Grape plant, in the genera Vitis, is the earliest domesticated fruit plant. It is native to Eastern Europe but was later cultivated in Asia, the United States, Western Europe and other parts of the world. Grape is the earliest domesticated berry crop, commonly used as table fruit, pies, raisins, jellies, and jams. Grape fruits are succulent and come in a variety of colors which include green, red, purple, amber, or blue. And the fruits may be seeded or seedless. Many grape fruits are edible. People use grape fruits for diverse purposes. And usually, it is the purpose at hand that dictates what variety of grape fruits people use. In the Northern Hemisphere, grapes are in their peak from June to October.
Varieties of grape fruits
There are many species of grapes all over the world. However, some species are more famous than the others.
Cotton candy grapes. This tastes the same as sweet candy. And it actually derived its name from that taste. It is commonly grown in commercial quantity in California due to the hot climate in that part of the United States.
French-American hybrids. These are grapes that resulted from the hybridization of the European grape with the American grape. The hybridization was due to the inability of the European grape to withstand extreme weather conditions. It was also noticed that European grape was liable to diseases. Examples include vidal blanc and chardonel, made by grafting French grape into the American grape.
The fox grape. Fox grape is scientifically known as Vitis labrusca. It is native to North America. Fox grape comes in blue-black color and compared to the European grape, it is lower in sugar and higher in acid contents than European grape. Fox grape, including Concord grape, is well known for its sweet taste. It is commonly eaten as table fruits and wines and also as jams, jellies, and juices.
The European grape. This species, known scientifically as Vitis vinifera, is commonly cultivated in Europe and the United States. The European grape is the variety of grape most widely used for making wine. It ranges widely in color, shape, and flavors. A varietal of the European grape is the Thomson seedless grape that many prefer to eat as dessert because of its sweet taste. Its cultivation is favored by the prevailing hot climate in California.
Tempranillo grape. This blackish variety of grapes originated in Spain. Also, Tempranillo grapes are commonly enjoyed with other varietals of grapes; and are usually taken with supplements which include spicy dishes, pork, and lamb.
Other fruits too, including strawberries and almondsreference may be fed to hamsters.
Nutritional Benefits of Grapes for Hamsters
Just like carrotsreference grapes, whether red, green, purple, blue, or amber are good for hamsters’ consumption. First, like most other fruits and some vegetables, grapes contain vitamin C which is good for hamsters’ eyesight. Vitamin C also removes toxins from hamsters’ bodies. A deficiency of vitamin C in hamsters therefore results in scurvy. Grapes also contain potassium and magnesium which are helpful for hamsters’ kidneys and hearts. Both magnesium and potassium help in normal body metabolism and in maintaining normal blood pressure. Second, grapes contain substantial amount of sugar which makes it very sweet so that hamsters will enjoy to have it as often as they can. Sugar is good for hamsters because they need it for optimal performance. Grapes also provide antioxidants in hamsters. Antioxidants help in revitalizing body cells and also protects hamsters against cancer as hamsters advance in age. Grapes are rich in fibers which aids digestion in hamsters. Vitamin K, also contained in grapes induces blood clotting in case hamsters get wounds; and improves hamsters’ blood.
Side Effects of Grapes to Hamsters
The first risk, perhaps, of feeding grapes to hamsters is chocking. This is why veterinarian recommends seedless grapes for hamsters. Even with seedless grapes, the fruit should be cut into pieces to make it easier for hamsters to eat. Second, because grapes essentially contain sugar, feeding too much quantity of grapes to hamsters can result in diabetes and obesity. It is unsafe for hamsters to have too much sugar in their bodies just as it is bad for them to weigh higher than the optimum. More grapes than required can result in health issues in hamsters which include diarrhea, stomach upset, and loss of appetite. Diarrhea can become worse and result to dehydration with continuous feeding of grapes. In addition, where grapes are not thoroughly washed before feeding to hamsters, parasites that stick to them may transfer to hamsters’ skin; and this may cause skin irritation.
To be sure that hamsters do not eat too much grapes, veterinarian recommends that one grape should be given a week to Syrian hamster. It is recommended that half a grape should be given to Roborovski hamsters, being smaller than the Syrian species. Finally, Dwarf hamsters, Campbell hamsters, Chinese hamsters, and Russian hamsters should be given one-sixths of a grape per week, according to veterinarian because these species of hamsters are the smallest of all hamsters.
How to Feed Grapes to Hamsters
To feed grape fruits to hamsters, it is essential to get close to them. Getting close to hamsters before feeding them strengthens the association between hamsters and their owners. Also, it is advisable to give seedless grapes to hamsters rather than seeded grapes. First, wash the grape fruit thoroughly. This will remove all parasites from the skin of the grape and not let them transfer to hamsters. Alternatively, remove the peels from the grape fruit before cutting it. Also, where the fruit is seeded, be sure to remove the seeds. Use a clean knife to cut a piece of the grape fruit, depending on the species of hamster to be fed. It is great to give a small portion to the hamster first to check if it likes the fruit.
While feeding grapes to hamsters, it is pertinent to look out for pica – this is a behavior whereby a hamster retreats from a treat of grape. Pica is a usual behavior when the grape does not suit a hamster. In order words, pica in hamsters signifies dislike for a treat or food.
Certainly, grapes are a great food for hamsters. However, grapes should be provided jointly with other foods. To feed hamsters with grapes and other fruits, it is vital to be moderate.