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Home > Hamsters > Can Hamsters Eat Pistachios? Vet-Approved Nutritional Science & Info

Can Hamsters Eat Pistachios? Vet-Approved Nutritional Science & Info

Can Hamsters Eat Pistachio

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Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Hamsters love 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 if pistachios are safe for hamsters to eat, the good news is that yes, they are!

As long as they’re unsalted, unseasoned, and deshelled, pistachios are safe for hamsters to eat in moderation.

Pistachios & Hamsters

Unsalted, unseasoned, deshelled pistachios aren’t toxic for hamsters. As omnivores, hamsters find pistachios to be palatable. However, they aren’t particularly healthy. When it comes to assessing pistachios nutritionally, a good starting point is looking at their key nutritional information.

Nutritional Information of Pistachios (100 grams / 3.5 oz.), Raw
  • Total Energy: 561–598 kcal (cal)
  • Fat: 45 grams (g)
  • Protein: 20.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 27.7 g
  • Fiber: 7 g
  • Water: 3.95 g
  • Calcium: 117 milligrams (mg)
  • Magnesium: 110 mg
  • Phosphorus: 500 mg
  • Potassium: 947 mg

Although pistachios are high in fat, they contain slightly lower levels of fat compared to some other nuts. For example, pecans contain around 75 grams of fat (per 100 grams/3.5 oz.).1

Nonetheless, pistachios are incredibly nutrient dense, and even a teaspoon (around 5 grams) of pistachios contains slightly more calories than what an average (100-gram/3.5-oz.) Syrian hamster would require in a day. So, while nutritious, pistachios should be strictly portion controlled. Overconsumption would quickly lead to multiple issues.

Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

Nutritional Downsides of Pistachios

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 inflammatory issues, diabetes, and arthritis.

Your hamster may also experience an upset stomach if they consume pistachios. This often manifests as lethargy, a loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Please note that diarrhea is especially debilitating for hamsters and requires prompt veterinary care.

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 hamster, even a little bit of salt or seasoning can be enough to upset their digestive system.

The shells of many nuts may contain harmful pathogens (such as Aspergillus), which can sometimes cause health issues for hamsters. This risk also remains somewhat relevant if a pistachio’s shell is partially open and not completely closed.


How to Feed Your Hamster Pistachios Safely

If you’re ready to try feeding pistachios to your hamster, it’s best to first check with your vet.

We recommend starting with a ¼ teaspoon of pistachios 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.
  • 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, we strongly 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 pellet food and hay first, and then offer them a treat, like a pistachio, 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.

hamster eating pistachio nut
Image credit: Anna Sobolewska, Shutterstock

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.divider-multiprint

Can Hamsters Eat Pistachio Shells?

Always remove the shell before offering a pistachio to your hamster. The shells of nuts may contain naturally occurring pathogens that can be harmful to pets.

pistachios-pixabay (3)
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay


Final Thoughts

Many hamsters love the tastes and textures of different foods, and pistachios are healthy nuts that all varieties of hamsters can enjoy in moderation. Pistachios do contain a range of nutrients 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 your pet anything new. Keep an eye on your hamster to check that they’re handling the new food well. It isn’t advisable to feed the shells of pistachios and other nuts to a hamster.

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

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