Hamsters are omnivores, just as humans, which means that they have a mixed diet of plant-based food and meat. As pets, they are not very difficult to look after, and their food is very affordable. In the wild, a hamster’s diet consists mainly of seeds, grain, grasses, and some insects.
Domesticated hamsters should have a diet very similar to that of their wild relatives. In the article below we will present you with some of the popular hamster food currently available on the market, together with information about your pet’s diet.
Pellets and seeds
One of the most popular choices you can buy nowadays are pelleted hamster foods which offer a fully balanced diet in every bite, and this is one of the main reasons it is so often recommended. Pelleted foods can come in many shapes, but they are usually presented in the form of small biscuits, cereals, or cookies.
While with a mix of seeds the pet can be picky and only eat the items that it loves, which can result in an unbalanced diet, with the pelleted choice, this can be prevented entirely. The downside is that feeding your pet a diet that consists only of pellets can be a bit monotonous and some hamsters can outright refuse to eat them.
To ensure that this will not happen, a pelleted diet can be supplemented with a variety of other items. You should remember that no matter what other things you bring to the diet, the pelleted food should make the bulk of it, otherwise you risk overfeeding the pet.
One of the items that you can mix with the pelleted hamster diet are seeds. The important aspect to consider is to choose a loose seed mix diet that comes with a variety of foods such as grains and dried vegetables, along with the seeds. Some loose seed mixes can also contain a balanced pellet food as part of the mix.
If you are looking to feed your pet a loose seed mix, you should only offer it more once your hamster has emptied the bowls because, as we’ve mentioned above, you don’t want your pet to eat just its favorite things, as that can lead to an unbalanced diet.
Fresh foods and treats
While pellets and seeds are recommended to be the main diet for your hamster, you can also feed a variety of human foods as long as you limit the treats to no more than 10% of your pet’s diet. By human food, we refer to fresh vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, not cooked food which can be harmful to hamsters.
Similarly, try to limit the amount of fruit that you offer to your four-legged companion as it can cause diarrhea if not offered in moderation. You should also try to avoid store-bought treats such as honey, seed sticks, and yogurt drops which can be too sugary for a hamster to handle.
Some of the safe foods you can offer are carrots, broccoli, blueberries, bananas, apples (with no seeds), peas, potato, spinach, squash, hay, cooked brown rice and whole wheat pasta, crickets, hard-boiled eggs, lentils, and much more.
Since hamsters can be quite sensitive, you should make sure that your rinse the vegetables and fruits off with some water before you serve them to your pets. You should also leave them to sit at room temperature for a minute or two before feeding them. Similarly, make sure that any fruit you’ve picked yourself is free of pesticides, if not, avoid feeding wild plants, fruits, and vegetables.
Hamsters are also big fans of peanut butter, but since it is a sticky food, it must be fed carefully. Peanut butter, together with any other sticky food, can get stuck in the cheek pouches of your hamster where it can cause severe problems. As a general rule, a very thin layer of peanut butter on a piece of wood is good as an occasional treat.
Timothy hay, alfalfa, and dietary supplements
Alfalfa, timothy hay, or a mix of the two are a nice addition to the diet of your hamster. It is worth noting that not every pet will go wild about them, but it is definitely worth a try. In the wild, hamsters are grass eaters, and they enjoy nibbling on this tasty hay.
While generally, most of the commercial food for hamsters you can find on the market nowadays is supposed to have all the required nutrition for a healthy pet, supplements are still a good way for you to ensure a balanced diet for your beloved furry pal.
Generally, dietary supplements are available with minerals, calcium, and vitamins and they come in flavors that hamsters are used to and that they enjoy.
Make feeding fun
Once you’ve chosen the right food for your pet hamster, there a few other aspects to consider. Since hamsters in the wild spend a lot of their time searching for something to eat, making them work for their food is a great way to keep them occupied and prevent them from getting bored.
You can try a few things such as scattering some of their food around in the cage instead of merely using a bowl. While this might sound like it could create a massive mess in the cage, it is actually an excellent idea, even more so if you have more than one hamster.
These pets can be very protective of the food bowl, and the dominant hamster might not let others have their fair share of the meal. By scattering the food pellets and seeds around the cage, everyone will get to enjoy the food while also keeping themselves occupied while searching for it.
You can also hide fresh treats, food pellets, or hay inside cardboard tubes, boxes, or paper bags. The pets will have a great time searching for their food, especially since they will also enjoy gnawing on the packaging that you have used to hide it in.