What do Hamsters Eat and like to eat the most ?
This is what hamsters eat :
Hamsters are omnivores, their diet must be very diverse and well balanced , it should contain about 18% protein, 7% fat and 15% fiber, its food must be a mixture of a variety of seeds, cereals, fresh vegetables and fruits as treats, animal protein (cooked or dried meat, insects and worms) and sprinkled with a mixture of dried herbs, rich in vitamins and minerals and finally hay and branches to chew.
Should I just buy the commercial seed mixes to feed my hamster?
Are the seed mixes , pellets or rodent block sold in pet stores or online the ideal diet for your hamster ?
You should not just buy the first seed mix you find online or in a pet store.
Ideally you should make up your own food for your hamster, but in the meantime you can buy a seed mix diet that contains a variety of seeds and grains, not so match cereals as well as dried vegetables.
So that your hamster has a long life without too many comings and goings at the vet
Sprinkle some table spoons of Higgins Sunburst Herb Garden from time to time in the cage and give a half-centimeter cube of fruit and two to three mealworms per week as well as small amounts of safe veggies every day to avoid diarrhea.
Never listen to those who recommend the pelleted diet as the exclusive food for your hamster.
You can never give these pellets to your hamster, it’s killing him with boredom not to mention that they are not a complete diet !
Start by feeding your hamster Sunburst food
I also read an article where Dr Sandra M Mitchell recommends Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Blend Gerbil & Hamster Food.
Here is some of what this food (Sunburst) contains:
White Millet, Oats, Sun-Cured Timothy Hay, Wheat, Sun-Cured Alfalfa Hay, Corn, Sunflower Seeds, Red Milo, Flaked Peas, Flaked Beans, Peanuts, Yellow Peas, Flaked Carrots, Flaked Corn, Soybean Hulls, Dried Beet Pulp (sugar removed), Pumpkin Seeds
Coconut, Grapes, Soybean Meal, Apples, Dicalcium Phosphate, Cashews, Papaya, Pineapple, Salt, Flaxseed, Vegetable Oil, Color Added (Algae Meal), Soybean Oil, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product and other ingredients you can check on Amazon
I would recommend this brand for your new hamster, but I would also ask you to keep track of which seeds and foods your hamster likes to eat and which ones he leaves in his bowl, which ones he likes, which ones he stocks, etc. so that you know what to put in his future seed mix that you will later prepare for him yourself.
I’ll tell you now , how to make up your own mixes for your hamster, let’s dive in …
Healthy Dry food mix for Hamsters:
Dry food should never be put in your hamster’s bowl.
Instead, sprinkle it all over his cage to encourage him to look for it at night , a Good enrichment for your hamsters .
This habit will help him to exercise and this will avoid him a lot of health problems and especially to be bored, alone in his cage while you were sleeping at night!
Start by putting down his dry food ration, between a tablespoon or two per day
Put these dry foods near his water bowl or fresh vegetables
Then move them away from this place a little more each day, to finally hide them everywhere in the cage and even under the litter box to encourage your hamster to dig them up before eating them.
1-A mixture of 200 gr of cereals:
Start by mixing in equal quantities the maximum of varieties of cereals that you will find in an organic shop.
Here are the cereals which can compose this mixture:
- Brown Rice
Don’t use too much corn, especially if you are not sure of its origin! You can replace the corn with two or three popcorns every week as a treat.
2- A mixture of 100 gr of grains and small seeds:
Oil seeds and small grass seeds (like those for budgies) are an essential and mandatory food for the well-being of your hamster.
Therefore, a good and varied seed mix will provide your hamster with excellent nutrition.
Here is the list of the seeds which can constitute this mixture:
A third of oilseeds, between 30 and 35% of the total seeds because they are very fatty:
- Seeds of Cardi
- Seeds of Perilla
- Linen seeds
- Seeds of Chia
- Hemp seeds
- Poppy seeds (don’t use too many!)
- Sesame seeds
- Camelina seeds.
