If you’ve just got yourself a hamster and you are not certain what type of food is safe for it to eat, you can take a look at our top picks. If you want to get more information about how to look after your new companion, we also have an article on that, so check it out later! In the meantime, our comprehensive guide will explore the foods that your furry pet can eat.
Pelleted and seed diets
While you can offer your hamster many treats and snacks, it is important to make sure that its main diet is made up of high-quality, store-bought food that is designed specifically for the dietary needs of hamsters. These foods are recommended because they contain the correct amounts of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients.
For the most part, these come in two forms: pellets and seed mixes. Pellets are without a doubt the most popular option since they are formulated to contain at least 20% protein and that is essential for improving the overall functioning of your critter’s organs.
The high amounts of protein will also help since hamsters are known to be very active, and the protein allows them to develop strong muscles. The downside with pellets is that even if they contain all the nutrients your hamster requires for a healthy life, often times they are not as appealing to them as seed mixes are.
Hamsters love seed mixes, mainly because they resemble the food that they usually eat in the wild. The main disadvantage is that if you focus on only a few types of seeds, it is very possible for your pet not to get all the nutrients and substances required to maintain its active lifestyle.
Even if you do give your hamster a varied mix of seeds containing all the vitamins and minerals needed, many critters will only choose the seeds that they like and leave the ones they don’t untouched. This can help aggravate existing nutrient deficiencies, which is why a diet based solely on seed mixes is not recommended.
Thus, your pal’s diet should consist mainly of pellets with a few of its favorite seeds sprinkled in. To help keep your hamster happy and healthy, you can also give it fresh food and some treats, but they should not account for more than 10% of the hammie’s diet.
Fresh food and treats
As long as you remember that fresh food should not be the primary source of nutrition for your hamster and you stick to the 10% balance we talked about above, you can feed many of the fruits and vegetables you already have in the kitchen to your critter. Veterinarians recommend that only whole grains, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and nuts be given.
The reason why you can’t feed too much fresh food to your hamster is because it can lead to diarrhea, not to mention that many of the fruits and vegetables people like to feed their pet contain sugars that can increase the risk of diabetes.
As such, try to limit giving your pet too many sugary treats or fruits. Speaking of fruits, some of the safe varieties include cherries, raspberries, mangoes, bananas, peaches, seedless grapes, strawberries, deseeded apples, and cantaloupes.
For vegetables, the list includes carrots, spinach, kale, broccoli, celery, sweet potato, zucchini, cucumber, and peas. Other treats that you can offer to your pet are unsalted nuts except for almonds, cooked whole wheat pasta and brown rice, lentils, pumpkin seeds, plain air-popped popcorn, and small pieces of hard-boiled egg.
One other thing that is worth remembering is that hamsters like to hoard food, which means that if your pet had its full from its primary source of nutrients, it is very likely to hide the food in places you won’t even think to look.
Thus, you can be fooled thinking that your hamster eats its treats, when in fact he/she hides them. Hamsters that hoard food are very likely to get fat and from that to getting diabetes is just a small step. If you want to keep your pet healthy, you should choose two or three days per week and limit giving it fresh food or treats only in those days.
How much and when should a hamster eat?
The amount of food that your hamster needs depends greatly on its size, breed, and how active it is. On average, hamsters will only need about one or two tablespoons full of food each day. Make sure that you feed the hamster twice a day so that it always has something to chew on.
Because hamsters are nocturnal, most owners feed them at night and then give them another pinch of food and maybe a small treat in the morning. With that said, there is some disagreement in this regard because while in the wild, hamsters do go search for food at night, they do it mainly for protection against the daytime predators.
Since there are no predators for your furry companion to worry in its cage, domestic hamsters wake up several times during the day to snack on some of the food they have stored.
Similarly, it is important that the food your hamster has access to is always fresh. If you see that there is some uneaten food left in the cage, you should not leave it to spoil. Your critter should have fresh pellets or seeds available at each feeding time.
What you should avoid
While hamsters are resilient creatures and can eat almost anything, there are a few foods that you should steer clear of, if you want to keep your tiny pal healthy. For starters, never feed it apple and grape seeds, almonds and fruit pits in general. They are very toxic and can kill even a mature pet.
You should also avoid peanuts since they are very high in fat, and if they are salted they can contribute to dehydration. Lastly, but just as important, never feed unwashed vegetables and fruits since they can contain high amounts of pesticides on the skins. Human food is off the table as well.
Can hamsters eat carrots?
When talking about what foods you can allow your hamster to have, you will quickly discover the hot topic of feeding them – or not – carrots. The question many hamster owners ask is this: can hamsters have carrots?
The short and simple answer is ‘yes’, but as it is often the case with taking care of pets, short and simple answers don’t quite cut it. Many veterinarians advise pet owners to feed carrots to hamsters in moderation, but without making this root vegetable the main part of their regular diet.
The primary issue with carrots is that they contain quite a large amount of sugar, and hamsters are well known to be capable of developing diabetes if fed too much of it. That’s why you should only offer small bits of this vegetable as a snack or a treat, and not more than one teaspoon of it every other day.
But are carrots good for hamsters in any way? Besides the fact that your little critter is undoubtedly much in love with this tasty treat, there are other reasons why you should include this vegetable in your pet’s diet. Carrots are suitable for the brain, and they also enhance vision. Hamsters are known to have limited vision, so eating carrots might help them get better eyesight.
Can hamsters eat cabbage?
All hamsters, regardless of size, like cabbage, and they consider it a tasty treat. However, as a responsible owner, you should learn more about the vegetables hamsters can eat so that you don’t put their health at risk. The first rule of thumb is to understand that cabbage should be given to a hamster only as a treat and not as the main course.
