Peanuts, commonly known as groundnut, is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Many people believe that peanuts originated in South America, especially Brazil and Peru. It is a leguminous plant, just like lentils, soybeans, and and peas. Peanuts belongs to genus Arachis and there are various species. Peanuts are cultivated in countries which include China, the United States, Spain, Peru, Mexico, and Africa. Peanuts are eaten as boiled, roasted, processed snacks in many places. Apart from these uses, peanuts are a major industrial raw material, being processed into many produce for human and animal consumption. Industrial produce of peanuts include wallboard, plastics, peanut oil, abrasives, peanut butter, furniture polish, and insecticides.
Types of Peanuts
Many people agree that there is one variety of peanuts. However, there are ‘varieties’ which are mostly based on the particular locations where they originated from or produced. The four most commonly encountered in the United States are discussed below:
Runner group. These peanuts known scientifically as Arachis hypogaea, are commonly grown in the United States in states which include Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. It makes up about 80 percent of the total annual peanut production in the United States. It is commonly processed into peanut butter.
Valencia group. It is known scientifically as Arachis fastigata. It is widely cultivated in New Mexico and Texas in the United States. Pods of this variety usually contain 2 or 3 kernels per pod. Valencia peanuts are used for commercial production of natural or homemade peanut butter. The peanuts are also commonly eaten boiled or roasted.
Spanish group. These are also known scientifically as Arachis fastigata; and is mainly cultivated in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma in the United States. The nuts are bright-red skins. And they higher oil content than other ‘varieties’ when roasted. Spanish peanuts are used in commercial production of candies and peanut butter. They are also eaten as salted, shelled peanuts for snacks.
Virginia group. Their scientific name is Arachis hypogaea. It is being cultivated in large quantities in North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina. Virginia peanuts have the highest nuts per pod than other ‘types’. And they are commonly eaten as snacks. They are used in making gourmets but not economical for the production of peanut butter.
Nutritional Benefits of Peanuts for Hamsters
Peanuts, like other nuts, including hazelnut, walnut, pine nuts, and cashew nuts and fruitsreference are great choices for hamsters. Peanuts are beneficial to hamsters in several ways, just like other nuts too. First, peanuts contain minerals including potassium and magnesium that help regulate cholesterol level and body metabolism, thereby help in maintaining healthy hearts and kidneys in hamsters. Potassium also helps in blood clotting when hamsters get wounds. Where peanuts are fed to hamsters in correct quantity, they can help maintain normal body weight. Also, peanuts contain lower sugar, compared to other nuts, and can help prevent diabetes in hamsters although this can only be achieved when hamsters are fed with adequate quantity of peanuts. Like fruits, peanuts contain fibers that prevent inflammation and aid digestion in hamsters. Also, antioxidants are contained in peanuts. Antioxidants help prevent cell damage. Peanuts contain vitamins E and B which are helpful for hamsters’ health.
How to Feed Peanuts to Hamsters
All varieties of peanuts are safe hamster consumption. It is best to feed whole or raw peanuts to hamsters. Preferably, in-shell peanuts should be given to hamsters. All additives, flavors, and preservatives should be avoided because they have serious health implications for hamster consumption. Alternatively, in-shell peanuts, without salt, may be roasted or boiled and used to feed hamsters. And just like other foods, it is advisable to introduce peanuts to hamsters in a small quantity. This will help to discover whether or not hamsters like peanuts. If hamsters do not peanuts, they tend to retreat, a behavior better described as pica. In addition, peanut butter, which is simply crushed peanuts may be fed to hamsters, in moderate quantity. But it is not advisable to feed peanut butter to hamsters because it contains additional oil, usually added to make it creamy.
Side Effects of Peanuts for Hamsters
As with all foods and fruits, peanuts may have adverse impacts on hamsters when fed to them in higher quantities. See alsoreference First, larger quantity of peanuts can choke hamsters. Peanuts contain aftatoxin which may harmful to hamsters when they are fed to hamsters beyond the optimum. Also, as with other foods, some hamsters may have allergy for peanuts. This is normal because not all foods go well with all hamsters. Hamsters that have peanut allergy may result to health problems including nausea, trouble breathing, change in alertness, extreme drowsiness, and abdominal pains. When peanuts bearing flavors, preservatives, and additives are fed to hamsters, it results in stomach disorder, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Similar health problems may also result where peanut butter with added flavor or sweetening agent is fed to hamsters. Hamsters also tend to have obesity when they eat too much peanuts. Concerning peanut butter, it is not safe to use it to feed hamsters because it contains some extra oil. Excess oil in hamsters’ diet may result in digestive and health problems. Peanut butter typically contains lectin. This may result in arthritis. The butter may also contain pesticide which harmful to hamsters.
Other Useful information
The best soil for optimum performance of peanuts is sandy-loam soil. Usually the soil pH should range between 5.9 and 7. Because peanut is a legume, it capable of fixing nitrogen into the soil. Also, for optimum productivity, it is best to cultivate peanuts in a crop rotation. Science has proved that the yield of peanuts increases when included in a crop rotation than when it is cultivated alone continuously on the same piece of land. For optimum yield, peanuts require warm weather and moderate soil moisture. Peanuts do not thrive well in a water-logged soil.
Peanuts are beneficial to humans and hamsters in many ways. And interestingly, they may be eaten as snacks by humans in different forms or may be used to feed animals. In feeding peanuts to feed hamsters, moderation is emphasized.