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Can Hamsters Eat Broccoli? Everything You Need to Know!
Broccoli is a staple in most people’s diets. This vegetable is packed with several vitamins and minerals that are necessary for boosting the immune system. But would it be a good idea to give broccoli to your hamster?
Can hamsters eat broccoli? Yes, they can. In fact, they seem to enjoy the taste of this vegetable. These rodents eat a host of other vegetables, meaning that everything should be okay when they consume broccoli. Right?
Well, not so fast. Experts recommend offering broccoli to hamsters only in moderation. Here is everything you need to know about hamsters and broccoli.
What is a Hamster Supposed to Eat?
To determine whether it would be a good idea to feed broccoli to your hamster, it is best to understand the kind of foods that wild hamsters eat. Humans started keeping hamsters as pets relatively recently. This means that their digestive systems are still the same as those of their wild siblings. As a result, experts recommend optimizing your pet hamster’s diet to match that of a wild one.
For starters, the most common mistake people make is feeding their hamsters a diet meant for herbivores, while these animals are omnivores. This means that they need to consume a wide variety of food sources to get the nutrients that are vital to them.
When you look at what a wild hamster eats, it would seem rather obvious that your pet should be able to down broccoli with no problems. However, that is not the case, as hamsters do not come across broccoli or similar vegetables in the wild.
Unlike the seeds, grains, and fruits that hamsters consume, broccoli has extremely high water content. In fact, 90% of broccoli is water. Yes, the occasional vegetables and fruits that these rodents consume do contain a fair amount of moisture, but not as much as what you find in broccoli. Additionally, the average hamster drinks about 10 ml of water each day, with the most being 20 ml.
As such, the body of a hamster is not designed to handle diets that contain a lot of water. Consuming too much water, therefore, can be hazardous to a hamster. For starters, it can dilute the levels of sodium and other electrolytes in its system, thereby causing a nutrient deficiency. Additionally, it can cause complications such as gastritis, bladder problems, as well as liver and kidney infections.
This is why you cannot afford to make broccoli a staple inclusion in your hamster’s diet.
How Much Broccoli Should You Give Your Hamster?
As mentioned, broccoli is not necessarily bad for your hamster; the issue is the quantity. According to experts, a hamster should be okay eating a piece of broccoli the size of its head between two and three times per week.
This means that broccoli should be considered a snack for hamsters.
Benefits of Broccoli
Even in small amounts, this vegetable can be incredibly beneficial to your pet, thanks to how nutrient-rich it is. When it comes to vitamins, broccoli has exceptionally high amounts of vitamins A, C, D, K and beta-carotene.
- Vitamin A boosts your hamster’s immune system in addition to promoting a healthier skin and coat.
- Vitamin B also improves their immunity, as well as improving cell metabolism
- Vitamin C promotes better eyesight
- Vitamin K is crucial towards maintaining bone health, as well as aiding in blood clotting
Broccoli also contains essential minerals and nutrients, such as calcium, chromium, fiber, and folic acid, which all help boost the health of your little one.
Therefore, whereas this vegetable can be detrimental to a hamster’s health when consumed in excess, it is extremely beneficial to the animal when given in moderation.
Ways to Prepare Broccoli for Your Hamster
As mentioned, most hamsters seem to enjoy the taste and texture of raw broccoli. However, each hamster is an individual, meaning they have preferences. As such, there is always the possibility that your hamster might enjoy broccoli when prepared in a particular way. This is why you should try out different ways of preparing broccoli to identify the one your hamster will enjoy the most. This will also allow you to keep their diet interesting.
Most people, as well as animals, prefer their broccoli raw, making it the easiest way of serving it to your pet hamster. Moreover, broccoli is most nutritious when raw since it has all its nutrients. Cooking usually destroys nutrients. As mentioned, your hamster should eat a maximum of three small pieces of this vegetable per week.
Steaming broccoli allows you to make it softer. Therefore, consider steaming broccoli occasionally for a texture change. However, as steamed broccoli has a higher water content than raw broccoli does, you should reduce the size of the pieces.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have dehydrated broccoli. This means that it has had almost all of its water extracted. As you can imagine, this is arguably the best way of serving this vegetable to your hamster. What’s more, most hamsters love dry broccoli pieces. To prepare, cut raw broccoli into small pieces and put them inside a food dehydrator.
Everyone, including your hamster, loves roasted broccoli. Its crispy texture is especially what makes it a hit among hamsters. However, do not use seasonings or any other additives when preparing broccoli in this manner, as they may harm your pet.
What if Your Hamster Does Not Like Broccoli
As is the case with humans, some hamsters do not like broccoli. If that is your hamster, do not force them to eat it. Instead, substitute it with healthy and nutritious treats such as Tiny Friends Farm Hazel Hamster Food.
In a nutshell, broccoli is a wonderful vegetable that has immense health benefits for anyone who consumes it. When it comes to hamsters, however, moderation is key. Serve it as a treat rather than a meal.
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.