These furry little critters have found themselves a spot in our homes and hearts. Since you're reading this, you must have fallen prey to a hamster's wily charms. You want your hamster happy and healthy, and you might be wondering what and how to feed it.
People often think of hamsters as herbivores, but they are actually omnivores. In the wild, they'll happily snack on insects and even worms along with grasses, greens, and fruit. Your domesticated friend has the same dietary needs as his wild cousin. It's up to you to make sure he's eating right.
Can Hamsters Eat Bananas?
Yes, hamsters can eat banana. In moderation, banana is a healthy treat to feed hamsters as it contains C and B Vitamins. Still, follow our feeding instructions because the sugar may cause weight gain and diabetes. Banana peel is safe for hamsters and healthier than the flesh because it’s lower in sugar but high fiber.
Hamsters usually love the taste too and will enjoy this delicious fruit. If offered as an occasional treat, it can supplement your pet's pellets or seed mix.
An exception to the rule might be dwarf hamsters and any individuals that are prone to diabetes. For these, it may be better to avoid fruit altogether due to the high sugar content. You can always consult with your hamster's vet if you have any concerns or questions.
Nutritionally balanced pellets or seed mix should make up 90% of your hamster’s diet. Because high-quality food is vital to your pet’s health, check out the top picks for vet-approved food for hamsters.
Health Benefits: Are Bananas Good for Hamsters?
Hamsters can be very hard to read. You may not realize your hamster lacks something in his diet until he falls sick, and hamsters are often picky too. When fed on seed mixes, they tend to select their favorite ingredients and ignore the rest.
Bananas are on the sweet side, but quite nutritious. It makes them a good choice of fruit for your hamster.
Pellets provide a better guarantee that your hamster is eating a balanced diet. But some hamsters will refuse pellets too, eating just enough to survive.
If your hamster is fussy about his food, adding fresh fruit and veggies is a good idea. It helps to ensure your pet is getting all the nutrients he needs.
Lots of Vitamin B
Bananas are an excellent source of vitamin B6. They also contain some other B group vitamins. This alone makes bananas a good treat for your hamster.
Vitamin B6 is essential for your hamster to maintain good health. It helps to keep skin, nerves, and red blood cells functioning optimally.
The vitamins in the B complex work to keep your hamster healthy in several ways; they aid in digestion and maintaining good energy levels. They also help with brain and nerve cell function and contribute toward good eyesight.
Feeding your hamster a little bit of banana can help make sure he's getting enough of this much-needed vitamin. It is especially true if he's picky with his food.
Bananas Also Provide Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for your hamster. A powerful antioxidant, it helps to boost the immune system. The body also uses vitamin C to form collagen, skin and connective tissue. It's also required to heal wounds and form scar tissue.
A prolonged lack of vitamin C in your hamster's diet may result in a condition known as scurvy. In severe cases, your hamster's back legs may become paralyzed. It's very important to make sure your hamster is getting enough of this essential nutrient. Bananas are an excellent source, so an occasional helping will help your pet good.
Good Source of Magnesium
Bananas are also a good way to add some magnesium to your pet's diet. As a useful, all-round nutrient, it's needed for hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium supports your hamster's immune system and helps to keep his bones strong, while maintaining healthy muscle and nerve function.
A special point to note is that magnesium helps to adjust glucose levels in the blood. Many hamsters are prone to diabetes, and this mineral is a must in their diet. Feeding treats like bananas will help make sure yours is getting enough magnesium in his diet.
Health Risks: Are Bananas Bad for Hamsters?
Bananas are a tasty way to feed your hamster some essential nutrients. And there's nothing at all toxic about them to a hamster. But there's more you need to know about bananas before feeding them to your pet.
High Sugar Content
Bananas are an excellent way to top up your hamster's nutrition, but there's a downside too: sugar. Sugar plus hamster generally equals big health problems. Hamsters love sweet stuff, but they are not built to handle it.
Your pet can digest small amounts of sugar, but not nearly as well as you. If he does get something sweet, it needs to be accompanied by a hefty dose of fiber. The fiber will slow down the sugar absorption and prevent a blood sugar spike.
It's particularly important to know that dwarf hamsters are prone to diabetes. No hamster should be fed much sugar, but these pint-size pets need extra care.
To avoid any problems, particularly long-term, feed banana in strict moderation. It is definitely not a treat you can give daily. Bananas may even need to be avoided altogether if your pet is one of the diabetes-prone types. It's also worth checking with your vet before feeding if your hamster has any existing health conditions.
Related reading: Healthy Hamster Treats
Potential Pesticide Hazard
Bananas are a very popular fruit worldwide, and most are grown on a commercial scale. What this means is that there's a lot of chemicals that may be sprayed on bananas before they reach you. Most pesticide residue is likely to be found on the skin.
Banana peels are just as edible as the fruit. They would actually be better for your hamster because they're less sugary. But because of the pesticide hazard, they're best removed and thrown away. If you're going to feed your hamster, feed just the fruit itself. Organically grown banana skin would be safe for your hamster to munch on.
We've already mentioned that bananas are healthy, but only as a snack. You need to control how much sugar your pet consumes. It is the best way of making sure your hamster gets the benefits with no risks.
Once or twice per week is okay.
A Tiny Serving is Enough
Hamsters are very small creatures. One whole banana may be good for you, but spells disaster for your pet. Give no more than a quarter of a teaspoon's worth at a time. A hamster really doesn't need any more sugar than that, and unless you're sure the fruit is organic, remove the skin first.
Don't Give Banana Frequently
Your hamster shouldn't get banana every day. Keep this sugary snack down to once or twice per week. It's also a good idea to feed the banana after he's eaten his pellets or seed mix. That way, you can be sure he has enough fiber in his tummy to prevent a sugar spike.
Bananas are a good snack for pets low on energy, and they're healthy too.
That is, of course, if they're eaten in moderation.
High-Carb, High-Sugar Food
There are a whopping 89 calories in just 100 grams of banana. That's much heavier than many other fruits. Sugar makes up a hefty 12 grams of the same 100. Yes, there are 2.6 grams of fiber to help digest the sugar, but it's not a great ratio.
With only 0.3 grams per 100, there's little fat in bananas too. The protein content is also relatively low, with only 1.1 grams out of 100. These values are safe enough for your hamster. The sole reason your pet shouldn't consume much banana is the high sugar content, nothing else.
Good Dose of Vitamin C and Magnesium
Bananas contain several nutrients, but many of them come in smaller amounts. What stands out is vitamin C and magnesium. 100 grams of banana will give 8.7 and 27 mg of each, respectively.
Both nutrients are essential for your hamster's health. Vitamin C keeps his immune system going strong while magnesium does a lot to help prevent diabetes, a common problem with these little animals.
These tasty fruits make a great addition to a hamster's diet, but only as a snack. A very small serving fed after his main meal once or twice a week is healthy. It will bolster your hamster's nutrition, especially if he's picky with his food.
Because of the high sugar content, though, feeding too much banana does no good. It can lead to long-term problems like diabetes. It is especially true with dwarf hamsters. If you have any cause to be concerned, you can always opt for something less sugary.
Can hamsters eat banana peels?
Yes, hamsters can eat banana peels. The whole fruit is safe for your hamster to ingest– peel included. The peel actually has less sugar and more fiber than the fruit's flesh, which makes it healthier. It is recommended only to feed your hamster with the peel of organic bananas because bananas often get heavily sprayed with pesticides.
In any case, you should always thoroughly wash the fruit before serving. You should also remember that bananas are a high sugar food that can cause health problems for your hammy if not fed in moderation.
Hamsters are adorable pocket-sized pets, and we all love to spoil our fur-babies. It's a win-win if you can treat your hamster with something that is also nutritious, and bananas fit that mold pretty well.
Small amounts of banana, (including the skin if organic) make a yummy, occasional treat for your hamster. Providing vitamins C, B, and magnesium, bananas also have very high sugar content, which is the primary concern.
Banana skin is a healthier option for your little ham-friend as it's lower in sugar while also being a good fiber source. However, pesticides in the skin are a concern, so only feed the skin if the banana is organic.
Hamsters, particularly dwarf breeds, are prone to the endocrine disease, diabetes. Similar to humans, overindulgence in sugar can lead to this alongside obesity, which brings many other health concerns, including heart problems and a shortened life expectancy.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Edele Grey, BSc, MVB, PGCertESM, MRCVS was born and raised in Ireland on a farm, so she was destined for veterinary-related work from a young age. Dr. Grey attended the only veterinary university in Ireland, the University College Dublin, and graduated in 2013. Since graduation, Dr. Grey has worked with a range of exotic, companion, and production animal species.
NOTE: Advice provided within this article 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.