If you’re thinking about feeding your hamster chocolate, it’s not a good idea. While we often talk about dark chocolate being good for humans, it’s really bad for hamsters. Milk chocolate is as well.
You shouldn’t give your hamster chocolate, or leave chocolate anywhere that your hamster might come across it.
Why Is Chocolate Bad For Hamsters?
Chocolate contains a lot of caffeine, which is not good for hamsters. It can affect a hamster’s nervous system and heart rate. While humans enjoy and can cope with the effects of caffeine, hamsters are very small and cannot deal with the stress of caffeine. It can even kill them. Chocolate also contains something called theobromine, which stays in the system for a long time. This is very toxic to little animals like hamsters, and can cause testicular damage.
Chocolate can even harm unborn hamsters or the babies of nursing hamsters, passing to them through the placenta or the breast milk. If your hamster is pregnant or nursing, be extra careful about what they get to eat and follow specific guidlines for looking after them.
Dark chocolate is particularly dangerous for hamsters, but you shouldn’t give them either milk or dark chocolate, or white chocolate. There are plenty of other foods you can offer your hamster, but don’t give them any kind of chocolate.
What Should You Do If Your Hamster Eats Chocolate?
It can be hard to keep your hamster out of trouble all the time, and if you let your hamster roam free, you might find that at some point, the mischievous little thing gets into something it shouldn’t.
Before you let your hamster out, try and be extra vigilant and pick up any human snacks or choking hazards. Put food wrappers away so they aren’t tempted by the smell; they could end up ingesting plastic otherwise.
Even with the best of intentions, hamsters do sometimes get hold of things that they shouldn’t have. If your hamster gets a few crumbs of chocolate, don’t panic. It will probably be okay. Even if your hamster eats large amounts of chocolates as a one-off, it may not do too much harm, but never deliberately give your hamster chocolate.
If you find your pet has munched up some chocolate, put it straight back in its cage and keep a close eye on it. Make the room quiet and minimize noise to reduce any potential other stressors. If you can, dim the lights a bit and see how your hamster responds.
Over the next few days, feed your hamster on plain foods and keep an eye on its droppings. Sometimes an upset stomach can cause diarrhea or constipation, so monitor this.
If you’re really worried about your hamster, take it to a vet sooner rather than later. Hamsters are only little, and can die very fast if they do eat something toxic.
If your hamster has managed to drag chocolate into its cage, make sure you clean out the whole cage, removing any traces of chocolate and taking out old bedding. Replace it with fresh bedding, and check your hamster hasn’t hidden any chocolate in stashes to return to later. If you find any, take it away.
Despite all the worries about chocolate, many people have had their hamsters get into chocolate with no ill effects except a very smug hamster. Obviously chocolate doesn’t always poison hamsters, but it is much better to be safe than sorry: put chocolate and high-sugar foods firmly out of your little buddy’s reach.
Some of the minerals and vitamins in raw chocolate include:
- Magnesium and other essential minerals including calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium.
- Polyphenols called flavonoids with antioxidant properties.
- Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B9 and E.
- Essential heart-healthy fats, including oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat.
What Else Can My Hamster Have?
There are lots of other treats which your hamster will enjoy. Fresh fruit and vegetables are the best options, rather than processed foods. Your hamster shouldn’t have citrus fruits, but most others are okay – just double-check before feeding anything new to your hamster.
You can give your hamster carrots, berries, celery, or apple in small quantities. Nuts are another popular option which your hamster will really enjoy.
You should never feed your hamster a large amount of any food, even if it’s hamster-safe. Hamsters are so small that it’s easy to give them too much of a kind of food, so you should be careful with quantities.
Keep varying the food you offer and only give your hamster small amounts, and you should be doing fine!
What About Hamster Chocolate Drops?
If you’ve seen those chocolate drops sold specifically for rodents in your local pet store, it won’t surprise you to know that those are okay for your hamster! They aren’t remotely like human chocolate, and they are safe.
However, remember to feed them in moderation; your hamster shouldn’t be allowed to pig out on too many treats.