Rabbits

Can Rabbits Eat Hamster Food? Vet Approved Nutrition Facts & FAQ

Like all pets, rabbits require a healthy, well-balanced diet that’s appropriate for their nutritional needs. However, people with multiple animal species might wonder if their pets can share food. For example, can rabbits eat hamster food? Would it be a good substitute for a regular rabbit diet?

Rabbits technically can eat hamster food, but they shouldn’t; the omnivorous hamster food won’t provide them with the nutrients that these herbivores need, and it could make them sick.

Let’s talk more about rabbits, and what a healthy rabbit diet looks like. We’ll compare that to  a healthy hamster diet, and explain why hamster food is not the best choice for rabbits.

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A Healthy Rabbit Diet

Rabbits are herbivores, meaning they feed only on plant material. In fact, these little creatures are constant grazers that need to eat continuously; think of them as tiny, fluffy horses! Their diet mainly consists of hay/grass, which is essential for their bodies to properly function. Rabbits should also regularly eat leafy greens, and the best veggies and leafy greens for your rabbit include:

  • Bok choy

  • Kale

  • Swiss chard

  • Turnip or mustard greens

  • Dandelion greens

  • Parsley

  • Spinach

Rabbits should also consume small amounts of commercially made pellets to ensure they receive all the nutrients they require. A healthy rabbit diet should contain approximately:

  • 12% protein

  • 2% fat

  • 14–20% crude fiber

  • 40-45% digestible carbohydrates

Two rabbit eat vegetable leaf
Image Credit: Cameilia, Shutterstock

It’s also okay for rabbits to consume occasional fruits as treats, but these should be provided in limited quantities (no more than 10% of their diet). Here’s a list of rabbit-appropriate fruits that you can offer in moderation:

  • Papaya

  • Apples

  • Melon

  • Pear

  • Strawberries

  • Blueberries

  • Watermelon

Rabbits also need to have constant access to fresh drinking water to stay hydrated. These little animals require a large amount of water for their bodies to function properly, and it should be provided in both a bottle dispenser and a water bowl.

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A Healthy Hamster Diet

While rabbits are herbivorous, hamsters are omnivorous, meaning they can consume both plant and animal matter, although most pet hamsters tend to eat a primarily herbivorous diet. Therefore, these little animals require a varied diet that consists of hamster pellets, seeds, fruits, veggies, insects, hay, and occasional treats.

A healthy hamster-pelleted diet should contain:
  • 15–25% protein

  • 4–5% fat

  • 5% crude fiber

  • 35-40% digestible carbohydrates

The Difference Between a Rabbit’s and Hamster’s Diet

The biggest difference between a rabbit’s and a hamster’s diet is that rabbits are herbivorous and hamsters are omnivorous. Rabbits require less protein and more fiber in their diet, while hamsters require more protein and less fiber. When we look at their needs side-by-side, we can see those differences more clearly:

RabbitsHamsters
Protein12%15-25%
Fat2%4-5%
Fiber14-20%5%
Carbohydrates40-45%35-40%
rabbit eating parsley
Image Credit: CJMM, Pixabay

Can Rabbits Eat Hamster Food? Is It Safe?

Rabbits love to nibble on things, so if you offer them hamster food, they’ll likely munch it up, but that doesn’t mean this is a wise decision.

Since rabbits are herbivores, hamster food won’t provide them with the right balance of nutrients they require to prosper. Hamster food is high in protein and low in fiber, which is unsuitable for rabbits.

A long term consequence of feeding your rabbit hamster food is that they will end up with a nutritional imbalance that can lead to illness, weakness, and failure to thrive. In the short term, the lack of fiber and higher fat content of hamster food could lead to gastrointestinal inflammation, discomfort, and gastrointestinal stasis (aka ileus). Ileus is a common condition that can affect rabbits that can result from an inappropriate diet, illness, stress, injury or anesthesia. It is treatable, but it can also be fatal.

Ultimately, hamster food is not entirely safe for rabbits, and it’s best to avoid offering it to your bunny.

The Potential Risks of Rabbits Eating Hamster Food

While rabbits shouldn’t experience any serious issues if they accidentally consume a small amount of hamster food, eating it in large amounts and for long periods could cause health problems:

  • Gastrointestinal Issues — Rabbits that eat hamster food can experience an array of gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, vomiting, stomach upset, and abdominal pain.