Here are some other seeds:
|Buckwheat seeds (peeled)|
|Seeds of Comb|
Seeds of cockle grass and those of ryegrass seeds
Grass seed (check first if your hamster likes it)
Hay flower seeds and wild flower seeds
Milk thistle seeds
Seeds can also be classified as follows:
Grass seeds (cereals) rich in carbohydrates and low in fat
Oats, wheat, rye, barley, rice, spelt, kamut, sorghum, and millet.
Flower seeds: high in fat and low in carbohydrates:
sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, chia seeds, canola seeds and sesame seeds. Pumpkin and squash seeds
Seeds from the Fabaceae family (beans and peas…) rich in protein and fiber and low in fat:
white beans, chickpeas, split peas, soybeans, mung beans and lentils.
3- A mixture of 100 gr of multigrain flakes:
You should add them especially if your hamster is growing or rather old and elderly!
These bottles contain a form of starch that is easily assimilated by the hamster’s digestive system (a starch that results from heating the seed and subjecting it to strong pressure to create the flake).
Here is the list of flakes to include in this dry food for your hamster:
- Oat flakes
- Wheat flakes
- Barley flakes
- Rye flakes
- Rice flakes (in small quantities!)
- Pea flakes
- Corn flakes (without sugar! and not too much too!)
4-An intake of 100 gr of dried vegetable mix:
You can buy for your hamsters all the healthy dried herbs , fruits and veggies you want from Smallpetselect , this is the best online store for these kind of foods.
Dehydrated vegetables (containing micronutrients):e.g. squash, zucchini, peppers, broccoli and sweet potatoes, rich in fiber and micronutrients.
Many vegetables contain special types of prebiotic fiber that feed beneficial bacteria in your hamster’s gut.
You can buy these vegetables already dried or you can dry them yourself at a reduced temperature.
Here is another list of vegetables that can be mixed into the dry hamster food:
- Carrots (also in potato chip form)
4-1: Dried fruits for your hamster dry mix:
As far as dried fruits are concerned, they should not be added systematically to this mixture, but offered in controlled and very small quantities, separately and only as treats because of their fast sugar content which will subject your hamster to a risk of diabetes, especially if it does not have too much space to spend.
5- 80 grams of protein food:
Hamsters are Omnivores and they love and need animal proteins in their menu.
Insects and small rodents are natural prey for hamsters in their natural environment.
Therefore, you can add insects to your hamster’s menu and here are some examples of insects that can provide protein for your hamsters:
- The famous dried mealworms
- River fleas
- Domestic crickets
- Claus Bombyx mori larvae
Here is also a list of fresh protein foods that you can add to your hamster’s healthy diet:
- Egg white
- Egg yolk
- A piece of shrimp
- Live crickets (hamsters love to chase them)
- A bit of skimmed milk yogurt (only one teaspoon per week, without too many additives) or fruit yogurt (remove the pieces of fruit especially the exotic ones)
- Mild cheeses (Cottage, Quark), without lactose, not fermented like camembert, not too salty and without mold (no blue cheese or herbal cheeses like garlic cheese)
- Dog cookies
- Your cat’s treats
Hamsters need sprays
Hamsters love to go foraging at night, looking for their food and picking it themselves, that’s why I also recommend you to place sprays in the enclosure.
Sprays are dried stems that still contain their seeds, it is an enrichment, the hamster will detach the seeds himself, eat them later or take them and add them to his stock.
Millet sprays (Kaytee ) and Oat sprays are the most used , but you can also give him Flax sprays , wheat and Sorghum sprays , Amaranth , Quinoa , Chia , Quackgrass and Canari Grass seed sprays as well.
Can I give meat to my Hamster?
Yes, you can give a tiny piece of meat to your hamster but it must be dried or cooked.
You should never give raw meat (white or red) to your hamster.
The minced meat is also to be avoided, because even fed directly in the mouth of the hamster, you can not be sure that it has not stopped in his cheeks!
