Do hamsters eat apples?

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Are apples a tasty treat or a Snow White-level threat?

When you think of healthy, easy snacks, apples often spring right to mind. And when you have a fuzzy new friend who is equipped with teeth just made for crunching, it only makes sense to think of giving your hamster some apple pieces as a snack. 

(Read my guide to the best hamster food to help you choose when the time comes.)

But, since animal diets often vary greatly, do hamsters eat apples? Although a high-quality commercial hamster feed should be the foundation of a hamster’s diet, supplementing with small amounts of apple is a great food option for hamsters. Apples provide good vitamins and nutrients, provide an opportunity to chew and file those teeth, and are yummy! As long as they are cut and presented properly and given in moderation, apples are a great snack. Easy as (apple) pie.

An apple a day keeps the vet away?

Though it may be hyperbole to say that eating apples means you need never visit a doctor, this fresh fruit can actually contribute to your hamster’s health.

Apples can certainly be considered as a part of a well-balanced diet. 

Though they may be small and furry, hamsters, like any other mammal, require a balanced diet to stay in peak health. 

Apples provide many of the necessary nutrients for your pet while being low in calories and while containing zero cholesterol. Some of the most important found in apples are:

Vitamin C

Apples provide a good dose of vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy immune system to keep your hamster well and disease-free. 

Further, vitamin C is needed to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones

Though the science isn’t clear about how necessary vitamin C supplementation for hamsters is, making it a part of a well balanced diet makes good sense for the benefits mentioned here. 

Antioxidants

Apples are also rich in antioxidants, which have been known to combat the negative effects of free radicals in the body. 

There have been studies shown linking increased antioxidants to mitigating the risks of developing certain cancers, heart disease and diabetes in humans.

Fiber

A diet rich in fiber is important for hamsters

It means a gastrointestinal system that is functioning happily. 

Fiber encourages healthy gut function and proper gut bacteria growth, so your furry friend stays comfortable and regular. 

In fact, this is a case to make sure you do not neglect the apple peel, as this is where the majority of the fiber is found. 

Hamsters love chewing away on a delicious peel while unknowingly eating up all the best nutrients. Add chewing to the list of apple benefits. Hamsters need to chew to file those ever-growing teeth!

Take caution with the preparation

While the flesh of the apple is a great snack, there are parts of the fruit that you should avoid. 

For example, not only are the seeds not very tasty, they can prove poisonous to a hamster. 

Apple seeds contain small amounts of cyanide and, while there would not be enough present to harm a human who accidentally swallows one or a few, there is enough to hurt a tiny hamster.

It is important to give you hamster cut up apples or apple slices so as to avoid any contact with the seeds. 

Even just nibbling on one seed can cause a hamster to become seriously ill or even die as a result. Their tiny bodies are not well-equipped to fight off serious poisoning.

Always make sure to thoroughly wash your apple before cutting and preparing it. Though the skin itself may not be dangerous, any number of bacteria and contamination can be present. 

Since a hamster is, again, so small, they would likely be affected on a grander scale than a human’s digestive system.

Easy does it

Even when its a healthy treat, you should always take caution when introducing a new food into your pet’s diet. 

Too much of a system shock with something new can cause all kinds of stomach issues and bowel problems. Your hamster will likely eat whatever you put in front of them, so it’s up to you to control the portions.

And, while apples are generally considered a healthy snack, they are high in sugar. 

Since dwarf hamsters in particular are especially prone to diabetes, you should limit their apple intake to preferably no more than one slice a couple of times a week. 

You should consider, too, rotating other healthy, safe snacks, so that your hamster is exposed to the widest variety of nutrients and does not become overloaded with just a few.

Don’t let fruits as snacks overpower their regular diet, either, as they should still be consuming their regular feed for an abundance of nutrition. 

Conclusion

Apples are a yummy snack for your hamster. Not only are they a part of a well-balanced hamster diet, they provide something to chew on. Just remember to wash, slice and remove the seeds and limit the intake to a couple slices per week. So when I prep an apple for my kids, I usually give Daisy a slice to enjoy too!

References

Martinez-Flores, Hector & Chang, Yoon & Martínez-Bustos, F & Sgarbieri, Valdomiro. (2004). Effect of high fiber products on blood lipids and lipoproteins in hamsters. Nutrition Research – NUTR RES. 24. 85-93. 10.1016/j.nutres.2003.08.016.

Clausen, D. F., and W. G. Clark. 1943. Vitamin C requirement of the Syrian hamster. Nature 152:300–301.

National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on Laboratory Animal Nutrition. Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals: Fourth Revised Edition, 1995. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1995. 5, Nutrient Requirements of the Hamster.Available here