Written By : M Samy

what Do Hamsters Eat ? [Full Guide]

Table of Contents

Hamsters are Omnivores, their ideal diet is a mix of seeds and cereals, fresh vegetables, dried meat, insects like mealworms; dried herbs, nuts or fruits as treats, and finally hay and branches to chew.

Even though hamsters are primarily seed-eaters, they are also known to eat insects and almost everything. They need a well-balanced diet, so the best hamster diet should contain about 18% protein, 5 to 7% fat, and 15% fiber. Keep reading, I’m going to tell you all you need to know on how to correctly feed your hamster.

How much food for my hamster?

Before starting, you should know that a hamster eats daily an average of one tablespoon of dry food (10 to 12 gr for a Syrian hamster / 9 gr for a dwarf hamster ) plus one teaspoon of fresh veggies and the equivalent of one teaspoon of fruit two to three times a week.

Should Hamsters eat commercial seed mixes?

what hamsters eat

If you keep reading you will learn everything you need to know about how to properly feed your hamster and how to prepare its food yourself. You’re also going to need this especially when feeding a sick hamster, same for pregnant or nursing hamsters. In both cases, they strictly need a well-balanced healthy diet.

But I think I should start by giving you the list of the best hamster food brands so you can find out what to feed your hamster before you start making his seed mixes yourself. Mazuri lab blocks are also a good option to start feeding your hamster.

Here are the best hamster commercial diets, you’re gonna find other options in the following paragraphs:

Are the seed mixes, pellets, or rodent blocks 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. Many of these brands are not well-balanced and you will quickly find your hamster suffering from deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.

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 lives longer without too many comings and goings at the vet.

The Best Seed mixes to buy for your hamster

Some of these mixes contain a balanced pellet food, which makes them better. Wild Harvest Advanced Nutrition Diet for Hamsters is not bad, you can also give your hamster Kaytee Forti-Diet Pro.

These commercial mixes should be a temporary solution because you should buy good quality ingredients and make your own mix; I will show you how to do it in this article.

Sprinkle some tablespoons of Higgins Sunburst Herb Garden from time to time in the cage and give him 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 completely healthy 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 hamster dry food mix (Sunburst) contains:

what do hamsters eat ?

It’s a mixture of 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, Flaxseed, Vegetable Oil, Color Added (Algae Meal), Soybean Oil, Fermentation Products, and other safe 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; you can get some of your organic seeds and grains from this Amazon store.

How to properly feed a hamster?

I’ll tell you now, how to make up your own food mixes for your hamster, let’s dive in …

1- Make your own Healthy Dry food mix for Hamsters:

healthy and balanced hamster food

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 keep him away from a lot of health problems and especially being bored, alone in his cage while you are sleeping at night!

Start by putting down his dry food ration, between a tablespoon or two per day 

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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.

A mixture of 200 gr of cereals:

Start by mixing in equal quantities the maximum varieties of cereals that you will find in an organic shop.

Here are the cereals which can compose this mixture:

  • Millet
  • Barley
  • Oats 
  • Rye
  • Corn
  • 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 popcorn every week as a treat.

A mixture of 100 gr of grains and seeds:

what do hamsters like to eat ?

Oil seeds and small grass seeds (like those for budgies) are 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 you can add to 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 your hamster can also have:

Buckwheat seeds (peeled)
Amaranth seeds
Dandelion seeds
Fenugreek seeds
Fennel seeds
Dill seeds
Parsley seeds
Fescue seeds
Flax seeds
Nettle seeds
Seeds of Comb
Seeds of cockle grass and of ryegrass seeds
Alfalfa seeds
Grass seed (check first if your hamster likes it)
Hay flower seeds and wildflower seeds
Daisy seeds
Milk thistle seeds
Chervil seeds

Seeds can also be classified as follows:

1- Grass seeds (cereals) rich in carbohydrates and low in fat

Oats, wheat, rye, barley, rice, kamut, sorghum, and millet.

