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Can Hamsters Eat Oats? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

oats

Vet approved

Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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Hamsters are adorable little creatures that make popular pets due to their small size and simple care requirements. They primarily eat commercial pellets and hay, but you can occasionally give them different foods as treats.

One popular food that many people wonder about is oats, which are inexpensive and already in most pantries. Fortunately, hamsters can eat oats, but keep reading as we list their pros and cons and provide tips and tricks for properly feeding them to your pet.

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Can Hamsters Eat Oats?

While oats offer several nutritional advantages to hamsters, you should serve them in moderation. A small portion about once or twice a week is sufficient. Choose plain, unflavored, uncooked rolled oats. Instant oats and flavored oatmeal are unsuitable for hamsters due to the added sugars and flavorings.

Oats
Image Credit: fotoblend, Pixabay

The Nutritional Benefits of Oats

  • Fiber: Oats are a great source of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and helps prevent constipation in hamsters.
  • Protein: Hamsters require a moderate amount of protein in their diet, and oats can contribute to meeting this requirement.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Oats contain B vitamins and minerals like manganese and phosphorus, which are beneficial for hamster health.
  • Low in Fat: Oats are low in fat, which is important because hamsters do not handle fatty foods well.

Potential Risks of Feeding Oats to Your Hamster

  • Sugar and Flavorings: Many types of instant oatmeal contain added sugars, flavoring, and other ingredients that can harm your pet and the extra calories can lead to weight gain. It’s best to feed your hamster only plain, rolled oats.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: The high fiber content of rolled oats can lead to loose stools or diarrhea in your hamster if they eat too much. It’s important to monitor them closely, especially the first few feedings, to ensure that they don’t have any issues.
hamster eating peanuts
Image Credit: IRINA ORLOVA, Shutterstock

How to Feed Oats to Your Hamster

  1. Provide plain, uncooked rolled oats. Ensure that they are free of any additives or flavorings.
  2. Offer a small amount, this will vary depending on the size of your hamster. Ask your vet for specific feeding guidelines.
  3. Supervise your hamster while they eat oats for the first time to ensure that they don’t hoard the oats or have any adverse reactions.
  4. Remove any uneaten oats from your hamster’s enclosure after they’ve finished their treat. Oats left in the cage can attract pests and may spoil.

What Do Hamsters Eat?

Hamsters are omnivores that can eat both plants and animals, just like humans. In the wild, they primarily stick to grass, seeds, and insects, but as pets, they eat mainly commercial pellets that provide the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, and other important nutrients. However, pet owners can provide a wide variety of other foods as treats, including oats, greens, seeds, carrots, apples, peas, peppers, and cucumbers.

hamster eating a raisin
Image Credit: Rsinha, Shutterstock

Tips for Feeding Your Hamster a Healthy Diet

  • Use high-quality commercial hamster food as the primary component of your hamster’s diet. Choose a reputable brand, and follow the feeding guidelines on the packaging.
  • Offer a variety of foods to ensure that your hamster receives a broad range of nutrients. Include small amounts of grains, vegetables, and animal-based protein sources like mealworms or a small amount of lean, cooked meat.
  • Always provide fresh, clean water in a water bottle. Ensure that the water is changed regularly to prevent contamination.
  • Provide treats sparingly. Fruits, vegetables, and occasional hamster-safe treats can add variety, but too many treats can disrupt the overall balance of their diet.
  • Hamsters do not tolerate fatty foods well. Keep treats like sunflower seeds to a minimum.
  • Change the types of foods that you offer frequently to prevent dietary monotony and ensure a balanced intake of nutrients.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should I Feed Oats to My Hamster?

Feed oats only in moderation once or twice per week as treats. They should not be a significant part of your hamster’s daily diet.

Can Hamsters Have Oat-Based Products Like Oatmeal Cookies or Granola Bars?

No, oatmeal cookies or granola bars contain sugars and other additives unsuitable for hamsters. Stick to plain, uncooked rolled oats.

Can My Hamster Have Dietary Sensitivities or Allergies to Oats?

Some hamsters may have sensitivities or allergies to specific foods. If you notice any adverse reactions after giving oats to your hamster, contact a veterinarian for guidance.

Can Hamsters Eat Cooked Oats?

It’s best to offer uncooked rolled oats to hamsters. Cooked oats may alter their nutritional content and texture, making them less suitable for hamsters.

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Summary

Oats can be great treats for your pet hamster as long as you stick to plain, uncooked rolled oats that don’t contain any added sugars or flavoring. Give them small amounts once or twice weekly, and monitor them closely for any signs of an adverse reaction, as some hamsters may be allergic to them, and they may also cause diarrhea. Oats can provide your pet with diversity in their diet and plenty of healthy nutrients, like protein, fiber, and B vitamins.

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Featured Image Credit: Martin_Hetto, Pixabay

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