September 8, 2020

Can Hamsters Eat Carrots?

Hammie Food Guide

Fact checked by Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Carrots are an excellent food to feed your hamster. The sweet taste and being readily available at grocery stores and farm markets, carrots are truly a nice thing to surprise your little pet with.

You can even pick up matchstick carrots that go on our salads. They are the perfect chewing size for a hamster- even bigger ones like Syrians/teddy bears.

A carrot stick also makes a fun chewable for your pet buddy to enjoy. Start small and offer them a little piece first, seeing if they like it.

And as with other treat foods, moderation is key.

Can Hamsters Eat Carrots?

Yes, hamsters can eat carrots. Carrots are a healthy treat as they provide your hamster with Vitamins A and C and promote dental health. Still, follow our feeding advice, as carrots contain sugar, which may cause diarrhea, weight gain, and diabetes. Carrot tops are not toxic but should not be fed if not organic.

Carrots are tasty veggies that your hamster can enjoy because they are low in acid, and they have a firm, tough texture that helps with your hamster's teeth stay healthy. A carrot is a fun and nutritious way to let your hamster chew away without causing harm to his surroundings or himself.

Carrot tops are controversial for hamsters as there's little research done to ensure their safety, so it's best to avoid them where possible.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Carrots are loaded with helpful vitamins and minerals, too - these will keep your hamster feeling satisfied and full and help his coat shine and maintain his immune system in top shape, among other great benefits.

One downside about carrots is that they do contain sugar. Carrots are great because they have a slightly sweet taste, but with sugar naturally occurring in the veggie, it should be kept as a treat.

The most important part of your hamster’s diet is the pellets or seed mix you are feeding. Make sure you get the best hamster foods because they offer your pet exactly what your pet needs in his food to stay healthy.

Health Benefits: Are Carrots Good for Hamsters?

Yes, carrots are great for hamsters in a variety of ways. Let's begin with the vitamins contained in a carrot.

Carrots are a great, fibrous treat for your hammy
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

  • Vitamin A

This vitamin is critical to ensure a healthy hamster. When your hammy lacks an adequate amount of Vitamin A, he could end up suffering from stomach ulcers or even hair loss. Vitamin A also helps your hammy synthesize vitamin C, which they cannot make on their own.

After all, hamster owners have to fortify the pet's diet with a Vitamin C supplement and treats such as fresh fruit and veggies. A carrot is a great treat to give for this purpose.

  • Vitamin C

Suppose your hamster did not consume the correct amount of Vitamin C. What could happen? For starters, the animal could develop scurvy. This has all but vanished in the human world but is still common among pets who are not fed properly.

Scurvy shows itself in the form of wounds that don't heal as normal, weight loss, diarrhea, wobbly walking, and low or no energy. This painful disease can be prevented by offering your hamster enough Vitamin C in their diet, and carrots can be a part of this.

  • Water for Hydration

Carrots contain a large amount of water, and therefore are an excellent way for your hamster to get a little extra hydration in his diet.

Serving a carrot does not mean you can remove the water bottle for the day – unlimited fresh water must always be available for the hamster to enjoy. However, a carrot helps your pet get a bit more water in their diet in a tasty but healthy way.

  • Healthy Teeth

Hamsters love to chew, and the toughness of a raw carrot helps keep their teeth busy and helps wear down their always growing chompers.

carrots on table

Health Risks: Are Carrots Bad for Hamsters?

Carrots are wonderful treats, but they are not without their own health risks. Here are some things to watch out for when you seek to give carrots to your furry friend:

  • Sugar Content

As we mentioned, sugar is present in carrots. A half-cup of raw carrot sticks contains 3g of sugars. You won't be giving this much to your hamster, but it is surprising that such a healthy food contains that much sugar. When offered too often, sugary foods may lead to health problems like diabetes and obesity.

Some species of hamsters, especially dwarf hamsters, are prone to developing diabetes, especially Type-2 diabetes. It is possible that hamsters can develop both Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes. The symptoms are upsetting:

For example:

  • Your hamster may urinate excessively, and the urine will smell worse than usual.
  • The hamster may be very tired or exercise excessively.
  • Your pet may have increased appetite.
  • It may also be very thirsty.
  • Cooked Carrots

Cooked carrots may seem like a good idea, but don't do it. Your hamster loves the ability to chew on the raw, tough carrot; it feels good on their teeth.

