Can Hamsters Have Eggs?
As far as nutrition is concerned, few foods seem complete on their own—even our simplest, heartiest, most wholesome meal ideas usually involve at least two ingredients: beans and rice, peanut butter on whole grain toast (or on apples or bananas!), vegetables and hummus, dried fruit and nuts, et cetera. If, however, you were to list off foods that could serve as the basis of a meal without any other ingredients, you would probably include eggs on that list. Eggs have long been considered the fitness fanatic’s breakfast: we hear about bodybuilders eating eggs for breakfast every morning, and scrambled egg whites with vegetables are a staple among low-carb dieters looking to lose weight. Despite the fact that they are little cholesterol bombs, eggs even survived the fat phobia of the 1990s.
Many Americans have a carton of eggs in their fridge at all times. Even when we are running low on every other dietary staple, we usually have the means to throw together some scrambled or hard boiled eggs to keep our stomachs full until we can make a run to the grocery store. But can we turn to the incredible, edible egg when we want to give our pets a treat? Can you give your hamster eggs?
The answer is technically yes, hamsters can eat eggs as a rare treat—fully cooked eggs are completely nontoxic to hamsters, so, if you’ve already prepared your furry friend a small helping of scrambled eggs, there is nothing to worry about. Unless your pet has a rare egg allergy, there is no way that feeding them a bit of scrambled egg is going to cause any immediate or life-threatening health problems. Still, eggs should not serve as staples in any pet’s diet. Even if we consider them health foods, they are high in fat and calories that can cause your pet to pack on the pudge. If you want to use eggs as treat foods, go ahead—hamsters love them—but it probably is not a good idea to feed them to them regularly.
There is a reason why so many athletes eat eggs every single morning: they are little packages of pure nutrition. Even if no veterinarian would recommend feeding them to your hamster on a regular basis, it is impossible to deny that there is tons of nutrition inside of an eggy treat. Eggs are loaded with protein, which provides all of the amino acids your hamster needs in order to maintain a strong, healthy body.
Almost every part of your hamster’s body is made out of amino acids, from their nose and their toes to their heart, nails, skin, and fur. Your hamster can synthesize many amino acids on their own, but there are several (called essential amino acids) that they have to get from their diet. By eating foods containing protein, your hamster can get all of the raw materials they need in order to build new tissues and to repair old ones.
Without enough protein, your pet can’t maintain the structures in their body. This may result in slow wound healing, poor coat health (as evidenced by thinning or brittle fur and bald patches), fatigue, aggressive behavior, and reproductive health problems. Some breeds of hamster, like Roborovski hamsters, are more prone to protein deficiency than others. If you suspect that your pet is suffering from any type of malnutrition, always have them examined by a veterinarian before you start supplementing their diet with other foods. If your vet agrees that they need to eat more protein, giving them small portions of egg as treats may be a good way to boost their intake.
Eggs are also one of a handful of foods that contain Vitamin D, which is an essential nutrient for bone health. Without enough of this key nutrient, hamsters can suffer from rickets and poor bone health. Your hamster should get all of the Vitamin D they need from the foods they eat regularly, but egg may be a useful supplement if you think your hamster may be a bit low. As with protein, make sure to have your pet examined by a veterinarian if you believe that they are suffering from any bone problems—whether or not you think that they are a result of Vitamin D deficiency.
It’s imperative to stress the importance of veterinary examination: many times, nutrient deficiencies are the result of an absorption problem rather than a dietary deficiency. The only way to make sure your hamster gets the treatment they need is to have them looked at by a professional who can rule out any underlying conditions. If your hamster is struggling to absorb a given nutrient, packing their diet full of eggs is not going to do much help, and it may just cause them to gain weight.
Speaking of weight gain: one of the biggest downsides of eggs is their calorie content. Compared to the fruits and vegetables that are often used as rabbit treats, eggs are incredibly high in fat, calories, and cholesterol. If you’re not careful, the calories in eggs add up quickly, and your hamster may become overweight or obese if they eat too much egg on a regular basis.
Things to Consider
The high saturated fat and cholesterol content pose other risks, too. Feeding your hamster too much egg can increase their risk of high cholesterol and heart disease, which can lead to fatal heart attacks and strokes. If your hamster already has cardiovascular problems (or is at an increased risk of developing them), avoid feeding them eggs and other animal products. Eggs are only suitable treats for healthy adult hamsters who are not prone to heart problems.
Finally, all eggs fed to your hamster should be fully cooked, with hard boiled being the best. Raw eggs are often contaminated with salmonella, which can cause serious or life-threatening illness. Never feed your hamster egg shells, because these can cause internal injuries.
Overall, cooked eggs are safe for hamsters to eat as treats—they are rich in protein and Vitamin D, which can support strong muscles and bones. However, they are also high in fat, calories, and cholesterol, which can make them a poor choice for hamsters who are obese or who have cardiovascular problems. Limit your pet’s portions, and forego animal products altogether if your hamster has high cholesterol or is trying to lose weight.