Feeding your hamster live worms sounds bizarre, but it could actually be good for them. Mealworms aren’t worms but yellow mealworm-beetle larvae. Are they ok to feed your hamster? Yes, let’s find out why!
Hamsters in the Wild
Hamsters are often depicted as vegetarians. If you’ve never owned one, you’d imagine only feeding them fruits or veggies, particularly leafy greens.
Even people who’ve owned hamsters all their lives find it hard to believe they need animal protein.
Hamsters are not herbivores. They are actually omnivorous. That means hamsters eat a great variety of things to get the nutrition they need. That can also include animals, surprisingly.
People feed them pieces of cooked turkey, chicken, or high protein pallets to make up for their animal protein needs. However, can you picture a hamster bringing down a turkey in the wild?
That’s impossible. Therefore, feeding your hamster turkey or chicken is a nutritious but unnatural choice.
In the wild, hamsters do hunt but not large prey like that. They feast on insects like crickets, worms, ants, and beetles.
Now you know insect protein is the most natural animal protein to feed your hamster. Mealworms start making a lot of sense as a treat for your hamster.
Read more: Why Is My Hamster Fat All of a Sudden
What Kind of Hamsters Can Eat Mealworms?
Both Syrian and Dwarf hamsters can eat mealworms. Dwarf hamsters would obviously eat fewer worms than Syrians being smaller in size.
Depending on the size and weight of your hamster and what else you feed it, you can feed your hamster mealworms daily or weekly.
Mealworms and Hamster Nutrition
Mealworms are high in protein. That is their most attractive feature making them a popular hamster food additive. They’re also high in fat and fiber. Overall they are a great source of energy for your hamsters.
So, if you were wondering, “Are mealworms ok for hamsters?” rest assured, they are. They aren’t just ok but very beneficial.
Can Your Hamster Eat Too Many Mealworms
Mealworms are great for your hamsters, but is such a thing as too much of a good thing? Yes, there is. While they are rich in protein, they also are in fat. Too many mealworms will cause it to become overweight.
Hamsters are tiny animals, and they gain weight just as fast. Your hamster could suffer from obesity from eating a little more than it needs.
Every hamster is a little different. Some metabolize their food better, while others exercise more. Some are just chubby couch potatoes. You’ll need to adjust the feeding amount for your exact situation. The perfect balance between too much and too little can only be achieved via trial and error.
If your hamster has become picky and doesn’t like to eat much besides mealworms, you can make it the bulk of their diet. You will have to design the rest of the diet around getting the nutrients not found in mealworms.
You can sometimes opt out of giving your hamster pallet food as long as they eat a lot of assorted fruits and vegetables. The important thing is they get all the vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients they need. You can feed them anything so long as that requirement is fulfilled.
Types of Mealworms to Feed Your Hamsters
There are three types of mealworms.
Yellow mealworms are the larvae of the yellow mealworm-beetle. These are known as Tenebrio Molitor. These are the most commonly available kind of mealworms. When you get some from the pet store, they are most likely this type of mealworm.
Mini mealworms are smaller than yellow and super mealworms. They are the larvae of the dark mealworm beetles. Dark mealworm beetles are also smaller than their yellow cousins.
Their larvae are often confused for young yellow mealworms. They are more commonly sold as reptile food. However, you may notice they prove better for dwarf hamsters. They are just the right size for young and growing hamsters.
Super mealworms are much larger than the other two kinds. They are black at both ends, with a much softer exoskeleton. They are the larvae of a species of darkling beetle like the other two types of mealworms.
They are almost the same as other mealworms nutritionally. Their softer bodies make them easier to chew for your hamster. The size is suitable for larger Syrian hamsters.
Read more: Why Is My Hamster’s Pee Red
How to Feed Your Hamsters Mealworms
You can prepare mealworms in several different ways. Some methods are better for some hamsters. Feel free to experiment until you’ve figured out the best way for yours.
Dried mealworms come in a plastic bag. They have been freeze-dried, so they are smaller and tougher to chew. There are no special preparations required to feed dried mealworms to your hamsters.
