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When you are out in the wild, you might notice various animals eating acorns; squirrels and small rodents being some of the most common. This could lead you to wonder whether acorns would make good food for my pet hamster. But can hamsters eat acorns safely?
Acorns do not make good food for hamsters for a couple of reasons; when food is collected from outside, this could cause harm to your pet due to bacteria and parasites. What’s more, a single acorn may be much larger than what your pet can handle. That being said, acorns are not toxic to hamsters.
There are many things that you can give to your hamster as a treat, and it is vital that you are aware of which foods are best for them. Let’s take a closer look at the suitability of acorns and find out what foods you can safely give to your hammy.
Are Acorns Suitable For Hamsters?
Acorns are the seed of the oak tree and are often found scattered in abundance across woodland floors across the world at the beginning of fall. They are around one inch in size but can get a little bigger and are a staple part of many wild animals’ diets.
A lot of pet owners can be tempted to go and collect acorns either from their back yard or from out in the wild and offer them as a treat to their hamster. However, this might not be the best idea.
Before we look at why using acorns as hamster food is not recommended, it is important to understand that they are not toxic to your hamster.
Acorns can be highly toxic to some animals, particularly horses. If they eat a large enough quantity, the humble acorn could kill a horse. But for hamsters, they are harmless.
That being said, this does not mean that you should rush out and hoard a pile of acorns to save money on pet food.
Collecting food from outside is not recommended for any pet. The reason for this is that domestic animals have not built-up the tolerance of those that live in the wild and, as such, are far more susceptible to falling ill when exposed to bacteria.
When you collect acorns from the outdoors, these could harbor harmful germs that might make your pet sick. What’s more, it is not uncommon for acorns to play host to parasites, which, again, are detrimental to the health of your hamster.
Furthermore, these parasites or insects that feed on the acorns could have also fed on other things that have been sprayed with pesticides, which would then be transferred to your pet.
Offering a whole acorn to a tiny hamster will mean that they cannot eat the entire thing. There have been stories from pet owners who have found that their hamster will happily gnaw on the acorn but is unable to crack it open.
If you must offer acorns as a treat for your hamster, the best way to do this is by purchasing them from a store. There are many places that sell organic acorns that are ideal for pet use.
But many pet owners will be swayed towards using acorns as food for money-saving purposes.
If you want to remain thrifty, it is possible to collect acorns from outdoors and bake them in the oven at 400ºF, which will effectively kill any bugs that may be living on them.
What Foods Can You Give As A Treat To Hamsters?
Hamsters are one of the few pets that can have a relatively varied diet. Of course, as with any animal, it is vital that you do not give your hamster too much sugar or fat as this can cause obesity and health problems.
That being said, the occasional sugary treat won’t hurt, as long as it is done in moderation. There are treats that you can buy for your hamsters, such as hamster chocolates and other tasty titbits, but you might also offer some of the following foods.
- Apple slices
- Pear slices
- Small pieces of hard-boiled egg
- Banana slices
- Cherry (make sure that the stone has been removed)
- Small pieces of plain cookie
You might also offer your hamster romaine lettuce, but this should be given in very small amounts and seen as a very occasional treat.
Iceberg lettuce on the other hand should not be given to hamsters as it contains too much water, contains little nutrition and can lead to diarrhea.
All of the foods on this list should be used alongside a healthy diet, which includes food specifically made for hamsters.
You can purchase hamster pellets or a muesli-style mix.
Both have their pros and cons Whilst pellets are seen to have the best balance and will provide excellent nutrition for your pet, a muesli-style mix provides a lot more variety.
These Mazuri Rat & Mouse Food pellets (Amazon, #CommissionsEarned) are a good option and you can combine them with this good quality seed mix (Amazon, #CommissionsEarned) to get the best of both worlds.
What Foods Should You Not Give To Hamsters?
In much the same way that there are foods that are suitable to give to your hamster alongside their conventional diet, there are also some foods that you should avoid.
You should never give your hamster human chocolate as this contains enzymes that the animal cannot break down. Eating these in large quantities could be fatal for your pet.
- The green parts of a tomato as these are incredibly toxic to hamsters and could make them extremely ill or worse.
- High-fat meats
- Onions, peppers, and garlic
- Any type of candy
- Citrus fruits, e.g., oranges, limes, lemons
Are hamsters allowed to eat popcorn?
Popcorn is entirely safe for hamsters and makes a delicious treat. However, you must make sure that it is adequately popped to avoid your pet choking on the hard kernel. It is also best to give plain popcorn rather than varieties that are sweet or salted. It is also crucial to only offer this on occasion.
What nuts can hamsters not eat?
You should never feed your hamster almonds. Bitter, unroasted almonds can contain cyanide, and this can be extremely dangerous for your pet. Brazil nuts should be avoided for smaller hamsters, but Syrian hamsters may do well with a small piece.