Can Hamsters Drink Milk? It’s Healthy For Them?

Many new hamster owners may take it for granted that hamsters can drink milk simply because they are mammals and cause severe consequences. To this popular question which is among the most searched ones on google, my answer is a firm NO. In this article, I will explain why you mustn’t offer your hamster milk, how horrible the consequence may be, and what kind of milk you may have a try if you insist.

milk

Baby hamsters enjoy what they should have

Though milk should be strictly forbidden from adult hamsters as I have warned at the very start of this article, the baby hamsters are absolutely fine to have milk because they are born to be mammals. However, the lactose in milk may be a little higher, so the goat’s milk may be a better replacement. But milk itself will do good either for the newborn cubs.

NO milk for adult hamsters

On most occasions that new hamster owners make mistakes of offering hamster milk, they do not think much because hamsters are typical mammals just like other popular pets: cats and dogs, which are allowed to drink milk. 

Normally adult mammals are still able to drink milk and are still interested in milk, like cats, dogs, and human being ourselves. Cats are carnivorous creatures, while domesticated dogs and human beings are omnivorous who include meat in their menu. As a result, it is not surprising that all of the creatures are blessed with lactase and lipase, which are necessary for absorbing the nutrition in milk, even when they are grown up. 

male and female baby hamster

However, things are different for hamsters. The lactation period of hamsters is extremely short, which will last for only 21 days after birth. The truth is, the lactase level in the hamster body starts to drop obviously since they are 10 days old. Once they stop their lactation period and start to take in corn, oats, and wheat as their main food, the lactase level will fade by 90 percent, which indicates that they almost lose their ability to digest milk. The symptom is also known as lactose intolerance medically, which is also a common situation among human beings. 

In conclusion, milk should not be on the menu of our fluffy because they lack a necessary enzyme to digest the nutrition in milk.

Terrible consequences brought by milk

As I have mentioned above, hamsters cannot absorb the nutrition in milk, so these untreated and indigestive compositions will accumulate in their body or lead to other bad consequences.

(1) Diarrhea

Diarrhea may sound like no big deal for us human beings, but it can be lethal to our fluffy.

As I have mentioned above, hamsters, especially adult ones, do not have the lactase to decomposition lactose in the milk. The indigestive lactose will become lactic acid after fermentation by intestinal flora. The lactic acid stimulates the intestinal tracts and motivates their peristalsis, which finally results in diarrhea.

For our fluffy, diarrhea is extremely dangerous. 

Firstly, it leads to severe dehydration, and retaking in water is relatively difficult for hamsters because their main food is mostly dried seeds and nuts. What’s worse, there is also an astonishing inorganic salt loss in diarrhea, which is also a challenge for us owners to refill for our fluffy. Serious salt loss can directly result in epilepsy, tic, and shock. Besides, the indigestive lactose makes the feces of hamsters soft, greenish, and yellowish. The soft feces may stick to their anal and since we cannot give hamsters a proper bath, the feces may lead to urogenital infections. Also, diarrhea may also cause intestinal cramps, which is an extremely painful symptom.

white hamster

(2) Lipoma

Except for indigestive lactose, milk also contains too much fat which is way beyond hamsters’ digestive ability or their need. If you take a look at the nutrients of milk on their package, you may find that it contains only about 3 grams of fat in every 100 milliliters/grams of milk, which does not seem to be a very high level compared with 1.5 grams in recommended daily main food like corn, wheat, etc. However, the truth is 80% of liquid milk is pure water, so milk contains in fact about 15 grams of fat in every 100 grams of dry material, which is a lot higher than the regular level in concerns of physical health. 

If your fluffy always take in food with such fat concentration, it is very likely that he will suffer from lipoma. Though lipoma is mostly benign tumors, hey will bring trouble in the hamster’s daily movement, and there are always chances that the tumors will deteriorate into cancer. Cancer is lethal even for human beings and is extremely painful.

(3) nephritis

Milk also contains too much protein than the amount hamster needs, and scientific researches have pointed out that an increase in protein taking in has an intimate connection with the higher probability of nephritis. Though the detailed mechanism is still unclear, I would not suggest offering your fluffy milk in case of safety.

hamster with food

Substitute choices

If you insist on preparing some dairy for your fluffy, sugar-free dry cheese may worth a try. But it can only play the role as treat, rather than the main food. You may also buy some goat’s milk powder, which is often sold in a pet store for kittens. Goat’s milk contains less lactose, but the disadvantage is many hamsters refuse it because of its strong taste. If your fluffy welcomes the goat’s milk, offer him 8 to 10 drops every time.

Conclusion

In general, I do not suggest you feeding your hamster milk mainly because they cannot digest the precious nutrition in milk. There may be several substitute options, but hamsters do not really need any kind of dairy products. 

Add Your Comment