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What can hamsters eat?

what can hamsters eat

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.What can hamsters eat

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:

Vegetables

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • 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)

 

Fruits

 

  • Apples
  • Blueberries – sparingly. Very, very sparingly. These berries are very sugary and so I would avoid giving them more than 1 per week
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Peaches
  • Mango
  • Cantaloupe

 

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
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Aubergine (eggplant)
  • Chocolate (or any other sugary sweet)

What can hamsters eat

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.

If you have any further questions or need some advice about what can hamsters eat, please leave a comment in the box below.

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7 Comments

  1. I could still remember vividly my grandma had a hamster while she was still alive, it was always fun to play and watch it eat, as a young lad then I only go about feeding it grains. My aunt took it when she passed away. That hamster died one day, but since then my aunt found pleasure in having more hamsters around. It’s really nice to have come across this information, I’ll share it with her so she’ll know what hamsters like to eat, and I’m sure it’ll be a great help to her. Thanks.

  2. Hey, I wish I had read your article to learn about the hamster proper diet a few years ago, as my children loved to get one or two hamsters as pets.

    I must say my childrens hamsters had a long life and I might thing they had a good life with us, but I must admit I did make a few mistakes about their diet.

    One of my nephews is asking my sister for a hamster and he was told to learn everything about how to take care of it before he’s allowed to get one.

    I’m printing your article so my nephew can read it and I’m sure he’ll keep the article as a healthy diet for a hamster so he does a good job!

    I’m also reading your article about what is the best hamster cage to buy, it may give me a good idea for a Christmas present to the young kid!

  3. What has surprised me about hamsters is that they are omnivores like humans and what I have enjoyed about them is that they eat greens and fruits and also got to know what to feed them and what not to feed them. Thanks very much for this information it has been fun to read. 

  4. Your article is very informative.  Hamsters have very sensitive and fast digestive systems.  It is important to know what to feed your hamster.  Certain foods can harm or make your hamster ill, like fruit with hard seeds still inside.  I also learned that processed foods are not good for hamsters, just as they are bad for humans.  It is important not to give your hamster something that can make them ill. Thanks again for your informative article.

  5. Many many years ago when I was a child I had a hamster and it was such a lovely little creature. But as with any animal it needs special care when it comes to it’s feeding. It may be an animal that can eat a variety of food but you need to be careful about what you give it to eat as they are a bit sensitive and you can harm it without knowing it. Very good article and for sure it will help many that have such pets. 

  6. Hi there,

    Wow, excellent article, I couldn’t have found better than this.

    I have a hamster at home, more precisely, my daughter:) So I was surfing on the net until I found your article. The seller that sold me the hamster explained to me how to feed him, but there was a lack of information. However, I didn’t know that there were restrictions in terms of food. We gave him lettuces the whole week and fortunately, nothing happened. I have bookmarked your website so I can navigate through it and learn more about Hamsters. I am a bit worried about the lettuce. So I would like to know how I can see if my hamster is sick? Are there special signs? If so, what can I do to save his life?

    Thank you for this excellent post!

    • Hi Daniella, diarrhoea would generally be the first sign and this will usually lead to dehydration. Best to take the hamster to the vet in this situation.

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