Hamsters may be small in size, but they often seem to have a very big appetite! This is especially true when you bring out tasty fresh fruits and vegetables.
But not all fruits and vegetables are necessarily safe for hamsters to eat. Even for those produce items that are generally safe, it is important to know how much you can safely feed each one for a tiny pet like a hamster.
Is spinach on the list of safe foods for hamsters? That is exactly what we are about to discover!
Can Hamsters Eat Spinach
Hamsters can eat spinach safely. According to Pet Health Network, feeding a selection of fresh produce like dark leafy greens each week is one way to keep a pet hamster healthy.
Learn About Safe Foods Your Hamster Can Eat
In this short and informative YouTube video, you can learn about the wide variety of safe foods that your hamster can enjoy every week.
Find out about the many tasty fruits and vegetables that both hamsters and people can enjoy!
Understanding the Best Hamster Diet
As PDSA Pet Charity explains, in many ways the best diet for hamsters is similar to the best diet for people.
Both people and hamsters have evolved genetically to eat an omnivorous diet of both plant and animal (or insect) matter.
The optimal hamster diet will include each of the following types of foods:
- Dark leafy greens like spinach.
- Timothy hay (grasses).
- Protein like nuts, mealworms, hard-boiled eggs.
Most pet hamsters eat a commercial pelleted diet that includes a complete and balanced amount of daily nutrients. In a wild setting, a hamster might instead seek out small worms, snails, insects, and other small prey to get animal protein.
It is important to feed your hamster a balanced diet to guard against tooth problems, digestive issues, and weight gain.
Just like people, hamsters will preferentially eat their favorite foods when they are plentiful and ignore the nutritious items that they need but are not as tasty.
This means it will be up to you to regulate how much spinach and other tasty treats you allow your hamster to eat.
Nutritional Benefits of Spinach for Hamsters
In this section we will take a look at the nutrients spinach can offer to your pet hamster.
Keep in mind that here we are only talking about fresh raw spinach with no seasoning or flavoring.
Healthline states that 100 grams (or about six tablespoons) of fresh, raw spinach leaves contain these nutrients.
Nutritional profile of spinach
- 23 calories.
- 91 percent water content.
- 2.9 grams of protein.
- 3.6 grams of carbohydrates.
- 0.4 grams of sugar.
- 0.4 grams of fat.
- 2.2 grams of fiber.
Vitamins in spinach
- Vitamin A/carotenoids.
- Vitamin K1.
- Vitamin C.
- Vitamin B9 (folate/folic acid).
- Vitamin B6.
- Vitamin E.
Trace minerals in spinach
Clearly, spinach packs a powerhouse punch in the nutrition department. But this overview is designed with people’s nutrition in mind. How does spinach stack up in terms of the nutrients a hamster needs to stay healthy?
Overview of Daily Hamster Nutritional Needs
Hamsters are very tiny and they can’t eat a lot in one sitting. However, hamsters have huge cheek pouches and will tuck away the food they can’t eat for later. They will also do something called food caching, which means hiding food around their habitat.
If you offer food and it always seems to disappear very quickly, check to be sure your hamster isn’t caching it or tucking it away in their cheek pouches.
You really need to know how much your hamster actually eats at each meal to avoid over-feeding and the danger of food spoilage due to caching.
The Hamster Society of Singapore explains the daily nutritional requirements for pet hamsters at different ages and life stages.
Three main nutrients for hamsters
The three main categories of nutrients that your pet hamster needs every day are protein, fat, and fiber.
Hamster nutrient needs at different ages
According to Hamster Hideout, hamsters need different quantities of the three main nutrients depending on their age and life stage.
- Protein: hamsters under six months old need 20 to 24 percent while hamsters over six months old need 17 to 19 percent.
- Fat: hamsters in general need between four and seven percent fat depending on their species, eating habits, and age. It is important to adjust fat intake to avoid weight gain.
- Fiber: hamsters, in general, need anywhere from six to 15 percent fiber. Older adult and senior hamsters typically need more fiber than young hamsters.
How to Safely Add Spinach to Your Hamster’s Diet
As you probably noticed in an earlier section here, fresh raw spinach contains 91 percent water.
This is potentially both good and bad for your pet hamster.
Interestingly, hamsters in the wild are rarely observed to drink water. Rather, they get the majority of their moisture from the food they eat. In this way, spinach is a great source of water for your hamster.
However, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA), if you over-feed green foods like fresh watery spinach, it can also cause digestive disturbance and lead to diarrhea.
You definitely don’t want to accidentally cause your hamster to have gastrointestinal problems by feeding too much spinach in a single sitting. You can avoid this problem by offering only very small quantities of spinach at a time.
How much spinach can your hamster have at one sitting
In the previous section here, we shared the nutritional profile based on six tablespoons (100 grams) of fresh raw spinach. The amount of water in this much spinach could definitely cause loose stools or diarrhea for your hamster.
The general rule of thumb is to offer no more than one-half tablespoon (about 1.5 teaspoons) of spinach to your hamster in a single serving.
How often can your hamster enjoy spinach?
Spinach should be included in a regular rotation of fresh raw vegetable and fruit treats, which means you wouldn’t offer spinach every day. You could include spinach once a week so your hamster gets the benefits.
How should you serve spinach to your hamster?
The best way to give your hamster spinach is to offer fresh whole raw leaves. You can leave them whole or chop them up for a very small hamster.
Whenever possible, try to feed only organic spinach to your hamster, since organic produce will not be treated with pesticides or other toxins. Be sure to wash the spinach well with plain water and a vegetable wash before you offer it to your hamster.
Is Spinach Hard for Hamsters to Digest
Some online sources claim that spinach is hard for hamsters to digest. However, the majority of hamster owners agree that hamsters can and should eat small amounts of spinach for the other nutrient benefits.
The main reason spinach could be hard for your hamster to digest is if you over-feed it. The high water content could cause digestive upset or diarrhea, as we mentioned earlier here.
But as long as you only feed spinach in appropriate quantities and not too often, it is beneficial for your hamster.