In this article we discuss if it is safe for hamsters to eat watercress, we also look at some the nutritional benefits and potential risks of feeding watercress to your hamster.
What Is Watercress?
Watercress is a green leaf vegetable with small white flowers. It has a peppery taste and can be used as an herb or as a garnish for salads, soups, sandwiches, and other dishes.
It comes from the mustard family, which includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, and radishes. It grows near springs or streams in sandy soil. It is native to regions of Europe and Asia but also grows in North America.
Watercress is a good source of vitamins A, B6, and C as well as iron and calcium.
Can Hamsters Eat Watercress?
Watercress might be nice as a garnish or an addition to your salad, but can hamsters eat watercress? The answer to the question is a little difficult, yes, your hamster should be ok if they eat a small amount of watercress, however, there are far better alternatives.
Watercress is not toxic to hamsters but it is a poor choice of food for them. Hamsters have a sensitive digestive system so they should eat a diet composed mostly of seeds and nuts with fruits as an occasional treat. Watercress offers little nutritional value for the amount consumed, plus it can bind with certain nutrients preventing their absorption by the hamster’s body.
Also, some hamsters do not like the taste of watercress which means that it will sit in their dish and spoil before being eaten. It may therefore be best to avoid giving your hamster watercress altogether.
Consult your veterinarian about what foods are best for your pet based on its age, health status, and other factors.
Benefits Of Watercress For Hamsters
If you are still keen to provide watercress for your hamster, here are some benefits of the leafy green:
- Watercress is packed with healthy nutrients.
- Can help reverse digestive issues like stomach ulcers and diarrhea.
- Can reduce bad breath by killing bacteria in the mouth that cause tartar buildup.
- Has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Is known to relieve arthritis pain in humans because of its high antioxidant levels and nutrient sources such calcium, vitamin C, magnesium, and iron.
- Can help cleanse the blood, boost liver function, and protect the immune system from diseases like pneumonia.
Risks Of Watercress For Hamsters
Watercress is not harmful to your hamster but it can cause gastrointestinal upset if eaten in large quantities.
As long as you pay attention and don’t overdo the watercress, hamsters can eat watercress with no problems. Just keep an eye on how much they’re eating.
Hamsters are known for storing their food, and this can cause problems for a couple of reasons.
If any watercress is left uneaten in your hamster’s cage, they could rot, start to smell, and attract insects.
Your hamster may also store uneaten watercress 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 watercress and immediately remove and discard any uneaten watercress from their cage.
How To Feed Watercress To Your Hamster
Watercress comes with some risks for pet owners who don’t know how to feed watercress safely to their hamsters or what quantities are appropriate.
Here are some tips on how to feed watercress to your hamster:
- Only serve a small amount of watercress at a time.
- When buying or growing your own watercress, only use pesticide-free products and wash the leaves thoroughly before serving them to your hamster.
- Feeding large quantities of watercress might be too difficult for your hammy so stick with smaller amounts. Three or four sprigs of fresh watercress a few times per week should be enough without causing any issues.
As with the introduction of any new food to your hamsters diet, if you are going to try feeding your hamster watercress, you need to monitor your hamster closely whilst eating them.
How Much Watercress Can A Hamster Eat?
Watercress is safe in small quantities, and you can offer it to your hamster a few times per week.
You shouldn’t feed your pet more than four sprigs of fresh watercress at one time because this could cause stomach problems for your hamster. If they do eat too much watercress, they may have diarrhoea or get an upset stomach.
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 watercress 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 watercress to feed your hamster is to give them a portion they can comfortably hold within their hands.
Other Than Watercress What Else Can Your Hamster Eat?
We have looked at if your hamster can eat watercress.
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 watercress, 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 are small, sprightly creatures that make great pets. They’re omnivores, which means they can eat a variety of things, including watercress. Watercress is a nutritious leafy green vegetable that has many health benefits. It’s high in vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidants. Additionally, it contains minerals like iron and calcium. While watercress is safe for hamsters to eat in moderation, too much can cause them to become sick. You should only give your hamster watercress occasionally and in small amounts. There are other healthy foods you can give your hamster instead of or in addition to watercress. Broccoli, apples, and carrots are all safe options.
Now you know if it is safe to feed your hamster watercress. Just remember, always start by introducing a very small portion of watercress to your hamster, and look out for any signs of discomfort or unusual behaviour.
If your hamster has an adverse reaction after eating watercress, contact your local veterinarian immediately.