I know that chocolate is bad for dogs, but is it bad for hamsters too? I would like an answer from a credible source.
- Chocolate can be very harmful to hamsters, even lethal. Chocolate contains theobromine (aka 3,7- Dimethylxanthine) which remains in the systems for prolonged periods. This has a toxic effect, as a hamster is such a small animal, a small ingestion of chocolate will release a larger proportion of theobromine per kg of body weight than a human eating the same amount. Prolonged ingestion of theobromine can cause testicular damage.
Theobromine is the principal alkaloid of the cacao bean. It is extracted from the bean husks and used in the synthesis of caffeine. It has been used in various pharmaceutical products. Theobromine is consumed in coco a and chocolate beverages and in various forms of chocolate-based foods. Theobromine is also present in small amounts in green coffee beans, tea and mate. (1)
The other dangerous ingredient of chocolate is caffeine. Which affects the central nervous system, increasing heart rate and arousal; the reason human beings enjoy ingesting caffeine, in such a small animal as a hamster can lead to stress or even death.
It should also be noted chocolate can be toxic for unborn hamsters of pregnant hamsters and babies of a nursing hamster, as these, potential, toxins pass through the placenta and breast milk.
The following diagram shows the varying levels of caffeine and theobromine within different chocolate sources. image courtesy of St. Francis Animal and Bird Hospital and