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Can Hamsters Eat Pistachios? What You Need to Know!

Emma Stenhouse

May 24, 2021

Hamsters love the interest and enrichment of enjoying treats alongside their regular food, and it can be super fun for us owners to watch our small furry friends enjoying the tastes of different treats. You might have a few regular treats that you give your hamster, like carrots or broccoli, but if you’re anything like us, you’re probably on the lookout for other treats to add variety.

Not all foods that seem safe to us are actually good for your hamster, so it’s important to check before you give your hamster something new. If you’ve been wondering “are pistachios are safe for hamsters to eat?”, then the good news is that yes, they are!

As long as they’re unsalted and deshelled, pistachios are safe for hamsters to eat.divider-hamster

Good things about pistachios

Pistachios are high in potassium, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin B6.

Potassium is used to help build healthy muscles and bones. It can also help reduce high blood pressure and prevent both fatigue and constipation.

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Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

Antioxidants help protect your hamster’s body against free radicals that can damage healthy cells within their bodies.Fiber can help keep your hamster’s digestive system functioning correctly, reducing the risk of them suffering from gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea or constipation.

Vitamin B6 can help maintain healthy levels of red blood cells within your hamster’s bloodstream, as well as keep their nervous system functioning correctly. Vitamin B6 can also improve the health of your hamster’s skin.

Bad things about pistachios

Pistachios contain many beneficial ingredients, but they’re also relatively high in cholesterols and fats. Given the tiny size of hamsters, too many pistachios can lead to them gaining an unhealthy amount of weight.

Obesity can lead to a variety of health concerns for hamsters, including diabetes and arthritis.

Your hamster may love the taste and texture of pistachios but could struggle to digest them. This can result in gastrointestinal upsets, including bloating, diarrhea, or constipation.

Hamsters also love hoarding away food for later, and while this is fine with their dried or pelleted food, storing fresh food can lead to it spoiling within their cage.

Store-bought pistachios often come covered in salt or other seasonings. Even if you remove the shell, there may be seasoning remaining. For a small creature like a hamster, even a little bit of salt or seasoning can be enough to upset their digestive systems.divider-multipet

How to feed your hamster pistachios safely

If you’re ready to try feeding your hamster some pistachios, it’s best to first check with your vet. They may want to check what variety of hamster you have, as their adult size will determine how many pistachios your hamster should get.

hamster eating pistachio nut
Image credit: Anna Sobolewska, Shutterstock

We recommend starting with a ¼ of a pistachio for any variety of hamster. After your hamster has eaten this, keep an eye on their overall behavior over the next 48 hours, to make sure this food hasn’t caused any digestive issues or allergies.

Look out for:
  • If a hamster eats a non-food item, like their bedding or poop, the scientific term for this is pica. This can be a sign that they’re having trouble digesting whatever food you’ve given them, as pica can be a way for your hamster to try and settle their stomach. If you see your hamster eating something in their cage that they shouldn’t be, we recommend checking that there are no pistachios left in their cage and removing them all if so. Speak to your vet before offering any more of this nut to your hamster.
  • A hamster that isn’t as energetic as normal after eating a new food may be having trouble digesting it.
  • Lack of appetite. If your hamster is feeling uncomfortable after eating something new, they may not be keen on eating their usual food until they start to feel better.
  • Another obvious sign that your hamster is having issues digesting a new food is if they develop loose poop. Left untreated, diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration in hamsters. If your hammy is suffering from diarrhea that continues for more than 24-48 hours, we recommend calling your vet for advice.

You should only ever feed your hamster natural pistachios, with no seasonings like salt or spices.

It’s best to feed your hamster their usual pelleted food first, and then offer them a treat, like pistachios, after they’ve had their fill of their regular food. This way, they’re still getting all the nutritional benefits of their food instead of filling up on a treat first.

How many pistachios can different hamster varieties eat?

The majority of any hamster’s nutrition should always come from their regular food, not their treats. The type and size of your hamster will determine how many pistachios they can eat. If you’re not sure what type of hamster you have, ask your vet before you start feeding them any new foods.

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Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

Syrian & Rowbowski Hamsters

Both of these types of hamsters are the larger varieties and can digest a wider range of foods than some other hamster types. Syrian hamsters can be fed between 1-2 pistachio nuts per week, as part of their supplementary foods, including fresh fruit and vegetables.

Campbell’s Dwarf Hamsters

These small hamsters have more delicate digestive systems than their larger cousins, so it’s best to slowly introduce new foods to their diet under your vet’s instructions. Campbell’s Dwarf Hamsters can have one pistachio nut per week.

Chinese Dwarf Hamsters & Winter White’s Dwarf Hamsters

These little hamsters can be sensitive when it comes to their food, so you definitely want to check with your vet before feeding them anything new. If your vet agrees, you can feed your Chinese Dwarf Hamster one pistachio every 10 days.divider-multiprint

Can hamsters eat pistachio shells?

Always remove the shell before offering your hamster any pistachio. While they might like to gnaw on the shell, if a sharp piece breaks off and they end up swallowing it, this could lead to a dangerous blockage within their gastrointestinal tract.divider-food2

Wrapping it up

Many hamsters love the tastes and textures of different foods, and pistachios are healthy nuts that all varieties of hamsters can enjoy in moderation. Depending on the type of hamster you have, one to two nuts every 7-10 days will be more than enough. Pistachios do contain a range of vitamins and minerals that can be good for your hamster, but these nuts should never be given as a replacement for a well-balanced hamster food.

It’s always a good idea to speak with your hamster’s vet before feeding anything new. Keep an eye on your hamster to check that they’re digesting the new food okay. Never feed unshelled pistachios to your hamster, as the shells can be a choking hazard.

Pistachios can be a great way to add interest to your hamster’s diet, but make sure they’re unsalted, and stick to only feeding very small amounts as an occasional treat.


Featured image credit: Anna Sobolewska, Shutterstock

Emma Stenhouse

Emma is a freelance writer, specializing in writing about pets, outdoor pursuits, and the environment. Originally from the UK, she has lived in Costa Rica and New Zealand before moving to a smallholding in Spain with her husband, their 4-year-old daughter, and their dogs, cats, horses, and poultry. When she's not writing, Emma can be found taking her dogs for walks in the rolling fields around their home...and usually, at least some of the cats come along, too! Emma is passionate about rescuing animals and providing them with a new life after being abandoned or abused. As well as their own four rescue dogs, she also fosters dogs for re-homing, providing them with love and training while searching for their forever homes.