March 26, 2021

Can Hamsters Eat Watermelon? And Which Parts Are Safe?

hamster dreaming of watermelon
Veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM
Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Watermelon tastes great and is sold at nearly every grocery store out there. It is a summer favorite, and you will find it at every barbecue and cookout on the block.

The question is, can your hamster get in on the delicious watermelon action? And what about the rinds and seeds? How often can a hamster owner offer their little pet this fruit? Is dried watermelon OK to serve?

We get tons of questions about this topic, so here is everything you need to know about whether or not hamsters can safely enjoy watermelon. This article will be your definitive source about the safety of hamsters and watermelon.

Can Hamsters Eat Watermelon?

Yes, hamsters can eat watermelon. Watermelon is a healthy treat that contains nutrients like potassium, magnesium, lycopene, and vitamins C, A, and B6. However, 92% of watermelon is water, and watery foods may cause diarrhea leading to a disease called wet tail. Also, follow feeding guidelines as watermelon is high in sugar, and hamsters are prone to obesity and diabetes.

Since there are both beneficial and potentially risky components, the final verdict would be that watermelons are safe and healthy when used occasionally.
- Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM

After all that put in a nutshell, we do have to remind you that 90% of your hamster's food should consist of vet-approved hamster pellets or seed mix. Seed mixes are great for offering your hammy variety and fun, but if you have a selective eater that only picks out the tastiest bits, we recommend pellets for a more balanced diet. In addition to this, your hammy can have about 10% of other food and treats like veggies, meats, cereal, and fruit – watermelon included.

So hamsters can enjoy watermelon; it is not toxic. However, when it comes to watermelon seeds, it is best to scoop them out before you serve your hamster the fruit. They pose a choking hazard and can even cause a blockage in the digestive tracts because they are hard to digest. Syrian hamsters, which are a larger species, could probably handle them, but it is best to avoid the risk. Dwarf hamsters should definitely always avoid seeds because they have tiny mouths and small digestive systems.

The watermelon rind is edible for hamsters and feeding it is actually beneficial as it is rich in fiber. Just remember it has to be chopped into bite-sized pieces. Plus, it is wise to purchase organic watermelons if feeding the rind to avoid harmful chemicals or at least wash it thoroughly. Yet, it is more likely that your hamster is going to reject the rind simply because it just doesn't taste all that great.

Most hamsters like the taste of watermelon, but yours might not. Just watch your pet to see how they react and remove the fruit if they are not interested. Baby hamsters should not eat watermelon; they are still growing and need their mother's milk and hamster food to grow.

See, watermelon does have a few health benefits, which we're going to talk about next, but it also comes with a few possible hazards you should be aware of before feeding any. We'll get to those in a minute and also talk about how often hamsters can eat watermelon to ensure they get the benefits but avoid the risks.

Health Benefits: Is Watermelon Good for Hamsters?

So what kind of advantages does your hamster get if you add watermelon into their diet? Let's find out.

Although 92% of watermelon is just water, it does contain many vitamins and minerals, which can be a great addition to your hamster's diet.

Provides Vitamin C

Vitamin C is crucial for hamsters and helps promote their healing processes.

Watermelon contains quite a good amount of vitamin C, which will also help your hamster enjoy healthy and shiny fur, boost their immune system, and help them build collagen.

If your hammy's diet is lacking in Vitamin C, the deficiency of this vitamin may cause a painful disease called scurvy. The symptoms of this condition include:

  • loss of fur
  • lethargy
  • squealing when touched
  • loss of weight
  • hunched back
  • wobbly walking

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should check with your vet how you can help your hamster get better and how to improve their diet so that it includes enough Vitamin C.

watermelon slices

Loaded with Other Minerals and Vitamins

Watermelon has many of the vitamins and minerals your ham needs to feel great, such as magnesium, potassium, and vitamin A.

Vitamin A helps your hamster stay guarded against infections. Meanwhile, potassium is what regulates your hamster's blood pressure. Lastly, magnesium is also helpful in reducing the blood pressure of hamsters.

It Has Lycopene

Lycopene is a carotenoid that gives certain fruits their color – think of fruits like tomatoes, grapefruit, and watermelon. It is an antioxidant that defends against some cancers and helps the heart stay healthy.

