Are water chestnuts safe for hamsters to eat? It’s an often discussed question and one with few definitive answers. Whilst there don’t appear to be any issues feeding your hamster a very small amount of water chestnut, there are much better alternatives.
What Are Water Chestnuts?
Water chestnuts are tuber vegetables that grow in water, like shallow ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams. They look like small brown balls, which is why they’re also known as “Burma Beans.”
They’re typically used in Asian cooking, especially stir-fry dishes, but they can also be eaten raw or pickled. Sometimes you’ll see them at the grocery store already sliced and canned, but if you (or your hamster) want to eat them fresh, it’s best to get them from an Asian market.
Can Hamsters Eat Water Chestnut?
So, can hamsters eat water chestnuts? While there’s no reason your hamster couldn’t eat water chestnuts, they aren’t particularly good for them, so we’d probably not recommend doing so.
They won’t hurt them if they eat them (and it would probably be quite fun watching your hamster try to eat them), but it’s better to not give your furry friend unnecessary treats. Instead, give them healthy snacks like fruit or vegetables, most of which they can eat safely, and remember that hamsters are omnivores (meaning they eat both meat and plants).
Benefits Of Water Chestnut For Hamsters
There are no real benefits to eating water chestnuts for your hamster.
While we know that they’re safe to eat, there’s little reason for a hamster to need to eat water chestnuts. They’re not like regular nuts and seeds, which can be a great source of protein and fat (and even carbohydrates), and there doesn’t seem to be any other reasons why your hamster would need them.
The main issue is that they aren’t particularly nutritious, and it’s difficult for hamsters to eat them compared with food like fruit, vegetables, or grains.
Risks Of Water Chestnut For Hamsters
Since they’re so firm, even cooked water chestnuts can cause problems if your hamster accidentally bites into them or swallows large chunks. You should never feed your pet raw or undercooked water chestnuts (or any other kind of tuber).
Even cooked, high-quality water chestnuts still aren’t appropriate treats for your furry friend — it’s best to stick with leafy greens and other safe veggies instead.
Hamsters are omnivores, so they’ll eat both plant and animal matter. However, their teeth are designed for grinding seeds and other hard foods, not chewing tough tubers like water chestnuts.
So while your hamster might like the taste of water chestnuts (and might even manage to chew them), it would be very difficult for him or her to actually digest them. Water chestnuts aren’t poisonous, but there’s no real reason to feed them to your hamster.
Hamsters are known for storing their food, and this can cause problems for a couple of reasons.
If any water chestnut are left uneaten in your hamsters cage, they could rot, start to smell and attract insects.
Your hamster may also store uneaten water chestnut 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 water chestnut and immediately remove and discard any uneaten water chestnut from their cage.
How To Feed Water Chestnut To Your Hamster
If you want to feed your hamster water chestnut, they should be cooked.
However, it’s still not particularly healthy or appropriate for them, so try limiting how much they have.
As with the introduction of any new food to your hamster’s diet, if you are going to try feeding your hamster water chestnut, you need to monitor your hamster closely whilst eating them.
How Much Water Chestnut Can A Hamster Eat?
We don’t recommend giving your hamster water chestnuts, especially in large quantities. Like all foods, too much can be bad for them.
A small amount now and then won’t hurt them, but you should avoid making it a common part of their diet. If you still want to give it a try- limit it to one piece or half of a water chestnut once every 1-2 weeks.
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 water chestnut 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 water chestnut to feed your hamster is to give them a portion they can comfortably hold within their hands.
Other Than Water Chestnut What Else Can Your Hamster Eat?
We have looked at if your hamster can eat water chestnut.
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 water chestnut, 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
The answer is that while they can eat water chestnuts, there’s no real reason for them to do so. While they’re not poisonous or unhealthy (inappropriately stored water chestnuts could cause issues), there are plenty of alternatives your hamster will enjoy more.
Now you know if it is safe to feed your hamster water chestnut. Just remember, if you do decide to feed your hamster water chestnuts, always start by introducing a very small portion of water chestnut to your hamster, and look out for any signs of discomfort or unusual behaviour.
If your hamster has an adverse reaction after eating water chestnut, contact your local veterinarian immediately.