Hamsters tend to stop protein foods, especially meat and give him raw meat or fish, it will stop it and cause the proliferation of putrefactive bacteria and mold cultures that can be fatal later.
So, just give a small piece of dried meat or fish and never raw or ground meat.
6- A mixture of 100 gr of dried herbs:
You will actually adapt the components of this dried herbs mix to your hamster’s taste.
You can not add them in the dry food mix for your hamster but sprinkle them in the cage.
Choose the place away from where your hamster usually urinates
You can sprinkle these dried herbs on the elements that make up the decoration of the cage of your hamster as the bridge branch … etc
You will watch and try to find out which herbs your hamster likes to eat the most or if he prefers flower petals…
Here are some herbs that will make up this mixture:
| Lemon balm |
Chamomile & flowers
Dandelion ( root & herbs )
Fresh wild mallow
Balm (lemon balm)
Sunflower flowers (petals)
Freshly ground giersch
Shepherd’s purse grass
Black currant leaves
7- A small quantity of 50 gr of different nuts:
These foods should not be mixed with all the dry foods but rather given separately because they are too fatty.
Therefore, your hamster should only have one hazelnut, half a nut or three to four sunflower seeds per week.
Nuts will provide good fat for your hamster, opt for nuts rich in Omega 3, here are some examples of nuts to add in the mixture of your hamster:
- Sunflower seeds
- Pine nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Pumpkin seeds.
Fresh foods for hamsters:
1- Forage (green herbs):
If you want a good supply of vitamins for your hamster, provide green plants, green fodder.
This will be given daily to accompany the dry food.
Here is the list of authorized plants for hamsters:
Sunflowers and daisies
Poisonous plants to avoid giving to your hamster :
bitter sweet nightshade
Lily of the valley
Yew leaves vinegar
2- Fresh vegetables:
They will provide water and vitamins for your hamster, especially when you don’t have access to forage and you actually live in the city
Vegetables must be given daily to your hamster, in small quantities (a small slice, a piece the size of a fingernail or just a small leaf), depending on the vegetable.
Above all, never leave vegetable scraps lying around in the cage to avoid the formation of bad fungus and mold in your hamster’s hay or bedding.
Also, keep an eye on your hamster so that it does not hide these foods under the litter box.
Here is a list of vegetables that your hamster can have:
Tomatoes ( the fruit )
3- Fresh fruits:
Hamsters love fruit, the sweeter the fruit, the more hamsters want it!
But it is not healthy to give him a piece of fruit bigger than the nail of your little finger.
Fruit contains sugar, a natural sugar but hamsters, especially when the cage is too small, it must be said that it is often! they tend to develop diarrhea but also diabetes especially for older hamsters, when they consume too much sugar.
There are fruits that your hamster can consume without risk but respecting the quantity, here is the list:
- Apples (remove the seeds)
- Pears (remove the seeds)
- Strawberries (too sweet)
- Bananas (too sweet)
- Grapes (remove the seeds)
What fruits are forbidden to hamsters?
Yes, hamsters can’t eat all the fruits we eat.
Basically, we must avoid giving fruits that are too sweet, and the rule is that all fruits with seeds are to be avoided for hamsters.
So, plums, cherries, nectarines, peaches, dates, … contain too much sugar.
As for their pits, they are toxic because once arrived in the intestine of your hamster, the amygdalin they contain, will turn into hydrocyanic acid (toxic).
Can I give exotic fruits to my hamster ?
No, you should avoid exotic fruits and not offer them to your hamster even in small quantities.
The reason is that they are too sweet and contain water, they tend to cause digestive problems to hamsters.
These exotic fruits are not allowed for hamsters:
- The physalis
4- Branches and twigs for hamsters:
Like rabbits and guinea pigs, hamsters also need to file their incisors constantly.
It is therefore recommended to put fresh or dry branches and twigs in its cage so that it can wear its teeth.
A good hay, spread here and there over his litter, but not too hard, choose the fine twig hay like Oxbow.