Antioxidants in general, help guard your body against free radicals and protect the body from signs of aging.

Helps with hydration

As the name implies, watermelon is packed with water – actually, as much as 92% is just H2O! As a result, it will help your pet stay hydrated. Hamsters eat a diet of primarily dry foods, so it's necessary that they get enough hydration. Although they have adapted to living in dry environments, they always need to have clean water available.

Watery foods like watermelon can be an excellent source of some extra hydration but remember that it can't replace your ham's water bottle.

Low Fat, Low-Calorie Treat

Obesity is a problem among many pets, hamsters included. Owners often want to treat their pets with all kinds of treats and snacks, many of which contain a lot of sugar or fat.

Since hamsters are prone to gaining a little extra weight, and dwarf hamsters are especially prone to diabetes, it's vital that treats make up only a small part of the daily food intake. Also, try and stick to healthy treats.

Thanks to the low-calorie nature of watermelon, it is a nice treat to offer your hamster. But portions should be kept small as watermelon does not just have a lot of water; it's quite sweet as well and contains sugar.

That actually takes us to our next topic: the health risks of feeding watermelon to your hamster.

Also Read: Best Hamster Foods in 2021

Health Risks: Is Watermelon Bad for Hamsters?

Although it sounds like watermelon is just highly beneficial, and there is no reason to keep feeding it to your hamster, there are some things you should be cautious about. Let's have a look:

Diarrhea and dehydration

Watermelon has a very high water content, which is something that is not suitable for your hamster's delicate digestive system, which is mostly used to dealing with seeds, grains, and pellets.

Foods that are high in sugar and water may cause diarrhea when fed in excess. And with diarrhea may come dehydration, which can be a very severe condition for your pet.

To avoid diarrhea, make sure you serve just the right amount of such foods like watermelon. If you notice your hammy is suffering from soft stool or diarrhea, cut back on the veggies and fruits, and contact a vet if the problem continues.

Wet Tail Risk

Diarrhea caused by feeding too much watermelon may lead to a condition called the wet tail. This condition is often caused by stress, but the bacteria in an unclean environment due to continuing diarrhea may also be the culprit.

Signs of wet tail include:

  • the hamster's tail is wet and covered in feces
  • lack of appetite
  • lethargy
  • hunched back

This condition may be fatal if you do not treat it fast. It is stressful for your pet and requires help from a vet, so contact one as soon as you can to help your hammy get better.

Very High in Sugar

Watermelons are sweet, and thanks to the natural sugars contained in it, your hamster runs the risk of becoming overweight and obese OR developing diabetes if they eat sugary foods like a watermelon on a regular basis.

Watermelons contain too much sugar, which increases the chances of developing diabetes or becoming obese.
- Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM

Especially dwarf hamsters are prone to diabetes, so you should be careful when adding high-sugar foods to their diet. You absolutely must exercise moderation when it comes to feeding your hamster watermelon to avoid these and other negative health effects.

Avoid the Seeds

We mentioned this earlier, but it's worth mentioning again. Seeds pose a serious choking hazard, and you should definitely avoid feeding them to your hamster.

Even though Syrians could handle them, it is best to avoid the risk altogether and discard all seeds before feeding your ham, regardless of species.

Be Sure to Remove the Uneaten Pieces

Your little hamster may not eat all the watermelon you place inside the enclosure. Because it's high in sugar and water, it can start to grow bacteria fairly quickly and become a health risk to your hamster. As a result, your job is to remove the watermelon after feeding time is over.

After about an hour or so, remove any uneaten pieces and try to find those your hamster tried to hide as well.

Watermelon that becomes moldy and laden with dangerous bacteria could make your hamster sick, so make sure you are diligent about removing any uneaten food once your hamster is finished eating.

Feeding Guidelines: Watermelon For Hamsters

How Much Watermelon Can My Hamster Eat?

This is dependent on the species of the hamster. Larger Syrian hamsters have slightly different nutritional requirements than dwarf hamsters, such as the Campbell's Dwarf hamster, Chinese hamster, or the Winter White Dwarf. It is important to feed just the right amounts to ensure your hamster stays healthy.

