July 23, 2020

Can Hamsters Eat Apples?

Risks and Benefits

Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Apples are plentiful, juicy, and come in so many varieties. With names like Jazz, Pink Lady, and Red Delicious, it's enough to pique your curiosity and get your mouth watering.

What about hamsters? Can they enjoy the taste of a juicy apple along with you? This article will tell you all you need to know about apples and feeding them to your hamster in a way that is safe and delicious.

Can Hamsters Eat Apples?

Yes, hamsters can eat apples. The flesh and peel both can be a healthy treat for your pet. However, apples are high in sugar, which may cause weight gain, so follow our feeding instructions to avoid health problems. Also, apple seeds should be avoided because they contain amygdalin, which deteriorates into hydrogen cyanide and is toxic to hamsters.

Apples are high in vitamin C, low in cholesterol, full of antioxidants, and loaded with dietary fiber.

Apples have high levels of vitamin C and contain lots of fiber.
- Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

Another significant fact about giving apples to hamsters is that you don't need to worry about giving them the skin – you can wash and cut the apple with the skin still on, and it won't hurt your hamster at all. Seeds, on the other hand, should be avoided as they do contain cyanide.

Did you know that 90% of your hamster’s daily diet should be high-quality pellets or seed mix? By choosing good hamster food, you will keep your pet nourished and healthy.

Health Benefits: Are Apples Good for Hamsters?

Hamsters can enjoy apples as part of a healthy and balanced diet. There are several health benefits that can be enjoyed when apples are consumed.

  • Lower Diabetes Risk

Hamsters can develop diabetes; they can be afflicted with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. As a result, including apples in their diet may help your pet avoid this disease.

Some studies have linked eating apples to a reduced risk of diabetes. This effect is likely due to the antioxidants found in the apple, which prevent damaging chemical reactions in the body. Antioxidants also help guard against chronic illness.

  • Heart Health

Apples contain soluble fiber, which helps reduce blood cholesterol levels. There are also polyphenols, which are one kind of those helpful antioxidants we mentioned earlier. These are found in the peel of the apple, which is why it's OK to give your hamster the apple with the skin still attached.

One such polyphenol is epicatechin, which can help reduce blood pressure. There are also flavonoids, which lower bad (LDL) cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and act as antioxidants.

  • Good Gut Health

Apples contain pectin. It is a prebiotic and feeds the gut's "good bacteria." The small intestine does not absorb fiber during the process of digestion. It instead goes to the colon, where it can promote good bacteria growth.

  • Good Bone Health

Your hamster needs healthy bones to stay active and play on that hamster wheel! Eating fruit is connected to having a higher bone density, and apples especially may have a positive effect on the health of your bones.

apples on wooden table

Health Risks: Are Apples Bad for Hamsters?

Even though apples are a highly nutritious food, there are some health risks you should know about before you opt to feed them to your hamster.

  • Sugar Content Is High

Apples are high in natural sugar. For humans, this is not a big deal, but for hamsters, it can be excessive. This is why apples should only be given once a week.

  • Apple Seeds Are Toxic

Apple seeds should never be given to a hamster. The reasoning behind this is that the seeds contain a compound called amygdalin. This is found in many fruits, such as peaches, cherries, and apricots.

This is part of the natural defenses of the seeds. When seeds are intact, the compound is harmless. However, when seeds are chewed, digested, or otherwise damaged, the amygdalin deteriorates into hydrogen cyanide, which is lethal when consumed in large amounts. Cyanide interferes with the oxygen supply of cells and can lead to death in just minutes when consumed at a high enough dose.

The amount of cyanide in apple seeds is not enough to harm humans, but when considering the small size of a hamster, it is best just to avoid giving them the seeds altogether. Make sure you visually inspect each apple slice before giving it to your hamster to be sure no seeds are present.

  • Watch Out for Pesticides

The Environmental Work Group, or EWG, creates a list each year known as "The Dirty Dozen." This list showcases fruits and vegetables that are the biggest offenders when it comes to pesticide residue. Apples rank in as number 5 on the list.

As a result, it is crucial that you buy organic apples for your hamster whenever possible, and always wash off the apples thoroughly before serving them to your pet.

  • Avoid Apple Products

It is not a good idea to feed applesauce or even apples that have already been pre-cut. Other apple products, such as apple chips, should also be avoided. These often feature preservatives or added sugars and are not as good for your hamster as a fresh, raw apple is.

