What to feed hamsters
Here are our tips for making sure your hamster has the diet they need to stay happy and healthy.
A balanced diet for hamsters
In the wild, hamsters naturally eat a mixture of seeds, cereals, insect larvae and larger insects such as crickets. As pets, hamsters need a good-quality, balanced and varied diet containing all the essential nutrients and minerals they need.
They can get this from:
- A compound pellet ration or mixture of different seeds formulated to meet their needs.
- Small quantities of greens, cleaned root vegetables and pieces of fruit such as apples. Don't give them grapes or rhubarb, as these can be poisonous to rodents.
Put their food 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.
Wet or powdered food for hamsters
You should only give your hamster wet or powdered food if you're advised to by your vet, for example because of dental problems.
Wet food can be difficult to clean from the cage, and it's susceptible to mould and bacteria growth, which can be harmful to your hamster. If your hamster is sick and needs wet food, it's important to remove all traces of it at least twice a day to ensure the food doesn't start to rot.
Drinking water for hamsters
Hamsters need a constant supply of fresh, clean drinking water, preferably from a bottle with a valveless sipper tube. Change their water regularly, clean the bottle and nozzle properly and check the water bottle everyday for leaks or blockages.
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 or 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 or sick hamsters.
Monitoring your hamster's diet
Always keep a close eye on the amount your hamster eats and drinks. If they start eating less, their droppings become moist or their hind-quarters become soiled, talk to your vet immediately. Avoid sudden dietary changes and stale food, as this can upset their stomach.