Hamsters are omnivorous. It’s extremely important to feed your hamster the correct diet, otherwise, they may start developing health problems.
In this article, we will cover what foods you should and shouldn’t feed your hamster and other food-related questions.
What Food Should I Feed My Pet Hamster?
A hamsters diet consists of hamster pellets, a small amount of fruit and veg and a constant supply of clean water. You can also feed your hamster timothy hay and occasional treats such as mealworms, boiled eggs, and nuts.
There’s a variety of different types of foods you can feed your hamster. The best type is pelleted foods as this will have the same nutrients with every bite.
Some foods are a mix of pellets, dried foods, seeds, and nuts, but these foods are less ideal. If you feed them, your hamster might pick out only the parts that he wants to eat, leaving the pieces that he needs to eat for balanced nutrition behind.
Hamsters are small and do not need to eat much food. For most foods, you only need to feed one to two tablespoons per day of the mix to provide your hamster with all of the nutrients that he needs.
You might find some places recommending that you leave food out for your hamster all of the time. This isn’t ideal, as hamsters are hoarders and will take food and hide it in stashes all around his cage.
They also might eat much of the food you put out, making him an overweight little hamster, which isn’t good for his joints or overall health.
You can supplement your hamster with certain fresh fruits and veggies, although most places recommend only feeding fresh foods every other day and making sure you don’t leave the food out to spoil.
You should also offer your hamster small amounts of hay. Timothy hay tends to be readily available and is healthier for your hamster than other types such as alfalfa hay.
Your hamster should always have access to fresh water, and most hamsters drink out of a water bottle. You’ll want to keep your hamster’s water clean and check that he isn’t pushing bedding up to the water bottle, which could cause it to spill out and get the cage wet.
What Treats Can I Feed My Hamster?
The best types of treats for you to give your hamster are fresh fruits and veggies, especially those that are not full of sugar. Dark, leafy greens make a wonderful snack for your hamster if he will eat them.
Walking through the pet store, you might find a variety of different hamster treats. These tend to be full of sugar, such as yogurt drops, and they are not recommended.
If you give any of these sweet snacks, you should make sure that they comprise less than 10 percent of your hamster’s total diet. You don’t need to give your hamster treats every day, and doing so may increase his risk of becoming overweight.
Rather than focusing on the treat that you give your hamster, you could offer him fresh veggies and hide them around his cage, so he has to look for them. This will help with his foraging behaviors and help provide some enrichment which many domesticated animals are lacking.
Things Hamsters Can Chew and Gnaw
It is very important for your hamster to have things to gnaw on because his teeth are constantly growing and need to be worn down. Your hamster can wear his teeth down on foodstuffs, such as hay, as well as sticks or chew toys.
When feeding different foods, you should make sure to offer your hamster firm foods over softer options. Feeding a pelleted food helps with this as every bite helps to keep his teeth worn down.
Hay is another great way for your hamster to keep his teeth worn down, and options such as timothy hay tend to be low in calories, so you have less worry about your hamster becoming overweight.
You should make sure that you offer your hamster different items to chew on. In the local pet store, you can often find sticks or blocks that are safe for your hamster to chew on. Other items that he might like to chew on include pieces of coconut shells and cardboard.
Don’t just go outside a get a stick for your hamster to gnaw on. Some types of wood can be harmful to him.
Some types of wood tend to be safe for your hamster to eat and include apple and dogwood, as well as grape vines. It is recommended that you bake softwood for an hour in the oven before you offer it to your hamster and make sure to give it a rinse to ensure no pesticides are on it.
What Fruits Can Hamsters Eat?
Hamsters can eat a variety of fruits, and they tend to enjoy the taste. You will want to be careful as some fruits are higher in sugar than others, and the moisture content can increase the risk of your hamster developing diarrhea or gastrointestinal upset.
Fruits your hamster can eat include:
- Grapes or raisins
Fruits your hamster should avoid include:
- Tomatoes as unripe parts of tomatoes can be toxic
- Oranges or other citrus fruits which can upset their digestive tract
- Apple seeds or cherry pits
What Vegetables Can Hamsters Eat?
You can offer your hamster a variety of different vegetables, and these are often lower in calories than the same amount of fruit. Some vegetables, however, are toxic for your hamster to eat and should be avoided as they can make your hamster very sick.
Vegetables your hamster can eat in moderation include:
- Dandelion greens
Vegetables your hamster should avoid eating include:
- Raw potatoes
- Raw beans
How Much Fruit and Vegetables Should I Feed My Hamster?
Any fruits you offer to your hamster should be limited and should not be unripe or overripe, which can be toxic or increase the risk that they will spoil. Typically a good amount of fruit to offer your hamster is the size of a pea or a bean daily.
