When considering what to feed your hamster, we need to think about what’s good and bad for their health. From Jerry, the spunky mouse, to Ratatouille’s Remy the rat, movies and cartoons tell us that all rodents love cheese — and most do. But can hamsters eat cheese?
In small, controlled amounts, yes, hamsters can have cheese.
Hamsters are omnivores, which means they need both animal protein and plant material to have a fully balanced diet. They can get some of their protein from cheese every once in a while, but too much cheese is dangerous to a hamster’s health.
So, how do you know how much cheese to give your hamster, how often to give it to them, or even what kind of cheese is best for hamsters?
Don’t worry, we’ll cover everything you need to know about your hamster and its love affair with cheese. Read on to have all your cheesy questions answered.
What’s life without a little laughter? “What type of cheese is made backward? Edam.”
Is Cheese Safe For Hamsters?
Hamsters should be fed a steady diet of prepackaged hamster food as it contains the majority of all nutrients they need to live healthy lives. Some cheeses are safe for hamsters to eat in very small, controlled amounts once a week.
- Cheese has protein in it, which hamsters need.
- Cheese is yummy, which makes hamsters happy.
- Different cheeses have different textures, which provide mental enrichment.
- Feeding cheese to your hamster by hand provides a bonding experience.
What’s life without a little laughter? “What did the cheese say to itself in the mirror? ‘Halloumi!'”
Cheese should only be given as a treat. While cheese does have protein in it, which is good for hamsters, it has a lot of salt and is very fatty. Hamster kidneys are not meant to process that much salt, so too much cheese can lead to renal failure and even death.
While a fat hamster may look incredibly cute, their bodies are so small that even a little too much pudge can put an immense amount of strain on their little hearts and livers,which can in turn lead to multi-organ failure.
What’s life without a little laughter? “What’s a cheese’s favorite fairy tale? ‘Gorgonzola and the Three Bears.'”
What Are The Main Nutritional Components Of Cheese?
String, cottage, American, brie, mozzarella, gouda — the list just goes on. With all these cheese options available, how do you know what’s best for your furry little friend (or you for that matter)?
The main components of cheese we need to be concerned with are the fat, salt, and protein content. There is no ‘best’ cheese that you should feed your hamster. However, there are definitely ‘better’ cheeses.
Let’s have a look at the relevant components of cheeses that are safe to feed your hamster, from best to worst based on the amount of salt in each type of cheese.
|Based on One Ounce of Cheese
|Salt (Sodium mg)
|Soft Goat Cheese
|Mozzarella (whole milk)
|Processed American cheese
What’s life without a little laughter? “You cheddar believe I’m feeling gouda about this.”
How Much Cheese Should I Give My Hamster?
Hamsters love treats in any shape or size. There are many kinds of treats available for hamsters commercially. And even though cheese is almost always in your fridge, cheese should only be given as a treat every now and then to hamsters.
You should feed your hamster a maximum of a quarter ounce of cheese once a week.
What’s life without a little laughter? “I’m whey too fondue of you.”
What Type Of Cheese Can I Feed My Hamster?
You need to consider each cheese individually for its pros and cons for hamsters. For example:
- Cream cheese (plain) is an interesting treat for your hamster because of its soft, creamy texture; it’s got low salt (which is great) but is very high in fat.
- Chunky cottage cheese (plain) is also texturally interesting and very low in fat (which is great) but extremely high in salt.
In terms of the best kinds of cheese to feed your hamster, mozzarella, string cheese, and soft goat cheese are the healthiest options for your hamster when weighing the salt-to-fat ratio.
Even though cottage cheese is high in salt, it’s very high in calcium and protein, which makes it the best choice for pregnant hamsters as they need the extra protein and calcium. A teaspoon a week is the maximum recommended amount.
There are some cheeses that are toxic to hamsters because of the bacteria they contain:
What’s life without a little laughter? “What’s cheese’s favorite kind of music? R’n’Brie.”
How Should I Prepare Cheese For My Hamster?
Hamsters need a specific ratio of nutrients in their diet. In their daily diet, 16% should be protein and 4% to 5% fat. This specific ratio is why feeding hamsters commercial food is ideal because hamsters eat selectively.
If something tastes better than something else, guess what your hamster will eat and what it will leave behind? Similar to any toddler, the healthy food will be left and the yummy cheese will disappear in a blink.
The best way to give your hamster cheese is as a treat completely separate from their normal food. Hand-feeding them small (bite-sized or shredded) pieces of cheese one at a time is a great way to bond with your hamster and stop them from scurrying away and hoarding the cheese.
Cheese that is left in the cage will be hoarded for your hamster’s eating pleasure at a later date. However, this cheese will mold eventually and be dangerous to their health in the same way blue and Stilton cheese is toxic.
While watching your hamster nibble on a small chunk of cheese is adorable, hamsters are excellent at overstuffing themselves, so better to be safe than sorry and cut the cheese up into small pieces to avoid choking.
What’s life without a little laughter? “What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho cheese!”
FAQs About Feeding Cheese To Hamsters
Do hamsters actually like cheese?
Disney has us convinced that rodents like cheese, this is actually true for most of them.
Hamsters love the soft, salty nuggets of cheesy goodness for the same reasons we do. Our bodies are just a lot better at processing cheese than a hamster’s body, but they don’t know that and will gorge themselves to death unless the pet parent steps in.
For other cool and useful information about hamsters, check out our owner’s guide.
What’s life without a little laughter? “What do you call cheese that’s all by itself? Provolone.”
Are there species of hamster that cannot have cheese at all?
There are different species of hamster that all have different nutritional requirements. Some species cannot have cheese because these animals are so small that the fat and salt in the cheese would seriously harm their kidneys.
Some dwarf species are prone to obesity and should only have low fat cheese if any cheese is given to them at all.
Species that can have cheese:
- Syrian hamsters
- Chinese hamsters
- Campbell’s dwarf hamster (focus on low fat rather than low salt)
- Winter white hamsters (focus on low fat rather than low salt)
Species that cannot have cheese:
- Roborovski dwarf hamsters
What’s life without a little laughter? “Why did the cheese blush? Because it saw the salad dressing!”
Nibbling Off On Hamsters Eating Cheese…
Hamsters can have cheese depending on the species, the kind of cheese, and the amount you feed them. Remember, a hamster’s body is not suited to processing huge amounts of fat or salt, so you need to be very careful when picking the type of cheese you feed them.
Let’s recap the main points on what, when, and how to feed cheese to your hamster:
- Pick a cheese that is low in fat and salt.
- Feed them a maximum of ¼ ounce of cheese once a week.
- Cut the cheese into small pieces to avoid choking.
- Don’t leave cheese in your hamster’s cage as it will mold and harm them.
- Feed the cheese to your hamster by hand and completely separate from their normal food.
What’s life without a little laughter? “I’m feta up with all these cheesy puns.”