If you have ever seen squirrels picking at a cob of corn or from a bird feeder full of corn-supplemented bird seen, you may have wondered if their fellow rodent, the domestic hamster, can also eat corn.
In many commercial hamster diets, you have probably noticed corn kernels in the food mix. You may have even noticed that your hamster prefers corn to other parts of the food, picking the corn out of the bowl first. But is corn a healthy food option for your hamster? In short, the answer is a bit complicated.
Here’s what you need to know about feeding corn to your hamster!
Can Hamsters Eat Corn?
The answer to this question is a little more complex than a simple yes or no.
Roborovski and Syrian hamsters can have corn in moderation, but it is not an ideal part of a daily diet.
Dwarf varieties of hamsters, like winter white dwarf hamsters and Campbell dwarf hamsters, are prone to obesity and diabetes, which makes corn a poor choice of food or treat for these small hamsters.
Is Corn Safe For Hamsters?
Corn is a good source of vitamins and minerals, like B vitamins, manganese, and magnesium. It also has dietary fiber, which is necessary for normal poops.
However, corn has an acidic component, which can lead to stomach upset in large quantities.
Corn is composed mainly of water, with a large amount of starch and sugar. Due to the low cost of corn, it is a cheap source of quick energy for hamsters, which is why it is present in many commercial hamster diets.
Unfortunately, it isn’t a high-quality source of energy. There are other whole foods out there that are a better source of nutrients for your hamster than corn.
Corn is safe for Syrian and Roborovski hamsters, but due to the high calorie and sugar content, it should not be given to dwarf hamster varieties.
How Much Corn Can I Give My Hamster?
If you’re giving your Syrian or Roborovski hamster corn, they can safely have a few kernels at a time. Usually, they can tolerate this amount 3-4 times per week.
Baby corn can also be given to provide enrichment for your hamster. They will likely appreciate the different taste and texture from regular corn.
What Else Should I Consider Before Feeding My Hamster Corn?
Hamsters can eat raw or steamed corn, as well as dried corn kernels. They should not be fed canned corn or creamed corn due to the high sodium content. This goes for baby corn as well, which is usually sold canned or pickled and may be difficult to find fresh.
Thawed frozen corn is not recommended because it often has added sodium and preservatives. If your frozen corn only has corn as a single ingredient, it would be acceptable for your hamster.
Keep in mind that hamsters, like many mammals, will choose unhealthy foods when given a choice. Your hamster may show a preference to corn over other food items in its dish, but it does not mean it’s the healthiest item in the dish.
Corn can be fed to your hamster, as long as it is not a dwarf variety hamster, but it is healthier for your hamster if you only provide corn as a treat and not a part of their daily diet. There are lots of fresh treat options better than corn available to hamsters. Hamsters enjoy dandelion greens, broccoli, kale, spinach, asparagus, and even sweet potato.
Consider feeding your hamster a high-quality commercial food that does not have corn in it, like Oxbow Essentials Healthy Handfuls Gerbil & Hamster food. This will help you ensure that your hamster’s nutritional needs are being met without the consumption of low-nutrient calories.
Featured Image: keem1201, Pixabay