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.
What’s good about carrots?
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin C, with 100 grams of raw carrots containing 4 milligrams of this essential antioxidant. Hamsters can’t synthesize this vitamin themselves, so it’s essential that their diet contains enough. A deficiency of vitamin C can lead to a condition known as scurvy. This can cause diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, lack of appetite, and slower healing of wounds.
Carrots contain vitamin A, which helps your hamster utilize vitamin C effectively and reduces the chance of them developing stomach ulcers. Carrots also contain minerals such as magnesium and calcium, both of which are essential for your hamster to maintain good health.
Most hamsters love carrots, so they’re a great vegetable choice. Their slightly sweet flavor and crunchy texture are usually a hit with our hamster friends.
Carrots also contain plenty of water, so they can help keep your hamster well hydrated. This is especially important in summer!
What’s 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.
As with most foods, too much of this orange vegetable won’t be a good thing. Excessive amounts of foods with a high water content, like carrots, can cause diarrhea.
Carrots are also high in calcium, and too much of this mineral can increase the risk of your hamster suffering from bladder stones.
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.
It’s unlikely that your hamster will have a reaction to carrots, but it’s best to be aware of what signs to look out for first!
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? What You Need to Know!
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.
A note on dwarf hamsters
If your hamster is a Chinese dwarf hamster or other dwarf variety, you may decide that it’s safest not to feed them any carrots.
Dwarf hamsters are particularly susceptible to developing diabetes and food with sugar; even a small amount of sugar, like in carrots, can increase the risk of them becoming diabetic.
Carrots and hamsters
Carrots are one of 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 some carrot every day. Adding a teaspoon of vegetables each day to your hamster’s diet can help add interest and provide 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, so always prioritize buying the best hamster food you can afford and supplementing this 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!
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay