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Hamsters are native to Europe and Asia. They were first discovered in Syria, but can also be found in northern China. Since bamboo is also found widely throughout China and Asia, you may be wondering, can hamsters eat bamboo? We've done the research to find the answer.
Hamsters can eat and chew on bamboo, but they should only eat bamboo that is store-bought. Bamboo that has been brought in from the wild can have toxins or bacteria that could be harmful to a hamster.
Bamboo is great for hamsters to chew on because it can help grind down their teeth. But with over 1,000 different species of bamboo, are all species safe for hamsters to eat? How can we be sure that the bamboo we feed to our hamsters won't hurt them? Keep reading to learn more.
Does Bamboo Have Nutritional Value For Hamsters?
Bamboo is not known to have any nutritional value that is beneficial to the hamster, so it should not be used extensively as a food source. Instead, bamboo is usually used as a chew toy that helps with keeping a hamster's teeth healthy and maintained. It's essential for hamsters to be able to chew on things.
Is Bamboo Toxic?
Some bamboo in the wild contains a toxin called cyanide. Cyanide is toxic to humans if consumed, so bamboo must be cooked before human consumption, but this is not the case with hamsters. The risk of gnawing on bamboo is minimal for hamsters, but it is still not recommended to feed wild bamboo to your hamster, whether for eating or chewing on. Store-bought bamboo is the safest kind for your pet.
What Kinds Of Bamboo Are Safe For Hamsters?
There are two common types of bamboo: true bamboo and lucky bamboo. True bamboo is the tall bamboo that occurs naturally in forests and is the only type of bamboo that is safe for hamsters to eat. Wild bamboo that has been treated with pesticides or other chemicals should be avoided, even if the bamboo was grown in your own backyard.
What Kinds Of Bamboo Are Unsafe For Hamsters?
The other type of bamboo, lucky bamboo, is not bamboo at all. It is actually a type of water lily and is usually used for decorative purposes. Sometimes decorative bamboo will have a waxy or plastic coating on it that could be harmful to your hamster if ingested. Besides lucky bamboo, there are other plants that resemble bamboo and have "bamboo" in the name that aren't actually bamboo at all, such as heavenly bamboo. Avoid letting your hamster eat or gnaw on these "false" types of bamboo.
What Kind Of Bamboo Is Store-Bought Bamboo?
Store-bought bamboo is often labeled as true bamboo, but it isn't always safe for pets. Sometimes store-bought bamboo is mislabeled and may not be the best option for your pet hamster. Purchase bamboo for hamsters from reputable pet stores. Or consider purchasing bamboo chew sticks that are specifically made for small rodents. You could also purchase another type of wood for your hamster to gnaw on instead.
What Other Kinds Of Wood Are Safe For Hamsters To Chew?
There are a few types of natural wood and chew sticks that are safe for hamsters besides bamboo. Before giving twigs to your hamster from trees in your backyard, be sure to follow the same rule as with bamboo. Don't give anything to your hamster that has been treated with pesticides or chemicals.
If you do choose to give your hamster natural wood, twigs from fruit trees such as pear and apple are safe choices for your hamster. But be sure to avoid twigs from pine and cedar trees because they contain oils that can cause respiratory issues and illness in hamsters. Giving your hamster twigs from poisonous trees such as yew, hemlock, and oleander should also be avoided.
Besides bamboo chew sticks, there are chew sticks made specifically for hamsters that are made from balsa wood, apple, rattan, or willow. All of them are free of pesticides.
Can Hamsters Have Plants In Their Cage?
Plants can be put into a hamster's cage, but it is usually not recommended. They can cause problems for your pet and for you as well. Below are a few reasons why putting plants inside a hamster cage may not be the best idea.
Real Plants Vs. Fake Plants
Fake plants should never be added to a hamster cage. If you do want to add plants, they should always be real. Fake plants are made of and coated in plastic, which isn't good for a hamster who sees the plant as a snack. Ingesting them could make your hamster sick.
Because plants are a hamster's main source of food, plants that are put into a hamster cage for decorative purposes may be seen as a snack for a hamster. Consuming too many plants can cause an imbalance in your hamster's diet or cause him to become sick.
Not Enough Space
Even though hamsters are small animals, plants can take up a lot of space in a hamster cage. If a hamster doesn't have enough room to run and exercise, he can become stressed, which isn't good for his health. If the plant isn't serving a specific purpose, give your hamster more space by taking it out of the cage.
Hamsters need frequent care, and cages need to be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. Adding live plants means more work to maintain the plants as well as the hamster and cage. Besides daily watering, live plants also need direct sunlight, meaning the cage will need to be placed near a window. That is not a good environment for a hamster because he could overheat.
Plants that are designed to go in small animal cages are usually not very sturdy. Since hamsters like to climb, putting plants in cages poses a risk to hamsters. They can break easily, causing your hamster to fall and get hurt if he is climbing them.
Some plants are toxic to hamsters and putting them in a hamster cage could make your hamster very sick or even kill it if the plants are ingested. If you still want to put a plant inside your hamster's cage, research it thoroughly. You should also consult a veterinarian before putting any kind of live plant into a hamster cage to make sure it is safe.
What Plants Are Toxic To Hamsters?
There are many plants that are toxic to hamsters. We have already mentioned keeping yew, oleander, and hemlock twigs away from hamsters, but there are many common houseplants and flowers that should be kept away from hamsters as well.
Most flowers are toxic to hamsters. Hamsters should not eat any type of cactus or lily. Other common flowering plants that are toxic to hamsters are ferns, ivy, azaleas, clematis, and chrysanthemums. Hamsters should not eat the leaves or flowers from those plants.
In addition to flowers, there are certain herbs that aren't safe for hamsters. You should never feed or allow your hamster to eat cilantro, catnip, lemongrass or balm, aloe vera, rosemary, or lavender. If you have any of these herbs inside your house, be sure to keep them away from your hamster any time he is out of his cage.
Seeds, Fruits, And Vegetables
Hamsters love seeds, but there are some seeds that they shouldn't eat. While twigs from apple trees are safe, apple seeds are not safe. Avocados, grapes, eggplant, onion, tomatoes, cherry pits, and peach pits can also poison hamsters. If you are unsure if a plant is toxic to hamsters, you shouldn't feed it to them until you consult with a veterinarian to make sure it is safe.
Is It Okay For A Hamster To Eat Cardboard?
It is safe for hamsters to eat cardboard or chew on it. Cardboard can be used in place of wood for your hamster to gnaw on to grind their teeth down. They sometimes even use it to create nests. Cardboard tubes also make great tunnels for hamsters to play in.
For a more in-depth look at this topic, check out our blog post that discusses it in great detail.
Remember, Store-Bought Is Best.
Now that we've learned that bamboo is safe for hamsters, remember that store-bought is the safest option for your pet. You should always consult a vet before adding anything new to your hamster's diet. If you are still unsure about feeding bamboo to your hamster, there are many other yummy options that he will be sure to love.
For an even more controlled diet, you can learn How To Make Hamster Treats At Home.