Are soybeans safe for hamsters? Yes, but in small amounts and we recommend avoiding GMO soybeans (our personal choice!), which is becoming increasingly more difficult. Read on to learn more about feeding soybeans to your hamster.
What Are Soybeans?
Soybeans are a legume that can be eaten whole or used to create soybean oil and soy protein. This plant originally comes from eastern Asia, but is now grown in many parts of the world. Soybeans have been an important source of protein in Eastern countries for over 5,000 years and in Western countries since the early 1900s.
Soybeans taste bitter when raw and so must be cooked or prepared before eating. It has numerous purposes in cooking including: tofu (a meat substitute), milk, sprouts, roasting seeds/nuts, and manufacturing tempeh (a fermented soy product).
Recently, scientists have developed technology to produce genetically engineered varieties of soy, GMO products have somewhat controversial connotations and generally we would recommend looking for non GNO alternatives.
Soybeans are high in protein and fiber, as well as magnesium, potassium, and vitamin K. Soybeans are a complete protein source, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids your body needs. This makes them a valuable addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Soybeans are also low in fat and calories, making them a healthy choice for people who are trying to lose weight or manage their weight.
Can Hamsters Eat Soybeans?
So, can hamsters eat soybeans? Yes, soybeans do not pose any serious health risks to hamsters. However, they should be eaten in small doses since they are high in fat and protein.
Hamsters should get enough protein from their usual diet so additional high protein food is not usually beneficial to them, however should be fine as a treat.
Benefits Of Soybeans For Hamsters
One benefit of soybeans to hamsters is that they contain a lot of protein and dietary fiber, both necessary for health. Fiber helps your hamster maintain his or her healthy weight by passing food through the digestive system more quickly. Soybean protein contains all the essential amino acids your hamster needs as well as many other helpful nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, and vitamin K.
Because dietary fiber and soybean protein tend to be higher than the same portion of other foods, soybeans may help your hamster maintain a healthy weight by curbing hunger.
Risks Of Soybeans For Hamsters
On the negative side, soybeans can be high in fat and protein which makes them better for adult than baby hamsters.
Soybeans are not toxic for hamsters, but they should be eaten in small quantities as a treat since they are high in protein and fat. Too much fat and protein can lead to obesity and malnutrition over time.
They have about 22 grams of protein per 100-gram serving, which is nearly double that of black beans (11g/100g) and only slightly less than kidney beans (26g/100g).
They also contain healthy fats such as omega-6 fatty acids and linoleic acid.
Feeding too many soybeans at once can result in digestive upset for your hamster, including diarrhea. If you notice any signs of intestinal distress or weakness after feeding your pet soybeans it is best to talk with a veterinarian who has experience working with small animals such as rodents before giving him or her more of this food.
Hamsters are known for storing their food, and this can cause problems for a couple of reasons.
If any soybeans are left uneaten in your hamsters cage, they could rot, start to smell and attract insects.
Your hamster may also store uneaten soybeans in their cheek pouches, and it’s not uncommon for hamsters to develop abscesses, which can be sore for your pet.
That’s why it’s advisable to monitor your hamster when giving them soybeans and immediately remove and discard any uneaten soybeans from their cage.
How To Feed Soybeans To Your Hamster
Since soybeans are high in protein and fat, it’s best to feed your hamster a small amount of them as a treat.
A few beans every other day or a tablespoon of these beans once a week should provide sufficient nutrients without harming your pet.
Hamsters that eat too many soybeans may become obese, which can lead to health problems.
As with the introduction of any new food to your hamsters diet, if you are going to try feeding your hamster soybeans, you need to monitor your hamster closely whilst eating them.
How Many Soybeans Can A Hamster Eat?
One to two soybeans a week is the suggested amount for a larger adult hamster such a syrian.
If you have a smaller hamster such as a white dwarf or robbo you may want to consider reducing that portion to one soybean per week.
When feeding your hamster new foods, you should always start with a tiny amount to ensure that they like it, and that they don’t encounter an allergic reaction. So if you want to try feeding your hamster soybeans then we would recommend giving a very small portion size, about the size of a teaspoon.
Another good way to work out what is the right amount of soybeans to feed your hamster is to give them a portion they can comfortably hold within their hands.
Other Than Soybeans What Else Can Your Hamster Eat?
We have looked at if your hamster can eat soybeans.
Other than good quality hamster food, what else could you be feeding your hamster?
Grains are a staple food for hamsters. You should give about a tablespoonful each day. Grains can be found in commercially prepared hamster mixes, providing protein and carbohydrates. Avoid overfeeding fatty nuts (peanuts and sunflower seeds), as they can cause obesity.
Fresh, organic vegetables are the best choice for your hamster.
If you’re not using organic produce, be sure to clean it properly to get rid of any pesticides.
Whilst most vegetables are generally safe for hamsters, dark green vegetables are the best choice, so things like;
- Broccoli spears
- Carrot tops
- Dandelion greens
- Romaine lettuce
Avoid iceberg lettuce and other high-water veggies or fruits (such as watermelon) to avoid stomach problems.
Like vegetables, most fruit is OK for hamsters in small portions, as a supplement to the usual diet.
Some good choices are;
- Apples (with pips removed)
Remember always remove any uneaten veggies or fruits from your hamster’s cage within 24 hours to avoid them going off.
Often overlooked for hamsters, hay is a wonderful gnawing food that can keep your hamster’s teeth clean.
Your hamster should always have access to fresh water, changed daily.
What’s The Best Diet For Hamsters?
If you have a hamster, you need to make sure that you are feeding them the best food possible.
We’ve discussed if hamsters can eat soybeans, and whilst hamsters can eat a wide variety of things, their primary diet should consist of good quality hamster food.
There are a lot of options available for your hamster, but not all of them are good! If you want to learn more about the best hamster food, you can read our full review of the best hamster foods here.
If you just want to know what we recommend, it’s Kaytee Pro Health Hamster food.
The Kaytee Forti-Diet Pro Health Food was created by animal nutritionists to ensure that your hamster gets the correct nutrition within their diet.
To support digestive health, Forti-Diet Pro Health includes probiotics and prebiotics. This food is high in natural antioxidants for general health and immunity protection, as well as some bigger, crunchier pieces to promote dental health through natural chewing action.
- Larger, crunchy pieces supports dental health through natural chewing activity
- Prebiotics and probiotics to support digestive health
- Naturally preserved for ideal freshness
- A nutritionally complete diet for hamsters and gerbils
- All natural
There you have it, hamsters can eat Soybeans, but only in small portions.
Other than soybeans, there are many other foods that your hamster can eat. Grains, vegetables and fruits all make good supplementary food for your Hamster!
Now you know if it is safe to feed your hamster soybeans. Just remember, always start by introducing a very small portion of soybeans to your hamster, and look out for any signs of discomfort or unusual behaviour.
If your hamster has an adverse reaction after eating soybeans, contact your local veterinarian immediately.