Potatoes have become the centerpiece for most modern dishes. Whether fried, boiled, roasted or mashed, there are so many different dishes you can make out of these versatile vegetables. They are very tasty and have a plethora of health benefits that make them great for any family meal or holiday gathering.
And even though they have become a staple ingredient in our daily recipes, some hamster owners still can’t tell whether or not their pet can eat potatoes. So, are potatoes a safe food for hamsters? For that and more, keep reading!
Hamsters can eat small amounts of potatoes but not in any form. Avoid giving your hamster raw, fried, or seasoned potatoes. Provided that you are giving a moderate amount of potatoes in these forms, it’s safe for your pet to have this delicious snack.
All About Potatoes
I know we are all familiar with potatoes. We’ve even eaten them in different forms. However, just how much do you know about this versatile tuber? Let’s explore something little about potatoes.
Potatoes are actually the youngest species of the nightshade family. That’s the same group featuring tomatoes, eggplants, and bell peppers.
The three main types of potatoes are the Russet Potato, the Red Potato, and the Fingerling Potatoes. It is believed that all modern-day potatoes originated from a single plant somewhere in Peru.
All potatoes are put in the starchy vegetable category, same as carrots, turnips, butt corn, and peas.
Nutrition Stats of Potatoes
Potatoes are very rich in nutrients no wonder they are becoming a staple food in most kitchens today. By consuming just 100 grams of cooked unsalted potatoes, you get;
Nutrition stats for 100g of potatoes
From the stats, it’s evident that potatoes are one of the most nutritious snacks you can use as an occasional treat for your hamster.
Nutritional Facts About Potatoes
Having seen the nutritional stats, it’s good we now dig deeper into these facts about potatoes.
Part of the reason why potatoes are so healthy is that they are a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, protein, dietary fiber, and folate.
Potatoes also contain potassium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium. However, they are low in sodium and saturated fats while being free of cholesterol.
The only part which every potato should be avoided is the skin because it’s high in fat content. The flesh, on the other hand, provides you with all the goodness mentioned above.
Health Benefits of Hamsters Eating Potatoes
With all the mentioned nutrients, it’s evident that hamsters benefit from eating potatoes in several ways. Some of the benefits of potatoes for hamsters include;
As mentioned above, potatoes are rich in carbohydrates. And while some sources consider carbs as bad for health, you should know that there are different kinds of carbs.
Some provide quick energy while others act slowly to give long-term energy which is better for your pet’s health. The slow-acting carbs found in potatoes are perfect for hamsters as they provide them with both short and long-term energy.
Potatoes also bolster your hamster’s immune system. They contain vitamin C which boosts immunity and helps fight infections. These vitamins help increase your hamster’s ability to fight off diseases and other health challenges that come on the way.
Improving Cardiovascular Health:
With their potassium content, potatoes help in restoring electrolyte balance and normal heart function. Potassium is crucial for proper nerve, muscle, and heart functions.
It’s also useful in lowering blood pressure while regulating blood glucose levels and ridding the body of harmful toxins. If you notice some symptoms of a potassium deficiency, perhaps it’s time to add potatoes to your hamster’s diet.
Regulating Blood Sugar Levels:
The excess blood glucose levels in your hamster can lead to hyperglycemia. This is where the body produces excessive insulin so as to combat this high sugar level. The result of this battle is low blood sugar levels.
However, the sudden drop in blood sugar levels might not be good for your hamster’s health.
The best remedy is to add potatoes to their diet; though in small amounts. That way, you will be regulating your pet’s blood glucose levels and ensuring they maintain a healthy balance.
Maintaining a healthy weight:
Adding potatoes to your hamster’s food can also help them control their weight. Since they contain low levels of fat, it’s much easier to limit your hamster’s intake especially if you feed them potatoes in place of their normal food ingredients.
How Much Potatoes Can I Give My Hamster?
One area you always have to ensure you act right all the time is the amount of food you give your hamster.
You sure don’t want to overfeed them or underfeed them either. And with potatoes, this is one smart food they will love that has no negative side effects if given in correct quantities.
Now, talking of the quantity you should give, it all depends on the breed of hamster pet you have. Different hamster breeds need different quantities of food depending on their size, age, and activity level.
Usually, the smaller the size of the breed, the less food they need. That leaves the Syrian hamster with the largest amount of daily food requirement, followed by the Roborovski, and then the dwarf hamster breeds.
