Hamsters have become one of the most common pets in the home, especially when there are children. They are small animals, easy to care for and do not need a large space, so they are the most chosen as first pets. However, although their care and needs are quite simple, if this is the first time you have one, certain doubts may arise regarding their diet: do you really know what hamsters eat?
If you have a hamster, you may have noticed that he likes food a lot and always turns around on his plate to see what he finds. These pets are generally very healthy and have few diseases; With a proper cage, good hygiene and complete feeding you can enjoy your pet almost without visits to the veterinarian.
While they are nocturnal animals , they don’t sleep all day. It is proven that they get up every 2 or 3 hours to look for a snack, so it is better if they always have some food at their disposal. This also happens in nature, since although they leave their burrows to graze at night, in the day they use the seeds, fruits and other foods that they have collected and taken to their home in their night runs. If you are going to be absent all day, be sure to leave a handful of seeds on the saucer before leaving.
As for the amount of feed in the hamster , they can eat whatever they want, but always control their weight because some tend to gain weight and become sedentary. As a general guide, each person eats approximately one tablespoon of mixture per day plus one serving of fresh fruits and vegetables. In spite of their difference in size, in the feeding of the golden hamsters and that of the dwarves the quantity is the same. This is because the little ones have a more accelerated metabolism and consume a lot of energy. This amount is only a guide, if your hamster needs it you can give it something else. Keep in mind that they don’t usually eat all the seeds you give them, but choose the ones they like best and leave the rest.
In nature, hamsters eat a wide variety of foods such as seeds, grains, plants and insects . The ideal to maintain the optimal health of your small rodent is that your daily diet is as close as possible to your natural diet. In the variety is the key: the more different foods you provide each day, the more enriched your menu will be and you will be able to obtain all the necessary nutrients in a balanced way.
As for the amounts of food that hamsters eat, as long as they have no weight problems, they can eat whatever they can. It is not necessary to give an exact portion of food, they themselves are able to administer and select their food to properly nourish each day; They do it instinctively. However, a good way to start is to offer a quality feed accompanied by some fresh vegetables such as carrots or some plants. To get an idea, a hamster usually eats between 10 and 15 g of feed per day , depending on the species and its size.
Food list for common hamsters (Russian, Chinese, Roborovski …)
Below, we offer you the list of recommended foods for any breed of hamster, according to your needs:
- Seeds, cereals and nuts: bran and wheat germ, oatmeal, brown rice, popcorn (without salt or butter), cooked pasta, pumpkin seeds without salt, pipes without salt, peanuts without salt, alfalfa, low cereals sugar, flax seed, soy, lentils, dried toast, chestnuts, etc.
- Recommended vegetables: broccoli, kale, chard, celery, cauliflower, dandelion leaves, zucchini, sweet potato, turnip, water cress, corn cob, cucumber, clover, carrots, asparagus, green beans, endives, etc.
- Fruits that hamsters can eat: cherries, blueberries, strawberries, apples, bananas, peaches, plums, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, raspberry leaves, cantaloupe, mango, etc.
- Proteins of animal origin: cooked chicken, cooked turkey, tofu, low-fat yogurt, soft cheese, dog or cat biscuits, cod, cooked minced meat, bread dipped in milk, mealworms, grasshoppers, crickets, etc.
These recommended foods for hamsters should be administered in low proportions and as a supplement to their main diet. Similarly, it is important that the vegetables and fruits have been washed and completely dry before giving them to the rodent.
Balanced hamster diet: feed, fresh food and protein
The feed is what hamsters eat in greater proportion. By offering these specific menus for the animal you make sure to provide a perfect combination of vitamins, minerals and proteins . The feed hamsters are composed 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 mixture of seeds for parakeets and canaries, along with vegetables and some protein.
The food hamster contains a high fiber and low in sugar and fat. It is best to complement it with small portions of fresh fruits and vegetables every day ; never in excess as they can cause diarrhea. You can also offer nuts such as hazelnuts, chestnuts, nuts and raisins. Another food that hamsters eat is insects. In nature they eat insects, frogs, lizards and other small animals; to satisfy them at home you can occasionally offer them mealworms, crickets or small grasshoppers.
A balanced diet should contain: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water. Carbohydrates are obtained with the mixture of barley, corn, oats and wheat present in the hamster feed; proteins through insects or foods such as hard boiled eggs, meat, cheese and yogurt; the vitamins and minerals are present in the feed and vegetables. Water should always be fresh and clean; It is better to give it in the bottle, since the bowls can tip over and get dirty. Another food that hamsters eat is wet food for dogs or cats, being able to cover with it 10% of daily protein in their diet. To increase the amount of protein, you can also add some croquettes for cats or cookies for dogs. These cookies in addition to providing nutrients are very good for wear teeth, as they are quite hard.
