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When it comes to our hamster, we want to make sure that what we feed the little bundle of fur will not harm them. A common question that a lot of hamster owners want to know is if they can feed their hammy particular types of ‘human’ food.
Popcorn is one of those foods. If you are planning to feed your hamster popcorn, then you will be pleased to know that they can, indeed, eat popcorn safely.
Not only does a hamster look cute nibbling away at a piece of popcorn, it also includes the odd bit of nutritional value for them, such as folate and potassium.
Even so, like with most food that is given as treats, it should not become a part of their regular diet. If this happens, they are likely to put on weight which is unhealthy for a hamster and could promote diabetes.
Let us look at hamsters and popcorn in more detail to scope why hamsters can eat popcorn, the dietary needs of a hamster, and what to avoid.
Why Does a Hamster Like to Eat Popcorn?
There actually is no scientific proof to why a hamster might like popcorn. It is the same with us humans, why do we like popcorn?
For us, it is the crunch, the flavor and the fact we have come accustomed to eating it whilst at the movies. For a hamster, it is most definitely not the same.
A hamster eats food to soak up all the nutritional value that they can get out of it (think about the fact they like to re-eat their poop – it has leftover nutrients in it), but also they like the flavor.
In the wild they will scavenge for grains and seeds, and perhaps popcorn has a similar sort of feel to it. You can always place a piece of popcorn in their home to find it amongst bedding or chew toys.
So, Popcorn is Safe For Hamsters?
Yes, popcorn is absolutely safe for a hamster to eat. Even so, there are strict rules to what ‘safe’ means.
It must be plain and fully air popped, and only given to a hamster as a treat in moderation. As with any treat you give to a hamster, it should never form part of their regular diet, and should stay as a treat.
This is because when you feed a hamster an imbalanced diet, they will start to have nutritional deficiencies.
Also, as you are probably already aware, a hamster will always choose its favorite things within a food bowl which can also result in an unbalanced diet – so feed it separately and sparingly.
Can I Feed My Hamster Microwave Popcorn?
To be on the safe side, always feed your little hammy air popped popcorn. This is because the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have conducted studies that have shown that a coating found on the inside of this particular type of popcorn may contain unhealthy chemical compounds.
With this in mind, stick to air popped popcorn.
Nutritional Needs of a Hamster
A hamster’s diet is relatively simple, though you will have to make sure that they are getting all the nutrition that they need to support their health for a longer life as possible – which is around two to two and a half years.
A hamster is an omnivore and will eat fruit, vegetables and nutritional pellets – amongst other things like muesli made for a hamster.
What the hamster needs to eat daily will all depend on the type of food you give them. There are plenty of great readymade pellets that have all the nutrients a hamster will want without needing the addition of vegetables. However, always look at the specific needs of your own hamster, and seek advice from a vet or professional if you need help.
You should be feeding your hamster no more than 12 milligrams of food a day. As you can see, it is very easy to overfeed a hamster with their main diet and additional treats when they eat so little.
A teaspoon of fruit should be given at most twice a week because it is high in sugar. Both a high-sugar and high-fat diet should be avoided because it is likely to cause diabetes or fatty liver.
What Is Inside Popcorn?
Popcorn actually has quite a few benefits. It includes a small amount of protein and some fiber, along with calcium, thiamin, magnesium, vitamin A, potassium, folate and riboflavin.
Not only that, it is also relatively low in fat and low in sugar if it is plain, making it a generally healthy piece of food if no toppings are present.
So, even though it does have some nutritional value, it is still best to only feed popcorn to a hamster every so often – perhaps once a week.
A Hamster’s Inner Workings
You might be surprised to know that a hamster has a very similar cardiovascular system to us, meaning that they can face the same health problems that we do.
Just like with us humans, if fed a high in fat and high in sugar diet, they are prone to issues such as diabetes and fatty liver. It is best to be aware how much sugar is being put into their diet.
If you want to avoid the potential of health issues, then avoid added sugar altogether. Whilst fruit should also only be occasional, keep all sugared treats (and treats in general) to a minimum per week, even if it is something as low in sugar as popcorn.
A treat should be a treat after all!
Popcorn can be eaten by a hamster. In fact, it has many healthy ingredients that a hamster might benefit from. It must be air popped and contain no toppings. Plain is best in this situation.
Even so, always keep a treat to once or twice a week, and always factor in their recommended amount of food a day so they do not overeat.
Just like us, a hamster needs a well-balanced diet to have a healthy and full-filling life.