To my surprise, this might be the least asked question about hamsters’ food choices among all kinds of human food. As a curious new hamster owner like many others, you may argue that it is not an interesting question worth asking or searching on the internet, because sunflower seed is a typical plant seed, which hamsters will take in as their main food in the wild.
However, as an expert in keeping hamsters, I have to warn you that though the correct answer is yes, but not a yes that absolute as you may have considered it to be.
In this article, I will fully explain why hamsters can eat sunflower seed, and give suggestions on offering them sunflower seed.
YES and why
As I have stressed for many times, scientific researches have revealed that the ideal feeding plan for hamsters is the one they apply in a less brutal wild environment with all kinds products, so that they can choose the food according to their own need driving by natural instincts. When we take a look at the region’s pet hamster’s origin, the question will not be so confusing anymore.
Most hamster species we keep as pets nowadays come from east Asia and Siberia, where sunflowers are widely planted as welcoming economical oil-bearing crops. It is not hard to imagine that hamsters in the wild will choose the sunflower seed as a perfect resource of fat. Therefore, it is out of the question that hamsters can eat sunflower seeds.
Sunflower seeds are rich in unsaturated fatty acid and vitamin E, which are both vital nutrition in anti-aging and preventing many kinds of heart diseases.
Sunflower seeds also contain more potassium compared with other common nuts and plant seeds, which contributes to protecting heart functions and preventing hamsters from fatal hypertension.
The advantage of sunflower seeds also lies in the diversified plant sterols, phospholipids, and microelements, which work together to benefit the physical health of our hamsters from many aspects.
The key is controlling the amount.
Though I may have mentioned the rationality and the advantages of sunflower seeds as food for hamsters, unfortunately, the sunflower seeds cannot be the daily main food for pet hamsters. The reason is that sunflower seeds contain too much fat.
We may take commercial hamster food as an example. The popular commercial hamster food may not be the most delicious nor the healthiest feeding plan, but with doubt, they are the safest ones according to hundreds of thousands of experiments completed by hamster food companies.
When we search for the most popular commercial hamster food on Amazon and read the ingredients of them, we will easily find that the main part of them is always corn, oats, wheat, milo, and sometimes millet.
By looking at their nutrition in detail furtherly, it is easy to find that corn, wheat, oats, and milo each contain 3.8 grams, 9.7 grams, 1.3 grams, and 1.7 grams of fat in every 100 grams of dried materials, while sunflower seeds contain astonishingly 47.7 grams of fat in 100 grams of edible part.
The disadvantage of fat is obvious. Firstly, fat contributes most to obesity, which will trigger all kinds of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. The connection between obesity and these fatal diseases is so close that the faint advantage brought by unsaturated fatty acid and vitamin E in the sunflower seeds can be largely ignored. What’s worse, motivated by their natural instinct, hamsters prefer those food rich in fat, which provides energy directly for them.
As a result, once they get used to daily sunflower seeds, they would refuse plain food like corn or wheat. The preference will worsen the health issues and the feeding plan will become a vicious cycle.
The consequence of too much sunflower seeds may sound serious, but I still recommend it to you as a perfect choice of treats for your fluffy.
Firstly, the sunflower seeds are attractive enough to play the role of a luring treat because of its high concentration of fat. Besides, among popular treatment options, sunflower seeds may be the most natural, healthiest choice compared with the commercial ones with artificial attractants and additive.
Even as threats, the number of sunflower seeds our fluffy taking in should also be limited. Normally, five or six pieces each time for hamsters and two or three pieces each time for dwarf hamster species. In my opinion, three treat times every week is a reasonable frequency.
Buying some is the easiest access to sunflower seeds for your fluffy obviously. However, as far as I know, in many regions, local stores only have flavored ones for human beings, which is strictly forbidden from hamsters because they bring too much burden to their kidneys. Therefore, you can purchase some raw sunflower seeds and simply bake them in the oven. If permitted, you may even plant some sunflowers in your garden and harvest them in the autumn. After all, the sunflower itself is a brilliant decoration.
In conclusion, hamsters are free to have sunflower seeds, but only plain ones, and the amount should be controlled by you strictly.