What do Hamsters Eat?

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Hamsters are a kind of rodents that are native to Syria, Greece, Belgium, and Romania. In the wild, hamsters are active at night, and they dig burrows to store their food and hibernate in the cold season.

Hamsters feed in quite a unique way. They carry food in the pouches in their cheeks to their colony, and you can even see your pet storing meals under their bedding.

Best Food for Hamsters

The diet of a hamster should include:

1. Vegetables

Hamsters love vegetables and fruits, but you need to give these in moderation. Veggies are an excellent nutrient supplement to hamster food or commercial pellets from the pet store. You should provide small pieces of vegetables to your hamster, and ensure that the pet does not store them to avoid rotting.

Leafy vegetables that are suitable for hamsters include bok choy, spinach, kale, dandelion leaves, Swiss chard, and lettuce. These meals provide nutrients like Vitamin A and water. Hamsters can also be fed with limited portions of asparagus, celery, cauliflower, cucumber, and broccoli.

You can give your hamster carrots, but be careful not to give too much. Carrots contain sugar and are not particularly ideal for dwarf hamsters who are prone to developing diabetes. Hamsters also eat squash, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes.

2. Fruits

When it comes to fruits, it is advisable to limit the amounts because hamsters can develop diabetes.

Hamsters enjoy apples but remove the seeds because they contain cyanide. The fiber contained in apples boosts the digestive health of the animals. The pets are also known to love bananas because of the sweet taste. Bananas are, however, high in sugar, so give them only ¼ tsp one or two times a week.

Hamsters will also appreciate numerous types of berries, including blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Other fruits to consider include peaches, pears, grapes, mango, and cantaloupe.

3. Herbs

Hamsters can eat some herbs in small quantities, but not all herbs are right for them. The size of your pet will dictate the amount of herbs to give them. Safe herbs include thyme, oregano sage, marigold, alfalfa, mint, parsley, dill, basil, clover, watercress, chickweed, chamomile, dandelion, fennel, and daisy.

You should give these herbs on occasion as too much of them will make a hamster ill.

Some herbs are too acidic for hamsters to handle, including cilantro, caraway, chives, and garlic. Herbs with intense flavors are also not recommended like sorrel, geranium, bay laurel, catnip, epazote, lavender, lemon balm, rosemary, and savory.

4. Grains

Hamsters also need cereals and grains in the diet like oats and whole wheat crackers. Grains provide carbohydrates and proteins, but limit fatty nuts to prevent obesity.

You can give them sunflower seeds since they are packed with vitamins and fats. They have high amounts of Vitamin C that can cause excessive weight gain and diarrhea, so the seeds should be given in moderation. The outer shells of the seeds also promote dental health.

Pumpkin seeds can be mixed with hamster pellets as an occasional treat. The large seeds are not recommended for dwarf hamsters, but they will balance the diets of larger pets.

Most pet stores will have mixed seeds for hamsters that include corn kernels, flax, sesame, wheat, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds. The mix of large and small seeds with pellets offers a great hamster meal.

Hamsters can consume both cooked and raw rice, provided the necessary precautions are undertaken. It is easier for the animals to hold uncooked rice in their check pockets.

If you want to give cooked rice, ensure it is not overcooked or overly moist since it can become stuck inside the cheek pouch and begin rotting. Whole grain has more nutrients like fiber and vitamins, but white rice can be offered as well.

If you want to treat your pet with bread, opt for the brown kind over white bread. The latter is packed with sugars and can lead to obesity. You can even toast or soak the bread in milk, but ensure you only give small pieces to your pet.

Other treats to consider include biscuits, breakfast cereals, brazil nuts, walnuts, raisins, pistachio nuts, pecan nuts, hazelnuts, and cashew nuts.

Food You Should Avoid Feeding to Hamsters

Some foods can be toxic to your hamster, including:

Almonds

Unroasted and bitter almonds have cyanide, and since hamsters are small, a few of them can have huge doses of the element. Bitter almonds have around 42 times the amount of cyanide in sweet almonds.

