Feeding your hamster is going to be relatively easy considering all the food options that are available to you. With that said though, not every type of hamster food is good for them. Some of your options include carefully formulated ingredients that will provide your hamster a well-balanced diet while others don’t provide any nutritional value and are loaded with nothing but sugars or fats.
Diet Requirements | Prepackaged Food | Grasses, Greens, Fruit & Veggies | Carbohydrates | Proteins | Treats | Water, Salt, Supplements
The hamster food you should look for includes 12-24% protein and 3-6% fat. For Pregnant or baby hamsters, you should get hamster food that contains 18-40% protein and 7-9% fat. The reason pregnant mothers and babies need more protein is that they need all the protein to grow. It’s during the first month of a baby hamster’s life that does most of it’s growing; additional protein will help.
In addition to the protein and fats, they need a diet high in carbohydrates. Since they burn so much energy when they are active, hamster food with some needed carbs will give them the energy to do their nightly exercise on the hamster wheel or through their tubes and tunnels. Round out the diet with greens in the forms of lettuces, grasses, fruits, and vegetables.
What is in Hamster Food
- Check the expiration dates and get the freshest bag you can get
- Most feed won’t last more than three months before it goes bad
- A Syrian hamster will only eat one to two tablespoons of food per day
- Dwarf hamsters have higher metabolisms so they will consume the same amount
- Expired bags of hamster food might have moth eggs hatch inside
- Store the feed in a cool dry location to ensure freshness
- Put it in an air-tight container in the fridge for extra freshness
With all the options available and all the guidelines you need to follow, you’re probably wondering what exact type of hamster food to get. The problem is, there is no one right answer. We can give you a recommendation on what we think makes a well-balanced hamster diet but by no means is this always going to be right for your situation. In addition to pregnant and baby hamsters, you might need to alter your diet formula for any obese, old, or diabetic hamsters. Obese hamsters should be limited in their fat intake, old hamsters can be fed what the babies eat and diabetic hamsters should have low sugar diets.
In regards to prepackaged hamster chow, these should make up more than 50% of the overall diet. There are two main types to choose from; seed mixes and lab blocks of pellets. Variety is the spice of life so it’s okay to use both in your hamster’s diet.
A bag of mixed seeds is a great choice if you want a large variety of options for your hamster to eat. Depending on the brand, theses mixes include not only seeds but also and other types of grasses/grains (oats, wheat) dried fruits and vegetables. If your hamsters ate a bit of all these ingredients, it would probably have a relatively balanced diet. However, just as you see in humans, hamsters will pick and choose what they want to eat. Often they will go for the more fatty foods like sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds while not eating the other parts of the mix. Thus, they don’t get a well-balanced diet.
You can pick out the fatty seeds like sunflower and pumpkin seeds and only give them out every so often. You might consider removing some of the corn or alfalfa since some hamster owners say they can cause cancer or liver damage but there is little research to back this up from what we can find. Additionally, dehydrated fruits can get stuck in their mouths or cause a cheek impaction. Finally, avoid mixes that have a lot of molasses in them since they are full of sugar.
Lab Blocks and Pellets
Lab blocks were originally created as feed in laboratories for research animals. You can now buy these at pet stores but the best ones still come from manufactures that still sell to laboratories. A lab block usually contains a mixture of seed and grains and vitamins and minerals. These are a preferred type of hamster food if you want to make sure your little guys or girls are getting all the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy. If you could only get one type of dry food, these would be them.
You might think they would taste bad but your hamsters will most likely love them, especially the Syrian breeds. In addition to getting a well-balanced diet, these pellets and blocks will help wear down your hamster’s teeth and keep them from becoming overgrown. Lastly, Block and pellets are easier to save while cleaning your hamster cage then the smaller seed mixes.
