Commercial hamster foods, available at pet supply stores, can come in the form of pellets, mixes that contain seeds (high amounts of sunflower seeds can cause obesity or nutritional deficiencies), grains such as oats and barley, cracked corn and pellets, or blocks. Pelleted foods with 18 to 22 percent protein contain all the nutrients a hamster needs, but some hamsters dislike them. Seed mixes are often better received, but be sure the mix contains a variety of foods, such as dried vegetables and fruits, not just seed. Mixes with high amounts of sunflower seeds can cause obesity or nutritional deficiencies, so they should be avoided. Hamsters like sunflower seeds and peanuts but these are high in fat so should only be fed occasionally, as treats. Feeding too many is like feeding a child too much chocolate! Sugar-based treats (e.g. ’honey sticks’) should be kept to a minimum as they can contribute to obesity and some hamsters are prone to diabetes. Natural treats, which are enjoyed by hamsters and are healthy for them, are available from pet shops. Blocks meet the hamster’s desire to chew and help keep the teeth trimmed. Often, hamster foods are formulated according to species, so be sure to choose the one that’s right for your particular hamster.
Feed the commercial hamster mix twice daily, morning and evening. Remove any uneaten food, especially the food that will go mouldy most quickly. Hamsters have cheek pouches and use these to carry food to be hoarded (hidden) around their cage, so look out for hidden food that could be going off. Each of your hamsters should be given around a tablespoon of the commercial hamster mix each day.
Balanced Hamster Diet
A balanced diet provides all the ingredients to maintain a hamster in good health and condition. Some food require the addition of other food items so the body can utilize them effectively.
The primary items of a balanced diet are:
- carbohydrates and fats
Carbohydrates and Fats: Provides energy and warmth. It can cause breeding problems and ill health if fed in excess. Carbohydrates are found in sugar, potato and milk. Both carbohydrates and fats are found in corn, oats and wheats.
Vitamins: Only small amount of vitamin required; Lack of vitamin can create several health problems.
Minerals: Required in small amount and basically found in milk, vegetables, green foods and grains.
Water: Of course water bottle are preferred over dishes because dishes are easilly upset, flipped over and fouled. Hamsters need constant access to fresh clean drinking water from a suitable water bottle with a metal spout. The average daily water intake for a hamster is around 10ml per 100g body weight. If any of your hamsters starts to drink significantly more or less than usual, this can be a sign of a medical problem.
The easiest way to make sure your hamster’s diet provides everything he needs is to buy the best prepared food you can find. Then supplement its diet with pieces of fresh fruits and veggies, throwing in an occasional mealworm or cricket. A varied diet is as important to hamsters as it is to people.
Pellets: Pellets are a food where the ingredients are ground up, mixed, and formed into little pieces. The requirement to gnaw on pellets and the balanced nutrition of pellets make them a suitable part of your pet's diet.
Mixed Seeds & Grain: Mixed seeds & grain are just like they sound, a food mixture of seeds and grains. Some mixed foods include a variety of dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. This type of food provides a variety of choices for your hamster to enjoy and is an excellent part of his diet.
Fresh Foods: To add some variety and added nutrition there are many fresh foods your companion may like. Try acorns, apples, bananas, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, zucchini, cucumbers, grapes, kale, oranges, peas, spinach, sweet potatoes, and turnips. The key with fresh food is to supply it in small portions since hamsters store away excess food. Rotten food is not something you want in your pet’s cage.
Snacks & Treats: There is an amazing variety of hamster snacks and treats that you can offer a couple times per week. These treats, although very enjoyable to your hamster, are not a well balanced diet so use them sparingly. Most treats are sweetened foods like seeds, nuts, and dried fruits and vegetables that your pet will love. Alternatives to store bought treats are scrambled or hard boiled eggs, dog biscuits, sugar-free cereal, whole wheat bread, and uncooked pasta. You can even feed him mealworms or crickets.
Dietary Supplements: Commercial hamster food is supposed to have all the nutritional requirements necessary for a healthy pet, but supplements are a good way to guarantee a well balanced diet. Dietary supplements are available with vitamins, minerals, and calcium that come in flavors a hamster will enjoy.
There are a few hamster foods that should be avoided as they can cause health or digestive problems or may be toxic and/or poisonous to your hamster:
Do Not Feed Your Hamster:
- Apple seeds
- Citrus fruits (lemon, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, etc.)
- Kidney or red beans
- Junk food designed for humans (chocolate, chips, etc.)
Hamster Approved Foods:
- Apple (No seeds)
- Dandelion Leaves
- Grapes (without the skin)
- Green Beans
- Raspberry Leaves
- Sunflower Seeds
- Water Chestnuts