Like with fruits, you should limit the number of fresh vegetables that you offer your hamster each day. A suitable amount is usually approximately the size of a pea or bean.
Some vegetables are not considered toxic but can be harmful if you give too much. Lettuce has high water content, so while it doesn’t usually hurt your hamster in tiny amounts, too much and your hamster can develop diarrhea.
What Other Household Foods and Drinks Can Hamsters Consume?
Since hamsters are omnivores, they can also eat a small amount of protein. In the wild, they catch insects to supplement their diet.
You can feed your hamster a small amount of a hard boiled egg or a small piece of a scrambled egg occasionally. Like with the other foods you offer your hamster, it should be a small amount, roughly a cube sized piece a centimeter big.
If you don’t want to cook an egg for your hamster, you can also offer him a small number of mealworms, usually one for a dwarf hamster. For your Syrian hamster, you can offer up to two mealworms instead of an egg; regardless, you should not give mealworms and egg to your hamster at the same time as that would be too many calories.
As hamsters are omnivorous, you can also offer small amounts of certain types of meat, but as with everything you offer your hamster, it should be in tiny amounts. If you feed your hamster meat, it should be cooked, with no seasonings or additives added, even salt.
Examples of meat that you can offer to include chicken and beef. Some reports note that pork is not safe for them to eat, so it should be avoided just in case.
You can also offer your hamster a tiny piece of canned dog food. Be careful with the amount of gravy it contains, as too much moisture can give your hamster diarrhea.
Some people online claim that giving your hamster meat is more likely to make him a cannibal that kills and eats other hamsters. There is no evidence of this, and hamsters generally only kill other hamsters when they are in their territory or if there aren’t enough resources to support the mother and all of her young.
Most hamsters can eat certain cheeses, but you will want to test them with a small amount of cheese before you offer them more, as cheeses can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea. When you give your hamster cheese initially, offer a small pinch and wait a few days to see how he does with it before offering any more.
When you feed cheeses, it should be an occasional treat, such as once per week. The cheese that you offer should be low fat, and ideally mild to minimize causing digestive upset.
You can also offer your hamster small amounts of low in fat cottage cheese. As with other cheeses, it should only be a small amount that you offer him.
Technically your hamster is able to drink milk similar to him being able to consume dairy products like cheeses. That does not mean it is good for them, and it should likely be avoided for most hamsters.
If you do offer your hamster milk, it should be low-fat milk, and only a small amount should be offered. Avoid giving chocolate milk as the chocolate and high sugar content can make your hamster very sick.
Your hamster is able to eat bread, but only small amounts should be offered as a treat because it is not good for them. The bread is mostly empty calories, which can make your hamster overweight and increase his risk for health issues such as diabetes.
If you give a small piece of bread, it should be whole wheat bread rather than white bread. White bread is higher in sugar and calories, and hamsters, especially dwarf hamsters, are prone to issues like diabetes.
Some nuts are considered toxic to hamsters and should be avoided, such as acorns. Brazil nuts appear to be safe in very small amounts.
One of the problems with nuts is that they are high in calories and fat, and your hamster only needs a limited amount of fat in his diet.
There are lots of things you can offer your hamster around the house to eat and drink, but that doesn’t mean they are all good for your hamster. Sticking with small amounts of non-toxic fresh fruits and veggies, as well as the occasional protein source of egg or mealworms, will generally be the healthiest option for your hamster.
Hamsters Diet-Related Health Problems
Hamsters have teeth that grow constantly. If they don’t gnaw their teeth down appropriately, it can lead to painful issues such as their teeth impacting each other.
If your hamster’s teeth get too long, they can also break, which is painful and increases his risk for a tooth root abscess, which can be difficult to treat. If your hamster is having trouble eating his food, you should take him in for a checkup to your veterinarian.
One of the ways your hamster keeps his teeth at the right length is by gnawing on hard surfaces to wear his teeth down. This can be done on certain foods, such as carrots and pieces of pellet foods that he eats normally.
You should also provide your hamster with objects to chew on, such as appropriate sticks that he can gnaw on. Some pet stores even have wooden habitats that you can get for your hamster to sleep in as well as gnaw on.
Your hamster’s diet can also predispose him to become overweight, which can lead to health issues such as diabetes. Limit high calories snacks or treats and offer him healthy greens instead to help minimize his risk for issues.
Can I give my hamster milk? You shouldn’t give your hamster milk as it carries a health risk and can harm your hamster.
Can hamsters eat cheese? Hamsters can eat cheese as a treat and should only be given to them in small amounts.
Can hamsters eat chocolate? No, chocolate is very fattening and can make your hamster ill.