We all want our hamsters to be fluffy and cute but you need to be careful not to let them get fat since an obese hamster will have a poor quality of life. You can start by getting toys for hamsters for exercise purposes and by providing it with a healthy habitat as we talked about in this article.
Diet is also essential and in the guide below we will talk a bit about the steps you can take to help your hamster lose weight and how to prevent it from getting overweight again in the future.
How to tell if your hamster has gained too much weight
Even though hamsters have a fast metabolism, which means that they burn energy from food at a very fast rate, they can still be prone to getting chubby, especially if they are fed too much or don’t exercise enough.
One way to tell if your pet has put on too much weight is to keep track of its weight on a regular basis throughout its life so that you can see if any change in diet or exercise has an effect on it.
As a general rule, dwarf hamsters which are the most popular pets will weigh between 1.5 to 2 ounces as adults. For Syrian hamsters, an ounce of weight for every inch of length is a rough guideline to help you gauge what the normal weight of the critter should be. With that in mind, most adult Syrian hamsters will weigh around 6 to 7 ounces.
With that said, just because your hamster weighs above average, it does not necessarily mean that he/she shows signs of obesity. A pet that is active, healthy, and eats properly should not be a major cause of concern for you.
Unfortunately, many types of hamsters are prone to diabetes, and being fat only helps exacerbate the probability. As such, even if your pet is active and does not seem to be affected by its extra weight, it is best to help it lose weight so that you can protect it from this debilitating illness.
A balanced diet is a must
Hamsters are omnivores and in the wild, they eat plants and insects, but in captivity, their diet can only be as diverse as the owner affords. If your hamster has weight problems, chances are that an improper diet is the cause of it all. It is very easy to overfeed your critter, especially if you are an inexperienced owner.
One way to properly handle a fat hamster is to monitor its diet more closely, restrict fatty foods, and increase water consumption. When changing your pet’s diet you need to make sure that it can still get all the calories it needs to get through the day.
Stay away from low-calorie foods and focus instead on providing a low-fat diet. That includes removing treats such as pecans, walnuts, and cashews since they can fatten up your critter quicker than you can imagine. Nuts are also very easy for hamsters to hide and save as a snack for later.
You can replace these nuts with a hamster seed mix that contains a blend of carefully chosen seeds with lower fat content. As always, you should remember that pelleted foods should encompass around 90% of your critter’s diet, which means that extra treats should be offered sparingly.
Water is another essential part of your pet’s diet and if your furry pal is overweight, it might find it difficult to get to the water bottle if it is too far away or too high. You need to make sure that the water bottle is as close to the hamster’s nesting site as possible, and don’t forget to replace the water on a daily basis.
Exercise can be fun
A hamster wheel is not just a fun toy, it is essential for the well-being of your pet since in the wild hamsters spend most of their time roaming around in search of food. If your pet does not have a wheel or other toys to play with, it will be very hard to make it burn calories and lose weight.
When you purchase a hamster wheel, you need to investigate to see which one is the quietest, especially if the cage is placed in someone’s bedroom. Hamsters are most active at night, and a wheel that squeaks will easily disturb a light sleeper.
Having numerous hamster toys in the cage will encourage the critter to rearrange and stack them up to its liking to keep it occupied, which in turn will burn calories. Since the pet should be constantly on the move while it’s awake, you can also get it out of the cage and play with it from time to time.
Make sure that you only let it out of its cage during the night, so as not to risk disturbing or stressing it during the day when most hamsters are less active. If you don’t want to risk it hiding in your room, you can build a hamster play area using an old box and cardboard tubes, or other items that you can use to create a maze.
While we did mention that treats should be offered sparingly, hamsters can get bored if you only offer them the same thing over and over again. If you are smart about how much and what you give them, you shouldn’t fear that a fresh treat will cause your pet to gain weight.
You can add around one square inch worth of fresh vegetables and fruits to your hamster’s diet, but it is a good idea to remove them from the cage within 30 minutes to avoid overfeeding.
Some of the fruits and vegetables that you can offer are celery, broccoli, plums, melons, beets, peas, figs, plums, zucchini, sweet potato, bananas, clover, mint, dandelions, herbal hay, and cucumber. Remember always to wash the fruits and vegetables before serving them to your pet.