with tea? Almost everyone does. But what about hamsters? Is it permissible to feed dry bread or crackers to your hamster?
Here’s the good news: they’re safe! You can feed your hamster dried bread and crackers. This type of bread usually does not contain a lot of acids. So, heartburn and fermentation in the stomach do not occur.
This type of bread contains a lot of fiber, which is good and will help with any existing digestive problems.
However, do be wary of certain types of crackers. Some contain flavorings, and others contain preservatives. Be sure to buy plain crackers and always look at the ingredients list at the back.
What type of bread you shouldn’t feed Hamsters?
Never feed your hamster salted or flavored bread. Just plain bread will do fine. And it is recommended to only feed the hamster small pieces of bread once per week. Well, to be honest, it’s not recommended to feed it to them at all, as it neither has nutrition nor benefits.
White bread, made from white flour, is the most common type that we eat. And unfortunately, it’s the worst kind of plain bread for hamsters. White bread is made solely of starch and is stripped of all its vitamins and nutrients. This type can not only lead to bloating but other digestive issues.
Additionally, white bread has yeast in it, which leads to some serious complications. Yeast can cause:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Loss of appetite.
- Bloating and flatulence.
- Diseases of the heart.
- Short attention span.
- And even death.
So white bread is not all that nutritious, and at times harmful. But what about brown bread? Can hamsters eat bread made from rye?
You’ll be surprised to know that brown bread is more harmful than white bread. It has all the complications that white bread brings, along with some additional consequences.
Since rye or brown bread is more acidic than white bread, it can lead to:
- Stomach and mouth ulcers.
- Chronic colitis.
- Inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Diarrhea or constipation.
- Lethargy and irritability.
A Word on Overfeeding – Obesity in Hamsters
Overfeeding a hamster can lead to obesity. Even just a slice of bread is enough to cause bloating. Hamsters are more prone to obesity than any other animal. Simply feeding them foods too rich in carbs can lead to obesity very quickly.
Obesity can also be caused by exposure to daylight as well as extreme temperature levels. But overfeeding is the most common cause of obesity.
Diabetes In Hamsters
Aside from obesity, hamsters are also prone to diabetes. In fact, in many hamsters, diabetes is genetic. It’s a good idea to ask the pet shop owner about the hamster’s history and familial background. Even then, diabetes can be very hard to predict genetically.
But eating too many carbs can lead to diabetes as well. High-carb foods such as bread are especially dangerous to hamsters that are more prone to developing diabetes. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to only feed your hamster bread every once in a while.
Can hamsters eat bread? Yes, they can, but it’s not recommended to do so. Eating a few crumbs of bread here and there will not necessarily affect the hamster.
Bread does not provide any useful nutrition. And if it contains yeast, is white or rye bread, or has been flavored or salted, avoid feeding it to the hamster. Furthermore, do not overfeed the hamster as it can develop obesity and diabetes very quickly.
If your hamster is showing signs of fatigue or illness, contact your vet immediately.