Can Hamsters Eat Potatoes?

Hamster Jun 23, 2021
Written by | Updated Oct 17, 2021
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Can Hamsters Eat Potatoes?

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Potatoes: They’re an amazing comfort food when mashed or baked, and they’re versatile enough to find their way into everything from chips to French fries.

These big, starchy tubers are a mainstay in many cultures, and if you’ve got any at home, you’re probably curious about whether it’s OK to give some to your pet.

Here’s the thing. Potatoes are part of the nightshade family and they aren’t exactly safe to eat raw, even if you’re a hamster.

We often lump guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters into the “small pets” category and feed them similarly, but potato is a food that calls for a different approach.

We’re about to take a closer look at potatoes for hamsters, but we realize that you might be in a hurry.

The quick answer is “Yes, hamsters can have potato but only if it’s cooked!” Even then, it’s vital to give the right amount, and to avoid feeding potato to your hamster friend too often.

Potato Nutrition Stats

Starchy and satisfying, potatoes are also nutritious, at least in their natural form!

One medium-sized potato with skin gives you about:

  • 160 calories
  • 37 g carbohydrates
  • 8 g fiber
  • 3 g protein
  • .2 g fat

Potato Nutritional Facts

Good news for everyone who likes potatoes. They’re not just empty calories!

That same medium-sized potato with skin provides approximately :

  • 3 IU vitamin A
  • 5 mg vitamin C
  • .1 mg vitamin E
  • 5 mcg vitamin K
  • .1 mg thiamine
  • .1 mg riboflavin
  • 4 mg niacin
  • 4 mcg folate
  • .5 mg vitamin B6
  • 9 mg calcium
  • 9 mg iron
  • 4 mg magnesium
  • 121 mg phosphorus
  • 926 mg potassium
  • .6 mg zinc
  • .4 mg manganese

Can Hamsters Have Potato?

Yes – but only if they’ve been cooked, and only if they’re completely plain, meaning no butter, salt, or other toppings you might like to add to your own potatoes.

Is Potato Good For Hamsters?

Not really. There are far better things for your hamster to eat – but potato is OK as an occasional treat if your hamster likes it.

Do Hamsters Like Potato?

So, here’s the thing. We aren’t really into the concept of potato for hamsters so we haven’t given it to our own pets, just because we’d rather have them enjoy foods that are more nutrient-dense.

On the flip side, we’ve heard that some hamsters like potatoes. If you’re curious, feel free to see if your hammy is among them!

How Much Potato Can A Hamster Eat?

You’ve probably guessed our answer already. It’s “Not much!” Here’s how much potato to feed a hamster:

Age Amount
Baby hamster None
Adult hamster ¼ teaspoon

A quarter of a teaspoon might not sound like much, but potato is sticky when it’s been cooked and you want your hamster to eat the entire nibble, and not pouch any of it.

If your hamster puts a large amount of cooked potato in their pouch, it could become impacted and lead to an infection. This means your vet will have to sedate your hamster, clean their pouch, and help them make their way back to health.

A bit of extra potato (even if it’s yummy!) just isn’t worth the risk.

After your hamster eats cooked potato for the first time, keep an eye on their behavior for about 12 hours. Digestive distress isn’t likely, but you always want to monitor your pet after offering a new food!

If you notice anything out of the ordinary, including diarrhea, don’t give your hamster potato again.

How Often Can A Hamster Eat Potato?

Not all that often. Potato should be a rare treat for a hamster, perhaps once every few months or so.

The Correct Diet Is Important

The odds of a wild hamster finding, harvesting, and cooking potato for themselves are zilch. Hamsters don’t eat potatoes in the wild!

Instead, their natural diet consists mostly of seeds, grasses, little leafy plants, and whatever else they can forage for. Sometimes they hunt for small insects including crickets!

That’s right: Hamsters are omnivores. You can give them tasty treats like dried meal worms and crickets, if you like!

Of course, you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to, as high-quality hamster food provides complete nutrition including all the protein your hammy needs.

Besides properly formulated food, here’s what to feed a hamster every day:

  • Clean, fresh water isn’t something we usually think of as a nutrient, but it’s essential for all life. Give your hamster’s bottle a rinse every day!
  • Timothy hay, oat hay, and orchard hay are among the best additions to your hamster’s diet. The long fibers in the hay help your hammy’s digestive system move along, and the hay makes a nice addition to your hamster’s bedding as well.
  • Birdseed gives your little friend one more thing to stash and snack on. Offer about a teaspoon per week, unless there are already lots of seeds mixed into your hamster’s food.
  • Tiny amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables make nice natural treats for your hamster, but remember to offer them just once a day or even every other day. Remove any leftover scraps of fresh food to prevent spoilage that could make your hamster sick.

Chewable treats need to be available 24/7 since they keep your hamster’s teeth from becoming painfully overgrown. Favorite hamster chew toys include balls made with natural fibers, natural loofah and softwood, and chewable tunnels, logs, and hideouts.

What Are Other Healthy Alternatives To Potato In A Hamster’s Diet?

Since potato isn’t exactly ideal, what else can you offer your hamster?

There’s actually a lot to choose from. You can use our list of hamster-approved vegetables as a starting point:

  • spinach
  • buttercrunch lettuce
  • red lettuce
  • bibb lettuce
  • escarole
  • romaine
  • sprouts
  • arugula
  • rocket
  • endive
  • swiss chard
  • celery
  • cucumber
  • bell pepper
  • parsnip
  • summer squash
  • zucchini
  • broccoli
  • broccolini
  • cauliflower
  • brussel sprouts
  • green beans
  • winter squash
  • pumpkin
  • tomato
  • sweet potato
  • okra
  • watercress
  • sweet corn
  • baby corn
  • artichoke
  • basil
  • asparagus
  • cabbage
  • parsley
  • cilantro
  • mint
  • carrot
  • carrot tops
  • beets
  • beet tops
  • yu choy
  • bok choy

Besides these items, there are lots of other fruits, veggies, and herbs that hamsters can enjoy safely, along with other foods that are toxic to hamsters.

Each time you’d like to give your hammy something new, spend a few minutes looking for reliable information about whether each item is safe, plus how much you should give your furry little friend. You want them to enjoy their snacks, and of course, you want them to be safe!

For now, you might try giving your hamster potato (plain, cooked varieties only!) and see how they respond. Then, consider moving on to a more nutrient-dense treat!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is potato safe for hamsters?

Yes, it’s safe to give a hamster potato so long as it has been cooked, and so long as it doesn’t have anything on it.

Can potato make my hamster sick?

Potato can get stuck in your hamster’s pouch so only offer a tiny bit. Over the long term, starchy foods like potato can contribute to diabetes and obesity. These conditions shorten your hamster’s lifespan and are difficult for your pet to live with.

Can hamsters have potato chips?

No. Don’t give potato chips to a hamster. The oil, salt, and flavorings that go into potato chips aren’t healthy or safe for your hamster to digest.

Can hamsters eat French fries?

No. French fries aren’t good for your hamster since they contain oil and salt. French fries and other processed snacks can make your hamster sick.

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Anne is a wellness writer with a lifelong love of animals large and small. As a former veterinary technician, she has a passion for your pet’s well-being. Anne rescues and rehabilitates animals in need. She shares her farm with lots of critters including horses, sheep, dogs, cats, rabbits, and chickens.
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