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A healthy diet for hamsters

Diet logo © RSPCA publications and brand 2010

 

Make sure your hamster has a healthy diet

 

Hamster in flat food dish © Fotolia

Hamsters need:

  • Fresh, clean drinking water continuously. Check the water bottle daily for leaks and/or blockages. Change their water regularly and clean the bottle and nozzle properly to avoid contamination. 
     
  • Water preferably from a bottle with a valveless sipper tube.
    - Hamsters aren’t able to apply strong suction so may have difficulty overcoming the resistance from the water flow in traditional ‘ball-valve’ sipper tubes.
    - Provided the sipper is of a relatively small diameter/manufactured with a pinch in the segment, it will be easier to drink from than one with a mechanical obstruction in it.
    - This may be particularly important for young/old/sick hamsters.
     
  • A good quality, balanced diet containing all essential nutrients and minerals - a compound pelleted ration or mixture of different seeds. Commercial rations are formulated to meet their biological needs. Hamsters naturally eat a mixture of seeds/cereals/insect larvae/larger insects e.g. crickets. 
     
  • Food placed in flat dishes or directly on the cage floor. If in a dish, expect them to turn it over to transfer the contents to their larder. They carry food in their cheek pouches and can be seen retreating from their food with bulging cheeks. They like to sit up and hold pieces of food to gnaw.
     
  • Variety. Small quantities of greens/cleaned root vegetables/pieces of fruit e.g. apples can supplement the ration. Don’t give grapes or rhubarb as these can be poisonous to rodents. 
     
  • Wet/powdered food only on the advice of a vet e.g. because of dental problems.
    - Wet food can be difficult to clean from the cage and is susceptible to mould/bacteria growth which can be harmful to hamsters.
    - If a hamster is sick and requires wet food, it’s important all traces are removed at least twice daily to ensure the food doesn’t start to degrade.
     
  • To avoid sudden dietary changes, or food that becomes stale, as this can upset their stomach.
     
  • The amount they eat and drink monitoring. If food consumption falls, the faeces become moist or their hind-quarters become soiled, talk to your vet immediately.

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