Are tomatoes safe for hamsters to eat? The answer might surprise you! Read on to find out why feeding your hamster tomatoes might not be the best idea.
What Are Tomatoes?
Tomatoes are the edible, often red, fruit or berry of a vine plant. These plants can grow anywhere from three feet to over 20 feet in height and produce soft-bodied fruits that have either yellow or purple coloring when unripe.
While tomatoes started out as small berries, they developed into the larger red fruit we see today and became high in nutrients such as Vitamins A and C. Tomatoes also contain antioxidants which help promote healthy skin and eye function.
Tomatoes have a slightly acidic but mostly sweet taste that is enjoyed by many.
Tomatoes are often incorrectly classified as a vegetable due to their taste and use in cooking. However, tomatoes are actually a fruit since they develop from the ovary of a flowering plant like apples and peaches.
Tomatoes are one of the most popular fruits in the world. They are grown in over 140 countries and eaten by millions of people each day. Tomatoes are used in a variety of dishes, both savory and sweet, and can be eaten fresh or cooked.
Can Hamsters Eat Tomatoes?
So can hamsters eat tomatoes? While they are a delicious fruit, they are not safe to be fed to your hamster.
There is a chemical within tomatoes that can be harmful to hamsters and other small rodents. This chemical is known as solanine and it’s a glycoalkaloid poison that’s found in potatoes, eggplants (aubergines), red peppers (capsicums) and tomatoes.
Even though the word “solanine” sounds like it would be related to sugar – which is technically not far from the truth – this compound is actually very bitter tasting, even in extremely small doses.
Since many animals practice food selection based on taste, these foods will often appear unappealing if there is any solanine present since their bodies are designed to avoid eating harmful substances when possible.
Benefits Of Tomatoes For Hamsters
If your hamster can’t eat tomatoes, is there anything beneficial about them? Can you still give your hamster some tomato even though it’s toxic in large amounts?
While you don’t want to feed a tomato to your hamster, the fruit does contain an array of vitamins and minerals that are safe for human consumption. These include:
- Vitamin B6 – Can improve blood glucose levels, metabolism of proteins and amino acids, produce red blood cells and prevent seizures.
- Folate – Can promote brain function and cardiovascular health by helping form DNA and new cells. Can also help reduce depression.
- Potassium – Can regulate heart rate and blood pressure as well as improve kidney function by maintaining fluid volume. It can also help boost stamina and reduce fatigue.
- Vitamin E – Can improve immune system function, lower risk of developing heart disease and prevent muscle weakness.
Whilst you could potentially feed your hamster a very small amount of tomato, we wouldn’t recommend it. Your hamster can get these nutrients and minerals from plenty of other fruits and vegetables, so there’s really no need to risk feeding your hamster tomatoes just for that reason.
Risks Of Tomatoes For Hamsters
Tomatoes are not just toxic to hamsters, as they can affect a wide range of animals. In even small amounts, the fruit is known to cause an upset stomach or diarrhoea in many species.
In larger quantities, tomatoes have been known to cause:
- Blurred vision – Can be a temporary effect from eating large amounts of tomato leaves and stems. However, this can also be a sign of toxicity if you begin seeing this symptom after eating a smaller amount of tomato over a short period of time.
- Confusion – Can occur due to low potassium levels which can also result in muscle spasms and twitching. This is often seen when too much tomato has been eaten .
- Diarrhoea – Can lead to dehydration if left untreated and can increase the risk of malnutrition since food will not be properly broken down to absorb all necessary nutrients. Can also reduce appetite in extreme cases.
- Vomiting – Can occur from eating too much tomato at one sitting but can also happen when tomatoes are digested slowly for a prolonged period of time due to toxicity .
- Difficulty breathing – Can be caused by potassium levels being too low or airway inflammation from an allergic reaction to tomato plants .
If you suspect that your hamster has eaten toxic amounts of tomato, it’s important to seek veterinary assistance immediately. Any delay could result in more serious symptoms and deteriorating health, so don’t wait around and hope for the best.
If your hamster shows any of these symptoms after eating a few tomatoes or spending time in close proximity to tomato plants, get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
How To Feed Tomatoes To Your Hamster
We don’t recommend feeding tomatoes to your hamster.
How Much Tomatoe Can A Hamster Eat?
Whilst some people note they have fed small amounts of tomatoes to their hamsters without any adverse effect, we don’t think it is worth the risk when there are so many other fruits and vegetables that have no reported negative side effects.
Instead Of Tomatoes What Else Can Your Hamster Eat?
We have looked at if your hamster can eat tomatoes.
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 tomatoes, 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
So, in conclusion, can hamsters eat tomatoes? We don’t recommend feeding your hamster fresh tomatoes.
If you want to feed your hamster some veggies, dark green vegetables such as broccoli spears and dandelion greens are best.
If you want to give your hamster some fruit, apples, bananas and strawberries are all good choices.
The best option for your hamster is to feed them good quality hamster food, but fresh veggies and fruit are fine in moderation.
If your hamster has an adverse reaction after eating tomatoes, contact your local veterinarian immediately.