Hamsters like humans are Omnivores.
What can hamsters eat? Well in the wild, they will eat a wide variety of food to include seeds, grains, nuts, cracked corn, insects, frogs, lizards and other small animals as well as fruits and vegetables. Quite a variety I’m sure you will agree.
In captivity, most people will feed commercial hamster pellets and provided you buy these from a reputable pet shop or online source they should be fine. I’m not sure about you, but I would quickly get bored of eating exactly the same thing all the time and so we would also recommend feeding some of the food items seen further below.
We would not recommend feeding your hamster a muesli-style food mix. They will 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.
While hamsters don’t mind the seed packed hamster food with bits of corn and some dry bits to add protein, they also love greens! You can find several lists of safe veggies and fruits for your hamster online. A good example would be:
- Bok choy
- Sweet potatoes (the skin should be removed before feeding, as moulds can flourish in the skins and cause digestive tract upset and other ailments)
- Radish (a big favourite with my hamster, but do not feed the leaves)
- Blueberries – sparingly. Very, very sparingly. These berries are very sugary and so I would avoid giving them more than 1 per week
We would strongly recommend avoiding lettuce as it can harm your hamster to the point of death if given more than a few very small pieces each week.
Some other foods to avoid would include:
- Apple seeds and skins
- Grape seeds
- Fruit stones
- Aubergine (eggplant)
- Chocolate (or any other sugary sweet)
So back to the original question of what can hamsters eat? Other foods that are OK to feed to your hamster could include:
Dried dog food (kibble) is not good for a hamster but, in small amounts it’s fine. By small amounts, we would suggest one piece of high quality dog kibble per month. Low quality dog kibble has too much substitute products which makes it unhealthy. We would strongly recommend feeding only the best quality of kibble.
Next, you can feed them cooked and unseasoned beef and chicken. Quite a shock, I’m sure, but yes these are fine to feed to your hamster. This tip came from a couple of my different friends who have owned healthy hamsters for years. However, do not feed them too much. They may begin only by eating a small amount of meat. Not too fatty as we don’t want your hamster to have to go on a diet!. A few shreds of chicken or beef will be plenty.
Next, canned dog food. No gravy though please! the gravy is high in unhealthy ingredients so only get the dog food that has zero gravy in it. Cut it very small and hand some to the hamster to nibble. I would only do this once or twice a month as otherwise, they will not want to eat anything else.
Dog biscuits are also very good, but hamsters may prefer them over more nutritious food and as they can’t derive the needed vitamins from dog biscuits it is best to use them mainly for teething. If they don’t touch their food while they are the cage, remove them for a while.
I have noticed my hamster actually likes sweet foods as treats. These foods are the go-to for many rodent moms:
Fruit loops – Our children have passed this love onto the hamsters. Hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, mice, ferrets and rats all can enjoy 1 fruit loop a week. I give mine one each on weekends. My guinea pig, as he is a lot bigger, gets three.
Skinned Green Grapes – These are very popular. Put them into quarters and offer one to a hamster. Mind you. – these should also be sparingly given, but can be used more than Fruit loops. I suggest one full grape every three or four days. (don’t forget they must be seedless).
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.
Newspaper Ball – The crinkled paper is just so enticing! Not only does it make a good chew and play toy, but it also makes an excellent bedding. You can watch an interested hamster grab and chew the paper up. If they eat it, do not worry. Many rodents, especially wild mice and rats, eat worse things and will live to tell the tale.
As mentioned in the list of vegetables, they love broccoli and a single branch will keep a hamster active for a few days (or maybe a few hours for the most active hamsters).
As well as food your hamster will also need constant access to clean, fresh water. It should be in a water bottle with a metal spout.
I hope this article on what can hamsters eat has been useful, but you can look up your question and find dozens of articles on the internet. Look at what information seems to be consistent and take it from there.
Please don’t forgot all of the above advice and recommendations would also apply to other rodents like, gerbils, mice, rats and guinea pigs.
If you need advice on how to stop your hamster from biting, please see our post here.
For information on what is the best hamster cage to buy, please click here.
We have lots more information about hamsters and other small pets on our website.
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