Hamsters in nature rarely drink water but instead get their water from the things they eat (This does NOT mean you don’t need a water bottle though). Fresh greens, fruits, and vegetables not only provide your hamsters with the water they need, but they also provide extra vitamins and minerals they need. With that said, you need to be careful how much greens you add into the hamster food; too many greens and they can get a case of diarrhea. A rough guide calls for only feeding it about one square inch (2.54cm) of greens per day. There are greens, fruits, and vegetables that are great for hamsters and there are also ones that should be avoided. The following are some of the greens that are acceptable and some of the greens to avoid (If you collect these from outdoors, make sure there are no pesticides or toxic chemicals that could be on them. Always thoroughly wash them before placing them in your hamster’s cage.)
Acceptable Greens to Eat
- plums (sparingly)
- Figs (sparingly)
- Cut Grapes (sparingly)
- Soy Sprouts
- sweet potato
- Rose Hips
- Timothy Hay
- Herbal Hay
- Stinging Nettles
- Apple (twigs with no pesticides)
- Pear (twigs with no pesticides)
- Hazelnut (twigs with no pesticides)
- Beech (twigs with no pesticides)
Greens to Avoid Feeding
- Cabbage (causes gas)
- Broccoli (Can be toxic if too much is consumed)
- cauliflower (Can be toxic if too much is consumed)
- Beets (Can be toxic if too much is consumed)
- Onions (causes gas)
- Leeks (causes gas)
- Spinach (hard to digest)
- Sorrel (hard to digest)
- Rhubarb (hard to digest)
- Raw Potatoes (hard to digest)
- Corn (may or may not cause cancer)
- Alfalfa (may or may not cause cancer)
- Citrus Fruit (too acidic)
- Peaches (too acidic)
- Apricots (too acidic)
- Nectarines (too acidic)
- Pineapple (too acidic)
- Raspberries (too acidic)
- Twigs from Evergreen Trees (indigestible oils and resins)
- Horse Chestnuts (hydrocyanic acids)
- Oak (hydrocyanic acids)
- Ivy(hydrocyanic acids)
- Acorns (hydrocyanic acids)
- House Plants (can be poisonous)
Carbohydrates in your food mix is a must. Carbohydrates are what an active hamster needs to keep going. If your lab blocks or seed mixes don’t have them or not enough, you can provide additional carbs of the following in small amounts. If you provide too many carbohydrates though, your pets will start to become overweight since all carbs won’t get used up and instead get stored as fat.
Acceptable Sources of Carbohydrates:
- Cooked Pasta
- Cooked Rice
- Cooked Potatoes
- Whole Wheat Bread
- Nutritional Yeast Tablets
In their natural habitat hamsters are mainly herbivores but on occasion, if the opportunity arises, they will snatch up small insects or grubs. This means you will need to provide your pet with some food that contains protein. Many of the prepackaged mixes will have some protein so you won’t have to provide that much more. All you need is a small fingers worth every so often. Try to keep its protein intake down around 12-15% unless otherwise for reasons stated in this article (pregnant and baby hamsters). The following is a list of acceptable forms of protein that can be fed to them (It’s best to get any of the live insects/bugs on this list from the pet store so no diseases get spread).
Good Sources of Proteins:
- Live Mealworms
- Insect Larvae
- Hard Boiled or Scramble Eggs
- Small Bits of Cooked Chicken (unseasoned)
- Small Bits of Cooked Beef (unseasoned)
- Small Bits of Cooked Fish (unseasoned)
Hamsters need access to a fresh source of water 24/7. The best way to do this is by providing them with a water bottle or two throughout their habitat. You need more than one if you have several hamsters or an expansive cage system.
In the wild you could observe a hamster licking different rocks or minerals that contain salt. They need salt to help retain water and stay healthy. You can provide your hamster with a salt lick or a mineral salts. These come in various forms and are sometimes added to their accessories as a form of play.
If you provide your little guy with a well-balanced diet you probably won’t need to get supplements to add extra vitamins and minerals into their food or water. However, if you want to play it safe and make sure they are getting all the nutrition they need, you can get vitamin and mineral supplements; it more than likely won’t do them any harm as long as you follow the directions.
