Almonds are incredibly healthy for humans but can hamsters have almonds? We know that our furry friends love nuts and seeds, but you might have heard some news surrounding almonds and hamsters.
Simply put, hamsters can eat almonds, but only sweet ones. Salted and bitter almonds are unsafe for hamsters as they can cause complications in their tiny bodies.
Everything You Need to Know about a Hamsters Diet
An interesting fact about hamsters you may not know is that their name is derived from the German word “hamsters,” which stands for “to hoard.” We aren’t surprised- these creatures are named well, considering they love stuffing their fat cheeks with food.
Hamsters can be found in northern China, Greece, and Romania, but they were first found in 1936 in Syria, after which they were brought to North America. Hamsters thrive in dry, warm regions and love living in savannahs, the outskirts of deserts, and dunes.
These omnivores love munching on fruit, vegetables, insects, nuts, and grains. Most homeowners give their hamsters store-bought pellets to meet their nutritional needs, but they also need a balanced diet of herbs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts to stay healthy.
Everything You Need to Know About Almonds
Almonds can be found on trees and need honeybees to grow. They are related to apricots and peaches- who would have thought?
Even though peanuts are the most popular nuts that can be found in every household, they almost fall second in line and are a healthy alternative. There are 3.5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein in one ounce of almonds.
Almonds are also full of phosphorus, antioxidants, magnesium, manganese, copper, and vitamins B2 and E.
Here are some benefits of almonds:
- They are high in nutrients and low in calories.
- Their high antioxidant count protects against diseases.
- Almonds are high in vitamin E, which lowers the risk of heart disease and cancer.
- They can help with weight loss.
- Almonds help lower LDL cholesterol in the body.
Now that we have established that almonds are super healthy, let’s figure out if they are safe for hamsters.
Can Hamsters Have Almonds?
As mentioned before, hamsters love nuts, so why would almonds be any different?
When living in the wild, hamsters do not have much access to almonds, but they eat other nuts and seeds with similar textures and tastes.
Regarding almonds, there are a few things to keep in mind. Humans can have a handful or two of almonds and be completely okay. In fact, almonds can help keep us full for longer, promoting weight loss.
However, this does not apply to hamsters. If hamsters munch on too many almonds, they might not want to eat their hamster food. While almonds are wholesome, they should not make up a hamster’s diet. Hence, serving sizes must be kept in check.
Moreover, hamsters should be fed the correct kinds of almonds. When you buy almonds at the store, ensure they are not bitter. Bitter almonds comprise hydrogen cyanide, making them toxic for hamsters. The good news is that these almonds are banned in the United States, so it is improbable that you will find them anywhere.
Sweet hamsters are an excellent snack for your hamster. They are rich in fiber and can help digestion, preventing constipation in your hamster. Moreover, just like in humans, almonds can lower your hamster’s cholesterol levels.
The magnesium in almonds is known to strengthen the bones of a hamster, making it strong and healthy.
All in all, almonds are great for hamsters. However, let’s look at the downsides as well.
Which Almonds are Safe for Hamsters to Consume?
There are so many almonds available in the market that it can be tricky to choose which ones to give your hamster. Since almonds are such convenient treats, it is no wonder that humans have found so many different ways to enjoy them.
Here are some types of almonds that can be easily found in the market and are safe for hamsters to consume:
1. Raw almonds
Almonds are usually eaten raw, and hamsters love their texture. They have great taste and are incredibly healthy. If you feel like your hamster is tired of the same old snacks, give it an almond to munch on, and we are sure it will have a blast!
2. Roasted Almonds
Roasted almonds are the same as raw almonds except that they have been placed in the oven for a short period. Roasted almonds are crunchier and have a nuttier taste than regular almonds. These are safe for hamsters as long as they do not include cinnamon, salt, or olive oil.
Which Almonds are Unsafe for Hamsters
1. Salted Almonds
Almonds high in salt or made with additional additives and flavoring are okay for humans to consume in moderation but are terrible for hamsters.
Excess consumption of salt leads to dehydration, diarrhea, and an upset stomach in hamsters. Hence, hamsters should be given sweet almonds containing no extra ingredients.
2. Bitter Almonds
Bitter almonds are a big no-no in a hamster’s diet. These contain a natural toxin that turns into cyanide, which can be harmful when ingested. Cyanide is highly poisonous to hamsters and humans alike.
Humans can eat up to 10 bitter almonds before feeling sick, but since hamsters are tiny, even one or two of these could cause them to get seriously ill. If either hamsters or humans overconsume bitter almonds, it can result in death.
3. Almond Butter
Even though almonds are safe for your hamster, almond butter should be given in moderation. This is because almond butter usually uses other ingredients, including oil and salt.
If you make almond butter at home, you can give this to your hamster. However, do not give it too much, as almond butter contains more fat than regular almonds and can be too much for a hamster’s tiny body to handle.
Additional Downside of Almonds for Hamsters
1. High-Fat Content
Even though sweet almonds are safe for hamsters, they should be given in moderation. This is because almonds are loaded with fat and, if consumed daily, could cause your hamster to gain an unhealthy amount of weight.
Over time, this can lead to obesity, damaging your hamster’s overall health.
2. Choking Hazard
Almonds could be a choking hazard, depending on the size of your hamster and how small it is. This is particularly true if you give your hamster almonds still in their shells.
When feeding almonds to your hamster, cut them up into tiny pieces and supervise your hamster while it nibbles on them. If you are introducing your hamster to almonds for the first time, we recommend taking particular care of them.
A Guide on Buying Almonds for Your Hamster
If you have decided that you want to give your hamster almonds every now and then as little treats, here are some tips to help you pick the suitable almonds:
Organic almonds are the safest for hamsters to consume. These almonds do not contain any chemicals or pesticides, making them great for hamsters.
If you aren’t sure whether the almonds you want to buy are sweet or salty, you can look at the shape. Any almond that looks wider or fatter or does not have a consistent shape is a bitter almond.
Look for almonds with a teardrop shape- these can easily be found in the United States and are the safest for your little pet.
Most toxins, especially cyanide, are found in the skin of almonds. Getting rid of the skin will ultimately lower the toxicity. One way to easily remove the skin of the almond before feeding your hamster is by letting the almonds soak in hot water for 15 minutes.
When the almond cools down, you can pull its skin off and feed it to your hamster.
Bigger hamsters, like Syrian hamsters, can eat one almond a day. However, it would help if you refrained from giving them more almonds. Other smaller breeds, such as Dwarf hamsters, should not be given more than half an almond daily.
In fact, it is recommended to give them almonds every alternate day to munch on. Remember that almonds should not make up your hamster’s entire diet. Instead, they should be thought of as an occasional treat.
According to the details and information mentioned in this article, hamsters can eat almonds. However, they should only be given sweet almonds as these are the healthiest and safest.
To sum it all up, avoid giving your hamster bitter almonds, salty almonds, or any kind of almonds loaded with artificial flavorings.
The best kinds of almonds are those that are organic, and if you can get rid of the skin, you have nothing to worry about- this would make the almond super safe for your hamster, and it will definitely enjoy it more.
If you feel like your hamster is not feeling well or acting normally after eating an almond, get in touch with your vet as soon as you can. The health of your tiny friend is extremely important, and in case of an emergency, there should be no delays.
However, if you follow our guidelines and stick to the kind of almonds mentioned in this article, you have nothing to worry about. In fact, your hamster might love you more for giving it this occasional treat now and then!
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My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more