Can Hamsters Eat Apples? Benefits & Risks
Few pets are cuter and more fun to have than hamsters. These small mammals can live up to 2 years in captivity, eat pretty much anything, and are notorious foragers and burrowers. They are also very active during nighttime and prefer to lay low during the day.
They are also relatively easy to keep, as they only require a clean and dry habitat, good food, and a lot of playing and exploration opportunities. Today, we’ll discuss your hamster’s diet, more specifically, apples.
Are apples good for them, and how often should they have them? Let’s check it out!
Are Apples Safe for Hamsters?
Generally speaking, yes, they are. Apples are very nutritious, with plenty of vitamin C, and hamsters love them thanks to their sour-sweet taste. However, there are some concerns to consider in this sense. These include:
- Apple seeds – Hamsters shouldn’t consume the seeds. These are generally too large for them to eat safely, increasing the risk of choking along the way. You should always cut the apple in smaller pieces and remove the seeds before feeding the fruit to your hamster.
- Apple skin – Generally, there’s no problem with the apple skin. Hamsters have no trouble piercing through it, and won’t impact their ability to eat the apple. The problem is that the skin may contain various contaminants, depending on where you got your apple. We’re talking about pesticides, for the most part, but environmental contaminants are also a cause of concern, especially in major cities. You should either wash the apple thoroughly before feeding it to your hamster or peel the skin completely just to be sure.
- The sugar addiction – This is one that most hamster owners don’t see coming, but it’s actually an important factor to weigh in. The extra sugar present in the apple, and other fruits, can actually cause a sugar addiction, causing the hamster to avoid less sugary foods moving forward. The sugar will also cause diarrhea and increase the risk of diabetes, given that hamsters are more sensitive than humans in this sense.
So, you should feed your hamsters apples in moderation, preferably no more than once a day or every other day. The portions should also be small, given that the hamster’s meal plan will necessarily include a variety of other items.
Benefits of Apples for Hamsters
Aside from being tasty, apples have several health benefits for your hamsters. These include:
- Fibers – Apples are rich in fibers which aid with digestion. This makes them great in moderate portions, as fibers prevent the accumulation of cholesterol on the blood vessel walls. Long-term, this decreases the risk of heart disease which is a health problem that even hamsters deal with.
- A lower risk of diabetes – This may be unexpected, given that we’ve just mentioned that excess sugar causes diabetes. But this is where moderation comes in. Apples are damaging in excess, but they’re extremely beneficial in moderation. This is due to the soluble fibers that slow down the absorption of sugar significantly. The antioxidants present in the apple also cleanse the body of various toxins.
- Boosted immune system – This effect is due to the vitamin C which boosts the immune system, rendering the hamster more resilient to pathogens and environmental pollution. It will also enhance your hamster’s fur and skin health.
In essence, apples are quite beneficial, but only in moderation. Even fibers can have damaging effects in higher quantities. Excess fibers are often responsible for diarrhea or constipation, depending on the animal’s reaction to them.
How to Feed Apples to Hamsters?
Here are some good serving suggestions:
- Fresh and cut – You simply skin the apple first, cut it in half to remove the seeds along with the apple’s entire heart, and cut the rest in smaller pieces. You can chop the apple in smaller cubes or slices, depending on how your hamster prefers them. This allows you to create portions that you can feed your hamster over several days. You can feed these to your hamster separately or mixed with other hamster foods.
- Shake – Hamsters love tasty shakes just as much as we do. You can mix apples with a variety of other foods, including oats, bananas, commercial hamster food, and Greek yogurt for some moisture. You can then serve the mix into a bowl for your hamster to enjoy.
- Truffles – The concept of truffles is the same as with shakes, but without the moisture. In short, you mix apples with oats, nuts, and seeds, for instance, and blend them in a food processor. You’ll get a thick paste that you can roll in smaller balls to use for several days. You can store these in the freezer, and you don’t even need to unfreeze them before use. Your hamster loves crunchy foods, so they don’t mind eating them as they are.
Can Hamsters Eat Apple Seeds?
Yes, but I don’t recommend feeding them to your hamster. The seeds don’t have any special nutritional value that the apple’s meat doesn’t. Plus, they increase the risk of choking significantly due to their slippery surface and shape. Your hamster won’t be able to crush the seeds between the teeth because of that, increasing the risk of the seeds slipping through the wrong hole.
If you think this isn’t a matter of concern, you try crushing apple seeds between the teeth next time you’re having an apple.
Then there’s the chemical danger associated with apple seeds. This may come as a surprise, but apple seeds contain cyanide. When broken down by the digestive system, the seed produces hydrogen cyanide which can kill within minutes.
Sure, the chemical’s potency depends on the dose, so it’s unlikely that a few seeds will kill the hamster. But the accumulative effect will become visible with time.
It will also take fewer seeds to kill a hamster compared to a human due to the size difference. Fortunately, the cyanide is only released when the seeds are crushed before consuming them. If not, the seeds will pass through the digestive system and come out whole. So, there’s no danger, so long as your hamster doesn’t crush the seed before swallowing them.
Naturally, you can’t afford to take that risk.
Can Hamsters Eat Apple Gem?
They most certainly can, but they shouldn’t. Apple gem contains a lot of sugar, and we’ve already discussed the downsides of that. You can feed sugarless apple gem to your hamster, though, but I would advise against that too. While the gem doesn’t have any sugar, it does contain a variety of artificial additives that might not be great for your hamster.
I would stay clear of gems altogether and go for safer options, like shakes and truffles, which have the same effect, but without the additives.
Apples, and fruits in general, should always be treats for your hamster. Hamsters require a diverse, omnivorous diet to remain healthy over the years.