Hamsters are active, cute, and cuddly pets that bring lots of joy to any living space! If you are the lucky parent of a pet hamster, you want to make sure your hamster is eating the correct diet. At times, your hamster might want to try a few pieces of the popcorn you prepared for movie night. However, is popcorn a healthy snack for hamsters? Can hamsters even eat popcorn?
Is It Safe To Feed Hamsters Popcorn?
Yes, hamsters can eat popcorn as long as it is plain air-popped popcorn without additives, butter, salt, or seasonings. Hamsters should not be fed microwave popcorn or popcorn kernels since this can harm their health. Furthermore, popcorn should only be given as an occasional treat since it does not contain all the nutrients your pet needs for healthy growth.
Hamsters are natural burrowers; in the wild, they usually eat grain, seeds, and grass. While in captivity, hamsters are exposed to a much wider variety of human foods, such as popcorn.
However, just because your hamster has access to popcorn doesn’t mean they should eat it all the time. When served in moderation, plain air-popped popcorn has a few useful vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
On the other hand, flavored popcorn is quite dangerous since it leads to serious health problems in hamsters.
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Can Hamsters Eat Buttered Popcorn?
Hamsters should not eat buttered popcorn because butter contains a huge amount of fat and salt, which can be quite harmful to your pet. Just like humans, hamsters tend to gain a lot of weight when they consume fatty foods.
Hence, buttered popcorn can cause your hamster to develop obesity, fatty liver disease, and even heart disease. In addition, the high salt content in butter can lead to kidney failure. For this reason, any buttered or salted popcorn is a huge no-no for pet hamsters.
Can Hamsters Eat Caramel Popcorn?
Hamsters should not eat caramel popcorn since it contains a lot of sugar, which can lead to diabetes and tooth decay. Caramel popcorn is also quite sticky, and it can lead to impaction when your hamster stuffs too much popcorn in their cheeks.
Can Hamsters Eat Popcorn Seeds?
Popcorn kernels are extremely dangerous for hamsters since they lead to several health complications, including:
Hamsters can easily choke on popcorn seeds, leading to suffocation and even death. Since the kernels are small and slippery, they can easily slide and block the airway.
In addition, half-popped pieces of popcorn with bits of the hard hull can similarly lead to choking. For this reason, feeding your hamster on kernel-less popcorn is much safer since it contains little to no hard hull.
Popcorn kernels can lead to dental problems too. Pet MD explains that hamsters’ teeth grow throughout their lifetime.
When your hamster has overgrown incisors and they bite down on something hard like a popcorn kernel, their teeth can easily chip or break. When hamsters’ incisors break, chances are that they will grow back crooked, or in severe cases, they might not grow back at all.
Constipation is another serious problem that can arise from swallowed popcorn kernels in small pets. Even if your hamster somehow manages to eat a popcorn kernel without breaking a tooth or getting choked, they might still end up experiencing constipation later on.
Often, your hamster’s digestive system might be unable to digest the hard hull of popcorn kernels. This situation leads to constipation since the undigested kernel can clog their intestines.
Is Popcorn Healthy for Hamsters?
Plain popcorn has some nutritional benefits, making it an occasional healthy snack for your hamster. Some of these nutrients include:
- Fiber: Popcorn contains a large amount of fiber which is helpful for maintaining a healthy digestive tract in hamsters.
- Magnesium: Helps to regulate the muscle and nerve performance in hamsters.
- Zinc: Improves reproductive health in breeding hamsters.
In addition, popcorn helps to wear down hamsters’ teeth and prevents overgrown incisors.
What Should You Feed Hamsters?
Experts advise that a healthy diet for hamsters should contain approximately 40% carbohydrates, 25% protein, five percent fiber and about four percent fat. Here are some examples of healthy foods that hamsters can eat:
High-quality commercial hamster pellets: This should be their main source of nutrition. Luckily, hamster pellets already contain the right proportions of nutrients that a hamster needs.
- Assorted fruits and vegetables: Hamsters can be fed with fruits and vegetables about ten percent of the time. Some great options to consider include carrots, apples, peas, pepper, and cucumbers.
- Clean water: Hamsters should be provided with clean water that is changed daily and stored in stainless steel sipper tube. The amount of water that hamsters should drink will depend on their weight. The recommended daily water intake is about ten milliliters of water per 100 grams of body weight.
- Gnawing food: Hamsters should also be given regular gnawing food, which ensures that their teeth don’t overgrow. PDSA recommends that hamsters can gnaw on some softwoods such as hazelnut, willow, and quince.
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What Should You Not Feed Hamsters?
Certain foods are toxic for hamsters and should be kept far away from your beloved pet. These include:
- Citrus fruit
- Raw beans
- Apple seeds
- Raw potatoes
- Rhubarb leaves or raw rhubarb
How to Feed Hamsters Popcorn
Hamsters should only be fed with popcorn as an occasional treat, once or twice a week. The amount of popcorn you can feed your hamster will depend on the size and breed of your pet. Smaller hamsters should only be fed one or two bite-sized pieces per week. On the other hand, larger hamsters can have up to five pieces in a week. Furthermore, always make sure that you inspect the popcorn for any unpopped kernels before feeding it to your pet.
A Fun Treat for Playtime
Hamsters are highly intelligent and naturally curious animals. Mazes and puzzle games are an excellent way to keep your pet active and mentally stimulated. You can easily transform popcorn time into playtime by hiding a few pieces of popcorn in a puzzle or piece of cardboard. This creates a fun game of hide-and-seek that your hamster will definitely love.
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