For the Syrians, a small piece about the size of their paw is OK. When it comes to Campbell's Dwarf hamsters and Winter Whites, a tiny piece is OK – we're talking very, very small. Robos can be treated the same as Syrians- a paw-size amount is just fine.

How Often Can I Feed My Hamster Watermelon?

Watermelon for hamsters is going to be an exercise in moderation for sure. It's got lots of benefits, but thanks to the high sugar content, you have to take portion sizes of the fruit seriously.

Syrian hamsters can have a tiny, seedless portion of watermelon just once per week or once per 1 and a half weeks.

When it comes to smaller species such as dwarf hamsters, you want to offer it once every two weeks and in very tiny amounts. To do otherwise would cause your hamster to experience diarrhea, and because the fruit is loaded with sugar, you are also putting them at risk of becoming obese and diabetic as well.

How to Prepare Watermelon for Hamsters?

The great thing about watermelon is that you can find it just about anywhere; it is sold at farm markets and grocery stores nationwide. You should always opt for organic when possible, as this reduces the risk that pesticides have been used in the growing of the fruit. 

You should also be on the lookout for pre-cut watermelon, available at many major grocery chains. This saves you some work, and it is in a handy container you can just recycle once you are done with the watermelon. Just be sure the watermelon looks healthy and is free of mold, and it is within its sell-by date.

You can also buy regular watermelons to serve. Make sure you avoid shiny watermelons when shopping; these tend to be overgrown.

Should you buy the regular watermelon with a rind start by washing it when you get it home to remove any pesticides or harmful chemicals. Then, you can carefully cut it crosswise in half.

Then remove the stem end of the watermelon. Now take a cutting board and put the watermelon cut side down. You will then hold the knife at an angle and cut it downward toward the board to get rid of the rind and white parts. Then cut it until the rind has been removed totally. You can save these for your pet or simply discard them.

Now cut the watermelon into circles and cube them. Do these steps with the other half of your watermelon also, storing the cubes in airtight containers in the fridge so your family and pet can enjoy them when you feel ready.

What about dried watermelon and watermelon juice?

It is best to stick with fresh watermelon only. Dried watermelon usually gets very sticky, and for hamsters (creatures who store food in their cheek pouches), dried watermelon can stick to their cheek pockets. It is also very high in sugar, which may lead to poor dental health, obesity or diabetes.

Watermelon juices are also a no-go for hamsters because of the added sugars and preservatives.

 Offer only fresh watermelon for best results. 

watermelon on wooden table

Nutrition Facts

Here's what you get per 100g of watermelon:

  • 30 calories
  • 0.2g total fat
  • 1mg sodium
  • 7.6g total carb
  • 0.4g dietary fiber
  • 6.2g sugar
  • 0.6g fiber

Your hamster will also enjoy the following helpful vitamins and minerals:

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Lycopene
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6

Although 92% of watermelon is just water, it does contain many vitamins and minerals, which can be a great addition to your hamster's diet. Still, it's very important to remember that this fruit is very high in sugar and water, both of which pose health risks to you hammy.

Consequently, we highly recommend you stick to small portions sizes and keep watermelon as a rare treat. There are far better veggies to offer your hammy, such as carrots.

You May Also Like: Great Treats for your Hamster

Summing Up – Can Hamsters Have Watermelon?

Yes, it is OK for hamsters to eat watermelon, but only when moderation is exercised. Remember, your hamster needs to eat a diet of vet-approved pellets or seed mix, have access to a supply of unlimited water that is clean and fresh, and enjoy some healthy veggies and herbs as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

It is best to talk to your vet first about what your hamster should eat to ensure you are giving them the best diet available. Keep treats like watermelon to a maximum of 10% of your pet's diet, and your hamster will remain healthy, happy, and have something fun to look forward to when it's treat time.

Vet's Comment

Watermelon is mainly made of water, but it does have other components too. Some of them are highly beneficial to hamsters. For example, vitamin C boosts the immune system and promotes tissue repair. Vitamin A is vital for eye health and protection against infectious agents. The magnesium and potassium help regulate the blood pressure. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that fights off free radicals.

However, some components are not so safe. For example, watermelons contain too much sugar, which increases the chances of developing diabetes or becoming obese.

Since there are both beneficial and potentially risky components, the final verdict would be that watermelons are safe and healthy when used occasionally.

- 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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