Avocado

Avocado might be a beloved fruit across the world, but it is not safe to give rodents. All parts of an avocado contain persin, which is toxic to hamsters. Although the leaves have the highest concentrations of persin, the fruit has substantial amounts of it as well.

Apple Seeds

The apple fruit is safe to give to your hamster, provided you remove the seeds which contain the toxin cyanide that can make your hamster ill.

Onions and Garlic

Garlic is acidic and will affect the delicate digestive system of your hamster. Onions contain an element called N-propyl disulfide that can damage the red blood cells of the animal.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are significantly acidic, and you can opt to replace them with more suitable vegetables. Do not give your hamster tomato leaves because they contain tomatine that can lead to digestive tract problems.

Citrus Fruits

The high acidic levels of citrus fruits can harm a hamster’s stomach and make them uncomfortable.

Beans

Beans provide fiber, but they can cause diarrhea and dehydration in your hamster. Excessive dehydration can quickly kill your pet.

Junk Food

You should not give your hamster any processed food, including cookies, cakes, and chips. Check any pet food for sugary ingredients like golden syrup, fructose, sucrose, maltose, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and galactose. Avoid giving your hamster potato chips, chocolate, and any other processed sugary food.

Additional meals to avoid giving your pet are fatty meats, potatoes, unwashed vegetables, peanuts, and raw rhubarb.

How to Feed Your Hamster?

The first step to feeding your hamster correctly is establishing an appropriate diet. Buy a hamster mix from the pet store and supplement it with vegetables, fruits, and grains.

Pet owners will typically feed a hamster once a day, whether it is the morning and evening. Some specialist advice on nighttime meals because the animals are nocturnal. Some experts, however, observe that hamsters wake up sporadically during the day and snack. Ultimately, the ideal time to feed the animals will depend on your pet.

Ceramic bowls are better than plastic ones because the animals typically scratch the plastic dishes. The crevices created will provide spaces for bacteria to proliferate. The bowl should be situated at the opposite end of the bathroom area of the pet. Wash this bowl continually to keep bacteria at bay.

You can opt to hand-feed your hamster with treats in an effort to bond with them. If you find the food bowl empty, ensure that the pet is not hoarding food before feeding them another meal. It is advisable to monitor a hamster’s weight to prevent obesity. You can alter their diet if you observe them becoming slow and sluggish.

How Much Should Hamster’s Eat?

Hamsters consume one to two tsp of food every 24 hours. Additional meals will be kept in storage.

Once you fill the food dish with food, you will observe the hamster stuffing all in the cheeks. Your pet will then store these contents close to their nest to snack on them later. You therefore only need to fill the dish once a day.

You should regularly clean the pet’s den to do away with food stored for too long. Your pet can quickly get ill if they feed on moldy or stale meals. You should reduce the quantities if you come across a lot of stored food. Limiting the stored food also means that he will not overfeed and gain excess food.

Fresh food should be given in tiny portions because they quickly go bad. You can even wedge the food to the bars to discourage your pet from storing it.

What do Baby Hamsters Eat?

Baby hamsters will nurse for the first few days, and they can start to eat hamster food when they are about ten days old. Sprinkle wheat germ cereal near their nest to support growth and provide small seeds like millet.

If the hamster’s mother dies, you can try to nurse them with evaporated milk mixed with water. Immerse pellets in water to make it easier for baby hamsters to eat them.

Can Hamster Eat Rice?

Yes, hamsters can eat rice, both cooked and uncooked.

Can Hamsters Eat Meat?

In the wild, hamsters eat insects, and you can give them mealworms and live or dried crickets. You can also give them cooked beef and chicken, and dog food. The cooked meat should be unseasoned.

Do Hamsters Need Water?

A hamster needs constant access to water. Place a gravity-flow water bottle at a height they can easily reach. If your hamster does not drink any water in one to two days, consult a vet.

Conclusion

Hamsters have peculiar feeding behavior since they store food in stashes around their cage. Their cheeks have special pouches for carrying food into storage. You should search around their cages continually in case the stored food is going stale.

Hamsters should be given store-bought pellets for good health, and it should be supplemented with veggies, fruits, and grains in limited amounts.

Updated: June 22, 2020

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