Can You Safely Feed Mealworms to Hamsters?

By now, you know hamsters require a variety of foods to feel their best and live a long life. You've been looking at different protein options, and now you're wondering if you could feed mealworms to your hamster. We've done some research and have some great answers for you.

Mealworms, given in moderation, can be a healthy addition to your hamster's diet. In the wild, hamsters eat the occasional small insect, so adding mealworms from time to time would be a tasty treat for your furry friend. Mealworms can be fed live or dried.

Though the question of feeding mealworms to hamsters has been answered, read on to find out about the different methods of feeding these treats to your hamsters. We'll answer some other questions you might have as well. Please, continue reading!

A dwarf hamster sitting on his food bowl, Can You Safely Feed Mealworms to Hamsters?

Why Feed Mealworms To Your Hamster?

Why would you want to feed your pet mealworms? In the wild, hamsters eat many different fruits, vegetables, and insects. Mealworms provide a powerful protein punch that ensures your little friend stays healthy and content.

A little hamster eating a mealworm on a white background

They're also rich in monosaturated fatty acids, which can improve cardiovascular health and overall mood. That being said, mealworms are high in fat, so your hamster must get mealworms on an occasional basis, such as one or two every few days. 

As with any new food being introduced to your hamster, try a small amount at first and then watch it closely for any adverse reaction. Mealworms can be fed live or dried, with dried have a much longer shelf life. Remember, the primary source of your hamster's diet should be their everyday hamster food.

View this hamster food on Amazon.

Live Mealworms

Feeding your hamster live mealworms is a way of providing fresh, nutritious protein to your pet hamster. Live mealworms are more difficult to find than the dried variety but are definitely a viable option to feed. By feeding live mealworms, you can ensure the mealworms aren't treated with anything you wouldn't want your hamster to ingest. Additionally, it more closely replicates what your hamster would eat in the wild.

If feeding live mealworms, it's best to feed them to your hamster one at a time. It might be fun for your hamster just to have one released into its cage, but remember, if you do this, you'll want to ensure no worms are left burrowing around in your hamster's cage. If they are left in the cage and die without being eaten, it could cause a buildup of bacteria in your pet's cage. Allowing your hamster to forage for its food will be an enjoyable activity for it. 

A mealworm on the table

Mealworms are not known to bite or cause danger. If you're worried about your hamster trying to store the worm in their cheek without killing it (risking a bite), feel free to crush the mealworm's head before offering it to your hamster. Read "Why Do Hamsters Put Food in Their Cheeks?" for more info on cheek pouches.

Be sure you purchase your live mealworms at a reputable seller. Some pet stores carry them, and you can also purchase them from different sellers on Amazon. Keep in mind; you shouldn't keep more mealworms than your pet can eat before they grow into beetles. Since mealworms are an occasional treat, dried might be best unless you have a lot of hamsters. 

View these live mealworms on Amazon.

Dried Mealworms

There are a plethora of options for buying dried mealworms. Dried mealworms are really the easiest way to feed this treat to your hamster. Dried mealworms can be scattered across the bottom of your hamster's cage to be foraged or put directly into a food dish. As with any other treat, feed these treats in moderation. 

Purchase small bags to begin with. Your hamster may or may not like the taste of dried mealworms. Making a small investment at first could save you in the long run. Any dried mealworms will do, even if the packaging is marketed to another animal. A lot of dried worms are marketed to chickens or other bird varieties. If you find a good deal stating it's bird feed, you can still feed this to your hamster. 

View these dried mealworms on Amazon.

Can I feed my hamster insects?

You can feed your hamster insects. Hamsters are omnivores, which means they eat a mix of proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Although your hamster will enjoy the occasional insect, don't just go grabbing up bugs you find in the wild and feeding it to your pet. Insects have the potential to carry bacteria and parasites that could harm your hamster. Only feed your hamster insects that are dried or have been kept in captivity. Hamsters enjoy mealworms, crickets, locusts, or waxworms. 

A man holding a cultured cricket

If the idea of feeding your hamster insects makes you queasy, feel free to keep your fuzzy buddy on a vegan diet. Insects aren't a necessity for keeping your pet healthy and happy. Alternatively, feeding your hamster dried bugs is a great alternative if you can't stomach the idea of feeding it live bugs. 

What do hamsters eat?

A hamster's diet should consist primarily of commercial hamster food. These pellet mixes are made up of various foods to ensure your hamster has a balanced diet. Most hamster food contains fruit, seeds, hay, and nuts. Timothy hay is an especially healthy, fortified source of hamster food, and many varieties of daily hamster food contain it.

View this Timothy hay on Amazon.

What do hamsters eat for snacks?

There are so many foods your hamster will enjoy and are great supplementation to their daily hamster food. Green, leafy vegetables, broccoli, bananas, carrots, celery, apples, pears, strawberries -- the list goes on and on! However, all of these foods are considered treats and shouldn't be the primary source of food for your hamster. These are occasional treats. Be sure to introduce the foods one at a time and wait before feeding more to ensure there is not digestional distress. 

A hamster eating his treats in his green feeding bowl

There are plenty of commercially made treats as well. Always read the ingredients list to ensure you're not feeding your pet something known to cause them a stomach upset. For more information on what to feed your hamster, read "Can Hamsters Eat Celery?" or "How to Make Hamster Treats at Home."

What should you not feed hamsters?

Of course, some foods could be harmful to your hamster. Number one is chocolate. It contains theobromine, which is toxic to hamsters. Chocolate also contains caffeine, which could make your hamster's heart race. Avoid any food with caffeine.

Dark chocolate with cacao seeds on the back

Additionally, avoid peanuts, beans, potatoes, citrus fruits, tomato leaves, or junk food. There are other foods considered toxic. Thoroughly research foods before feeding them to your hamster. If necessary, keep an ongoing list of what should not be fed to your hamster, along with foods you've tried that have caused an upset stomach to your pet.

In Closing

You can feed your hamster mealworms. In fact, feeding these bugs to your pet could lead to a happier and healthier life. The benefits are definitely worth the effort. Whether you feed your hamster live or dried mealworms, ensure it is done in moderation. Whichever you decide, your hamster will likely love you for it!

Jennifer Ross
Jennifer Ross
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