If it’s movie night and you’re indulging in your favorite snack, you might want to know if your hamster can join you, and the good news is, hamsters can eat popcorn! However, it must be plain, totally popped, with no added salt, sugar, or flavorings.
If you give them plain popcorn, your hamster might actually get some nutritional benefit, but it must be a rare treat and not part of their regular menu.
What Benefit Could Popcorn Have?
It might surprise you to learn that popcorn can be nutritionally beneficial, as it’s not something any of us associate with healthy food – but it’s actually the toppings that tend to be unhealthy. Loaded with salt, butter, sugar, or other heavy flavorings, it’s quite unhealthy us, but the popcorn itself is okay.
Plain popcorn is low calorie, low sugar, low salt, and low fat. You can feed a small amount to your hamster and it will get fiber, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other benefits. That sounds pretty good to us!
So next movie night, you can share your popcorn bucket with your little pal while you relax and watch a film together.
What If I Give My Hamster Popcorn With Toppings?
It will depend to some extent on what the topping is, but generally, you shouldn’t do this. Hamsters are prone to diabetes and obesity, which means you need to be careful about what you feed them.
Popcorn covered in butter, salt, or sugar could have serious impacts on their health. Remember that they are tiny creatures, and can’t handle large quantities of these things. Even if you only feed them a couple of pieces, the ratio of sugar or salt will be high, and could make them ill.
Sugary popcorn can also cause their teeth to rot, and lead to issues such as diabetes. Excessive salt can lead to kidney failure.
Other toppings, such as cheese, are also not safe. That might surprise you, because a tiny bit of cheese is okay for hamsters. However, the cheese dust on popcorn usually has lots of additives and might also contain onion or garlic powder, which is toxic for hamsters.
Cheesy popcorn could also contribute to weight gain, and you don’t want your little buddy getting fat.
That all sounds horrible, so if you want to share popcorn with your hamster, keep your little friend safe and make sure it’s plain.
What About Unpopped Kernels?
This might seem like a good idea if you’ve got unpopped kernels hanging around. After all, hamsters like to gnaw on things. They can eat (and usually love) corn on the cob, so can they eat these kernels?
No, they can’t unfortunately. Popcorn kernels are very hard and your hamster might choke on them. Alternatively, they may decide to stash lots of them in their cheeks, which could cause a cheek impaction if they leave them there.
It’s best just to share your popped corn with your little buddy, and discard unpopped kernels. You can’t eat them, and nor should your hamster.
How Much Popcorn Can They Have And How Often?
Think of popcorn as a rare treat. It’s not something you should be feeding to your hamster on a regular basis or including in their little “hamster menu.” If you’ve got a bowl yourself, it’s fine to share a little, but don’t start doing this every week.
You should probably only give your hamster half a piece of popcorn. If it’s never had popcorn before, start with even less, and wait a few days to make sure your hamster is okay before you give it popcorn again. If popcorn doesn’t agree with your hamster’s tummy, you don’t want to have fed it large amounts!
If your hamster seems to be able to manage digesting popcorn, you can share a couple of kernels while you’re munching, broken into small parts. Don’t let your hamster go and bury huge amounts; popcorn should be eaten then and there, so you know it’s not going to overload on popcorn later.
A piece or even two in a week should be fine for a Syrian hamster. If you have a smaller hamster, cut the amount; you don’t want to fill their tiny tummies up on junk food when they need space for proper nutrition.
Even if your little Hamster loves popcorn, don’t let him go nuts in the bucket. It’s important that you as the owner limit what your furry friend eats, and that does involve keeping them from overindulging on treat foods like popcorn.