Pumpkin seeds are a highly nutritious snack, offering a healthy serving of various vitamins and minerals. But their benefits don’t only apply to us. Pumpkin seeds can be a healthy treat for hamsters.
However, there are some things you should know before giving them to your pet. Read on to learn more about the benefits and risks of pumpkin seeds for hamsters.
The 4 Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of several essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals like magnesium and vitamin K. They’re also a good source of dietary fiber, protein, and antioxidants like vitamin E.1
Fiber plays a vital role in the health of the digestive system, so it’s critical for hamsters to prevent issues like constipation. According to the USDA, a 100-gram serving of unsalted pumpkin seeds has 6.5 grams of fiber! Please note, however, that 100 grams is an awful lot (about 3/4 of a cup), much more than you’d ever be offering your hamster in one sitting.
Though hamsters are often mistaken as herbivorous creatures, they’re actually omnivores that require some animal protein in their diet. The most natural protein sources are bugs like mealworms or crickets, but other protein sources like cooked and unseasoned meat or eggs are okay, too. Pumpkin seeds offer 29.8 grams of plant protein per 100-gram serving, so while the seeds are not an animal derived source of protein, they can still boost your hamster’s daily protein quotient.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of vitamin E, which can benefit your hamster’s muscle and reproductive health. They also contain vitamin K, which is required for blood clotting.
Pumpkin seeds contain a lot of magnesium (550 mg per 100-gram serving), which studies show is necessary for cardiovascular health in hamsters.2
What Are the Risks of Pumpkin Seeds?
The biggest problem with pumpkin seeds is that they’re high in fat and calories; a diet with an excess of either can lead to obesity. A 100-gram portion rings in at a whopping 574 calories with 49 grams of fat. Hamsters can easily become overweight, so you need to be careful with what you feed them. Obesity can cause secondary issues such as diabetes and vascular problems.
How to Offer Pumpkin Seeds to Hamsters
Pumpkin seeds can be offered both raw and baked. We recommend giving your hamster the seed raw in its shell, as opening the shell can be a fun and enriching activity. However, if you offer baked or roasted seeds, it’s best to cook them yourself. The kind you buy from the store may be salted or contain other seasonings that may harm your pet. Luckily, roasting your own pumpkin seeds is super easy.
Use a large spoon to remove the raw seeds from the pumpkin. Separate them from the stringy and fleshy parts of the fruit and put them in a colander to rinse them and remove any leftover pulp. Dry the seeds as much as possible with a towel to help them crisp up during cooking. Pop them in a preheated 350-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, tossing every few minutes to encourage even browning. Make sure they are completely cool before offering them to your hammy.
How Many Pumpkin Seeds Can I Give My Hamster?
The number of pumpkin seeds you can safely offer your hamster will depend on his breed and weight. Speak to your vet about how many you can offer but in general, these treats are best avoided in hamsters that are already overweight. One or two a week should be ok for a healthy hamster.
We recommend starting with just half a seed or one single seed if your pet has never had them. This will ensure his body has time to adjust to the new food in small quantities before you offer him more.
Pumpkin seeds are a healthy and tasty treat most hamsters enjoy. Since they’ll provide your little buddy with a good dose of nutrients, they’re a great snack you can offer once a week. Remember to practice moderation as these seeds are high in calories and fat and can contribute to obesity and its related conditions.