Just take them out of the bag and put them before your hamster. Dried mealworms are more nutritionally dense than live ones. That’s because they lack the water content found in live ones.
That means your hamster can fit more of them in their little tummies and benefit from more nutrition and energy.
Remember, some hamsters are picky eaters. They may like the taste but not the texture of dried mealworms. If your hamster doesn’t take to dried mealworms, don’t give up just yet. They may enjoy them prepared differently.
Rehydrated mealworms are easy to prepare. All you need is some dried mealworms and a bowl of warm water. Allow the dried mealworms to soak in the warm water bowl until they become soft. This additional step changes the texture of dried mealworms.
Filling them up with water means your hamster cannot eat as many of them as before. However, if your hamster didn’t like the texture of dried mealworms, they might like this. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Your hamster will let you know if they like it rehydrated or not.
Some hamsters prefer their mealworms alive. Giving live food to any pet is an excellent form of enrichment. As a hamster owner, finding new and creative ways to give your hamster enrichment is a never-ending quest.
Live mealworms usually contain a box of food to keep them alive. Don’t worry. Live mealworms don’t pupate if stored correctly.
They stay in their larvae stage and get plenty of food when packed together.
Before attempting to feed your hamster live mealworms, you must be aware of some precautions. Mealworms have powerful jaws, and they can bite. The bite will not cause any damage to your hamster, but it can be painful.
But how can they bite your hamster while being eaten? Well, hamsters love to stuff their cheeks with food. In the wild, they learn which foods they can store in their mouths and which they can’t the hard way.
In captivity, hamsters aren’t so wise. They may stuff their cheeks with the mealworms. That gives them plenty of opportunity to bite the inside of your hamster’s mouth.
The last thing you want is to cause your poor hamster any stress while eating. That’s why you usually must crush the heads of mealworms before serving them up.
Others remove the head from the body altogether if that doesn’t sit right with you. That can ensure they cannot bite your hamster.
Some hamsters eat the worms properly. They don’t stuff their cheeks at all. Even then, it’s not good to risk giving them mealworms with intact heads.
If you don’t want to disfigure the mealworms but still feed them live, there’s one way. Placing the worms in the refrigerator or freezer will make them go into a hibernation state. They will not move that much or be awake to bite your hamster.
Some hamsters are incredibly picky. They want the mealworms alive but moving very little. This way is optimal for preparing mealworms for them.
Keep in mind super mealworms do not hibernate. This method will not work on them.
How Much and How Often to Feed Your Hamsters Mealworms
You can feed your hamsters mealworms once or twice a week or even daily. To feed your hamsters daily, you must ensure a small amount. One is enough for a Dwarf hamster and no more than two for a Syrian.
If you feed your hamsters mealworms as weekly treats, you can give them several to enjoy. Mealworms cannot replace their regular food because they don’t have everything hamsters need despite being rich in nutrients.
They are a great supplemental food to add to their diet. Not to mention, hamsters usually love the taste.
Alternatives to Mealworms
Suppose you’ve tried everything, but your hamster doesn’t like mealworms prepared in any way. Perhaps you don’t like dealing with them either. You don’t have to force your hamster or yourself to like them.
There are many options for different animal protein sources you can feed your hamster. There’s the easy route with boiled chicken or turkey. This choice means you don’t have to do any extra shopping. You can supplement your hamster’s diet with the meat you buy for yourself.
However, many alternatives are available if you want to feed them something they can eat in the wild. You can try other insects like crickets, locusts, and beetles. You will find them in pet stores’ birds and reptile sections.
Are mealworms ok for hamsters? Yes, they are. They are more than just ok they are fantastic for hamsters. Hamsters love them, and they are full of delicious nutrients. If your hamster doesn’t like them or you don’t want to deal with them, try other insects or chicken instead.
You may also like:
- How to Keep Hamsters Cool in Summer
- How to Treat Bumble Foot in Hamsters at Home
- Is Hot Glue Safe For Hamsters
- Can an Eye Infection Kill My Hamster
My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more