How Much Potatoes Should Syrian Hamsters Eat?
If you have a Syrian hamster, the potato intake is 1/2 teaspoon per week. That’s approximately the size of their ear.
However, keep in mind that the fact that they can eat more than any of the other breeds doesn’t mean you should feed them as much potatoes as they are ready to eat. It’s up to you to regulate the intake level of your pet.
How Much Potatoes Should Roborovski Hamsters Eat?
A Robo hamster only requires about 1/4 teaspoon of potatoes per week. That’s because they are slightly smaller than their Syrian counterparts. Like with any other hamster breed, ensure that you only give your Robo hamster the recommended amounts of this natural treat as anything more can attract medical issues.
How Much Potatoes Should Dwarf Hamsters Eat?
Dwarf varieties such as the Russian hamsters and the Campbell’s hamsters also need less than 1/4 teaspoon of potatoes per week. They have the least amount of intake requirement, mainly because they are the smallest of all hamster breeds.
How Much Potatoes Should A Baby Hamster Eat?
Unlike the senior hamsters, baby hamsters shouldn’t be given any potatoes at all. The digestive system of these little furry friends is still delicate. Hence, introducing any “foreign” food can cause serious digestive issues.
Health Risks of Feeding Your Hamster Potatoes
Everything has its pros and cons. And the same is true for potatoes.
They offer numerous health benefits to your pet but there are some drawbacks too. Some of those risks include:
- Diarrhea: Any food given in excess to your pet will cause diarrhea, especially when it’s the first time they are eating it. However, for the case of potatoes, this is not as severe as for other foods. Even so, ensure you stick to the recommended amounts. Also, keep a very close eye on your pet after you give them potatoes the first time.
- Diabetes: Potatoes contain a high level of starch. Giving too much of them to your pet can also cause diabetes. Though they are high on potassium, which is good for regulating blood glucose levels, the danger of giving too many potatoes is always there.
- Obesity: Potatoes, like any other food that’s high on calories, can cause obesity too. It can happen easier than you think for hamsters, considering that these lovely furry friends are among the pets that are most likely to put on more weight.
- Intestinal Obstruction: Although it takes a lot of potatoes to cause this problem in hamsters, medical experts still recommend owners limit their pet’s intake.
Are Mashed Potatoes Good for Hamsters?
Yes, you can give your hamster mashed potatoes. Therefore, if how you want to offer them to your furry friend, go ahead, but remember that it’s always better to prevent excess intake.
Mashed potatoes are an excellent source of energy for hamsters. Although the risk is still there, this is one of those tasty treats you can give your pet on a daily basis.
Can Hamsters Eat Raw Potatoes?
As aforementioned, raw potatoes can be a health risk when giving to your pet, and they shouldn’t be given at all. Actually, leave alone raw potatoes, undercooked potatoes can also cause problems for hamsters.
Therefore, always ensure that you give cooked potatoes to your hammy. This way, you will allow your pet to benefit from the good nutrients they contain, without risking getting ill.
Can Hamsters Eat Roasted Potatoes?
Yes, you can give your hamster roasted potatoes. However, only ensure that you remove the peel before giving it to them. That’s because the outside of the potatoes contains certain enzymes that can make your hamster sick.
Can Hamsters Eat Potato Chips?
No, hamsters shouldn’t eat potato chips. Keep in mind that potato chips have salt, flavorings, oil, and sometimes more. All these ingredients aren’t good for your pet’s health, and they can cause a lot of problems.
Can Hamsters Eat French Fries?
Again, hamsters shouldn’t eat French fries, hot or cold. They contain too much of oil and salt and are therefore not safe for pet hamsters. Therefore, the next time you are having a little party and your hamster seems to be attracted to your fries, keep it away from them.
Can Hamsters Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Yes, sweet potato is good for all senior hamsters. Just like the common potato, they offer high levels of starch and energy that won’t harm your pet’s digestive system.
The same as for other potatoes, give sweet potatoes in moderation or as a treat from time to time, but always remember to remove the peel beforehand.
When you follow all the aforementioned tips, potatoes will be a good and special treat for your hamster. Just remember that moderation is always recommended and they shouldn’t eat too much of them in one day. Again, avoid raw, seasoned, and salted potatoes. Lastly, never give potatoes to baby hamsters.