  • Lack of Adequate Nutrition

Apples are not a primary staple food when it comes to hamsters. The bulk of your hamster's food will consist of commercially made food pellets as well as fresh water.

Supplementary food such as fruits, vegetables, and hard-boiled eggs may also be offered, but will not provide the hamster with adequate nutrition. Offer pellets as the primary food source, and fruits/veggies as a secondary source.

Feeding Guidelines: Apples for Hamsters

One slice of an apple once per week, cut into smaller chunks will be fine for your hamster. You can place it into the enclosure and allow your hamster to enjoy it. Observe your hamster as they eat and remove any uneaten food within two hours.

Safely feeding your hamster apples starts with smart shopping practices. Make sure that when you do shop for your hamster, you look for apples that are organic, if possible. This minimizes the risk of pesticide exposure.

Once you get your apples home, make sure you wash them thoroughly and store them properly. Once you are ready to feed your hamster an apple, make sure to cut a slice carefully and visually inspect it to make sure, it is free of seeds or rot. Then cut the apple into smaller cubes and offer it to your hamster.

Nutrition Facts

The size and type of your apple will alter calorie content, but for a medium, unpeeled, raw apple, here is what you get as far as nutrition goes.

  • 86% water

Hamsters should always have access to a fresh, clean supply of drinking water. It should be available around the clock for the hamster to enjoy.

Water keeps the body moving and performing all of its necessary functions.

Although fresh water is necessary, fruits and veggies also help keep your hamster hydrated after playing hard on the hamster wheel or rolling around in the hamster ball.

  • 13.8 G of Carbs

Carbohydrates are necessary when it comes to feeding your hamster. Carbs provide a source of energy for your active hamster, who runs five miles per day on his wheel!

Carbs will mostly come from your commercial food pellets, and also from treats like apples. Be sure to feed an appropriate amount- too many carbs can lead your hamster to become overweight or obese.

  • 2.4 G of Fiber

Apples are rich in fiber, which helps keep your hamster feeling full and keeps them eliminating daily. According to Glenway Animal Hospital, hamsters do require a diet high in fiber as it is crucial for digestive motility. It can be provided by way of commercial foods, and also through treats like apples.

Other helpful nutrients in the apple include: 

  • Vitamin C

Vitamin C is vital for your hamster's health. It is useful in keeping your hammy's immune system functioning in top shape and prevents the development of scurvy.

Scurvy is painful in that it leads to fur loss, lethargic behavior, crying out in pain when touched, weight loss, and difficulty walking. Providing apples and other safe fruits and vegetables help prevent scurvy from becoming a problem.

  • Potassium

Potassium is ultimately very good for your heart's health. The risk of stroke is lowered, as is blood pressure. It protects against losing muscle mass and helps preserve bone mineral density.

Kidney stone formation may also be prevented if adequate potassium is consumed. Potassium helps the body regulate fluid and controls the electrical activity of the muscles and the heart.

Bottom line: Can Hamsters Have Apples?

We hope this article about the health benefits of apples and how to feed them to your hamster has been helpful. Apples are great because they are available everywhere, are relatively low in cost, and can be enjoyed by the whole family, including your hamster.

Just make sure that you take precautions when feeding your hamster:

  • Make sure no seeds are present.
  • Make sure the fruit has been thoroughly washed.
  • Offer this up just once per week for optimal benefits.

Your hamster will love this sweet and delicious treat.

FAQ

Can hamsters eat apples with skin?

Yes, hamsters can eat apples with the skin. The apple peel is actually full of nutrients, and you can safely feed it to your hammy. You should still remember to wash the apple carefully before feeding it to your hamsters because the peel may contain pesticides.

Vet's Comment

Apples are a great treat for your hamster to enjoy once a week, as they have high levels of vitamin C and contain lots of fiber. Just make sure to remove the seeds and not over-feed your pet.

Remember that the majority of your hamster's diet should be commercial hamster pellets and timothy hay. In the wild, hamsters spend most of their time foraging for food, and making them hunt for their meals can be a great way to keep them busy and enrich their lives.

Try scattering your pet's pellets around the cage rather than putting them in a bowl, and try hiding their hay, pellets, or treats in cardboard tubes, boxes, or bags.

- Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

Vet-Approved by
Dr. Leonie McKinlay

DVM

Dr. Leonie McKinlay has always had a special fondness for animals and knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a veterinarian. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Calgary and then her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. Since graduation, Dr. McKinlay has been working at the same small animal practice, caring for dogs and cats.

NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your hamster's specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

Scroll to Top