The more variety of fruits, vegetables and meat , the better and more enriched your diet will be. You should introduce new foods slowly to avoid gastrointestinal problems; The best way to do this is to give them in small portions and alternate days. Another thing that hamsters love is herbs and plants ; If you have grass and do not use herbicides you can cut a couple of leaves for your pet, they will love it!
Fruits that hamsters eat:
- Apple (without seeds)
- Peach (boneless)
- Blackberries, blueberries and raspberries
Vegetables that hamsters can eat:
- Romaine lettuce
- Green beans
- Sweet peppers
- Natural cob corn
- Soybean germ
- Dandelion leaves
- Red chicory
Meats, proteins and other foods that hamsters eat:
- Cooked minced meat without fat
- Cooked chicken or turkey
- Cooked cod without skin, bones or bones
- Fresh low fat cheese
- Low fat yogurt
- Grain bread dipped in skim milk or soy milk
- Dog biscuits
- Flour worms, crickets and grasshoppers
- Cooked brown rice and pasta
- Cereals without sugar
- Flax, sesame or pumpkin seeds
- Popcorn without salt or butter
Candies that hamsters can eat:
In addition to the basic food, rodents enjoy a good 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 delicacies are:
- Boiled egg
- Fish oil
- Seeds for birds
- Other foods with very valuable nutrients that can be incorporated into the hamster’s diet are: wheat germ, corn, brewer’s yeast, popcorn (they love it!), Etc.
Foods that hamsters can’t eat:
- Raw potatoes
- Raw beans
- Raw tomato
- Citrus fruits such as lemon or orange
- Apple or grape seeds
How to Feed the Hamsters
When feeding hamsters correctly, a series of considerations about the habits of these small rodents must be taken into account. Hamsters are nocturnal animals and perform the greatest physical wear during the night. Therefore, these animals should have enough food and water throughout the day, but especially after sunset.
Although hamsters can complete their diet with other foods such as fruits and vegetables, not all of them are recommended, as we will show in the list of prohibited hamster foods at the end of this article.
Foods high in fat and sugars should be avoided as much as possible , since hamsters are very prone to being overweight and other diseases such as diabetes, which originate after the intake of foods with a high percentage of sugar.
The ration of food per day will vary depending on the breed of hamster, since depending on which breed the specimen belongs to, it should take a greater or lesser amount of food. For example, the harlequin hamster should eat less food per day than the Syrian hamster , since it is much lazier and less active than this one. In addition, you are more likely to be overweight because of your low level of physical exercise.
Hamster feeding during winter
During the winter months, falling temperatures and decreasing hours of sunshine can cause the hamster to go into hibernation, although not all hamsters hibernate can have some early symptoms of hibernation.
During this period, rodents are sleepy, cold and much less active than usual. To prevent them from dying from malnutrition or cold, it is advisable to prevent our hamsters from hibernating during the winter. This is achieved in different ways and one of them has to do with feeding the hamster during the coldest months.
If the hamster seems to have begun to hibernate, it is recommended to provide a higher calorie intake with more fatty and tasty foods, in addition to providing food and water on an ongoing basis. This will make the hamster not so weak and that, thanks to the increase in caloric intake, heats up and increases his body temperature.
Prohibited Food for Hamsters
Among the foods that hamsters can eat under any circumstances, whatever their race, are the following:
- Prohibited fruits for the hamster: apple seeds, citrus fruits such as tangerine or orange, grape seeds, avocado, lemon and lime, apricot kernel or watermelon.
- Vegetables prohibited for the hamster: eggplant, raw beans, raw rhubarb, tomato and tomato leaves, onions, chives, leeks, parsley, garlic, potatoes and all foods containing starch.
- Other prohibited foods: French fries and other fried foods, chocolate, sweets, candies, almonds and other foods high in fat and sugars, coffees in all their versions, fatty meats and sausages and milk, since many hamsters do not digest lactose well .
The care of a hamster
Hamsters are very clean creatures. You should not place your plate of water and food near the area where they need it as it will feel uncomfortable.
In addition, it is advisable that you advance your cage thoroughly at least twice a week . Remember that hamsters are quite hoarders, so be sure to remove all leftover food during cleaning as they may have stored and accumulated part under their “bedding” that is no longer in good condition.
Finally, provide your hamster with safe toys that can be entertained, preferably made of wood, and do not forget to place a shelter in the cage as a house , so you can hide there during the day.
Although some foods such as pipes or sunflower seeds are part of the hamsters’ diet, they are high-fat foods, so you should control the amount you eat to avoid health problems such as being overweight.