If you’re considering feeding your hamster walnuts you’ll want to know if walnuts are safe for your hamster to eat. In this article we look at walnuts and their benefits for hamsters.
What Are Walnuts?
Walnuts are one of the world’s oldest, most valuable, and highly nutritious nuts. Native to Asia Minor (Turkey), they grow in clusters on trees that can live for hundreds of years! The walnut tree is deciduous–meaning it sheds its leaves during colder months when it enters a dormant period.
The inside of a walnut is called the nutmeat (seed). It comprises about 50% of its total weight and has four varieties: sweet, bitter, Chinese or English (most common).
Walnuts have an outer hull that is dark brown in color with light greenish-grey spots. When not in use, these shells should be stored in a cool, dry place away from heat until ready for consumption.
There are various types of walnuts available depending on your location. Regular black walnuts have soft shells you can crack open at home simply by squeezing them between two pieces of wood. But if you’re buying pre-shelled walnuts in the store for cooking purposes here are some popular kinds:
- English Walnuts – Also known as common walnuts, these are usually the most readily available type of walnut in both bagged and bulk form. They have a sweet flavor.
- California Black Walnuts – Californians may find the black English walnuts sold there marketed as black walnuts or California black walnuts, but they’re still the same tasty nut!
- Persian/Iranian Walnuts – These tend to be sweeter than other varieties because they contain less of that bitter-tasting compound called tannic acid.
Can Hamsters Eat Walnuts?
So can hamsters eat walnuts? Yes, they can safely eat walnuts in moderation, a small amount of walnut occasionally as part of a balanced diet is ok.
Remember, too much of anything is never good for your hamster and that’s the same with walnuts.
Benefits Of Walnuts For Hamsters
Walnuts are packed with healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals your hamster needs to stay active and strong.
Just like many human foods that we decide to try feeding to our hamsters, there isn’t much research available to determine if walnuts are truly beneficial for hamsters.
However, walnuts are packed with fatty acids like Omega-3, which provide the membranes of each cell in an animal’s body with fluidity that makes it easier for them to maintain homeostasis. Walnuts also contain fatty acids that reduce inflammation throughout the body–meaning they’re good for arthritis!
Vitamin E is great for preventing cancer while another B vitamin, thiamine (vitamin B1), has been linked to cognitive benefits like improved memory.
Iron is essential for proper bodily functions involved in the transportation of oxygen throughout cells which boosts energy levels. Iron deficiency can lead to fatigue or weakness so make sure your hamster gets enough iron in its diet.
Risks Of Walnuts For Hamsters
You may be wondering whether or not your hamster can eat walnuts because you’ve read that rodents, in general, should not eat any type of nut. This is because nuts are high in fat; however, these fats are considered the healthier kind because they contain Omega 3 fatty acids.
What we do know is that excessive amounts of fatty acids can lead to obesity and conditions like diabetes, atherosclerosis, and cancer in animals–so keep an eye on the amount of walnut you’re serving your hamster.
A common problem with feeding treats/foods rich in fats is that they can make a hamster feel sick because it lacks enough lipase which helps break down fat cells. So take things slow when introducing walnuts into your pet’s diet.
Hamsters are known for storing their food, and this can cause problems for a couple of reasons.
If any walnuts are left uneaten in your hamsters cage, they could rot, start to smell and attract insects.
Your hamster may also store uneaten walnuts 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 walnuts and immediately remove and discard any uneaten walnut from their cage.
How To Feed Walnuts To Your Hamster
So how do you feed walnuts to your hamster?
First, you must ensure the walnut is washed to make sure there are no chemicals such as pesticides.
Secondly, you should cut the walnut into small pieces. Make sure they’re small enough for your hamster to chew up easily while being careful not to slice them so small that they might become a choking hazard.
You can either feed them to your hamster on their own, or you could sprinkle them on top of other food.
As with the introduction of any new food to your hamsters diet, if you are going to try feeding your hamster walnuts, you need to monitor your hamster closely whilst eating them.
How Much Walnut Can A Hamster Eat?
A hamster should only really eat a very small portion of walnut.
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 walnuts 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 walnut to feed your hamster is to give them a portion they can comfortably hold within their hands.
Other Than Walnuts What Else Can Your Hamster Eat?
We have looked at if your hamster can eat walnuts.
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 walnuts, 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
As you can see, Can Hamsters Eat Walnuts but they should only be fed in small amounts, ideally cut up into small pieces.
Walnuts should only be a very small part of your hamsters diet, we recommend giving them other types of food, particularly grains and vegetables. You should be feeding your hamster these kinds of foods daily to ensure that they are getting the right amounts of nutrients every day.
Now you know if it is safe to feed your hamster walnuts. Just remember, always start by introducing a very small portion of walnuts to your hamster, and look out for any signs of discomfort or unusual behaviour.
If your hamster has an adverse reaction after eating walnuts, contact your local veterinarian immediately.