Every year around the holidays, you may have large meals with ham as the centerpiece, which often leaves lots of leftover ham. Or maybe you eat a lot of sandwiches and like to put the high-quality ham from the deli on your sandwiches. Have you ever wondered if your hamster would appreciate a few bites of ham?
Hamsters are omnivorous, meaning they can eat meat as part of their balanced diet. In the wild, hamsters eat proteins like insects, lizards, and frogs. After all, there aren’t very many wild hams running around, so hamsters will rarely come into contact with this type of protein. We know they can digest animal proteins like ham, but can hamsters have ham? In short, no they can’t.
Can Hamsters Eat Ham?
Unfortunately, hamsters cannot eat ham. It is generally not recommended to feed any pork-based products to hamsters due to the high fat content of pork. Even high-quality cuts of pork are much higher in fat than proteins like chicken and turkey.
Hamsters, especially dwarf varieties, are prone to obesity, and feeding high-fat foods like ham can increase the risk of developing obesity-related medical problems. Obese hamsters may struggle to get around or suffer from low energy levels. Too much weight on such a small body can even lead to difficulty breathing!
Is Ham Safe for Hamsters?
No! As previously mentioned, ham is high in fat and can lead to medical problems for hamsters. Fatty foods can lead to diarrhea and stomach upset, as well as potential long-term consequences like diabetes and bone problems.
There are some other factors to consider when it comes to ham, though. Ham is, by definition, a cured meat. The curing process requires large quantities of salt, so ham is far too high in sodium for hamsters to safely eat. This also means that ham is a processed food, making it a poor choice for hamsters.
Processed foods aren’t healthy for humans and are recommended to be eaten in moderation. Processed foods aren’t healthy for your hamster, either, but it is not recommended to feed processed foods to hamsters at all, with the exception of high-quality, pre-made hamster food. Hamsters should be fed a balanced diet of whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
What Can I Give My Hamster Instead of Ham?
If you’re wondering what you can treat your hamster with since ham is off the table, so to speak, you’re in luck. There is a long list of foods that hamsters can eat as treats and as a part of their daily diet. Lots of fruits and vegetables are safe for hamsters.
If your hamster likes meaty snacks, there are treat options available at pet stores as well as your own refrigerator. Hamsters can eat chicken and turkey, as long as it is cooked thoroughly. It is recommended to remove the skin before feeding due to the fat and calories the skin adds.
Hamsters also like foods like mealworms and crickets, which can be purchased live or dried at most pet stores.
Hamsters can also have non-meat proteins, like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and nuts, but make sure they are plain and not salted or flavored.
Keep in mind, hamsters are very small! They have tiny stomachs, so they do not require large quantities of treats or foods in large portions. The recommendation for treats is less than 10% of your hamster’s diet.
Since your hamster can’t have ham, you may be in charge of eating the rest of the holiday leftovers. The good news is that there are lots of healthy, safe treat options for your hamster.
Hamsters have individual food preferences, so your hamster may not like the foods you offer to it, and that is ok! Part of the fun of treating your hamster is finding out their likes and dislikes. This can be an enriching activity for your hamster and watching your hamster stuff its chubby cheeks with a new favorite snack will never get old.
Related read: Can Hamsters Eat Bread? What You Need to Know!
Featured Image Credit By: Charles Deluvio, unsplash