April 21, 2021

Can Hamsters Eat Broccoli? Here's What A Vet Says

hamster dreaming of broccoli

Vet Explains

Broccoli is one of those veggies you can either love or hate. Well, that is in terms of taste. In terms of health benefits, broccoli is the ultimate superfood. Just name a healthy nutrient, and you can find it in the broccoli's dark green florets or tree-trunk-like, pale green stalks. Simply put, you can either love it or hate it, but broccoli is genuinely healthy.

Pet parents belonging to the group of people loving broccoli often want to share their love with their hamsters. But can hamsters eat broccoli? Can hamsters eat the florets and stalks? How much broccoli is alright, and are there any risks? With so many questions, it is normal for hamster parents to get confused.

Luckily, you can find all the answers here. This article is the ultimate guide on what is excellent about broccoli for hamsters and the safety considerations. Let's dive into the topic.

Broccoli for Hamsters

Yes, hamsters can eat broccoli. Broccoli is loaded with protein, dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Simultaneously, they are low in calories, sugars, and fat, thus making an excellent treat for hamsters. However, follow portion sizes as too much broccoli can cause tummy troubles in hamsters.

Therefore, broccoli is safe when served in small amounts and occasionally. In simple words, it makes a good treat choice. Hamsters love their fair share of treats – fruits, veggies, and meat. However, treats should not comprise more than 10% of the hamster's daily food intake.

Broccoli is an excellent treat for hamsters that do not mind bitter-tasting veggies
- Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM

The brick and mortar of hamster nutrition are high-quality seed mix or hamster pellets. Seed mixes or pellets should make up 90% of the daily food intake. Considering that broccoli is a veggie, we can conclude that it should not be fed daily and in excess amounts.

Can hamsters eat broccoli flowers, leaves, and stalk?

Yes, that is the beauty of the broccoli – it is entirely edible. Hamsters can safely enjoy the taste and benefits all broccoli parts offer.

The good news is that hamsters can be fed broccoli as there is nothing toxic about it. However, the fact that there is nothing toxic does not mean they can engorge on this veggie.

What about baby hamsters?

Sadly, baby hamsters are not allowed to munch on broccoli. They have way too sensitive tummies and specific dietary requirements. Baby hamsters will have to wait until adulthood to start eating broccoli.

broccoli on table

Do hamsters like broccoli?

Well, just like humans, every hamster has unique taste buds, and you cannot know whether one loves or hates broccoli until you try it. This is because broccoli has a somewhat bitter taste and a characteristic smell.

If your hamster likes broccoli, let it nibble, and if it does not, do not worry; there are plenty of other healthy veggies your hamster can benefit from.

Although broccoli sounds like the perfect vegetable for your hammy, there are a few health considerations you should be aware of before feeding it. But before looking at the possible health risks and the correct serving size, we'll explain a bit more about the benefits of broccoli.

Health Benefits: Is Broccoli Good For Hamsters?

There are many reasons every superfoods list includes broccoli. Let's see which health benefits broccoli brings to the table when it comes to hamsters.

It is loaded with healthy nutrients while low in calories

Fighting cancer

As surprisingly as it may sound, the simple broccoli contains over 33 different cancer-fighting compounds.

Some of those chemicals belong to the phytonutrients group and express their anti-cancer properties by inhibiting the formation of carcinogens or, if already formed, stopping them from attacking the normal, healthy cells.

Other compounds are of the antioxidants group, which prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals.

Finally, broccoli contains compounds that promote the formation of enzymes responsible for destroying carcinogens. Even when cooked, broccoli releases indole – a potent cancer-fighting enzyme.

All in all, broccoli can undoubtedly decrease your hamster's chances of developing cancer.

Broccoli stalks as teeth files

Hamsters need to munch on rough-textured foods to file down their teeth. The broccoli stalks are excellent for this purpose. Not only will they keep the hamster's teeth clean and well-trimmed, but they are also loaded with healthy nutrients.

Body-weight management

Although there are plenty of proteins, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in broccoli, the calories, fats, and sugars are minimal. This is excellent news for hamsters as these tiny creatures are very prone to obesity.