Meanwhile, a soft carrot is not as satisfying, and the cooked carrot may have been seasoned with something that could even be harmful to them. The bottom line? Feed your hammy raw, washed, and small pieces of carrot for best results.

  • Carrot Leaves

Some pet owners argue the leafy part of the carrot is safe and won't go to waste when given to their pets. However, we argue against that and say, no.

The leaves could very well have come into contact with pesticides and, despite your best washing, could still remain on the leaves.

There is also a marked lack of veterinary research on giving carrot leaves to hamsters. As a result, we recommend just discarding or composting these.

  • Diarrhea

Giving a hamster too much raw or wet food can cause diarrhea. It's very unpleasant for your pet and yourself - you have to clean the cage after all – so keep this treat to once per week and don't give too much at once.

  • Aversion to Pellet Food

Some owners make the mistake of feeding too much carrot to their hamsters and find that their pet rejects pellet food in favor of the sweet-tasting carrot. The bottom line? Keep the treats infrequent and the amounts small, so your hamster doesn't become picky, and their diet stays healthy and balanced.

Feeding Guidelines - Carrots for Hamsters

Here are our serving sizes: 

  • 1 baby carrot stick cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp of matchstick carrots placed into the cage
  • 1.5 inch of a washed, raw carrot cut into small pieces 

Every hamster is different. Some hamsters may eat just this amount, others none at all as they do not like carrots. You might even give a bit more if your hamster has been very active during that particular day.

You should only offer your hamster carrots in moderation. This means:

  • The equivalent of 2 baby carrots in a week, or
  • You can even give carrots as a part of the daily dose of veggies and fruits, but in that case, the pieces should be very small.

Preparing the Carrots

You will always want to begin by washing the carrot regardless of where you got it. Even if it is a store-bought bag of baby carrots that are ready to eat, wash it first to be sure.

Make Sure They're Fresh

Don't use dried or canned carrots. Make sure the carrots you choose are fresh and raw.

Cut It Up

Cut the carrot into small pieces before you serve it to your pet. Hamsters need to hold their food, and their paws aren't all that large, so make sure they can comfortably hold their food in place and enjoy it.

Nutrition Facts

One cup of raw carrots offers you the following nutrients: 

  • 52 calories
  • 6g fiber
  • 2g protein
  • 3g carbs

And that's not all. Carrots have plenty of healthy properties that make them ideal for your pet to enjoy.

For starters, the vitamin A in this veggie offers protection for your hamster's vision and is an excellent antioxidant that guards him against cancer.

Next, the amount of vitamin C contained in the veggie is a booster to the immune system and prevents him from developing scurvy. The hamster's body also heals up faster if a wound happens thanks to vitamin C's ability to repair body tissue.

Carrots also contain small amounts of calcium. Calcium is quite helpful in supporting good bone and teeth health.

Bottom line: Can Hamsters Have Carrots?

Carrots make a great, readily available treat for your pet to enjoy. They are inexpensive and can be found at most grocery stores and farmer's markets.

It's not hard to fix up a carrot for your hamster. The main things to remember are to wash the carrot thoroughly before you serve it up, chop it into suitably sized pieces, and avoid giving the carrot leaves. Always make sure you buy and serve only raw carrots.

Follow these guidelines, and you and your hamster buddy are sure to enjoy eating carrots together for years to come!

FAQ

Can hamsters eat raw carrots?

Yes, hamsters can eat raw carrots. Actually, raw carrots are better for your hamster than cooked ones. They help wear the teeth down and offer many beneficial nutrients. Still, carrots should only be offered in moderation, as too much raw food may cause stomach upsets.

Vet's Comment

Hamsters can develop diabetes, with some types being particularly sensitive to the disease.

The majority of cases are genetic, and signs of the disease (increased thirst, appetite, urination, weight loss, and irritability) tend to show before the hamster is a month old. Luckily it can often be managed through careful dietary restrictions such as avoiding sweet treats, which includes carrots.

If you're concerned your hamster has diabetes or is showing any of the signs mentioned above, you should contact your veterinarian in the first instance for a check-up and some blood tests.

- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Dr. Edele Grey Veterinary Surgeon

Vet-Approved by
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.

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