Occasionally a pet owner wants to spoil their hamsters by giving them some treats. For the most part, if you feed it a well-balanced diet it won’t need to be fed any treats. However, every so often it’s okay to give your hamster something that is not the best for it in terms of nutritional value. If anything, if it does not provide any nutritional value, a tasty treat might improve their happiness which is a roundabout way can improve the little guy or girl’s well being. There are a lot of options on the market these days and some are less unhealthy than others. Most of them come in flashy packaging and contain a lot of sugar. Here is a list of some of the treats that are available:
Avoid any treat that contains a high amount of sugar. This means no cakes, cookies, or chocolates. If you only spoil your hamster every so often and don’t fall for their tricks that they just have to have a treat, then you are being a good pet hamster owner and providing them with the proper care they need.
- Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals: Fourth Revised Edition, 1995.
- California Hamster Association
Caring for Hamster
Pet Care Manuals
Reviewed By: Tim Winter
Tim Winter has an unwavering affection for animals and his extensive experience in caring for various pets has motivated him to impart his personal successes and failures to enlighten others on the best practices in pet care. Tim obtained his Bachelor of Science in Advertising from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications.
64 thoughts on “Hamster Food Diet and Treats”
Should you give a Hamster a mix of Pellets, Seeds, Greens and Vegetables?
I have a Syrian where banded long hair,are they prone to diabetes, or are they like most Syrians. And if she is banded with a white stripe, and two orange,is she a panda long hair hamster ?
Thanks Kemi .
hey so I’m getting a hamster soon. do I need cook the vegies up for it or can it have them raw??
Raw. In the wild hamsters don’t cook up their food either 🙂
Raw is best. Just make sure they are nice and clean. I like to keep in mind: “would I eat that?!!” Plus, produce/veggies, in general, are much tastier and better when they’re nice and juicy. They don’t seek out water (for the lack of a better phrase lol). So I’ve always given mine juicer/water-filled produce. Lettuce, corn, carrots, and small bits of celery. From time to time or when it’s warm/hot, they looove watermelon! But please please please! Moderation is key! Remember that these are little ones. And too much of anything can be a bad thing!
does anyone know how long a hamster can last without food?
Is it okay to occasionally give a small piece of cheese? I didn’t see it mentioned on the list above. I gave my teddy a piece and he closed his eyes and ate it slowly like he was enjoying every bite. But now I just want to make sure its safe for him, I don’t want him to get sick.
I read it was ok as long as it’s not processed cheese
Some of information may be incorrect or slightly incorrect, I suggest hamster hideout, it is a great way to get multiple points of view. Also avocados are toxic and hamsters need a bit more than 12-15% protein.
Thanks for the feedback. In respect to protein percentages – there is a wide range of opinions from reputable sources so the information in this article is not incorrect, it just varies. With that said, we have updated the information with a more authoritative source than we were using. Updated Source: National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on Laboratory Animal Nutrition. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1995.
i bought 2 hamsters,they are not drinking any water …they are only eating and eating…..what shall i do to make them drink more water
Is the water in a bottle rather than a dish? Hamsters don’t always seem to know what to do with dish water. Try giving them more moist vegetables or fruits to make up for the water they’re not drinking. Hopefully this problem has resolved itself, or will soon. You could also try holding the water bottle near them and nudging their lips gently with the rim so they feel the water on it.
I do hope you’ve done your research and aren’t housing incompatible breeds together. Please look that up if you haven’t, or your hamsters will end up fighting and may seriously injure or kill each other.
If you are housing a compatible breed together, they may dislike drinking from the same bottle as the other, if they’re not used go each other yet. If the above tips don’t work invest in another bottle. If the hamsters are new, they may just be stressed too, or you might just not see them drink since they’re nocturnal/crepuscular. If they’re new, it’s advised you don’t hold them or take them out for a week or two. Start just by resting four hand in the cages so they get used to hour smell. Or wear an item of clothing and then put a scrap in there. Watch our, they’ll chew it.
