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Safe and Unsafe Foods for Hamsters


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#1 Taxonomist

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 03:20 PM

This is the old version of the thread.  The new, updated version can be found HERE

 

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Edited by Taxonomist, 07 September 2014 - 05:49 AM.
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#2 CaliforniaCole

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 03:21 PM

This thread came out great! 
Another big thanks to everyone who shared their knowledge so we could make this possible. Taxonomist . . . You're so awesome for coming up with the idea to revise the pinned threads and coming up with this new and very organized format. :D

Edited by CaliforniaCole, 03 March 2013 - 09:44 AM.


#3 Creative Hamster

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 09:38 PM

Nice work Taxonomist and CC! I really love this updated list, it looks much more organized and easier to read. Yay, gotta print this out to add to my hamster info book Posted Image

Edited by Creative Hamster, 02 March 2013 - 09:38 PM.


#4 tbiM20

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 03:33 AM

Very very nice! The table makes it really easy to read too.

#5 dusty

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 10:41 PM

Amazing and most useful! Thanks to all the contribution and hard work! I have uploaded and relinked the images to HH so that everyone can view them without the problem of photobucket being blocked at certain locations.

#6 tinypixie

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 01:06 AM

Tax and CC, this is an incredible thread! The work you put into it really shows. I almost want to print it out!

There was a question about lentils a while ago, some people believed they were safe, and otheres said "not unless they are sprouted."

I was wondering if you had any information on lentils as to why they could be safe?

Edited by tinypixiexoxo, 04 March 2013 - 01:08 AM.


#7 HoppingHammy

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 01:13 AM

Thank you both so much for all of the time and work you invested in making this so up-to-date and awesome! Posted Image It's greatly appreciated!

#8 ILuvMySyrians

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 01:48 AM

Great work, guys! very organized and informative!Posted Image

#9 Taxonomist

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 04:58 AM

Tax and CC, this is an incredible thread! The work you put into it really shows. I almost want to print it out!

There was a question about lentils a while ago, some people believed they were safe, and otheres said "not unless they are sprouted."

I was wondering if you had any information on lentils as to why they could be safe?


The reason lentils are sometimes mentioned as being "toxic" is because they are high in chemicals called lectins. Lectins are a special type of protein. Certain groups claim that these lectins cause all sorts of health problems, ranging from diabetes to depression to death. There does appear to be some objective truth to the matter (I know, I know, Wikipedia is not a source), but the extent of the problem seems to be unknown. Sprouting lentils will indeed reduce their lectin content, but it also substantially lowers their protein content (which makes them kind of useless to feed as a protein boost).

The problem with all of this in regards to hamsters is that 90% of a hamster's natural diet is also extremely high in lectins. All grains, seeds, and nuts are sky-high in lectins, because they're a defense mechanism for plants. It makes no sense to say that lentils are toxic...but to go ahead and feed hamsters sunflower seeds or millet or oats. Heck, even regular hamster kibble would be bad, because it's made of flour (which comes from a grain!). Singling out lentils for being bad, but still feeding other seeds is logically inconsistent. It's like ranting about how unhealthy candy is, but constantly guzzling down soda.

This is a prime example of why we need to be careful about applying human health issues to hamsters. We're different animals with different natural diets. Hamsters are natural seed-eaters, we are not. Although I can't exactly prove this, doesn't it make sense that maybe hamsters would have evolved some mechanism for dealing with lectins?

Now, I'm not saying that we should go ahead and start feeding hamsters things that are toxic to humans. But we need to not jump to conclusions.

I suspect that whoever came up with the idea that lentils are "toxic" did a quick Google search and failed to read / critically think about the results. They just saw all of these bad things about lectins [for humans] and extrapolated from there.

Let's pretend for a moment that the lectins in lentils are a problem for hamsters, and somehow the other grains and seeds are safe. Lectin issues come from eating large quantities of high-lectin foods. The feeding recommendation for lentils is only a few a week. It seems unlikely that they would cause problems in that low of a dose.

Whew, that turned out a bit rambly. I hope that makes sense. Let me know if it doesn't, and I can try to explain better.

#10 princesshamster

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 05:08 AM

This is awesome! Great job! :D

#11 Plushie

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 06:51 AM

Phenomenal work, everyone! :yes: Diet is so important in maintaining any animal's health and it's great that you've put up guidelines in an easy to read, informative, and thorough post.

#12 Biscotti

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 04:55 AM

Thank you Taxonomist for taking the time to compile this list and make it so easy to read. Thanks to the people that contributed information as well, well informed posts like this is one of the things I love best about HH. Posted Image

Also, great post on the issue of lentils and lectin. I had trouble explaining to some people and get them to understand the nuance of extrapolating nutritional issues from one specie to another, and how the amounts you feed compared to the whole diet matters (and other similar topics). So you've put it much better than I could. Posted Image

#13 emiee7

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 03:54 AM

Two things. One i honestly don't think dwarfs should have the yogurt. And two, how do you give the pasta. Dry? Cooked?

#14 Allison

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 04:01 AM

Plain yogurt is fine to give to dwarfs because it is low in sugar compared to the fruit flavored ones. Pasta is usually given dry to help wear down their teeth.

#15 Taxonomist

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 04:12 AM

Two things. One i honestly don't think dwarfs should have the yogurt. And two, how do you give the pasta. Dry? Cooked?


Why shouldn't they have yogurt? Yogurt is a great source of healthy bacteria that can aid in digestion. It's something that can be given before antibiotics to prevent stomach upset.

Pasta can be given either dry or cooked. Dry, it serves as a chew toy. Cooked, it's a tasty treat.