One of the most important parts of being an owner is ensuring your hamster is fed a diet that contains the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs to thrive.
Hamsters should be fed store-bought pellets, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, and treats.
Also, giving your hamster grains, like oats, helps round out its diet. While feeding hamsters oats is good for their health, there are some kinds of oats hamsters shouldn’t eat.
Do Hamsters Like Oats?
Mixing up the variety of foods you feed your hamster can make mealtimes fun and exciting. You probably don’t like eating the same food constantly, and hamsters feel the same way.
Animal Behaviour stated that when given a choice between foods they eat often and foods they’ve been restricted from eating, most hamsters choose the restricted food.
Hamsters like eating oats, but consumption should be moderated, as with all food you give to a hamster.
Are Oats Good for Hamsters?
Oats are very good for hamsters. Nutrition Reviews stated that oats contain b-glucan, a soluble fiber that helps reduce cholesterol. A group of Syrian hamsters with high cholesterol were regularly given oats for a few weeks, and their cholesterol levels were reduced.
Unfortunately, the National Library of Medicine: National Center for Biotechnology Information found that the use of oats for feeding animals has declined due to increased human consumption. However, this should be even more reason to feed oats to hamsters.
In addition to healthy fiber, oats have properties that improve hamsters’ health, such as:
- Antioxidants – These boost the immune system and reduce the risk of diseases.
- Protein – Protein helps muscle health, improves hormones and enzyme levels, and increases energy.
- Manganese – Assists with regulating brain function and the nervous system.
Oats also help to regulate blood sugar. Since hamsters are susceptible to developing diabetes, feeding oats to hamsters could lower the risk.
What Kind of Oats Can Hamsters Eat?
The main differences between the types of oats are how they’ve been processed or cut and whether they have added flavorings or are plain.
The types of oats include porridge oats, rolled oats, steel-cut oats, quick oats, and instant oats. Most of these oats are hamster-safe, but there are some that you shouldn’t feed your hamster.
These are the types of oats that you can safely feed to hamsters in moderation:
Porridge oats are the cooked form of oats, also known as oatmeal. In porridge form, oats are soft and mushy. However, the texture may be a deal-breaker for some hamsters who may prefer dry oats instead.
Before giving porridge to your hamster, ensure they’ve cooled completely.
Rolled oats are also sometimes called whole oats or old-fashioned oats. After they’ve been processed, rolled oats are flat and round with uneven edges and have a slight texture.
During processing, whole oats are steamed to soften them and pressed flat. The cooking time for rolled oats is much faster than some of the other types of oats.
Your hamster can eat rolled oats dry or cooked.
Steel-cut oats are also sometimes referred to as Scottish or Irish oats. During processing, the whole oats are chopped into pieces.
This makes them resemble pieces of rice that have been cut up. They have a naturally nutty flavor that other types of oats don’t have.
Steel-cut oats take the longest of all the oat types to cook, which may make them less than ideal if you want to give your hamster cooked oats.
Quick oats have been partially cooked during the manufacturing process, which makes them faster to make than other types of oats. They’re essentially just rolled oats that have been semi-prepared already.
They’re rolled extra thin and fine during processing to reduce the cooking time. This will be handy if you decide to feed your hamster cooked oats.
They have a mild flavor and a soft, mushy texture when cooked.
Many people confuse quick oats with instant oats; they’re not the same but similar.
Unlike instant oats, quick oats contain only the oats and don’t have any added preservatives or flavorings.
Oats Unsafe for Hamsters
These are the only two oat types that you shouldn’t feed to hamsters:
Instant oats are rolled oats that have gone through extensive processing to make them cook much faster. They’ve been precooked and dried, so you must add hot water and mix.
Instant oats usually contain many added preservatives and flavorings, so they’re not the healthiest choice of oats. Many preservatives, flavorings, and added sugars are unhealthy, so instant oats shouldn’t be given to your hamster.
Honey Bunches of Oats
Honey Bunches of Oats is a breakfast cereal with oats and honey, but it isn’t healthy. It contains high amounts of added sugars and preservatives and is low in protein and fiber.
Can Hamsters Eat Uncooked Oatmeal?
You can feed cooked or uncooked oats to hamsters, and you may find that it prefers one over the other.
An alternative to feeding a hamster cooked or dry oats is to soak them in water to soften them.
How To Make Oats for Hamsters
Choose unflavored oats, such as the Original Quaker Oats oatmeal flakes, to give your hamster the healthiest option.
The added sugars and preservatives in many flavored and instant oats aren’t good for hamsters. Giving hamsters pieces of fruit that contain natural sugars is a much better option.
However, even natural sugars can be bad if eaten too much, even for people, so you should give your hamster sweet treats in moderation.
However, if you want to add flavoring to your hamster’s oatmeal, you can put a small amount of honey on the oats. If you choose to use honey, make sure you use raw honey.
Raw honey is all-natural and unpasteurized, so it contains properties that will benefit your hamster’s health. The label on the jar will say “raw, unpasteurized honey,” so you’ll know you’re getting the best kind for your hamster.
Regular honey has been through the pasteurization process, removing most, if not all, health benefits. Regular honey sometimes contains added sugars making it much sweeter and more unhealthy than raw honey.
The occasional oats and raw honey treat would be a nice addition to your hamster’s diet. You could also mix oats and raw honey with mashed bananas as a new and interesting treat for your hamster.
How Often Can Hamsters Eat Oats?
Oats should be used as the occasional treat for your hamster. Overfeeding oats to your hamster can lead to digestive issues such as bloating and upset stomach.
Oats contain fiber, which is good for regulating the bowels. However, too much fiber can cause diarrhea, which is something you don’t want your hamster to have.
If your hamster fills up on too many oats, becomes bloated, or has an upset stomach, it won’t want to eat much of the other foods it needs to stay healthy.
Try limiting the oats to once or twice a week as a special treat in addition to their regular food.