Hamsters have become one of the most common pets in the home, especially when there are children. They are small animals, easy to take care of and do not need a large space, so they are the most chosen as first pets. If you have a hamster, you will have noticed that it likes food very much and always takes a little walk around its dish to see what it can find. These pets are, in general, very healthy and present few diseases; with a proper cage, good hygiene and complete feeding you will be able to enjoy your pet almost without visits to the veterinarian.
However, although their care and needs are quite simple, if it is the first time you have one, some doubts may arise regarding their diet: do you really know what hamsters eat? Although they are nocturnal animals, they do not sleep all day. It has been proven that they get up every 2 or 3 hours to look for a snack, so it is best to always have some food available. This also happens in the wild. While they come out of their burrows to graze at night, during the day they use the seeds, fruits and other food they have collected and brought home on their nightly forays. If you are going to be gone all day, be sure to leave a handful of seeds in the saucer before you leave.
What do hamsters eat?
In nature, hamsters eat a wide variety of foods, including seeds, grains, plants and insects. Ideally, to maintain your small rodent’s optimal health, their daily diet should resemble their natural diet as closely as possible. Feed is what hamsters eat in the greatest proportion. By offering these animal-specific menus you ensure that you provide a perfect combination of vitamins, minerals and proteins.
Hamster feed consists mostly of seeds and cereals such as wheat, barley, corn and oats. If you want to create your own menu, you can also select a seed mix for budgies and canaries, along with vegetables and some protein.
Hamster food is high in fiber and low in sugar and fat. It is best to supplement it with small portions of fresh fruits and vegetables every day; never too much as this can cause diarrhea. You can also offer nuts, such as hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts and raisins.
Another food that hamsters eat is insects. In the wild they eat insects, frogs, lizards and other small animals. To satisfy them at home you can occasionally offer them mealworms, crickets or small grasshoppers.
It is advisable to visit the veterinarian to check the health of your pet. Annually, we should perform a weight check, teeth and molars assessment, skin check, among other checks. If you think your hamster has something wrong with it or may have an allergy, go to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Balanced diet for your hamster: feed, fresh food and proteins
A balanced diet for hamsters should contain:
- Carbohydrates: barley, corn, oats and wheat present in hamster feed.
- Fats: meat, yogurt, cheese and insects.
- Proteins: insects, hard-boiled eggs, meat, cheese and yogurt.
- Vitamins and minerals: present in feed and vegetables.
Another food that hamsters eat is wet food for dogs or cats, which can cover 10% of the daily protein in their diet. To increase the amount of protein, you can also add some cat kibble or dog cookies. These cookies, besides providing nutrients, are very good to wear down the teeth, as they are quite hard.
The more variety of fruits, vegetables and meat, the better and more enriched their diet will be. New foods should be introduced slowly to avoid gastrointestinal problems. The best way to do this is to offer them in small portions and every other day. Another thing hamsters love are herbs and plants. If you have a lawn and don’t use herbicides, you can cut a couple of leaves for your pet, he will love them! Remember that the water you offer should always be fresh and clean; it is best to give it in a bottle, as bowls can tip over and get dirty.
What does a Russian hamster eat?
Despite their difference in size, the recommended amount of food is the same in the feeding of golden hamsters, Russian hamsters and other types of hamsters. This is because the smaller subspecies have a faster metabolism and consume large amounts of energy. This amount is only a guideline; if your hamster needs it, you can give him more. Keep in mind that normally they do not eat all the seeds you give them, but choose the ones they like the most and leave the rest.
What do baby hamsters eat?
When the mother does not want to feed her young, you should be aware of certain aspects. If you need to feed a baby hamster, it is necessary that they have adult fur (instead of the fluffy fur typical of newborns) and little teeth, even if they are very small. To feed a baby hamster you can use small seeds, soft bread soaked in milk, small pieces of fruits and vegetables, hard-boiled egg…
Hydration of baby hamsters is very important. If they do not drink on their own, you will need to help them with a syringe. Baby hamsters need to drink water every two hours. It can be stressful, but with patience and help you can feed your baby hamsters. We have to point out that prematurely weaned hatchlings are very delicate, so unfortunately, they may not survive even if you care for them with dedication.
In nature, hamsters eat a wide variety of foods, including seeds, grains, plants and insects. Ideally, to maintain your small rodent’s optimal health, their daily diet should resemble their natural diet as closely as possible. Variety is the key: the more different foods you provide each day, the more enriched their menu will be, allowing them to obtain all the necessary nutrients in a balanced way.
How much food should I offer my hamster?
As long as your pet does not have weight problems, he can eat as much as he wants, but do not stop controlling his weight because some tend to put on weight and become sedentary. It is not necessary to give them an exact portion of food, they are able to manage and select their own food to nourish themselves properly every day; they do it instinctively. However, a good way to start is to offer them a quality feed accompanied by some fresh vegetables such as carrots or some plants.
To give you an idea, a hamster usually eats between 10 and 15 g of feed per day, depending on the species and its size. As a general guideline, each hamster eats approximately one tablespoon of mix per day, plus a serving of fresh fruits and vegetables.
What fruits can hamsters eat?
Although the presence of fruit is essential for proper nutrition, it is not healthy for your hamster’s diet to be based exclusively on fruit. In addition, hamsters are prone to obesity, so too much fruit (which contains sugar) can contribute to your pet becoming overweight.
Pears, for example, are the perfect fruit: they contain very few calories and a lot (but not too much) water. Thus, they contribute to keep your pet hydrated without a too high caloric intake. It is important to remove the skin, seeds, stem and core from any fruit before the hamster eats it.
Can hamsters eat bananas?
Bananas are one of the fruits that contain the most calories. Although it is rich in potassium and fiber, we should give them to our hamsters only occasionally, cutting them into very small pieces. In this way, we will not contribute to give our hamster an excess of sugar.
Can hamsters eat grapes?
These small rodents go crazy with grapes. Although it is a fruit that we can give to our hamster, we must do it in moderation, because it can cause diarrhea. Its excess can also contribute to the overweight of our pet.
Can hamsters eat apples?
Apples are beneficial to the hamster’s diet, but we have to offer apples only once in a while. It is a high calorie fruit, but it is also rich in fiber. Therefore, giving your hamster apples in a controlled way is a beneficial option for its digestive system and also for its teeth!
Can hamsters eat cherries?
Cherries are a good food for hamsters because of their low calorie and high fiber content. Like all fruits, hamsters should eat cherries in moderation, but your small rodent will enjoy a healthy cherry-based snack.
Can hamsters eat mangoes?
Mango is a food that hamsters should eat occasionally. It will be a perfect snack if you offer it very occasionally (because of its high sugar content). Too much mango can negatively affect your hamster’s health.
Can hamsters eat tangerines?
The acidity of tangerines is detrimental to the hamster’s diet. This animal cannot eat tangerines, limes, oranges, lemons, lemons or grapefruit. Citrus fruits, because of their high acid concentration, can be harmful to the animal.
In short, these are the fruits that hamsters eat:
- Apple (seedless)
- Peach (pitted)
- Blackberries, blueberries and raspberries
What vegetables can hamsters eat?
Vegetables are another perfect food to complete your hamster’s diet and can make its diet more appetizing. However, we must give them in moderation so as not to overfeed our pet. Remember that hamster food portions are very small.
Can hamsters eat carrots?
Carrot leaves, given very sparingly, can bring great benefits to our hamster. However, it is dangerous for his organs if we give him too much carrot. We can give him a little bit of carrot without skin at some exceptional moment.
Can hamsters eat lettuce?
Although lettuce in large quantities can affect the condition of your hamster’s liver, in very small quantities it can bring great benefits. Lettuce is the most well-known vegetable when we think about what hamsters eat, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be careful with it.
Can hamsters eat tomatoes?
Tomatoes have a high acidity percentage for hamsters. In addition, tomato intake can affect their digestion and cause dehydration. Half a spoonful (small ones) of tomato once in a while is not necessarily harmful.
Can hamsters eat cucumber?
Cucumbers are a good food for hamsters because of their high water content. Although it can eat cucumber without problems, don’t forget that hamsters are gluttons by nature, so you can never let them choose how much vegetable they eat.
Can hamsters eat broccoli?
Broccoli, like other cruciferous vegetables (brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, arugula, cabbage…) can cause stomach problems to our hamster, including diarrhea. In very small quantities it may not be harmful, but we must be very careful.
In summary, these are the vegetables that hamsters can eat:
- Romaine lettuce
- Green beans
- Sweet peppers
- Swiss chard
- Natural corn on the cob
- Soy germ
- Dandelion leaves
- Red chicory
What other foods can a hamster eat?
In addition to the basic food, rodents enjoy a treat from time to time. For this purpose it is best to use foods that are nutritious and not just tasty.
Some examples of these good quality treats are:
- Boiled egg
- Fish oil
- Bird seed
Other foods with very valuable nutrients that can be incorporated into the hamster’s diet are:
- Wheat germ
- Brewer’s yeast
- Popcorn (they love it!)
Can hamsters eat cheese?
As good members of the rodent family, cheese is one of the favorite foods of hamsters. We should check, with a very small portion, that our hamster likes cheese. If it does, we can give it cheese, spacing out the feedings (because of its high fat content).
Can hamsters eat bread?
As we pointed out when we talked about what baby hamsters can eat, bread is a good food for these little animals. However, it can’t be just any bread: the recommended options are whole wheat bread and black bread. Grated or dipped in milk will give it the texture it needs to delight your hamster.
Can hamsters eat nuts?
Nuts are a small treat in the diet of hamsters. We can offer nuts to our pet as a small reward, because of their high Omega 3 content. Of course, we have to give them shelled. They are a good occasional treat, like pine nuts, peanuts, chestnuts and hazelnuts.
Do hamsters eat hay?
Hay is especially rich in fiber and makes up the majority of a hamster’s diet (it accounts for 70% of your small rodent’s food). If you are wondering what hamsters eat, hay would be the most appropriate answer. Among its benefits, we can point out that it maintains your hamster’s digestive system and favors the wear and cleaning of its teeth.
Can hamsters eat cookies?
Cookies made for people are not a good food for hamsters because of their high fat and sugar content. However, cookies for dogs or cats are an option to which we can resort exceptionally. Of course, in very small portions.
Can hamsters eat chocolate?
Chocolate is a very harmful food for your hamster, as it happens with other pets. This happens because it contains a substance called theobromine, which is very toxic for its digestive system, since it is unable to metabolize it.
In a nutshell, these are the meats, proteins and other foods that hamsters eat:
- Cooked minced meat without fat
- Cooked chicken or turkey
- Cooked cod, skinless, boneless and boneless
- Low-fat fresh cheese
- Low-fat yogurt
- Grain bread soaked in skimmed or soy milk
- Dog cookies
- Mealworms, crickets and grasshoppers
- Cooked brown rice and pasta
- Sugar-free cereals
- Flax, sesame or pumpkin seeds
- Dried fruit
- Unsalted and unbuttered popcorn
What can’t hamsters eat? Prohibited foods
These are the harmful foods that, under no circumstances, you should give your hamster:
- French fries
- Raw potatoes
- Raw beans
- Raw tomato
- Citrus fruits such as lemon or orange
- Apple or grape seeds