We look at why you shouldn’t give your hamster corn. Most hamsters absolutely love corn and will pick it out of the bowl first before looking at any other snacks around. The perfect treat for your hamster then, right? Corn is a vegetable, and your hamster loves it. So why shouldn’t you give your hamster lots of corn? Well, this is why…
Why you shouldn’t give your hamster corn. Or not much of it anyway. Scientists stumbled across wild hamsters who had turned to eating their own living babies, yes cannibalism. This unusual behavior – as hamsters don’t eat their living young in the wild – turned out to be due to a change in the diet of these particular hamsters. They had ditched grain, insects and roots and had instead taken up corn as their staple food. Corn was directly attributable to these hamsters turning into cannibals due to a change in their nervous system due to vitamin deficiencies.
Why you shouldn’t give your hamster corn
Why you shouldn’t give your hamster too much corn
There are many lists found on the internet with foods your hamster can and cannot eat. And while many blogs will tell you that you can safely give your hamster corn, there are some things which are very important to know as some hamsters solely fed on corn, turned cannibals. Let’s find out the details.
The Cannibal Hamsters of Northeastern France:
Scientists have discovered wild hamster mothers eating their alive babies. This is very unusual behavior for wild hamsters as they would normally wean their pups. The real shock came when they discovered that not only did they eat their babies alive, but they also put them in their store of corn while they were still alive, to eat later – which they did.
The scientists discovered that the diet of these wild hamsters had changed due to industrial farming having taken over the region.
Normally these hamsters would eat grains, roots and insects, however now some only had access to corn as nothing else would grow in their territory. The pesticides used on the corn and the very poor soil quality meant there was not much else to eat either. So, corn became their staple food.
You’d say, so what’s the problem? Corn is healthy, right? As it turns out, the change in diet gave the hamsters a severe vitamin B3 deficiency. I’ll explain the consequences in a minute.
Scientists then decided to do several experiments:
- They compared hamsters on a corn diet compared to hamsters on a wheat diet who they also gave a side dish of either clover or worms.
Both groups seemed healthy, and both had a roughly the same number of babies.
From the wheat eating group, about 4/5 of the babies was weaned.
Of the corn eating group, 95% of babies were eaten and only 5% was weaned.
What was more disturbing was that females stored their pups which were still alive with their stockpile of corn before eating them.
It is known that undercooked corn diets have been linked to violent behaviors in humans, including murder, suicide and cannibalism. Source
It’s also known that corn lacks vitamin B3.
They then did the next experiment:
- They compared hamsters on a corn diet compared to hamsters with a vitamin B3 fortified corn diet
When they compared hamsters on a diet of wheat with hamsters on a diet of vitamin B3 fortified corn, the females weaned the babies as normal and no longer were any babies stored or eaten.
“The dire consequences of the B3-deficient corn diet, the scientists concluded, stemmed not from reduced maternal hormones, but rather a change in the nervous system that induced the same “dementia-like” behaviour diagnosed in humans.”
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So why shouldn’t you give your hamster corn?
It’s not that you can’t give corn to your hamster at all. A kernel of corn is so easy to give to your hamster and because they seem to love it so much, many people do. Corn kernels are quite big and it’s easy to give your hamster a significant portion.
This post is here to make you aware of the consequences of too much corn in a hamster’s diet. Especially raw corn. Giving your hamster some corn as part of a healthy diet will luckily not turn your hamster into a cannibal.
Also, as a corn kernel is quite big for a hamster, so it’s unlikely he will eat many other foods together with the corn.
On top of that, many hamster pellets contain corn as a main ingredient, and while most manufacturers will declare their hamster pellets healthy and fit for consumption, many hamster pellets are of low quality.
It’s therefore very important to add variety to your hamster’s diet with various vegetables and fruits as well as with seeds and nuts, and to give your hamster high quality pellets.
Healthy snacks for hamsters
You should add vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds to your hamster’s diet. And should you want to, your hamster will also appreciate a mealworm or two.
Try to add mostly green vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach and romaine lettuce. You can also pick some dandelion leaves.
Vegetables like carrots, bell peppers and cauliflower are also great choices.
While I’m not saying you can’t feed your hamster corn at all, I do want to stress the importance of a balanced diet for your hamster. Make sure all vitamins and minerals are present in your hamsters’ daily food intake.
Conclusion: Why you shouldn’t give your hamster corn
The important point is not to give your hamster too much corn and to always strive to give your hamster a balanced diet with as much variation as possible to ensure they have all the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy.
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