I just got my 2nd hamster about a week ago and it won’t eat his food it’s the oxbow (what they feed at the pet store) but all he will eat is the dried strawberries!!! ? I crushed them into smaller pieces cause he’s a dwarf baby what do I do??? No matter what he will not eat the food… idk what to do PLZ HELP!!!
try a different brand i use wild harvest i have a dwarf hamster too he went through the same thing
What kind of cereals to give normal size baby hamster
A great type of cereal to give your hamsters is cheerios! You don’t want to give cheerios to your hamster all the time but there great for treats!! Remember-Only regular cheerios not honey,etc.
please sign me up for your website. Thank you
Is it okay if I give a hamster a venison or lamb ?
What size portion of books egg can i give my hamster for protien
Lol I meant boiled egg
do need to clean my hamster? Like, give her a bath or something because im not sure. PLEASE HELPPPPPP. and if so, how do i clean her?
Unless the get into something sticky or an irritant (something toxic to them), you don’t need to bathe them. They do a good job cleaning themselves.
Don’t put a hamster in water instead give it a sand bath. This is just a bowl with Chinchilla sand.
Only if it’s got something stuck in its fur. What I do is I leave a corner dedicated to a sand bath. That can be bathing sand or sterilized children’s play sand! I use sterilized play sand, but you don’t have to since hey clean themselves:)
Try giving her a little sand pit to bath in and if she uses it rather as a bathroom then just change it more regularly but don’t ever put her in water.☺
Responding to someone: if they use the sand bath as a toilet then get two: one as a litter box, and one as a bath. 🙂
never wash your hamster it strips all the natural oils from their fur!
It’s not exactly recommended to wash or bath a hamster in water unless they smell really bad (that may be time to clean out the cage) or have something stuck in their fur that is hazardous to their health and if you must then use Dawn dish soap. Otherwise a cheaper alternative is using sand that you can find at a local pet store. This is a fun way for a hamster to bathe as they love rolling around in it and is far less stressful for the hamster.
You must NOT bathe your hamster in water, even if you see a shampoo advertised for hamsters, water and soap will strip their skin and fur of the natural oils they need on their bodies, with that said hamsters only need some “bathing sand” to have access to and use it to wash themselves, some sands you can use are children’s play sand (persanolly I would recommend as it turned out a lot cheaper for me) and chinchilla/hamster dust. Hope this helped ?✌?
I thought I learned that the chinchilla dust is actually bad for them.
True. Use sand and not dust.
Your hamster will clean itself NEVER bathe it in water it takes of all the good oiles on his/her skin all you have to do is put a spread out bowl in the cage and put sand in it you hamster will adooorrr it you can watch them role around in it make sure that you don’t leave it in for more than 10-20 mins because I can dry your hamsters skin you can buy special sand or children’s play sand I doesn’t matter hope this helps xx
clean hamster with sand that you can buy at a pet store
you use sandbaths
Will Kaytee lab blocks with “some” mealworns And Oxbow essentials be Ok for a hamster diet she is a fat one and when I first got her I filled her dish FULL of seeds that’s why she is fat.
She is going to be on a diet with her new wheel with fresh cold water every night here is her diet plan
Monday: Vegetables (small amount) weekly food Kaytee lab blocks Mealworms and oxbow esstentials
Tuesday: Timothy hay
Wednesday:Scatter feed 1tablespoon of seeds
Friday:Weekly food w/treats
You need to feed a more regular diet (the same basic food ration every day with occasional treat.
A varied daily diet like this can be bad for digestive system as it takes hammys a while to get used to diet changes.
How old does a Syrian hamster have to be before i start feeding her treats?
Once the hamster stops nursing it should be okay within moderation.
