Can Hamsters Eat Cherries?
Providing your hamster with some red, fresh fruit doesn’t seem like it would cause any harm, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure. We explore the ins and outs of feeding your hamster this delicious pitted drupe. The first question we must ask is…
Can Hamsters Eat Cherries?
Yes, hamsters can absolutely eat cherries! However, before giving your hamster cherries, be sure to pay attention to a few simple guidelines. The type of cherry you give your hamster is just as important as the frequency in which you feed your hamster cherries.
Are Cherries Safe for Hamsters?
Yes! Cherries are a fruit that hamsters in the wild have access to and enjoy. Your pet hamster can enjoy cherries too. Cherries are rich in nutrients and antioxidants.
While cherries do contain sugar naturally, they have a lower sugar content than some other fruits you might be inclined to feed to your hamster as a treat. Cherries even have some anti-inflammatory properties.
When given properly, cherries can be a safe and tasty treat for both you and your furry friend.
A Couple of Warnings Before Feeding a Hamster Cherries
- Wash the cherries thoroughly. It’s a common practice for produce to be treated with pesticides. Many fruits and vegetables even have waxy coatings on them to help preserve them. Washing thoroughly helps remove unwanted pesticides and bacteria, ensuring your hamster remains safe.
- Remove the pit. Cherries are part of the “stone fruit” family and have a hard pit in the center, surrounded by the edible part of the cherry. The pit is not digestible by your hamster and can pose a choking hazard. Some pits are small enough that your hamster could swallow it and then it would be stuck in their stomach.
- Remove the stem. This too is not digestible and could potentially cause a choking issue for your hamster. The stem also has zero nutritional value.
- Fresh or dried cherries only. Make sure the cherries you are giving your hamster have no added sugars. For example, cherry pie filling would not have the same nutritional benefits as a single fresh cherry would. This also holds true for cherry juice. Cherry juice contains added sugars that are not safe for your hamster. The only liquid your hamster should have is water.
- Only use sweet cherries, not sour cherries.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Baby Hamsters Eat Cherries?
It’s not recommended for baby hamsters to eat cherries. Baby hamsters have not developed a strong enough digestive system. While cherries are lower in sugar than some other fruits, the sugar content in cherries can be dangerous to baby hamsters.
What Types of Cherries Can I Feed My Hamster?
- Fresh, sweet cherries- Typically these will be found at your grocery store. Bing and Rainier are probably the most common types of sweet cherries.
- Dried cherries- Unlike fresh cherries, dried cherries can be left in the hamster’s housing unit. You could even hide them to promote foraging. Dried cherries will not mold the way a fresh cherry would if it were left in too long.
- AVOID cherries with added sugars, like maraschino cherries or cherries used in pie filling. Always make sure the packet of dried cherries says “no sugar added.” Some dried cherries are infused with juice or other flavors, and this added sugar is not safe.
- AVOID sour cherries. Amarelle cherries have yellow flesh and are tart. Morello cherries have red flesh and are also tart. While these cherries are great for baking, the acidity of them is not safe for your hamster to digest.
How Many Cherries Can I Feed My Hamster?
According to HamsterCare.org, most hamsters can safely consume one cherry, pit and stem removed, and cut into smaller pieces.
How Often Can Hamsters Have Cherries?
This really depends on the breed of hamster. Larger breeds can have them more frequently than smaller breeds.
- Syrian Hamsters- these are one of the largest breeds of hamsters and can safely consume one to three cherries per week.
- Dwarf Hamsters- most dwarf hamsters can safely consume one cherry every week.
- Roborovski Hamster- as the smallest breed of hamster, the Roborovski hamster can only have one cherry every three weeks.
What is the Best Way to Feed My Hamster Cherries?
- Start off by thoroughly washing the cherry.
- Pull off the stem and remove the pit. This can be done with a pit removing tool or you can easily use a paring knife.
- Once the stem and pit have been discarded, slice the cherry into smaller, bite-size pieces to prevent choking.
- Start by introducing one piece at a time.
Your hamster may not take it at first, so be patient. Feeding cherries to your hamster, as well as other low-calorie snacks, can help you bond more with your hamster too!
How Long Can I Leave Cherries in My Hamster’s Housing Unit?
Fresh cherries will begin to grow bacteria and start to rot within a few hours. If you are feeding your hamster fresh cherries, it is safest to do so supervised. When your hamster is no longer showing interest in the cherry, remove any extra pieces from the housing unit. If you don’t do this, the hamster may decide to store fresh cherry pieces for later, which would cause the housing unit to start to get bacteria and mold.
Dried cherries with no added sugars are safer to give your hamster if you are not able to supervise his eating. If your hamster happens to store a few dried cherries for later, you don’t have to worry about them growing bacteria and getting moldy. Hiding dried cherries for your hamster can encourage foraging, a task your hamster would normally engage in if he were in the wild.
Whether you decide to feed your hamster fresh cherries or dried cherries, you should still remove any excess food your hamster hasn’t eaten. Keeping your hamster’s housing unit clean and free from bacteria is just as important to the overall health of your hamster.
Are There Any Risks in Feeding a Hamster Cherries?
While cherries have a much lower sugar content than other fruits, too much sugar can cause health problems in your hamster, like that of an adult.
Signs of a stomachache include changes in behavior or personality. If your hamster is normally friendly but appears standoffish or even tries to bite at you, he may be in pain. Your hamster may not be engaging in his normal activities, such as playing and running. If you notice any of these signs of a stomachache after feeding your hamster a cherry, stop giving them to him. Make sure your hamster has access to plenty of water and his normal nutrient-rich dry food.
Fresh fruits and vegetables have a higher water content than the dry food your hamster usually eats. Too many of these items can cause diarrhea, which could become dangerous if not treated. Withhold fruits and vegetables and only give your hamster his dry food until the diarrhea clears up. Make sure there is plenty of fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration.
In much the same way that obesity leads to further health issues in humans, the same holds true for hamsters. Excessive weight causes mobility problems, which could lead to diabetes, heart disease, and even a shortened lifespan. If you notice your hamster is starting to gain weight, lessen the number of extra treats you are giving. You can encourage exercise by making sure your hamster has plenty of space, an exercise wheel, and other interactive objects. Since weight gain can cause other problems, consult your veterinarian to make sure the weight gain is from dietary changes and nothing more severe.
Dwarf hamsters are more prone to getting diabetes than some other breeds, however, excessive feeding of sugary fruits can lead to diabetes in any breed. The symptoms of diabetes in hamsters are very similar to diabetes symptoms in humans: increased appetite, drinking more water than usual, peeing excessively, and having little energy. If you notice these signs in your hamster, stop feeding him cherries or other treats. It is best to have your hamster examined by a veterinarian. A diabetic hamster will need to have a very specific diet that would include his normal dry food, possible medication to treat his diabetes, and a strict feeding schedule.
Can I Still Give My Hamster Cherries if He Has Other Health Concerns?
If you have a hamster who is suffering from other medical conditions, such as diabetes or obesity, it is best to consult your veterinarian for the best diet. Your hamster may have unique nutritional needs and you wouldn’t want to interfere by giving your hamster cherries and other extra treats. On the other hand, cherries can also add added nutrients to the diet, so your vet may say that feeding cherries in moderation is okay. Since all medical conditions are different, it is best to get clearance from your veterinarian first.
When given appropriately and in moderation, cherries can be an excellent and nutritious treat for your hamster. Just be sure to follow the proper safety guidelines when preparing the cherry and be aware of the recommended amounts and frequency for your breed of hamster. If you notice any issues from feeding your hamster cherries, withhold cherries and consult your veterinarian for dietary recommendations.