Some simple steps to help keep your hamster as healthy as possible.
It can be very upsetting if your pet hamster becomes ill, but Fortunately, there is lots you can do to help keep you hamster happy and healthy.
Pet hamster care should include the following:
A daily health check:
Keep a close eye on your hamster’s general health and give them a quick check over every day. By getting to know your hamster’s normal behaviour and habits, you’ll quickly be able to spot if anything’s not right. This handling will also help you and your hamster gain trust in each other.
Visit your vet if you notice any of the following:
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Drinking much more or less than normal
- Lack of energy or sleeping more than usual
- Unusual swellings or lumps
- Skin conditions
- Unusual bleeding
- Signs of pain, such as sensitivity to touch
- Runny eyes or nose
- Overgrown teeth
- Changes in your hamster’s behaviour can also be a sign that they are not well.
Stopping your hamster getting bored:
Boredom can be a very big problem for small pets. If your hamster does not have enough to keep them occupied and active, they might eat too much to fill their time or become more aggressive than is normal. Boredom can also lead to them developing other health problems or issues with their behaviour.
You can keep your hamster active by giving them lots of suitable toys and activities:
- Give hamsters lots of things to climb on and explore in their cage as they are very active. Don’t forget hamsters can travel for miles at night in the wild.
- An exercise wheel is ideal, but make sure that it has no spaces between the rungs which could injure their legs.
- Cardboard rolls and boxes are great for hamsters to hide in and chew.
- A gnawing block helps them wear their teeth down.
- Make sure they have shavings or compost to burrow in. Hamsters really love to dig!
- Make feeding fun. Scatter some food around the cage and hide some in tubes, so they have an interesting treasure hunt.
Taking care of their teeth
You can help to keep your hamster’s teeth healthy by:
- Giving them plenty of things to gnaw on, like untreated softwood branches. You can find out more about suitable things for you hamster to chew in our hamster diet information below.
- Don’t feed them muesli-style food mixes. They tend to leave the healthier parts and eat the sugary parts instead. This can lead to painful dental disease.
- Avoid giving them too many sugary treats.
Your hamster’s diet
This is vets advice on making sure your hamster has a healthy and balanced diet.
The ideal diet for your hamster:
Hamster are ‘omnivores’ – this means wild hamsters would eat a mixture of plants and insects. The best diet for you hamster is one that’s similar to what they would eat in the wild to include fresh veg and protein packed treats like mealworms.
Hamsters love to hoard their food. They pack extra food into special cheek pouches and then store it around their cage for later.
Top tip: don’t feed your hamster a muesli-style food mix. They leave the parts that are high in fibre and eat the bits that are high in sugar. This can cause painful problems with their teeth and can also mean they put on weight.
The ideal hamster diet will include:
- Commercial hamster pellets (not a muesli-style mix). You can buy these in reputable pet shops or online.
- Small amounts of fresh fruit, vegetables or herbs (too much can cause problems with diarrhoea)
- Timothy hay. This is a special variety of hay that’s full of fibre and is ideal for small pets. You can buy it in pet shops and online.
- Occasional treats, like nuts, boiled egg or mealworms.
- You hamster will also need constant access to clean, fresh water. It should be in a water bottle with a metal spout.
Make feeding fun!
Hamsters in the wild will spend a lot of time searching for food. Making them work for their meal is a great way to keep them occupied and stop them from getting bored.
You can try things like:
Scattering some of their food pellets around their cage instead of feeding them from a bowl. This is a really good idea if you have one hamster that is very protective of the food bowl and won’t let other hamsters have their fair share of the meal.
Hiding hay, food pellets or fresh greens inside paper bags or cardboard tubes or boxes. Your hamster will enjoy searching for their food and can also gnaw on the packaging you hide it in.
Healthy fruit, veg and herbs.
These fruits, vegetables and herbs are all suitable for your hamster. Make sure you give them a good wash before you feed them to your hamster and only feed a small amount each day.
Don’t feed citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons or grapefruits, to your hamster.
Things to chew and gnaw:
Hamsters love to chew and gnaw on things. It’s a natural behaviour that helps keep their teeth healthy and stops them getting overgrown. It also gives your hamster something to do and helps to stop them getting bored.
