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Can Hamsters Eat Popcorn? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

February 23, 2021

Whoever thought of applying heat to a corn kernel was a genius, no one can deny. Popcorn in every form — from caramel to movie theater butter-style to kettle corn — is a delicious snack choice. But when it comes to giving our furry little hamsters a treat to enjoy, is popcorn a healthy option? In short — yes, your hamster can eat popcorn — but be careful.

While your hamster can eat popcorn, it has to be fully popped and without extras. That means no salt, no butter, no caramel, no sugar. Read on for a full explanation on why you need to steer clear of all seasonings on your hammy’s popcorn.

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Health Benefits of Plain Popcorn for Hamsters

hamster eating popcorn
Image Credit: Katie Larkin, Flickr

Plain popcorn isn’t something that your hamster should have every day, but a piece every once in a while won’t hurt them. The key is to make sure there isn’t anything added to it. Unknown seasonings can harm them — especially if you’re not sure what’s on it.

Your hamster likely won’t eat enough popcorn to reap any real nutritional benefits, but here are some nutritional facts.

Per one ounce, plain popcorn has:

  • Fiber — 3.6 g

Fiber smooths the digestive tract process, keeping your hamster regular.

  • Protein — 3.1 g

Protein provides healthy muscles, skin, and coat.

  • Fat — 1.2 g

Fat gives your hamster the necessary energy.

  • Magnesium

Magnesium regulates nerve and muscle performance.

  • Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 helps their body store energy from protein and carbs.

So, while it does have some perks, it’s really only useful for a nice treat and nothing more. Their main diet consists of a healthy balance of fortified pellets, fruits, and vegetables.

Dangers of Kernels and Seasonings

Your hamster is an omnivore, meaning they eat both plants and insects in the wild. Their diets are pretty straightforward, needing a proper dose of protein, vitamins, and minerals every day. Other things that humans eat are unnatural for your hamster and can make them very sick.

All of the following can have a huge negative impact on your hamster:
  • Butter — butter has far too much fat and oil with absolutely no nutritional value to your hamster.
  • Salt — unlike humans, salt provides no nutritional value to hamsters.
  • Caramel — caramel is sticky, hard to digest, and too sugary for your hamster.
  • Sugar — sugary foods contribute to weight gain, diabetes, and dental decay.
  • Garlic — even garlic salt or powder can cause blood disorders and other problems.

Corn kernels are non-toxic, but they can be choking hazards to your hamster. Always make sure that any pieces you offer are fully popped and free of seasonings.   

Balanced Diet for Hamsters

If you feed them popcorn too often, you can cause an imbalance in their diet. This can lead to lots of other health issues that develop from a lack of proper intake. Your hamster needs lots of other choices, like pellet feed, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

You should never use popcorn as a food substitute, as it doesn’t have enough nutritional value to keep your hamster healthy. So, always make sure to offer your hamster lots of different nutrient-packed foods to replenish their body.

plain popcorn
Image Credit: Alex Munsell, Unsplash

If you fill your hamster’s diet with empty-calorie foods, it can cause malnutrition or obesity, which can lead to a whole other list of health problems. Keep anything outside of their daily diet occasional. Popcorn isn’t something they need every day.

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Hamsters and Popcorn: Final Thoughts

So, as we learned, hamsters can indulge in an occasional plain popcorn puff or two. But it shouldn’t ever be a primary staple of their diet. You should also make sure to feed your hamster fully popped, season-free popcorn with no extras of any kind. You can make your guy or gal seriously sick otherwise.

Hamsters thrive best on an omnivorous diet. Always offer a complete vitamin-fortified bag of hamster food with a well-portioned amount of fruits and veggies.


Featured Image Credit: Georgia Vagim, Unsplash

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.