In this article we will discuss if swede is safe for hamsters to eat. We’ll learn a little bit about the history of swede, it’s nutritional benefits and how you should go about feeding it to your hamster.
What Is Swede?
Swede, also called Rutabaga, is a root vegetable that comes from the Brassica family. The Swede plant has a thick stalk and broad leaves. It grows well in temperate climates and its roots can reach up to 15cm wide.
It has firm creamy-white flesh with a nutty taste, and it’s very popular in Sweden where it’s known as ‘kålrot’ or Swedish Turnip.
In North America, it’s more commonly referred to as rutabaga.
The Swede plant is usually harvested during the fall and this cultivated crop originated in Northern Europe.
Swede is high in Vitamin C and K, as well as potassium and magnesium. It also contains thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate.
Can Hamsters Eat Swede?
Can hamsters eat swede? Absolutely! A small amount of swede should be fine for your hamster to eat.
It’s a firm vegetable that has a naturally sweet taste. It will provide your hamster with extra nutrients in its diet, but it shouldn’t be fed too often.
Swede is safe for hamsters to eat when cooked or raw, but when given to them raw you should always remove the skin since this won’t be easy for your pet to digest and they might cause tummy upsets.
Hamsters like to nibble on fruits and vegetables, and swede offers an interesting alternative if they’re looking for change.
Benefits Of Swede For Hamsters
Swede offers several benefits to your hamster’s diet. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals, so it will help provide your pet with the nutrients it needs.
Swede is high in vitamin C which helps boost the immune system, as well as magnesium which is good for nerve function and muscle movement. It’s also low in sodium, which makes it ideal for hamsters that are prone to getting bladder stones.
The rutabaga plant contains carotenoids; these orange pigments give swede its characteristic color and it has antioxidant properties.
Aside from that, swede has lots of fiber which can help keep your hamster regular if they’re experiencing problems with constipation.
Swede is also a good source of vitamin K, which helps with reducing blood clotting and improves bone health.
Risks Of Swede For Hamsters
Swede might cause an upset tummy if given as a treat. It’s highly nutritious and contains lots of fiber, so it can be difficult for your hamster to digest.
The swede plant has compounds called glucosinolates which release isothiocyanate when broken down by chopping or chewing. They are toxic in large amounts but they have anti-cancer benefits so they’re considered safe at low levels.
This vegetable can be fed to your hamster in moderation, but don’t feed them too much since it’s not easy for them to digest. Make sure you remove the skin before serving swede to your pet since this will cause digestive problems, and give it to them as a treat rather than as part of their main diet.
You should always consult your vet before introducing any new food to your hamster, especially if they have health issues, are pregnant or are very young.
Hamsters are known for storing their food, and this can cause problems for a couple of reasons.
If any swede are left uneaten in your hamsters cage, they could rot, start to smell and attract insects.
Your hamster may also store uneaten swede in their cheek pouches, and it’s not uncommon for hamsters to develop abscesses, which can be sore for your pet.
That’s why it’s advisable to monitor your hamster when giving them swede and immediately remove and discard any uneaten swede from their cage.
How To Feed Swede To Your Hamster
Swede can be served raw or cooked. Always wash the swede before taking it to your hamster’s cage, and don’t give them too much at a time.
If you’re giving your pet raw swede, remove the skin and chop into pieces that are small enough for your hamster to digest.
As with the introduction of any new food to your hamsters diet, if you are going to try feeding your hamster swede, you need to monitor your hamster closely whilst eating them.
How Much Swede Can A Hamster Eat?
Your hamster can eat swede in moderation as part of their daily diet. A rough guide is no more than one tablespoon per day, but this will depend on the size of your hamster.
Swede should be given to your hamster sparingly; they are high in carbohydrate and fibre which isn’t ideal for them if they suffer with health problems related to obesity.
When feeding your hamster new foods, you should always start with a tiny amount to ensure that they like it, and that they don’t encounter an allergic reaction. So if you want to try feeding your hamster swede then we would recommend giving a very small portion size, about the size of a teaspoon.
Another good way to work out what is the right amount of swede to feed your hamster is to give them a portion they can comfortably hold within their hands.
Other Than Swede What Else Can Your Hamster Eat?
We have looked at if your hamster can eat swede.
Other than good quality hamster food, what else could you be feeding your hamster?
Grains are a staple food for hamsters. You should give about a tablespoonful each day. Grains can be found in commercially prepared hamster mixes, providing protein and carbohydrates. Avoid overfeeding fatty nuts (peanuts and sunflower seeds), as they can cause obesity.
Fresh, organic vegetables are the best choice for your hamster.
If you’re not using organic produce, be sure to clean it properly to get rid of any pesticides.
Whilst most vegetables are generally safe for hamsters, dark green vegetables are the best choice, so things like;
- Broccoli spears
- Carrot tops
- Dandelion greens
- Romaine lettuce
Avoid iceberg lettuce and other high-water veggies or fruits (such as watermelon) to avoid stomach problems.
Like vegetables, most fruit is OK for hamsters in small portions, as a supplement to the usual diet.
Some good choices are;
- Apples (with pips removed)
Remember always remove any uneaten veggies or fruits from your hamster’s cage within 24 hours to avoid them going off.
Often overlooked for hamsters, hay is a wonderful gnawing food that can keep your hamster’s teeth clean.
Your hamster should always have access to fresh water, changed daily.
What’s The Best Diet For Hamsters?
If you have a hamster, you need to make sure that you are feeding them the best food possible.
We’ve discussed if hamsters can eat swede, and whilst hamsters can eat a wide variety of things, their primary diet should consist of good quality hamster food.
There are a lot of options available for your hamster, but not all of them are good! If you want to learn more about the best hamster food, you can read our full review of the best hamster foods here.
If you just want to know what we recommend, it’s Kaytee Pro Health Hamster food.
The Kaytee Forti-Diet Pro Health Food was created by animal nutritionists to ensure that your hamster gets the correct nutrition within their diet.
To support digestive health, Forti-Diet Pro Health includes probiotics and prebiotics. This food is high in natural antioxidants for general health and immunity protection, as well as some bigger, crunchier pieces to promote dental health through natural chewing action.
- Larger, crunchy pieces supports dental health through natural chewing activity
- Prebiotics and probiotics to support digestive health
- Naturally preserved for ideal freshness
- A nutritionally complete diet for hamsters and gerbils
- All natural
Hamsters can eat swede, but as with any new food for your hamster, you should always introduce it slowly and see how they react.
Try giving your hammy a tiny bit to start with so that they don’t have an allergic reaction, and monitor their behavior over the course of 24 hours to make sure that they aren’t experiencing any stomach problems.
Now you know if it is safe to feed your hamster swede. Just remember, always start by introducing a very small portion of swede to your hamster, and look out for any signs of discomfort or unusual behaviour.
If your hamster has an adverse reaction after eating swede, contact your local veterinarian immediately.