If you give your pet half a teaspoon of shredded cabbage every other day, it will all be okay. A hamster diet should never include too much fresh food as that can wreak havoc on this animal’s digestive system. Since they are small animals, hamsters should never be given large amounts of food, as they tend to overeat, and that causes trouble right away.
When you feed your hamster cabbage, make sure to clean it well by rinsing it under cold running water. This way, traces of pesticides will be removed and won’t end up ingested by your pet.
That said, in small quantities, cabbage can be beneficial for your hamster. It is an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and it helps a pet’s health like it does when humans eat it. That’s why you shouldn’t eliminate it from your pet’s diet.
Can hamsters eat grapes?
Hamsters are herbivores, and they can eat small amounts of fruits and vegetables. However, while grapes are generally considered safe to eat, they abound in sugar, and that means that your hamster could get fat if you offer them too often as a treat. Another thing you should know about grapes is that, in some animals – much larger than hamsters – such as cats and ferrets, there appears to be a link between a diet that includes grapes and kidney issues.
If you are in doubt, the best course of action would be to pay a visit to your veterinarian and ask him or her about the proper amounts of grapes you could feed your pet. What can hamsters eat? That’s the first question you should ask when you go see the vet, and your peace of mind will be assured once you hear the answers.
According to specialists, the size of your pet should dictate how many grapes you can give him or her. Larger hamsters can consume more without much trouble, but small ones should only be given very small amounts.
When it comes to picking the right food for hamsters, it is always ideal to err on the side of caution. Another thing to bear in mind is that you should not give them whole grapes as that can cause bouts of diarrhea, among other issues.
Can hamsters eat raisins?
You already know by now that hamsters don’t do well with foods loaded with sugar. They love them, and if it were after them, they would eat such foods all the time, but you only have to offer them as snacks and nothing more.
What food can hamsters eat? These small furry critters are herbivores and can eat a large variety of foods, including raisins, but there are essential aspects you should be aware of if you intend to include them in your pet’s diet.
So far, raisins appear to have a toxic effect on the kidneys of some animals like cats, ferrets, and dogs, just like grapes. However, the research conducted so far hasn’t revealed why this toxic effect happens, so it is difficult to determine the clear correlation and the best course of action. For this reason, some pet owners may be wary of feeding their beloved companions raisins, even if they don’t belong to the species mentioned earlier.
The consensus is that you can feed your hamster raisins, but no more often than twice a week, and even then, moderation is the main principle you should apply. There are many other sweet foods you can offer your pet, so if you are in doubt about the safety of raisins, it would be best to avoid them and opt for other fruits.
Can hamsters eat tomatoes?
Hamsters can have fruits and vegetables now and then, and you can offer them as treats, but you should know that, in the wild, they are not so keen on even raw foods because they cannot access them easily. The evolution of their digestive system dictates that small amounts are safe, but you should never give them more than the acceptable quantity, or health problems will occur.
What do hamsters like to eat? If you intend to feed your hamster tomatoes, that’s something you should also know. Some pets might like tomatoes, while others might not be at all convinced to have some. Now, let’s address the critical matters of whether or not you should give your pet tomatoes. Here are the crucial aspects you should know.
Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, and their leaves and stems can be toxic to small animals due to the presence of a particular compound called tomatine. When ingested, this alkaloid can lead to digestive issues, as well as neurological problems. Traces of the same compound appear in green tomatoes, too.
If you give your hamster a bit of ripe tomato, it should be fine. Even so, there is an actual amount of acid in tomatoes, and that can lead to an upset stomach in your hamster. When digestive problems appear, dehydration follows, and that can be fatal to your hamster if the issue is not addressed. While you can feed your little friend tomatoes, extra caution is, therefore, advised.
Can hamsters eat apples?
Hamsters love fruits because they are sweet, and just like humans, they like such foods. However, it is essential to ask: what fruit can hamsters eat? Some fruits are better than others, so you should learn a few things about each fruit, in particular, to see if it’s a safe choice for your pet.
A common fruit for hamsters that pet owners appear to prefer is the popular apple. This fruit is rich in antioxidants but low in cholesterol and offers the necessary amount of fiber for maintaining good gut bacteria. Still, it is crucial to notice that many vets highly recommend that you peel and remove the seeds from apples when feeding bits of them to your hamsters.
Hamsters, even larger ones, can choke on the seeds, so make sure you only give them seedless apples. As for the sugar content, since it’s relatively high for such a small animal, this aspect dictates that you only offer it in moderation. A quarter of a teaspoon given once or maximum twice each week is enough for your hamster to enjoy his or her treat in perfect safety.
Can hamsters eat potatoes?
As part of the nightshade family, potatoes can be harmful to hamsters, but only if they are consumed raw. So, the first rule of thumb is to offer potatoes to your hamster only in cooked form. That’s the short answer. Now, let’s learn a little more about potatoes and how they can be integrated into your pet’s diet.
Don’t add any topping or flavor to the cooked potatoes when serving them to your hamster. That means that you should never include salt, butter, or anything else. Offer your pet a small portion of cooked potatoes, completely plain.
In case you’re wondering if potatoes are good for your hamster, you should know that they don’t have better nutritional benefits than most vegetables and fruits and even fall under. In other words, your pet can live without ever eating potatoes, and that won’t be a problem. However, if you notice that your hamster likes cooked potatoes, you can offer them as a treat once in a while.
What can I feed a hamster? That’s the crucial question any pet owner should ask himself or herself. Opt for safe foods, and when your hamster enjoys a particular treat, make sure to apply moderation when deciding on the ideal portions.