Pumpkin seeds are often marketed as a “superfood”, packed with nutrients. They’re an excellent snack for humans and pumpkin seeds can be very beneficial to hamsters as well. In general, almost every hamster will enjoy having a few pumpkin seeds in their food.
Pumpkin seeds are readily available at most grocery stores, but they’re just easy to make and prepare at home. If you’ve been considering adding them to your hamster’s diet, read on for more information about the benefits and side effects of pumpkin seeds.
About Hamster Diets
Hamsters are famous for their cheek pouches, which they happily use as storage for food in the wild. They fill their cheek pouches and go back to their dens, eating, or storing their findings. Their diet is mostly seeds, fruit, vegetation, and even insects, making them omnivorous scavengers. Hamsters only eat around 1 to 2 tablespoons of food a day and will store the rest in a hiding spot in case they can’t scavenge at a later time.
Your pet hamster needs to have a diet that reflects their natural one, which should include seeds, fruit, vegetables, and hamster pellets. The pellets should be bought based on age since pellets are made to ensure your hamster has a complete and balanced diet at its current life stage. Fresh, clean water should be available at all times as well, especially since hamsters are prone to dehydration.
Can Hamsters Eat Pumpkin Seeds? Can All Breeds of Hamsters Eat Them?
Yes, hamsters can eat pumpkin seeds, and there are plenty of reasons for them to do so. They’re very nutrient-dense and can complete your hamster’s diet, even with only a few seeds added per day. Pumpkin seeds are a great way to change up your hamster’s typical variety, especially to the larger species of hamsters. In addition to seeds, pumpkin flesh itself is safe for hamsters to consume as well.
Are Pumpkin Seeds Healthy for Hamsters?
Yes! Pumpkin seeds are not only tasty, but they’re highly nutritious and can provide multiple benefits.
Almost half of a pumpkin seed’s nutrition is from its fat content. This makes pumpkin seeds very nutrient-dense and a great way to offer a hamster large amounts of calories from a very small meal. Most of these fats are unsaturated, otherwise known as the “good fats”—although it is worth noting that 8.5 grams of fats are saturated, which are sometimes referred to as the “bad fats”.
Pumpkin seeds can be offered to your pet with their shell. In fact, this is recommended, as your pet will spend some time opening up the seed. Hamsters that are kept as pets or in captivity need to have their teeth trimmed to prevent them from growing uncomfortably long. The pumpkin seed shells are tough enough to help grind down the teeth as they chew, which in turn helps keep the teeth at a comfortable length. It also serves as a form of enrichment.
Another often overlooked benefit of pumpkin seeds is that they have a healthy amount of fiber, which is beneficial for a hamster’s diet. Hamsters have a digestive system that favors a high fiber diet and therefore, pumpkin seeds are a good addition to your pet’s diet.
Downsides of Pumpkin Seeds
No food item is without its downsides, and pumpkin seeds are no exception to this rule. The main issue with pumpkin seeds is that they are very nutrient dense. This means that overconsumption of these seeds will quickly lead to a pet that’s obese. Hamsters may anecdotally also prefer pumpkin seeds over other seeds, and repeatedly being fed pumpkin seeds might lead to a pet that refuses to eat anything else. Therefore, moderation is key when offering your hamster pumpkin seeds.
Serving Pumpkin Seeds to Your Hamster
The number of pumpkin seeds you feed your hamster depends on what breed, especially for dwarf hamster breeds. If you have a smaller breed, only one or two pumpkin seeds offered once a week should do. For larger hamsters, 2 or 3 pumpkin seeds should suffice. If your hamster has never had pumpkin seeds before, we recommend starting with half of a seed or one full seed.
Both raw and baked pumpkin seeds are safe for hamsters, but raw seeds are preferred due to the hard shell. Baked seeds should be unsalted since salt can cause dehydration, which is much harder to detect early in hamsters. Hamsters also tend to avoid salted foods, and might not readily accept a salted pumpkin seed.
Flavored pumpkin seeds should be avoided outright, especially any with onion or garlic spices. They can be dangerous and even fatal for hamsters, so stick to plain, unsalted pumpkin seeds instead.
What Should Not Be Fed to Hamsters?
Hamsters can eat a wide variety of things, from alfalfa hay to insects. They are opportunistic eaters and enjoy eating, but there are things that hamsters should not eat. Some food can be outright fatal, so it’s crucial to be able to identify safe and toxic food. Here is a list of foods that can be toxic to hamsters:
Please note that this list isn’t comprehensive. In addition, please be mindful that even decaffeinated coffee or decaffeinated beverages are very dangerous for hamsters.
Hamsters love to eat and snack throughout the day, their meals ranging from small pieces of fruit to insects if the opportunity arises. Pumpkin seeds can help their diets quite a bit, especially hamsters being kept as pets. They’re easy to get and can be prepared raw or at home, making them an easy and inexpensive addition to your hamster’s meals.
If you’re considering feeding your hamster some pumpkin seeds, try adding one seed at a time and keep an eye out for any adverse side effects. You can even feed your hamster the pumpkin fruit, making pumpkin a versatile food for your pet.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay