What you should be feeding your hamster

Are you considering buying a hamster but want to be sure you can afford its lifestyle and diet? What are you supposed to feed hamsters? Are some hamster foods healthier than others? We have answers to hamster feeding-related questions and more here.

The normal hamster diet

Hamster eating a nut
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Hamsters are omnivores, meaning they eat meat and plants. In the wild, hamsters eat grain, grasses, seeds, and insects. It is crucial that hamsters in captivity have a diet similar to that of wild hamsters. All hamsters store food in their cheeks, which they sometimes save for later. Hamsters will eat a lot, so you must be careful to not overfeed them.
There are two types of hamsters usually kept as pets: Syrian hamsters and dwarf hamsters. Captive hamsters of both species should be fed about 10 grams of hamster pellets twice per day, or one tablespoon once per day. Although dwarf hamsters are smaller, their metabolism is much faster, which is why they eat similar amounts to those of Syrian hamsters. Hamsters like to snack throughout the day rather than eat large meals, so be sure your hamster has enough food to come back to or store in their cheeks.

All about hamster food mixes

The most complete nutrition your hamster can receive at once is a meal of prepared hamster food. Hamster pellets or muesli are sold in large bags or bins. Some veterinarians recommend feeding hamster pellets over hamster seed mixes as hamsters may select only certain seeds to eat from the latter, causing them to miss out on important nutrients. When picking a brand of hamster food, look for those that have no artificial colors or fillers. You can also choose to occasionally supplement your hamster’s diet with meat, vegetables, fruits, timothy hay, or seeds. None of these items should be fed more than two or three times each week.

Can hamsters eat meat?

Person feeding a hamster
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It is a common misconception that hamsters are strict herbivores. In fact, hamsters need animal protein to survive. Meat is a healthy hamster food as well as a good source of protein. Since wild hamsters eat insects, you might feed your hamster live or dried crickets or mealworms. If you’re too squeamish to handle insects, hamsters can also eat some cooked meats. Cooked chicken and cooked beef are safe to feed to hamsters.
Raw meat should never be given to hamsters, and meat should be cooked without any seasonings. You can also feed canned (wet) dog food to a hamster. Regardless of which meat you choose to give your hamster, don’t give them too large of a portion. Other sources of animal protein suitable for hamster consumption include low-fat hard cheeses and low-fat cottage cheese.

Can hamsters eat fruits or vegetables?

Hamster eating an apple
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Aside from the occasional meaty treat, you can also feed your hamster a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Before giving your hamster a whole cube of any food, allow them to first try a small bite of it. Note that if you give your hamster too much of a plant-based food in one sitting, they may develop diarrhea. Unlike dogs, hamsters can eat grapes. They can also eat apples, bananas, blueberries, figs, pears, strawberries, and watermelon. If you feed your hamster grapes, apples, or pears, be sure to first remove the skin and any large seeds, and cut the fruit into reasonably sized pieces. One cube of fruit should be enough of a treat for one day. Indeed, hamsters should only be given fresh greens two to three times a week. Regarding edible vegetables, hamsters can eat carrots, celery, cucumber, green peppers, lettuce, pumpkin, spinach, and squash. Similar to when feeding fruits, skins and seeds should be removed from vegetables prior to being given to a hamster.

Foods to avoid

Not all fruits and vegetables are safe for hamsters to eat, however. Citrus fruits, pineapple, raspberries, apricots, nectarines, peaches, rhubarb, and raw beans are all harmful to hamsters if consumed. Any meat, fruit, or vegetable fed to a hamster should be prepared immediately prior to feeding. Do not allow food in a hamster’s cage to rot. Remove any food that is going bad as soon as you notice it. Moreover, sugary things that are bad for humans are also bad for hamsters and should not be fed to them — including white bread, chocolate, and candy.

Person holding a hamster that's eating
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Feeding a hamster doesn’t have to be difficult. If you have more questions regarding what to feed your hamster, consult a veterinarian that specializes in small animals. Otherwise, hopefully this guide has proved helpful to you!

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