Hamster love to shred and chew things like:
They can gnaw on untreated softwood. Before you give them any softwood branches to chew, bake them on a low heat for an hour and give them a good wash to make sure they’re safe for your hamster. Good woods to use are:
Elm & Red Elm
Grape & Grapevine
Willow (goat, weeping, or pussy willow)
For our guide on choosing a pet hamster cage, please click here.
We hope you have found the above information useful. Please feel free to comment below with any feedback or if you would like any further information.
First off, thank you for taking me down memory lane. I’m 43 now but, when I was just a kid, I had hamsters. Habitrails, balls, you name it, I had it. I used to go down to Sprouse Reitz to get my hamsters.
Sadly, back then, the internet didn’t exist and I didn’t have articles like this to refer to. Now, I can pull up any device and have this data within seconds.
I tried to keep my hamster entertained and active all the time but I never gave much consideration to its food or making it work/hunt for it.
Thanks again for this. I have a niece and nephew that are at the age of small pet rearing. I will share this with their parents.
Hamsters are one of my favourite pets, I used to have one some years back, they are very tricky and somehow I had to understand them. With the information I have gotten from this article I think I understand them more now. I would also recommend that you go get your hamster a suitable home that can be easily cleaned to help its hygiene. Thanks for this article
Your welcome David.
I cannot believe how much I have learned about hamsters here from reading this post alone and I hope that I will keep getting more and more knowledge about them. Though I never truly gave enough time to study them and their behaviours, this is really great to see here. I never knew that there is a need to also scatter their food to allow them to hustle for it so they can have the wild feeling. Great one and a good takeaway. Thanks
Your welcome Rodarrick.
Wow, I didnt know that there are a wide range of things that the hamster can actually eat and that’s very good to learn about. I think that it will be very good to get a range of vegetables for my hamster too. I can see here that you have shared very useful tips on how to feed the hamster and on the health as well. This is very nice. Thanks for this!
Your welcome Henderson.
I didn’t know that hamsters could travel for miles during night. Now I feel bad for them … because I know that many people just put them in a cage and leave them there with no toys or attention once the novelty has worn off … You have some great tips here to give a hamster a good life. Boredom is a terrible thing …
Making hamsters work for their food is another great idea. Scattering it around their cage, so they can go find it. I should share your article with the children in school. I work in junior high, but I think that children in elementary school may have some hamsters. They (and their parents) should read this post, their hamsters will benefit from it 🙂
Thanks for your comment Christine.
Having a pet such as a hamster become ill can be upsetting especially for children, so knowing how to take proper care of them can be invaluable. Knowing what to look for when doing a daily check is really helpful as well. Honestly I wouldn’t think that hamster would get bored but it makes sense given something like a hamster wheel exists. Teeth care and diet are also important things to know about. I know some pet enthusiasts who will find as much value in this information as I have and I will definitely pass this post along to them. Thanks for great information on hamster care!
Now I feel like getting another hamster for the things I am learning by the day about these wonderful creatures makes me grow more in love for them. When I had mine, I had little knowledge about it and what I noticed the most about it was running nose and bleeding which always scared me. Now I am having more interest in discovering things about their health and feeling and that is a great thing for me. I hope to get one soon.
Hi there. Thanks for sharing this well structured and comprehensive info and guide on pet hamster care – health and feeding.
Boredom is a very bad situation. Boredom can even make a human sick not to talk of pet hamster that needs fun all the time. I’m like the tips you shared on stopping the hamster from becoming bored. Brilliant!
Hey admin, you seem to have a vast knowledge about taking good care of hamster 🐹; what to do; what not to do; symptoms, feeding method, etc to keep hamster in good health condition at all times.
About the ideal diet for hamster, in totally agree that hamster should eat fresh vegetables and protein packed treats like mealworms, etc.
Thanks for sharing!
Your welcome Techie.
There is really so much to consider when one wants to buy a hamster. I think these are the important things to note when looking to buy one. I like the fact that you gave every detail as much as going to tell us how to take care of their teeth. I am going to put all this in mind and also make sure to educate my sister as well once I buy the hamster for her. Thank you for the useful info.
Your welcome John.
I always tell my friends that feeding a hamster can really be detrimental to their health when allowed to feed in only one spot. their life is always the life of wandering and exploring and as such, due to their innate ability to always scavenge for food, if they get everything freely, they become bored and end up getting seriously ill. Hence this is really great to see here and I’m delighted you have shared all these here. Thumbs up to you for sharing all these tips here and especially their food.