I dnkw my hamster type but its 1month old what food can i give? And how to clean my hamster?
If you don’t know what breed search online how to tell what hamster breed you have. Also never ever bathe your hamster in water! Buy chinchilla dust and a bowl as a bath, this is optional though.
Would it be ok to put a small pumpkin (its about the size of 2 fists ) in the cage with my teddy bear hamster for her to Nibble on as she pleases? Or maybe let her nibble for a certain amount of time? She has a larger rat cage so there’s plenty of room with all her other toys and chews. Please advise 🙂
Yes, that is okay to do. Pumpkin is a healthy food option. If it starts to get messy, you can just cut the pumpkin into pieces and place it in a dish.
For mixes with pellets in them what would be the optimal percentage range for protiens and fats for a growing short haired syrian? Currently we have about 20% protein pellets, although i am looking to change that, and also mixes of veggies and fruits.
Also, whats the deal with the corn and alfalfa? I had never heard of them possibly causing cancer in hamsters until now.
I would like to know the range please, as im looking at multiple other pellet seed mixes.
I just purchased a DJ hamster yesterday and I was wondering if there are any little tricks to make him more comfortable with my putting my hand in to touch him and pick him up. He is super friendly when I finally do get him out, but I was wondering if there was anything I could do for the initial contact to be less of a pain. how do I make him more comfortable with me?
See this post on taming a hamster
try stroking in cage and giving treats build up both of yours confident
Hi. Avoid AVOCADOS also. They are too fatty. I used to share my veggie/cheese wraps with my hamster, which she loved, but one had avocado in it. I didn’t think about it. I lost her.
It’s ok to give to my hamster 2 tablespoons per day ?
That should be enough.
Can u feed hamster dried cranberries
Cranberries are pretty tart and acidic so I might avoid feeding them to your hamster. Most likely not poisonous to them but it might be hard on their digestive system. Additionally since cranberries are kind of chewy and sticky, there is a chance they would get stuck in the hamster’s mouth, teeth and cheeks.
erm i am 13 can i give my hamster some nuts and crapes
Of course hamsters can eat nuts but It depends on what types of nuts and how much you plan to give it. In respects to the crepes, what the crepes are made out of. It’s best to stick to the list of food provided here.
Hi, I just got my hamster yesterday from petco and she doesn’t seem to like her food so much? Is it because she’s not use to it or because she doesn’t like it. She’s a long haired syrian hamster. Please help, I’m concerned, what should I feed her?
Give your new hamster some time to get comfortable and eventually it will begin to eat and become more active. Hamsters can be picky eaters sometimes but it will eventually start to eat. I suggest trying several options on our list to see what it likes. but don’t allow it to only eat one thing since it won’t get all the nutrients it needs. Diversity is the key.
Hi, it is becuase that is not the food they used in the shopl, if you go back and ask for the feed they used she would like it much better
i have a drawf hamster, how long to i have to clean out my aspen chips? Like clean it out 3 days, i mean change the aspen chips every 3 days? how long is it?
I have a dwarf hamster too I would clean cage every week 3 days sounds too soon for them to adjust to the home before its cleaned again
Hello, i just bought a hamster three weeks ago, and i discovered it has becoming a bit of an elephant eater, it just eats and sleeps everyday and it rarely goes to play on the wheels, how do i make it lose weight in case it gets obesity?
Try building a maze or hiding its food so it has to be active to find it. Also, limit the fatty foods like sunflower seeds. Your hamster might also be more active when you are sleeping since that’s when they are normally active.
You can usually change it less often than that. you should change the area where it uses the bathroom more often thou. see this post on best hamster bedding options.
how do you find hamster food
Finding hamster food is pretty easy, you can either go the pet store to buy commercial brand products or use any of the items listing in this post about hamster food. Mainly, you just need to be careful that the food is healthy for your hamster. A well balanced diet is the best. let me know if you have additional questions.