We have previously written an article on how to choose a hamster enclosure for your beloved pet, and we also have a guide on the best dwarf hamster cages out there, so be sure to check those articles out once you finish reading this one.
Hamsters are very active animals that need a lot of nutrients to be in good shape. Wild hamsters live in dry places that are often next to a desert. That is why when they find something really juicy like a watermelon they eat it instantly because they know they won’t have the chance to find something that good soon afterward. But is watermelon a good type of food for them?
Is it safe for your hamster?
In case you’re wondering if your hamster can eat watermelon, the short answer is yes, so if your hamster ate some of it, don’t panic. But, as you should do with any other fruit or vegetable, watermelon is something that needs to be introduced slowly in your pet’s diet.
If your hamster eats too much of it, the pet may have problems with its digestion or gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea or vomiting. Watermelon should be fed in small pieces at first, maybe once or twice per week. That way you test if it’s good for your hamster.
When you see that there are no problems, you can feed your pet more. Experts, however, say that most hamsters should only eat watermelon occasionally. That is because in the wild this is not their natural food and their body isn’t made to digest it properly.
Watermelon is not that good for the pet’s health due to the high sugar content. Also, because it has a lot of water, it can cause health issues. So the rule of thumb is to let the hamster eat as little as possible.
What about the rind and seeds?
Well, the rind is also edible but is not commonly eaten either by humans or hamsters. And that has a reason for it. Rind contains citrulline, which is an amino acid that has a sharp taste and that gives an unpleasant feeling.
So you can let your hamster have a nibble on a piece of rind and if it likes it, there’s no reason not to give more. However, your hamster will probably not like the taste and it won’t enjoy eating it as it does eating the flesh of the watermelon.
If you choose to give some rind to your hamster, make sure to wash it thoroughly before you feed the little animal. You need to wash away any dirt or pesticide that can still be on it.
As for the seeds, while humans can eat them, they aren’t recommended for hamsters at all. There isn’t much research on this, but it’s safe to assume that watermelon seeds are not to be fed to hamsters. That is especially important when considering that other types of fruit seeds are toxic to hamsters, including apple and pear seeds, which contain cyanogenic acids that can lead to death.
Cherries and apricots also contain toxic seeds. There are mixed seeds packages that are specially formulated for hamsters and they can be fed to your pet with no issues. However, be careful with those too, as seeds can be a choking hazard for small hamsters, or they can scratch their cheek pouches.
How much should they eat?
For humans, eating watermelon is a great way of staying hydrated. But that is not true for hamsters. While they get a lot of water from watermelons, they also suffer bad adverse effects, most importantly diarrhea caused by too much water.
Hamsters don’t really know when to stop and they will eat until they feel full. And that is a bad thing when eating watermelon. They will ingest too much water and they will get digestive issues. Gastrointestinal upsets happen a lot when you don’t control how much food your hamster gets.
Introducing watermelon slowly and in small pieces is also a must due to the fruit’s high sugar content that can cause troubles. So if you want to feed your hamster watermelon, do that gradually and see how the pet tolerates it.
The most common hamsters found as pets are the Syrian hamsters. They can eat watermelon as well but in moderation. Their daily diet will require no more than 4 teaspoons of food, so when you feed them watermelon the pieces need to be really small, and they should only eat it once or twice a week.
Things are even more complicated with the Chinese hamster which only needs to eat about one teaspoon of food per day. For them cut the smallest piece possible from a watermelon. Ensuring proper nutrition is important for the health of your pet. Many of the diseases hamsters suffer from can be linked with a poor diet. If you think your pet has any problems after eating watermelon or anything else, have it checked by a veterinarian.
So what’s a good diet?
You may be wondering what is a healthy diet for your hamster if you want to introduce some watermelon in it too. These small pets are herbivores and that’s why they need to be fed cereals and fruits mostly. For a longer and happier life, they need the nutrients found in these types of food. Their basic food is made of cereals and packages of seeds.
Sometimes they can get some bone fruits like hazelnuts or nuts in their diet. Hamsters will eat almost anything, including the tips of twigs that come from trees, or wheat. A healthy diet should be enriched with celery, carrots, fruits, green salad or even cooked eggs.
You should also consider the health of their teeth and place pieces of nabbing, or small pieces of snacks that can be found in pet shops. Hay is an alternative to keep their teeth in check, although hamsters are not big fans of it. They love to grind their teeth on anything so you can buy some special chew sticks for that, as these sticks also offer them the minerals they need.
Don’t feed your hamster with human food or raw sugar, as these are harmful to them. That’s especially true for dwarf hamsters that are prone to developing diabetes. There are also some fruits and vegetables that should be avoided. Amongst these, citrus fruits are a no-no.
Stay away from fresh potatoes too, pickled cucumbers, chocolate or sweet treats. Salted snacks are not a good idea either. It’s best if you only buy food that is specially made for hamsters in order to avoid any issues.
Watermelons are full of nutrients and phytonutrients, amongst which vitamin C can be found. They also contain high amounts of lycopene and beta-carotene, both antioxidants that are very good for both humans and hamsters.
Although not much research has been done on hamsters, we know from humans that these antioxidants are good at stopping diseases like asthma. They also help with preventing cholesterol from oxidizing and binding to the walls. Consuming antioxidants helps with avoiding heart-related problems or strokes.
Belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, the watermelon is a fruit that is best consumed in the summer. Mammals don’t get too much from the watermelon, because it’s mostly water, and the energy value per 100 grams is 30 kcal. Watermelons contain 7.55% carbohydrates, 0.61% protein and 0.15% fat.
However, the watermelon has a lot of minerals, so if you know your hamster has problems with those, this fruit is a good source. It contains calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and many others.
Hamsters also need a lot of vitamin C and fortunately, watermelons have that too. The fruit also contains vitamin A and vitamin B1 and B6, along with some other vitamins. Due to its high water content, watermelon is a great fruit for those hot summer days when your hamster can get thirstier than usual.