If you want to provide your hamster with something that is nutritious, healthy, and low in calories, broccoli is the ideal choice.

Wide specter of vitamins and minerals

Here is a short overview of the broccoli's vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin C – keeps the colds and infections at bay and promotes healthy iron metabolism
  • Vitamin A – boosts vision, skin, and coat health.
  • Vitamin K - promotes bone growth and facilitates blood clotting
  • B9 (folate or folic acid) – ensures brain health and participates in DNA formation processes
  • Potassium – improves cardiac function and regulates blood pressure
  • Calcium – vital for strong and healthy bones.

Health Risks: Is Broccoli Bad For Hamsters?

If broccoli is so healthy, why not feed them every day? Well, as with any other food items, excess amounts do not equal more benefits. On the contrary, serving your hamsters huge broccoli portions or offering them every day is associated with several health risks.

Tummy troubles

If your hamster overeats on broccoli, it might develop an upset tummy and experience gassiness, bloating, and diarrhea. This is because hamsters are of diminutive size, and their delicate stomachs get irritated very easily.

Diarrhea is a severe issue in hamsters as it can lead to dehydration or wet tail, which is a life-threatening condition. A wet tail can quickly put your hamster's life at risk and requires prompt veterinary attention.

broccoli on table

To avoid these issues start by offering a tiny piece of broccoli and then watch your hamster very closely for any signs of indigestion and diarrhea.

If you notice any diarrhea or stomach upsets, contact a vet for advice on how to help your pet.

Heavy pesticide treatments

Many pests and insects like broccoli which is why growers treat these veggies with different pesticides and insecticides. These chemicals are toxic and dangerous not just for the parasites but for people and hamsters too.

To avoid the risks of pesticide and insecticide residues, either buy organic or carefully wash and clean the broccoli.

Choking hazard 

If your hamster likes the taste of broccoli, it can try gulping down on as much broccoli as possible, and some florets can mistakenly end up in the wrong pipe, causing choking.

Serving the broccoli well-chopped is a good way of decreasing the choking risk

Feeding Guidelines: Broccoli For Hamsters

Now that we have covered the health benefits and risks of feeding broccoli to your hamster, it is time to explain certain feeding guidelines. As mentioned, the portion size, serving frequency, and method are of paramount importance.

You need to be mindful of the veggies you serve together with the broccoli.

How much broccoli can hamsters eat?

The serving size of broccoli for hamsters is between half and one teaspoon. Namely, Syrian hamsters and Robo hamsters can eat one teaspoon, while the portion size for Dwarf hamsters is half a teaspoon. These guidelines are for adult hamsters – baby hamsters are not allowed to eat broccoli.

We already mentioned that the broccoli leaves are edible too. Adult Syrian and Robo hamsters can safely eat one large or two smaller broccoli leaves. Dwarf hamsters can eat one smaller leaf.

When offering your hamster broccoli for the first time, do not start with the whole portion. Instead, give only a quarter or third of the recommended serving size and see what happens.

If there are no signs of tummy troubles, you can assume your hamster can handle broccoli and then gradually increase the amount you offer.

On the other hand, if broccoli happens to be too much for your hamster, exclude it from the menu and start offering an alternative, like celery or cucumber.

How often can hamsters eat broccoli?

The broccoli's serving frequency should be few times a week. However, the exact number varies based on the hamster's size. In other words, Syrian hamsters can eat broccoli three times a week, Robo hamsters can eat twice a week, and Dwarf hamsters only once a week.

If your hamster likes broccoli taste, it will not mind eating this veggie couple of times a week. However, moderation is vital.

What is more, you need to be mindful of the veggies you serve together with the broccoli. Always look at the bigger picture and try not to give nutritionally similar veggies two days in a row to ensure a nutritionally varied diet.

hamster feeding

How to prepare broccoli for hamsters? 

Begin by broccoli shopping at your local grocery store or the farmer's market.

1. Always choose fresh broccoli that is free from discolorations, molding, and decay signs.

When choosing, ask whether the broccoli looks like something you would eat. If the answer is yes, the broccoli is okay for your hamster too. When shopping, if possible, opt for organic broccoli to avoid pesticides and harmful chemicals.

