In their natural habitat, wild hamsters eat grasses, seeds and grains. These creatures are often mistaken as herbivores when they’re in fact omnivores! They also require protein in their diet to stay healthy.
If you’re a new pawrent, you might be wondering what hamsters can eat. Read on to find out more about the foods you can and cannot serve to these creatures!
*Disclaimer: Information written in this article should not be used in place of professional advice from a vet. Please seek help from a vet for more details on your hamster’s dietary requirements.
Foods that hamsters can eat
The recommended diet for hamsters typically depends on their age:
|Below 6 months||Fat: 7 - 8%
Fibre: 8 - 10%
Protein: 19 - 20%
|Between 6 - 18 months||Fat: 6 - 7%
Fibre: 10 - 12%
Protein: 17 - 18%
|More than 18 months||Fat: 6 - 7%
Fibre: 12 - 15%
The nutritional value of your hamster’s diet is often expressed as a range as you’re required to customise his diet according to his physiology.
According to Emma (from FeedingMyPet), about 90% of your pet’s diet should consist of commercial pellets and the remaining 10% can be fresh ingredients like vegetables, fruits and proteins.
Commercial hamster pellets
The easiest and safest approach to feeding your hamster is to go with commercial hamster pellets that you can find at a pet store. Pelleted foods are highly recommended as they offer a balanced diet.
They’re also preferred over hamster-formulated seed mixtures as these creatures will often pick out the grains they don’t like. This would result in your furballs missing out on nutrients in the seeds they don’t eat!
Fresh foods and ingredients
In addition to their daily meals, it’s also fun to offer these creatures a bit of variety in the form of different treats! When your furball deserves a little treat, consider some of the following:
Hamsters are huge fans of salads and will love the leafy greens provided. This is certainly a juicy supplement to their dry pellet mix. Filled with vitamins and fibre, vegetables make fantastic snacks!
These are some of the nutritious greens that you can offer:
- Romaine lettuce
Be sure to give these vegetables a good wash to remove traces of harmful pesticides before feeding them to your hamster.
Fruits are also high in vitamins and fibre, and are great for hydrating. These are the fruits that are safe for their consumption:
Do note these important details when serving the fruits:
- Stick to organic fruits. If not, wash the fruits with some warm water to remove traces of any harmful chemicals.
- Remove the seeds, stems or leaves as these are known to be choking hazards.
- Cut into bite-sized pieces for easier consumption.
It’s also important to feed your pets some proteins to help with their growth and development!
Listed below are some foods that are rich in protein:
- Boiled eggs
- Cooked chicken breast
- Dried crickets
It’s crucial to note that you must cook all meat products before serving them to your pet. Hamsters should never consume raw meat as they contain high levels of bacteria and pesticides that can be deadly.
Foods that hamsters cannot eat
There are some foods that you must avoid feeding your hamster as they’ve been proven to be harmful. These foods include:
Avoid high acidity fruits such as lemon, lime, grapefruit and pineapple. Your hamster’s stomach can’t handle acid and it can lead to great discomfort and diarrhoea.
Spicy foods are also known to cause stomach upsets. You should also steer clear of onions as they contain N-propyl disulfide, a substance that can affect a hamster’s red blood cells.
Sugary or salty foods
Too much sugar and salt can cause a host of health issues including obesity and tooth decay. Since dwarf hamsters are quite prone to diabetes, you must carefully screen the ingredients before serving any treats!
Things to chew and gnaw on for hamsters
Treating your hamsters is not limited to providing them with food. You should also provide the right things for them to gnaw on to keep their teeth healthy!
Other than wooden chew toys, these pets also love to chew things like:
- Coconut shells
- Hay cubes
They can also gnaw on untreated softwood. Before giving them any softwood branches, bake them on low heat for an hour and give them a good wash to ensure they’re safe for consumption.
Good woods to use are:
Tips for making feeding fun for hamsters
In the wild, hamsters spend a lot of time searching for food. Making them work for their meals is hence a great way to keep them entertained!
Here are some tips that you can try out:
- Scattering the food pellets around their cages instead of feeding them from a bowl.
- Hiding food pellets or treats inside cardboard tubes or boxes. Your pet will enjoy searching for their foods and can also gnaw on the packaging you hide their foods in.
Frequently asked questions
What should I feed my hamster daily?
Commercial hamster pellets should be fed daily as they provide the right balance of nutrients for your hamster.
Fresh water should also be readily available to keep your furballs hydrated throughout the day. The best way to offer water to hamsters is to use a water bottle! If you’re still unsure of what you should feed your pet, consult a professional vet.
What do hamsters love the most?
Fresh foods can be a tasty addition to your hamster’s pelleted diet — Dr. Maureen from Petkeens has shared that these creatures love to eat carrots, broccoli, sweet peppers and cucumbers!
You can provide small amounts of these treats every 2 – 3 days.
How do I know if I’m feeding my hamster enough?
It’s normal for your hamster to empty his food bowl soon after you fill it up. Hamsters are hoarders — they love to stuff their cheeks and store food around their cages for later.
A good indication of the amount to feed your hamster would be 1 – 2 tablespoons of food once a day!
What are some foods that are poisonous to hamsters?
Foods that aren’t suitable for hamsters include (but are not limited to) onions, garlic, raw potatoes, citrus fruits, chocolate, avocado and fruit seeds.
Feeding your hamsters
Being a pawrent isn’t easy but the key to ensuring the right diet for your hamsters is to observe them closely whenever you introduce new types of foods. If they have a negative reaction, stop feeding it immediately and remove it from their diet.
Also, remember not to overfeed them as they’re small animals with a small appetite! When you’re unsure of your hamster’s dietary requirements, it’s always best to seek advice from a professional vet.