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.
The hamster food you should look for includes 12-15% protein and 3-6% fat. For Pregnant of baby hamsters, your should get hamster food that contains 18-20% protein and 7-9% fat. The reason pregnant mothers and babies need more protein is because they need all the protein to grow. It’s during the first month of a a baby hamster’s life that is 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.
When purchasing a bag of hamster chow or seed mix, consider the following before purchasing any:
What is in Hamster Food
With all the options available and all the guideline 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 feed what the babies eat and diabetic hamsters should have low sugar diets.
A bag of mixed seeds is 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 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.
Brands that Come Recommended:
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.
Brands that Come Recommended:
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 just some of the greens that acceptable and 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
- Cut Grapes
- 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)
- 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)
Acceptable Sources of Carbohydrates:
- Cooked Pasta
- Cooked Rice
- Sugar Free Cereals
- Cooked Potatoes
- Whole Wheat Bread
- Nutritional Yeast Tablets
- Dog Biscuits
Good Sources of Proteins:
- Live Mealworms
- Insect Larvae
- Hard Boiled or Scramble Eggs
- Cottage Cheese
- Small Bits of Chicken
- Small Bits of Beef
- Small Bits of Fish
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 in a round about 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 hamster care they need.