2. Once you have the broccoli at home, you will need to give it a thorough wash. Commercially grown broccoli is heavily treated with pesticides and insecticides, and the last thing you need are leftovers of these chemicals in your hamster's food bowl. Sometimes, to ensure proper washing, you can chop the broccoli tree into several pieces.

3. When all pieces are well-washed, you can pack the broccoli in an air-tight container and store it in the refrigerator. When it is treat time, just chop the broccoli into tiny pieces.

4. If your hamster does not eat its entire broccoli portion, you will need to remove the uneaten leftovers. It is safe to leave them for an hour, and after that, you need to take them away from the enclosure to ensure your hamster doesn’t eat spoiled food.

Can hamsters eat cooked, steamed, or frozen broccoli?

When it comes to broccoli, fresh raw is the best option. However, unlike other pets that are not equipped for digesting cooked foods, hamsters can safely eat and process cooked broccoli.

Unlike other pets that are not equipped for digesting cooked foods, hamsters can safely eat and process cooked broccoli.

The preferred cooking method is light steaming. However, some caution needs to be taken. Cook them plain, which means no oils, salt, or seasonings, and serve them once they have cooled down.

Frozen broccoli is also safe as long as it is allowed to thaw at room temperature and then served.

What about other broccoli products? Are they safe for hamsters?

Well, the answer depends on the product.

For example, pickled broccoli is a no-go because of two reasons – too many dangerous preservatives and too much salt.

Canned broccoli is not a hamster-friendly option for the same reasons. Plus, canned broccolis are also usually enriched with spices, seasonings, and condiments, which can wreak havoc on the hamster's digestion system.

Store-bought broccoli soups are not suited as they often contain powdered herbs and veggies hamsters should not eat like onions, leek, and garlic. They are pretty salty too.

Finally, we should mention broccoli sprouts. Broccoli sprouts are healthy and safe for hamsters. In fact, the younger the broccoli, the more nutrients it carries, and broccoli sprouts are the most youthful edible form of broccoli.

Nutrition Facts

Here is a short insight into what you can find in 100 grams of broccoli:

  • 24 kcal energy
  • 2.35 g protein
  • 0 g total fat
  • 4.71 g carbohydrates
  • 3.5 g fiber
  • 1.18 g sugar
  • 24 mg sodium.

Broccoli also offers these vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Manganese.

The broccoli's nutritional value statistics show that this green veggie is low in calories, sugar, and fat while rich in proteins and dietary fiber. It is also loaded with healthy and essential vitamins and minerals.

Bottom line – Can Hamsters Have Broccoli?

Do hamsters like broccoli? Some hamsters love broccoli, and others hate it! Is broccoli safe, healthy, and refreshing for hamsters? Yes, it absolutely is.

However, moderation is vital. Keep the servings small and occasional. You do not want to overload the hamster's tiny tummy with just broccoli. By following the recommended feeding guidelines, your hamster gets to enjoy broccoli, and you can relax knowing your hamster is filling up its belly with something healthy.

So, what is the bottom line? Broccoli is excellent as an occasional treat for hamsters.

Vet's Comment

Broccoli is an excellent treat for hamsters that do not mind bitter-tasting veggies. It is loaded with healthy nutrients while low in calories. Plus, broccoli is one of the few veggies hamsters can enjoy in different ways – from raw and dehydrated to cooked and steamed.

It goes without saying that you need to follow the general feeding guidelines – portion size and frequency.

However, there is one more catch – hamsters are hoarders. Yes, your hamster likes to stash food, and instead of eating its broccoli, it can hide them somewhere in the closure. Make sure you remove all uneaten broccoli pieces as they quickly rot and become inedible.

- Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM

Ivana Crnec doctor of veterinary medicine

Vet-Approved by
Dr. Ivana Crnec

DVM

Ivana Crnec is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine specialized in domestic carnivores. She graduated from the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia. Ivana is a certified canine nutritionist and also certified in HAACP food safety system implementation. She currently works as a veterinarian while completing her postgraduate studies. Her research has been published in international journals.

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.

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