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Can Hamsters Eat Pistachios? Vet-Reviewed Nutritional Facts & FAQ

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

Close Up Photo of Bunch of Pistachios

Vet approved

Dr. Amanda Charles Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

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

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Hamsters are omnivores and opportunistic feeders that eat a mixture of seeds, grains, insects and plants in the wild. In captivity, hamsters require a balanced and varied diet to keep healthy. Although hamsters should get most of their daily nutrients from commercial hamster food, you can offer them various tasty treats too.

Pistachio nuts are a good example of a tasty treat that hamsters can enjoy alongside their main diet. However, that is only if the pistachios are unseasoned and fed sparingly.

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Feeding Pistachios to Hamsters

Here’s everything you need to know about feeding pistachio nuts to hamsters.

Is It Safe?

Yes, pistachios are generally safe for hamsters as a treat. Pistachios are not toxic nor are they known to cause any serious health issues when fed to hamsters in moderation. Some forms of pistachio nuts are safer than others and therefore better to feed to your hamster. You will need to ensure that the pistachio is unsalted and has no seasonings or additives that could be harmful to hamsters before feeding them.

What to Avoid

Avoid feeding pistachio nuts to your hamster if they contain spices, oils, chocolate coatings, salt, sweeteners, and artificial flavorings. Rinsing the nut under water to remove the additives is unlikely to make it safe for hamsters. Only plain raw or dry-roasted pistachio nuts are safe for hamsters to eat.

Most stores usually sell pistachios that contain salt or other seasonings like chili and saffron for flavor. While these additives taste good for humans, they are not safe for hamsters to eat. Furthermore, the seasonings commonly added to pistachios are either too salty, or spicy, or contain additional ingredients that are dangerous for hamsters.

Pistachios
Photo Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

Nutritional Benefits

One 0.7 gram (g) raw pistachio nut has the following nutritional value.

Protein: 0.141 g
Fat: 0.317 g
Fiber: 0.074 g
Potassium: 7.14 milligrams (mg)
Vitamin C: 0.039 mg
Vitamin B6: 0.012 mg
Vitamin E: 0.02 mg

Pistachios are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber which are beneficial to hamsters. Essential minerals like potassium found in pistachios are necessary for their muscle and bone health.

Pistachios are a source of vitamins B6, E, and K which hamsters need for several bodily functions. Vitamins B6 and E are necessary for a hamster’s nervous system functions and muscle maintenance, along with other important functions.

Furthermore, pistachios offer hamsters a decent amount of fiber which is beneficial for their digestive health. Fiber helps to keep hamsters full and may regulate their bowel movements.

Pistachios are high in fat, although hamsters need a certain amount of fat in their diet, too much can lead to weight gain and eventual obesity. Obese hamsters are at increased risk of many serious health concerns such as diabetes.

hamster on wooden table
Photo Credit: Remus Rigo, Shutterstock

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Which Species of Hamster Can Eat Pistachios?

All five main species of domesticated hamsters can eat pistachios as an occasional treat, including:

  • Syrian hamsters
  • Winter White dwarf hamsters
  • Campbells dwarf hamsters
  • Roborovski hamsters
  • Chinese hamsters

Regardless of their species, pistachio nuts should not make up a large percentage of a hamster’s diet.

According to experts at PetMD, hamsters need a diet high in protein and carbohydrates and low in fat and fiber. However, your hamster’s main source of nutrition should be from a species-appropriate pellet food. Their food should be fortified with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin E and calcium. Many hamster owners will include a small amount of seed mix to encourage their hamsters to forage like would in the wild, but this should only be used to supplement a pellet diet.

Feeding Guidelines and Preparation

The safety of pistachios does not vary between species, but the portion size should. The Syrian hamster, which is the largest species, can eat up to two plain pistachio nuts at a time no more than once a week. Whereas the smaller species like the dwarves, Roborovski, and Chinese hamsters should only eat one pistachio nut. The pistachio nut should be unseasoned, unsalted, and shelled. There is no special preparation needed to feed pistachios to hamsters. Contact your veterinarian for specific nutritional advice relating to your hamster.

Pistachio
Photo Credit: sunnysun0804, Pixabay

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How often can hamsters eat pistachios?

Hamsters should only be fed pistachios as an occasional treat around once a week. Pistachios shouldn’t be fed often, and ideally in rotation with other safe treats like veggies and fruits. Hamsters can become picky over the foods, and they eat and favor pistachio nuts over their main diet. This may lead to weight gain issues and nutritional deficiencies in the long run.


2. Are raw or dry-roasted pistachios safe for hamsters?

Both raw and dry roasted pistachios are safe for hamsters to eat if they are plain and contain no additives. Raw pistachios typically contain more moisture and nutrients than the dry roasted form. However, dry-roasted pistachios may have a slightly higher fat and caloric content. Whether the pistachio is raw or dry roasted, it is important to ensure that the nut is free from additives.


3. Can hamsters eat salted pistachios?

No, hamsters should never eat salted pistachios because it is not good for them. Even though the pistachios might appear to only have a tiny amount of salt, it is not safe for hamsters. Salt can be incredibly dangerous for hamsters even in small quantities, because it may lead to dehydration or sodium toxicosis. Dehydration is a serious issue for these small rodents and can even be fatal without prompt veterinary treatment.

hamster eating sunflower seed
Image Credit: stock_shot, Shutterstock

4. Can hamsters eat pistachio shells?

While most hamsters have no issue opening up a pistachio shell on their own, we recommend removing the shells before offering them to your pet. The shells are not digestible and best removed to avoid any potential risks.


5. Can hybrid dwarf hamsters eat pistachios?

Yes, hybrid dwarf hamsters can safely eat pistachio nuts. Hybrid dwarf hamsters are a mixed breed between two hamster species—the Winter White and Campbell dwarf. Most dwarf hamsters sold in pet stores are hybrids. It is rare to find purebred dwarf hamsters these days, usually only from a reputable breeder who records their breeding stocks’ genetic history.


6. Are chocolate-covered pistachios safe for hamsters to eat?

No, hamsters should never eat chocolate-coated pistachios because chocolate is toxic for them. Chocolate contains caffeine and the structurally similar compound theobromine which are dangerous for hamsters to ingest.

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In Conclusion

Hamsters can eat raw or dry roasted pistachios around once a week alongside a species-appropriate diet. Syrian hamsters can eat two pistachios or so, but smaller species should only eat one pistachio at a time. Always double-check that the pistachios you feed to your hamster are unsalted, unseasoned, and have no chocolate or wasabi coating.


Featured Image Credit: Alexis Lozano, Pexels

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