I love watching my little hammie eat. It is quite adorable how he stuffs his cheeks full of food and gobble away as if his life depends on it (which, to be honest, it does, in a way!).
I am always perplexed about what food to give to my hamster and what to keep away from him. I am sure you have similar concerns.
Can Hamsters Eat Bugs?
For starters, can hamsters eat bugs? Definitely! In fact, they are pretty fond of certain bugs like worms and crickets. This is because hamsters are omnivores, and in the wild, a hamster’s diet contains a mix of vegetables and insects.
Now, the question arises, should you incorporate bugs into your hammie’s diet? I felt quite squeamish about it. But the hamster wants what the hamster wants, right?
Let’s delve deeper and see if you should truly give your hamster insects to eat.
But First, Nutrition: What should a hamster eat?
To understand why (or why not) a hamster should be given different insects to eat, let’s first break down the nutrition requirement of hamsters.
There are three primary nutrients that hamsters require to lead a healthy life. This includes protein, fiber, and fat. Depending on the life cycle stage they are in, the amount of the three nutrients required varies.
As you can see, the required quantity of protein decreases with increasing age. On their own, hammies tend to overeat. So, it is crucial to provide them with the right amount and mix of food. So, to reiterate, can hamsters eat bugs? They can – to fulfill their protein requirement but in moderation!
A win-win: Can a hamster’s love for bugs be a method of pest control?
Do you have a garden? If so, you might conclude that if your hamster loves eating insects and bugs, you can use it as a way to control pests in your garden. It doesn’t and shouldn’t work that way!
Can hamsters eat bugs? Yes. Should you rely on them to eat away all the bugs in your home and garden? No.
Firstly, hamsters have strict dietary requirements. Therefore, you need to regulate their feeding instead of letting them be in a garden full of insects. Bugs should only be given to them as an occasional treat and not a full meal.
Additionally, there are only specific bugs that hamsters can eat. Eating everything that it finds can lead to health issues as bugs often carry parasites!
I know what you are thinking.
If hamsters in the wild can eat insects, why can’t your pet do the same? Well, different hamsters have varying environmental needs. And they only eat insects that exist where their specific species are naturally found in. This is not synonymous with a garden or a house with various bugs and insects!
Not to mention that the immune system of domesticated hamsters is much weaker and more sensitive than that of wild hamsters.
Therefore, even if you give your hammie a few bugs to chomp, you must purchase it from a pet store to ensure that the treat is safe to consume and is devoid of all bacteria and ailments.
The Flip Side: The Risks of Eating Bugs
There are two significant risks associated with eating bugs.
As mentioned above, hamsters have very selective dietary requirements. At the same time, it is pretty easy for a little hammie to overeat. And if they eat too many bugs, they will end up consuming more protein than recommended for their life cycle. This, in turn, can cause kidney-related diseases.
Also Read: Can hamsters eat blueberries? Are they any good?
Susceptibility to parasites
Pests are often carriers of different harmful bacteria. If your hammie ends up eating fresh insects, they would be at the risk of developing diseases. Note that this might not be an issue if you choose dried insects from pet stores.
Can hamsters eat bugs without incurring any risks? Only if you are careful about the quantity and the source of the treat.
Bon Appetite: What bugs can hamsters eat?
Now that you know the clear answer to ‘can hamsters eat bugs,’ the next natural question is probably, ‘what bugs can they eat?’
Here is a list of insects that hamsters can eat safely:
June Bugs: To eat or not to eat?
There are quite a lot of bugs out there that hamsters should steer clear of. This includes ladybugs and beetles. But, June bugs are an exception.
June bugs are a great source of protein. While they might be rich in protein, they are simultaneously low in calories and do not contain any carbs. This means that the treat would not cause your little hammie to become obese.
The Dangers of June Bugs
The insect in itself does not pose any harm to hamsters. Unlike some of the other bugs out there, it doesn’t have any toxins that are detrimental to the health of your hammie. However, just like any other food, there are always certain risks attached.
The Bug Danger: How to avoid the risks?
Can hamsters eat bugs? Yes, they can.
Is it always safe for them to consume bugs? No.
Is it possible to mitigate the risks associated with bugs? Yes!
Hamsters can survive without eating bugs. The required protein can easily be found in other safer options like canned cooked meat (without seasoning).
But, if you are persistent in giving your hammie the natural experience of living like a wild hamster, you can try to avoid the dangers by:
Parting Advice: Handle the Bug dilemma as you see fit!
Let me summarize everything quickly.
Hamsters can eat bugs, but they should only be fed in moderation and in dried form after being bought by any reputable pet store. Pet hamsters are not the same as wild hamsters and should not be given live insects from nature. Nor should they be used as a form of pest control.
I personally don’t see much merit in giving bugs to my little hammie. Mainly because he already has a sensitive stomach. So, when I learned that it is not a necessity to give such slimy treats to my adorable friend, I decided not to.
However, the decision of whether or not to introduce bugs in your hammie’s diet is entirely your call. It is an optional treat that they can live without. However, some of them might enjoy the taste since they are omnivores at the end of the day.
I suggest that you ponder the merits and demerits and decide what you deem fit. Take care of your little hammie!