Saturday, January 1, 2011

Treats For Hamsters (and Other Rodents)

Small animals love food, especially treats. Giving your small pet these extra treats is a great way to add to its staple food and keeps it healthy and happy. You should always keep in mind that treats should be given moderately, especially sugary or fatty foods. When giving treats you should also think about what sort of things your pet should and shouldn't eat, for example chinchillas should avoid sugary foods. Here are some things small animals will love to eat:

Fresh Fruits and vegetables:

Dried Fruit

Small animals love to eat vegetables and the occasional fruit; it not only gives them a yummy treat but also helps keep their teeth short and fur shiny. Vegetables such as carrot, peas and sweetcorn make excellent choices. Make sure to give in moderation, one pea or sweet corn is enough for a hamster, and the end of a carrot will make an ample treat, ensure you take out any uneaten food so that it won't go mouldy and pose a threat to your pet.

In the fruit department you can give small slices of fresh apple, watermelon or pear, half a grape or strawberry, or small amounts of berries such as blackcurrant, cranberries or blueberries. Don't feed high acidic foods such as oranges or lemon and avoid sugary foods such as fresh banana. Also remember with both fruits and veg to wash it thoroughly as there may be harmful pesticides or residue from them.

Dried fruits and vegetables:

Many pet stores will stock dried fruit and vegetables for your small animal. These are excellent choices, as they have no preservatives or extras added like you might find in supermarket brands intended for humans!

Another positive to these is many of the fruits are safe for your small animals to eat dried and therefore they come in a staggering range. They also won't go mouldy so can be placed in the food bowl to zing up your pet's normal food.

Varieties come separate or mixed usually with coconut, peanuts or popcorn! Some common varieties include: Dried banana, dried strawberries, dried kiwi, dried papaya, pineapple or passion fruit, dried leek, dried tomato, dried artichoke, dried potato, dried apple, dried coconut and raisins.

Herbs and plants

Some plants and herbs can be dangerous to your pet so you should always find out first, generally if in doubt avoid it! You should always wash any fresh herbs or plants before giving them to your pet! Many small animals will enjoy nibbling fresh grass and even more enjoy dandelion leaves.

Dried herbs and flowers are often sold as treats for hamsters and other small animals and are generally safer than feeding your pet plants you find. Also because they are dried you don't have to worry about them going off. You can mix them in with the dry food to make it more interesting or provide a separate bowl for the mixture.

Some common herbs are Salvia, Parsley, Thyme, Bulbiferous Sunflower (Topinambur), Marjoram, Willow Bark, Milfoil, Linden flower, Goats Rue, Briar Rose, Dandelion, Chicory, Cornflower, Plantain, Mint, Nettle, Chamomile, Marigold and occasionally Birch Tree Leaves. All of which create a great and interesting treat for your hamster or small animal.

Nuts, seeds and grains

Nuts, seeds and grains are great for small animals as they help to grind down teeth and provide essential oils and fats for healthy eyesight, growth and skin. The majority of foods provide these already, so many are unneeded as treats. However if your pet is on a pellet diet or you just want to spoil them these can be an excellent choice.

Peanuts, in the shell or not, make a great treat that most small animals will go wild for. However be careful not to give to many as your pet may decide to eat only peanuts, which is bad for it's health. Hamsters have a lot of fun de-shelling the 'monkey nut' variety and this helps keep their teeth healthy too! Make sure to buy nuts for either wild birds or hamsters so that they are free of salts, preservatives or anything harmful.

Similar to peanuts is the sunflower seed, which can be mixed into food or given separately, small animals love taking the husk off of these, but just like peanuts only feed a small amount and make sure they are safe for your little critter!

Hanging snack bars

Made from grains, seeds and other tasty treats, these bars of yummy food can be hung from cages or d├ęcor within the enclosure. They not only provide lots of tooth gnawing treats, but lots of exercise too. They can come in all sorts of flavours, from honey and nut to rose petal, strawberry, seeds, banana and fruit.

Chocolate for hamsters?

You should never feed your hamster chocolate, as it contains many chemicals that are harmful for your little pet. However many treats are sold as 'hamster chocs' these are actually a blend of ingredients that while high in fat and sugar make really interesting and tasty treats. They should be given moderately, as the fats and sugars will give your hamster energy but too many could make them unhealthy.

These treats are often found in 'chocolate' flavour, milk flavour or even sometimes honey flavour. You may also find them in fruit flavours, including berry, strawberry or even vegetable flavours such as carrot or leek!

Crunchy stuff

Crunchy stuff is important as it helps wear down those ever growing teeth! There is a whole array of biscuit treats, some filled with yummy apple or other fruits and some that are just flavoured like fruits, vegetables or cheese. You can also give very, very small pieces of brown bread toast and the occasional dog biscuit is also well appreciated!

Other treats

There are some other types of treat that you can give. Some are occasional and others are a little different, all of them will provide fun and enjoyment to your pet.

Mealworms

Dried mealworms, given either separate or mixed with food provide protein and fun for your hamster. Don't give too many!

Popcorn

Plain popcorn, not the sort you get from the supermarket, gives a fun treat. You can even buy microwavable maize sticks to make your own hamster treats at home!

Cheese

Hamsters like a very small amount of cheese, but it needs to be small. No more than half a centimetre cube. You also need to make sure that your hamster does not store it as it could go mouldy!

Treats For Hamsters (and Other Rodents)

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