You may already know that your small and furry hamster friend should have a small amount of vegetables in their diet, but do you know if it’s safe for them to eat carrots, or is this a vegetable best avoided? Most of us have carrots in our refrigerators at some point or other, so it would be convenient if your hamster could share their crunchy goodness.
The good news is that yes, hamsters can eat carrots in small quantities. Find out everything you need to know about safely feeding your hammy this orange root vegetable.
Benefits of Feeding Carrots to Your Hamster
The nutritional requirements of hamsters vary according to their age and breed. However, all hamsters are considered omnivores.
Carrots can offer your hamster various nutritional benefits. The nutritional analysis of carrots is as follows1.
Baby carrots have similar nutritional benefits2:
Carrots are perhaps best known for their high amounts of vitamin A. Vitamin A is usually present in foods in various forms known as carotenes. Of these, beta carotene (β-carotene) is the most relevant for hamsters. It has been shown to have various applications for treating certain tumors in hamsters in experimental circumstances.
In carrots, there are six carotenes: α-, β-, γ-, ζ-carotene, lycopene, and β-zeacarotene1. Their average percentage is 33:60:1:4:1:1, respectively, but β-carotene can vary from 44% to 79%, depending on an individual carrot’s genotype, location of growth, and year of harvest.
All that said, carrots generally have the highest vitamin A content of all vegetables and are rivaled only by sweet potatoes and maize (corn) in this regard.
Most hamsters enjoy carrots, so they’re great vegetable choices. Their slightly sweet flavor and crunchy texture are usually a hit with our hamster friends.
Carrot variants contain other minerals and vitamins. For hamsters, the exact requirements of vitamins and minerals has not been established yet, though deficiencies have been identified when certain nutrients are missing in their diet. Excessive amounts of several minerals and vitamins might also be detrimental too. For example, too much calcium has been linked to dental issues in hamsters.
What Is Bad About Carrots?
In very small quantities, there’s nothing bad about carrots for hamsters. They can get useful vitamins and minerals by eating a little piece of carrot every few days.
Carrots contain carbohydrates in the form of sugars. In hamsters, excess forms of certain sugars (such as fructose, sucrose, and glucose) have been associated with health issues, including mortality. Therefore, moderation is essential when feeding carrots to your hamster.
How to Feed Carrots to Your Hamster Safely
If you want to try feeding your hamster a carrot, start with a very small piece, either a few pieces of shredded carrot or around ¼ of a teaspoon of chopped carrot.
Keep an eye on your hamster’s behavior for the next 48 hours, to check that they don’t suffer from any adverse effects.
If your hamster stops eating their other food, develops diarrhea, or seems less energetic than normal, then it may be a sign that this new food doesn’t agree with them. If you see them eating their bedding or any other non-food items, this is known as pica and can sometimes be a way for a hamster to try and soothe an upset stomach. If you notice signs of diarrhea, seek prompt veterinary care.
It’s unlikely that your hamster will have a reaction to carrots, but you should be aware of what signs to look out for regardless! It’s also best to always wash and peel carrots, whether they are organic or not.
It’s best to wash and peel carrots, especially if they’re not organic. Many farms use pesticides, the majority of which will be on the outer layer of the carrot.
Some hamsters love to hoard their food and will tuck it away in a hidden spot to eat later. With pelleted food, this isn’t a problem, but carrots and other vegetables can start to go bad if left uneaten for a few days.
We recommend checking your hamster’s cage every day and removing any vegetables or fruits that look like they’re starting to spoil. You’ll quickly learn your hammy’s favorite hiding spots, so it’s easy to take away anything they’ve stored that might rot.
Are Raw or Cooked Carrots Best?
You can feed your hamster cooked carrots, but we recommend feeding them raw.
Raw carrots contain higher levels of vitamins and minerals than cooked. Their harder texture is also helpful for wearing down your hamster’s teeth, which grow continuously.
- Related Read: Can Hamsters Eat Cabbage? Facts & FAQ
Are Carrot Tops Safe for Hamsters?
If you grow your own carrots or buy them from your local organic store, you may have the green carrot tops and the roots. Is it safe to feed carrot tops to your hamster?
The answer is yes, in moderation. There isn’t much official advice from veterinarians, but anecdotal evidence from hamster owners seems to suggest that carrot tops are perfectly safe for them to eat.
We suggest feeding them a very small amount to start with, around ¼ of a teaspoon. If your hamster seems to enjoy it and shows no ill effects, you can then progress to adding more to your hamster’s vegetable ration, but don’t overdo it.
Can Hamsters Eat Baby Carrots?
Yes! Baby carrots contain almost exactly the same levels of vitamins and minerals as larger carrots. In fact, baby carrots might be easier to serve, especially if you don’t want to keep many large carrots in your fridge if you don’t eat them that often.
A Balanced Diet for Hamsters
Your hamster’s diet should include a pelleted or mixed food, fresh vegetables, and water. It’s recommended that most of your hamster’s nutrition should come from their pelleted or mixed food.
Fresh vegetables add interest and variety but should never be used as a replacement for a correctly balanced pelleted food. Hamsters can have up to a teaspoon of vegetables every day. That’s not very much! But remember, their tiny bodies certainly don’t need as much food as you might expect.
You can combine raw carrot with any of the following vegetables:
If you’re worried your hamster is over or underweight, take them to your vet for a check-up, and ask for their opinion on your hamster’s current diet.
Carrots are among the best vegetables for your hamster to snack on, but don’t overdo it. Introduce a very small amount of carrot to your hamster’s diet, and watch how they react. You can then build up to feeding them small portions of carrots every day. Adding a teaspoon of vegetables each day to your hamster’s diet can help add interest and provide various vitamins and minerals.
Harder vegetables like carrots can even help your hamster keep their teeth trim and healthy! Remember that vegetables shouldn’t be used as a substitute for a high-quality pelleted food, though, so always prioritize buying the best hamster food that you can afford and supplementing it with vegetables if you’d like to.
Most of us who keep hamsters know that they love to hide their food away for later, so get into the habit of checking your hammy’s cage every day and removing any veggies that they’ve hidden away, in case these go bad.
If your hamster loves to eat carrots, let us know your favorite ways to feed it to them!