Can Hamsters Eat Seeds? [Sunflower, Chia, Pumpkin & Others]

Hamsters can eat a large variety of different foods. Nevertheless, there are certain foods that are off-limits to them. Knowing which foods you can feed them and the ones to avoid is very important to keep them in good shape.

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at whether hamsters can eat seeds and if they derive any benefit from doing so. There are many different seeds, so we’ll go over the most popular seeds individually in a little more detail.

Generally speaking, hamsters can eat seeds, but there are some caveats that you must take into account. Certain seeds are toxic and should be avoided completely, while others can only be fed in small quantities.


Can hamsters eat seeds and are they good for them?

Hamsters can indeed eat seeds and they’re quite nutritious. Seeds are the starting phase of all plants so they contain a lot of nutrients that the plant needs to grow into its adult form. When we, or our hamsters, eat these seeds, we absorb these nutrients.

All the different seeds are unique in the nutrients they contain, but they do have certain things in common. For instance, almost all seeds are very rich in the following nutrients:

Seed nutrients 🌱
  • Protein
  • Healthy fats (Omega-3s and Omega-6s)
  • Fiber
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins

Owing to the fact that seeds are so nutrient-dense, they can be quite a good treat for your hamster.

On the flip side, seeds are also very calorie-dense. Because of this, you have to be quite careful not to overfeed your hamster on seedy treats.

Additionally, some seeds really do not want to be eaten and have developed a poison to prevent this. More on that later on.

Which seeds can hamsters eat?

Did you know that there are over 250,000 different seeds? Going over them all one by one would be way too time-consuming. Therefore, we’ll only discuss the most popular seeds in a little more detail to figure out whether our hamsters can safely eat them.

For a quick overview, check out this handy chart, courtesy of the users on the hamster hideout forum:

Can hamsters eat sunflower seeds?

Yes, hamsters can eat sunflower seeds and if you’re feeding your hamster a seed mix they might already be eating them! Sunflower seeds are a popular ingredient in these mixes. Hamsters love them, maybe even a little too much.

Sunflower seeds are one of those seeds that hamsters seem to enjoy very much and that they prefer over other seeds. As a result, they sometimes eat only the sunflower seeds while ignoring the ones they like less. Because hamsters like them so much, it’s important that we do not offer it to them too often. They need a diet that consists of a variety of diverse food in order to thrive, something they can’t have if they stuff themselves on sunflower seeds every day.

Generally speaking, you can feed a Syrian hamster 2-5 sunflower seeds and a dwarf hamster half of that.

They can eat them in the shell as this gives them a fun challenge of extracting the seed from the shell. However, do make sure that you never feed your hamster salted sunflower seeds. Hamsters do not need a lot of salt in their diet.

Can hamsters eat flax seeds?

Yes, hamsters can eat flax seeds. Flax seeds are a good treat because they’re loaded with nutrients. They’re particularly rich in Thiamine, Copper, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin B6, and iron. In addition, they’re a great source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. 

On the whole, they’re a good treat for your hamster, but it has to be fed in moderation as they’re quite high in calories. You can feed a Syrian hamster 7 to 10 flax seeds while dwarf hamsters can have half of that.

Can hamsters eat chia seeds?

Hamsters can indeed eat chia seeds. They’re a great source of calcium, manganese, magnesium, selenium, copper, and iron. On top of that, they’re an incredible source of Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

In moderation, they’re a good treat for your hamster. Syrians can eat about 7 to 10 chia seeds per day while dwarf hamsters can have half of that.

Can hamsters eat sesame seeds?

All hamsters can eat sesame seeds and it’s actually quite good for them. Sesame seeds are rich in calcium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc, while also being a good source of B vitamins, iron, and copper.

Like other seeds, it should be noted that sesame seeds should only be fed in moderation to their high-calorie content.

You can feed a Syrian hamster 7 to 10 sesame seeds while dwarf hamsters can have about half of that due to their smaller size.

Can hamsters eat hemp seeds?

Yes, hamsters can indeed eat hemp seeds. These seeds are rich in healthy fats as well as protein, fiber, vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and iron.

Like other seeds, the fact that they contain a good amount of (healthy) fats means that they’re quite calorie-dense. Because of that, it should be fed in moderation. Feed a Syrian about 7 to 10 Sesame seeds and dwarf hamsters 3 to 5 seeds.

Can hamsters eat quinoa?

Many people don’t know it, but quinoa is actually a seed, and yes, hamsters can definitely eat it. They can eat it dry/raw as well as cooked. It can be quite good for them because it contains a high amount of vitamins and minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Can hamsters eat pumpkin seeds?

Hamsters can definitely eat pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are highly nutritious, containing a variety of important vitamins and minerals such as fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamin K, and antioxidants.

Because of this, pumpkin seeds can be a healthy treat for your hamster as long as it’s given in moderation. Since pumpkin seeds are quite big they should be given in lower quantities than other seeds. Give a Syrian no more than a single seed 2 to 3 times a week and give dwarf hamsters even less.

In addition, hamsters can also eat the flesh of the pumpkin, making it a great treat for them.

Seeds to avoid giving to your hamster

Now that we’ve gone over the seeds that are okay for your hamster to consume, it’s time to spend some time looking at the seeds that you should avoid.

Can hamsters eat poppy seeds?

The safety of feeding poppy seeds to your hamster is not entirely clear. Because of that, I’d avoid feeding them altogether. There are so many seeds that are guaranteed to be safe that there’s no reason to risk it.

Can hamsters eat apple seeds?

While hamsters can safely eat apples, they can not eat the seeds at all! Apple seeds contain cyanide which is toxic to hamsters. When you’re feeding apples to your hamster it’s very important that you remove the seeds as giving them the seeds can have disastrous consequences.

Should seeds be a large part of my hamster’s diet?

Some people feed their hamsters a diet that consists largely of a seed mix. This can be okay, but it does depend on whether you do it correctly. When feeding your hamster a diet that consists largely of seeds it’s important that you give them a seed mix that’s specifically designed for them. That way, you ensure that they get the nutrients they need. Even then, hamsters can sometimes like certain seeds more than others. As a result, they sometimes pick out their favorites while neglecting the others. This can lead to nutritional imbalances. To avoid this, make sure that they finish their bowl before you replenish it.

Alternatively, you can also choose to feed your hamster a diet that consists primarily of pellets (they look like small cookies, biscuits, or cereal) since these are nutritionally complete in every bite. A mix of both seeds and pellets is also an option.


Final words

Some seeds, like sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds, can be a great addition to your hamster’s diet. The fact that they’re the starting phase of these plants means that they’re very rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Nevertheless, while they’re rich in vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, they’re also very calorie-dense, which means that it’s easy to overfeed your hamster on them.

However, other seeds, such as those of apples, are toxic and should be avoided altogether.

Jesse A.