  • Gastrointestinal Stasis (Ileus) — This issue can occur when a rabbit is not eating enough fiber, but is consuming high amounts of carbohydrates. Bunnies that suffer from GI stasis produce painful gas that leads to an appetite decrease. This condition can escalate quite rapidly, and if not successfully treated, can be fatal.

  • Weight Gain/Obesity — Since hamster food is higher in fat, its consumption could lead to weight increase and obesity in rabbits. These problems could easily cause further health damage, such as heart and joint issues.

vet weighing the rabbit
Image Credit: santypan, Shutterstock

Which Hamster Foods Are Safe for Rabbits?

While most hamster food is unsuitable and unsafe for rabbits, there are several foods that these little creatures can share.

1. Hay/Grass

Both hamsters and rabbits consume hay and grass, so this type of “hamster food” is entirely safe for rabbits and can positively affect their health. Rabbits and hamsters can both eat various types of hay/grass, including timothy, oat, orchard, and meadow hay.

Hay and grass are excellent food choices for rabbits because they promote foraging behavior, help bunnies wear down their teeth, and add fiber to their system and diet.


2. Fruits

Like rabbits, hamsters can consume occasional fruits as treats. Many fruits are entirely safe for both animals, and they can safely share the same types of fruit as well.

Just like with rabbits, hamsters should only eat fruit in moderation, as occasional treats, rather than a significant part of their diet.


3. Vegetables

Both rabbits and hamsters can safely consume leafy greens like the ones we mentioned earlier, plus other veggies, including:

While all these veggies are safe for rabbits and hamsters, you should always adjust the portions accordingly. Rabbits should consume some of these vegetables only in moderation, so keep that in mind before offering them to your furry friend.

Rabbit Eating Carrot
Image Credit: AN Photographer2463,Shutterstock

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What Should I Do If My Rabbit Eats Hamster Food?

Now that you know that most hamster food, besides hay and certain fruits and veggies, is not suitable for your rabbit, you may wonder what you should do if your pet eats hamster food.

While rabbits can experience an array of health issues when consuming hamster food, accidentally eating small amounts of hamster food shouldn’t significantly harm your rabbit.

However, eating hamster food for long periods and in large quantities can certainly harm your bunny. In such situations, closely monitor your pet for any behavioral changes or signs that indicate that they are feeling unwell. It’s always good to visit your veterinarian to ensure that everything is okay with your rabbit’s health.

While many animals can go for 2-3 days without eating, if your rabbit stops eating or pooping for more than 24 hours, they need to see the vet. The rabbit digestive system should be constantly moving and digesting food, and even a single day can have a significant impact. Ileus is a life-threatening condition, and needs prompt treatment.

Vet carrying a giant rabbit
Image Credit: Tyler Olson, Shutterstock

Can My Hamster Eat Rabbit Food?

We now know that there are several food items that both these pets can share, including hay, leafy greens, vegetables, and some fruit. Because a hamster needs a diet that contains more protein and fat, and less fiber than that of a rabbit, it is not a good idea to feed your hamster commercial rabbit food or pellets. A small amount probably won’t be harmful, but it could result in gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea.

If your hamster eats rabbit food regularly, they will suffer from malnutrition due to the inappropriate levels of protein and fat, as well as the increased gut motility caused by the high fiber levels.

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Final Thoughts

Rabbits can theoretically eat a small amount of hamster food, but doing so would do them more harm than good. Hamsters have entirely different nutritional needs than rabbits, so their food wouldn’t provide your bunny with enough proper nutrients for survival.

Keep in mind that there are a few foods that your rabbit and hamster can share, including hay, grass, and certain fruits and veggies. Still, your rabbit should have a species-appropriate diet in order to thrive and prosper, and hamster food simply isn’t what your bunny needs.

So if you ever run out of your bunny’s normal food, it would be better to supplement them with some leafy greens, hay or vegetables, than to feed them a meal of hamster food.


Featured Image Credit: 279photo Studio, Shutterstock

The post Can Rabbits Eat Hamster Food? Vet Approved Nutrition Facts & FAQ appeared first on Pet Keen.

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