Tree branches are also a great way to keep your hamster busy while giving him a way to file his teeth.
Hard bread should be avoided and not given to your hamster (especially overweight ones) because it is indigestible due to its starch content, salt and baking powder.
There is also the risk of molds invisible to the naked eye that can hide in old hard bread and can make your hamster seriously ill.
Therefore, you should choose branches from trees that have not been treated with pesticides.
Here is a list of the types of branches that are allowed for hamsters:
- Apple tree
- Pear tree
- Hazelnut Bush
- Blueberry bush
- Black currant bush
The precautions to take is to remove the bark and leaves of these branches before installing them in your hamster’s cage.
Water for my Hamster?
Of course, water must always be available 24/7 in the hamster’s cage.
I prefer that you give him his water in a bowl.
Change this water after cleaning the bowl and at least once a day.
Change the water immediately if you suspect that your hamster has accidentally urinated in the bowl or dropped food in it, especially protein foods and when it is hot.
Bottles with a ball valve should be avoided as germs tend to grow inside the valve.
The bottle doesn’t empty fast enough so the water is only fresh the first day when you give it to your hamster.
The valve can become clogged and your hamster will become dehydrated in your absence which can be fatal.
Finally, I recommend that you put the water in a heavy ceramic bowl, the height of which is just at the level of your hamster’s eyes.
This way, your hamster will be able to enjoy fresh water that is renewed every day.
The more you are away, the wider the water bowl should be for your hamster.
Deposit this water bowl a little far from his sandbox and especially from the corners where your hamster tends to use as a toilet.
Some other unsafe foods for Hamsters :
What to Avoid feeding it to your hamster :
- Froot Loops
- Bacon and ham
- Chilli peppers
- Citrus fruits
- Lettuce ( iceberg)
- Raw or uncooked potatoes
Don’t add a lot of corn to your hamsters seed mix !
It would be very dangerous if you were to feed your hamsters a corn-based diet.
It has been established and proven in a hamster study done in a French university that hamsters fed exclusively with corn become cannibals.
Female hamsters completely change their behavior when they are given a corn-based diet.
They tend to eat their newborns and this is what happens to wild hamsters in corn fields too.
It probably has something to do with the “Pellagra” disease that used to drive South Americans crazy when they fed exclusively on corn.
Hamsters need a rich and varied food, especially vitamins like B3, because the fact of adding this vitamin to the studied hamsters prevented them from becoming cannibals and the female hamsters found their maternal instinct.
I am not saying this just to tell the danger that the colonies of wild hamsters who live in fields where monoculture is practiced, but especially to those who feed their hamster with poor seed mixes and especially with only pellets and no seed, protein and especially no vegetables and vitamin source.
How to easily make balanced food mix for your hamsters ?
It’s better to use from 12 to 30 different ingredients in the MIX
5 types of seeds
2 types of legumes
3 types of vegetables
2 types of animal protein. I would advise going more into the 20 – 30 ingredient range.
Using percentages : respect The protein/ fat / fiber levels of the ingredients
10% animal protein.
Hamster love to shred and chew things like :
Hamsters love to chew things too as I said before, and if you don’t have access to the rods I recommended, you can replace them temporarily by these other alternatives so that your hamster finds an occupation at night and especially file his incisors:
- Coconut shells
- Hay cubes
- Unbleached loofah
- Pumice stone
Lets Wrap this up
Hamsters are omnivores and opportunists and to avoid having a picky hamster, you must offer him a varied diet and then monitor his habits.
Only give him his daily tablespoon of seed mixture (dry food) when you are sure he has eaten all the previous meal.
Remove what your hamster refuses to eat from the menu and replace it with another food that has the same nutritional value.
Introduce the new food gradually to your hamster and then increase the amount.
Scatter your hamster’s food around the cage and even stuff some seeds under the bed to encourage digging and exercise.
The herbs should be sprinkled in the hamster’s cage, two to three tablespoons at a time, and added when your hamster is finished eating them.