The Christmas festivities are over and it’s time to eat up the food that’s left. Here at Vectis, the hamsters are happy to help prevent waste! In the interest of making sure that other hammies out there get their share too, here are some tips for feeding Christmas leftovers.
Leftovers should be as fresh as possible. Store them and use them within a timeframe that you would if feeding humans; you don’t want unwell hamsters. Make sure that the food hasn’t been cooked with spices or salt. If you have too much to use right now, then you can freeze it for later use. I like to portion it into ice cube trays as one cube makes a nice hamster-sized portion.
Vegetables that are suitable for hamsters are: mangetout, runner beans, green beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, courgettes, asparagus, cabbage, kale, and the Christmas favourite Brussels sprouts (this is not an exhaustive list!). Cooked potato or sweet potato also go down well, as does mashed potato depending on what you add to it. Remember no salt, pepper or spices. I often add small amounts of milk and butter to my mash which I’ve not found my hamsters have any issue with, though some hamsters can find lactose difficult to digest. I’ve also given the hamsters mash made with soya milk and soya margarine (due to the dietary requirements of the dining human visitor) but personally wouldn’t go out of my way to use this just for the hamsters.
My hamsters love a bit of meat. It’s a special treat for them as I’m vegetarian so don’t often have freshly cooked meat available. Chicken and turkey are favourites, although they also enjoy lamb and beef. I don’t tend to feed pork or bacon as I remember them as being salty (though I must confess the last time I ate them was now two decades ago!) I don’t feed fatty bits of meat, and pull as much fat off as possible.
I wouldn’t recommend feeding most gravies to hamsters, as I worry about the salt content and other additives found in gravy mixes or in gravies made for human consumption. This year though my hamsters are getting ‘gravy’ on their festive dinner. I was given a lovely new slow cooker; I have the turkey bones cooking at the moment to make a bone broth for the dog, who is (somewhat grudgingly) sharing it with the hammies! As I’m making it from scratch myself specifically for the animals I know exactly what is in it and can make sure it’s safe for them.
Portioning and Feeding
The key to feeding leftovers is to feed small amounts! Don’t overdo it or it will lead to upset tummies; a teaspoonful is enough. Back when I only had a few hamsters I read about feeding leftovers and got rather keen – my hammies had some every day over the Christmas period, and poor Percy (officially called “Persil: Small but Mighty”) ended up needing a vet trip and was diagnosed with diarrhoea due to overenthusiastic administration of extras.
If you only have one or two hamsters, then feeding extras or leftovers in little ceramic or glass bowls is lovely. With my lot, I got rapidly fed up of digging lots of little bowls out of the substrate and then washing them all! Cupcake cases are wonderful for extras, and once the hammy has eaten the food they have fun shredding the case to make bedding.
I hope your hamsters enjoy their festive leftovers!