When I first got my Teddy I wondered if he can eat cheese like I saw in Tom & Jerry. As it turns out, hamsters can eat many different things. Some of them are actually in your pantry or fridge !
So can my hamster eat dairy ?
The short answer – yes, hamsters can eat some types of dairy. But in a small amounts, and only certain kinds. Some dairy products are safe for hamsters, some can cause digestive problems.
Lactose content plays a major role in how well mammals respond to dairy, and hamsters fall into the mammal category. Not all milk-based products are okay for hammies.
This is due to the small size of hamsters, and their different gut than humans. Hamsters can tolerate some kinds of dairy, and I’ll cover the main kinds in the rest of the article.
Hamsters can eat cheese
Cheese is safe for hamsters, both regular cheese and white/cottage cheese, including feta.
This is mostly because the fermenting process ends in a product that is safe to consume for most creatures. The lactose content in cheese is much smaller than in regular milk.
The gut has an easier time processing cheese than any other dairy product, since there’s less lactose in it.
You’ve seen Jerry in the cartoons go nuts over a bit of cheese. Well, hamsters love cheese just as much as mice do, since they’re not so distantly related after all. Also, the strong smell makes hammies want to go for it instantly.
You can see my Teddy in the first photo of this article, happily munching on a bit of Gouda. The first time he even smelled it, he was all over it.
So yes, hamsters can eat cheese, and their stomach is okay with it. Be sure to give your hamsters mild cheese that is not very aged. Overly smelly (pungent) cheese may sit badly with them, such as Parmesan or Pecorino Romano.
Soft cheeses like brie, or washed rind cheeses have a mold or bacteria culture that may be unsafe for hamsters, so try and avoid giving them to hamsters.
Hamsters can eat a tiny bit of yogurt
Yogurt is another story here. The probiotics are a welcome bonus, and it will help with digestive problems. However with hamsters it’s the bacteria culture that can cause trouble.
You see, hammies have a different kind of stool than humans. The only reason hammies ever have a wet stool is if they’re very very ill and this is not something okay for them.
So I’m not saying giving your hamster yogurt will give him a runny stool. But I am saying that yogurt may cause bloating and digestive problems for your hamster.
Which is why I recommend that you don’t give your hamster yogurt often, or in large amounts. Something like half a teaspoon is enough, and it should not be given more than once per week.
Hammies will eat many things that are not okay for them. They can’t really know the difference between the foods unless they try it, so they rely on you to keep them safe.
You will find yogurt listed as an ingredient for some treats for hamsters. That’s usually alright, since it’s in a small amount, and mostly there’s powdered milk where it says yogurt. Actual, natural yogurt does not keep and can’t be used in most treats.
Hammies should avoid milk
When it comes to milk, I recommend you avoid it completely for your hamster. The amount of lactose is the highest in milk, and it’s the one most likely to give your hamster a bad tummy.
Hamsters only suckle from their mothers until they’re 3-4 weeks old. After they’re weaned, like most mammals, they can’t process lactose and will have trouble digesting it.
Most everyone has a degree of lactose intolerance, some more extreme, some more manageable. Younger mammals, like baby hamsters or humans can process it well enough.
Adult humans or hamsters can’t stomach milk and will have trouble with it.
(If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.)
Commercial hamster food has enough mineral content
But it’s both easier and more nutrition-conscious of you to feed your hammy a pre-made food mix, that will give your hamster enough to cover the basics.
Commercial food mixes do have a high enough mineral content, which is something you might think you’re helping your hamster get with extra cheese or yogurt.
A good food mix like this one is going to help your hamster cover all his bases. You’ve got protein, veggies, vitamins, fibers, and minerals. And the selection in this bag is very wide, so your hamster can choose whatever he like.
Be warned though, that hamsters can become very picky with their food, and they might ignore bits of the mix sometimes. That’s okay, you can add a peanut here, a walnut there, and make sure your hammy gets all the nutrition he needs.
You’ll find the Amazon listing for this food mix here, and you can check out the reviews as well.
You can supplement your hammy’s food with whatever you have on hand as is okay for him to eat. For example I give my Teddy a small bit of cooked chicken, or cooked egg white whenever we’re cooking, er even a bit of carrot.
A word from Teddy
I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies might want to eat everything, but only some kinds of dairy are okay. For example I love Gouda, and Maasdam cheese, but maybe your hammy likes Cheddar better ?
If you want to know more about us hamster you should check out the articles below. You’ll find out things like how large a cage we need, and why we sometimes freeze when you walk by us.