Do Hamsters Need Salt Licks? 5 Things to Consider
Good nutrition is one of the hallmarks of keeping a healthy pet hamster. Though some people assume that any foods will do for their pets, expert guidance is advisable to ensure what you are feeding your pet meets its nutritional needs.
Hamsters are easy to maintain, but without optimal nutrition, you will contend with costly vet visits and significantly shorten the animal’s lifespan.
Hamsters will primarily need a balanced mix of nuts, pellets, grains, vegetables, fruits, seeds and water in their diets. Most hamster owners include salt licks in their pets’ diets believing they are essential components that boost their animals’ health.
However, hamsters do not need salt licks. This is because the foods you give them will deliver all the minerals that they need to be provided their portions are balanced.
While salt licks are not essential dietary components for hamsters from a nutritional view, this does not mean you should never give them to your pet. Below are some tidbits that will answer most of the questions you might have on salt licks in a hamster’s diet.
Can Salt Kill a Hamster?
Yes, when taken in excess, salt can kill your hamster. Too much salt will draw in the water in the hamster’s body and leave it dehydrated.
Other than dehydration, the salt places a considerable strain on your pet’s kidneys and might cause the formation of kidney stones as there isn’t enough water to dissolve the mineral crystals.
Thankfully, hamsters rarely suffer the toxic effects of consuming salt in excess. This is because they will often not use too much of the salt lick in their cages.
Most pets that have suffered the effects of excess salts got it from their diets when the owners oversalted their foods.
Can Hamsters have Himalayan Salt?
Yes, hamsters can have Himalayan salt. Ordinary salt licks comprise salts into which minerals like iodine and anticaking agents are added during their manufacturing process to confer different properties.
They primarily contain sodium chloride and are mined from seawater. On the other hand, Himalayan rock salt is mined from the Punjab area of Pakistan.
It is considered the purest salt comprising about 98% of sodium chloride and trace minerals that give it its distinct pink color.
Himalayan salt licks undergo minimal processing and are thus more natural than ordinary salt licks. This means that if you give them to your hamster, you expose it to fewer minerals.
Himalayan rock salts are also hard and compact. As such, their salt licks will not break off when your pet uses them nor can the pet break off huge chunks of the licks.
Furthermore, Himalayan rock salt licks are weather-resistant. Therefore, they can be used outside without worry that water and other outdoor elements will break them down.
What Happens When Hamsters Eat Salt?
In general, salt licks are safe for hamsters even if the animals do not need them. They can be hung in the cage for the hamster to play with.
Hamsters are active animals that will need a lot of stimulation in their habitats, and the licks will provide some of this stimulation.
If the hamsters eat some of the salt, they will suffer no adverse effects. Even so, in excess, salts in hamsters can cause dehydration.
Can Hamsters eat Salted Sunflower Seeds?
No, salted sunflower seeds are not ideal for a hamster. Seeds form the bulk of a hamster’s diet. Sunflower seeds, in particular, are delicious and hamsters love them.
Most people purchase sunflower seeds as snacks that are fried and salted. These are not just unhealthy for humans but also hamsters. The salt in salted sunflower seeds will make your hamster thirsty because of its small surface area.
Moreover, the fats used to fry the sunflower seeds will increase the chances of obesity and diabetes in your hamster. Some pet owners opt to wash the sunflower seeds to reduce their salt content.
Even so, this is a futile exercise because the sunflower seeds are soaked in salty water during manufacturing rather than coated with salt. As such, you will get rid of little or no salt by washing them.
Can Hamsters Eat Salted Peanuts?
No, hamsters should not be fed salted peanuts. Peanuts are natural hamster favorites. One peanut can suffice for your hamster’s diet once a week or after two weeks.
It contains a lot of niacin, vitamin B and vitamin E that is beneficial for your pet. The best choice for your hamster is, however, the unsalted peanut variety. Like salted sunflower seeds, salted peanuts can cause dehydration in your pet.
Though most people think that a peanut is too small to cause a lot of harm, remember that a hamster is quite small. As such, even seemingly small toxic products will considerably harm it.
Is Salt Bad for Hamsters?
Yes, too much salt is bad for hamsters considering its small sizes. However, salt licks are generally safe for your hamster. This is because hamsters will rarely consume as much if any, salt from the licks.
However, if you notice that your hamster is spending too much of its time around the salt lick, consider regulating its time with it. This might mean taking the salt lick out of the cage and only hanging it at certain points of the day for the hamster to play with it.
In this case, your pet will see the lick as more of a treat and toy rather than an essential food item.
While some hamsters will love the salt lick in their cages and play with it, others will hardly touch it. Therefore, it is best to study your hamster’s habits around the salt lick before including it in its cage.
It is ok if your hamster will not like the salt lick because there is no identified nutritional benefit associated with it even though it is a good addition to the toys for stimulation in its cage.
With the information above, you hopefully now understand the impact of salt and salt licks on your hamster’s well-being.