2- Flower seeds: high in fat and low in carbohydrates:

sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, chia seeds, canola seeds, and sesame seeds.  Pumpkin and squash seeds

3- Seeds from the Fabaceae family (beans and peas…) are rich in protein and fiber and low in fat:

white beans, chickpeas, split peas, soybeans, mung beans, and lentils.

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!)

An intake of 100 gr of a dried vegetable mix:

You can buy for your hamsters all the healthy dried herbs, fruits, and veggies you want from Small pet select, this is the best Amazon store for this kind of food.

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. Hamsters can also store them in their food stashes for a long time.

Here is another list of vegetables that can be mixed into dry hamster food:

  • Beets
  • Carrots (also in potato chip form)
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Celery
  • Parsnip
  • Fennel
  • Kohlrabi

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 minimal quantities, separately and only as treats because of their high sugar content which will subject your hamster, especially Campbell’s dwarf ones to a risk of diabetes, especially if it does not have too much space to exercise.

80 grams of protein food:

healthy hamsters food and seed mix

Hamsters are Omnivores and they love and need animal proteins in their menu.

Insects and even smaller rodents are natural prey for hamsters in their natural environment.

Therefore, you can add insects to your hamster’s menu; 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
  • Silkworms
  • Grasshoppers

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

2- 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 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 Hamsters have meat?

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 giving him raw meat or fish, 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.

A mixture of 100 gr of dried herbs

what should hamsters eat ?

You will actually adapt the components of this dried herbs mix to your hamster’s taste.

You can not add them to the dry food mix for your hamster but sprinkle them in the cage. 

You can put small amounts of these dried herbs on top of 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
Blueberry flowers
Dandelion ( root & herbs )
Fresh wild mallow
Balm (lemon balm)
Peppermint leaves
Marigold flowers
Sorrel herb
Sunflower flowers (petals)
Plantain Ribwort
Bird’s-foot clover
Blackberry leaves
Echinacea, Echinacea
Freshly ground Giersch
Fresh grass
Green oats
Green wheat
Hazelnut leaves
Shepherd’s purse grass
Black currant leaves

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.

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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 to the mixture of your hamster:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Hazelnuts 
  • Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Pumpkin seeds.

3- Fresh foods for hamsters

Forage (green herbs):

If you want a good supply of vitamins for your hamster, provide green plants, and green fodder.

This will be given daily to accompany the dry food.

List of authorized plants for hamsters:

Bock choy
Carrot leaves
Brussels sprouts
Fennel Leaves
Celery leaves
Green beans
Cooked potatoes
Sweet corn
Turnip greens
Romaine lettuce
Cilantro leaves
Basil Leaves
Lemon balm
Giant hogweed
Milk thistle
Sunflowers and daisies

Poisonous plants to avoid giving to your hamster :

aloe vera
Giant Hogweed
wild garlic
mountain laurel
bittersweet nightshade
wood anemone
iron rose
Christ thorn
Autumn crocus
Dog Parsley
cherry laurel
corn vetch
lily Lupin
Lily of the valley
summer lilac
apple thorn
deadly nightshade
The ferns
Yew leaves vinegar

Fresh vegetables:

best food for hamsters

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.

List of vegetables hamsters can eat:

Spinach leaves
Iceberg lettuce
Lamb’s lettuce 
Fennel bulbs
Swiss chard
Red peppers
Parsley root
Romaine lettuce 
Celery stalk
Turnip stalk
Tomatoes ( the fruit )
Jerusalem artichoke
Sweet corn 

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 for 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.

List of fruits hamsters can eat :

  • Apples (remove the seeds)
  • Pears (remove the seeds)
  • Strawberries (too sweet)
  • Bananas (too sweet)
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Melon
  • Kiwi
  • Currants
  • 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 in hamsters.

These exotic fruits are not allowed for hamsters:

  • Papaya
  • Cherimoya
  • Curuba
  • Pomegranate
  • Avocado
  • Guava
  • The physalis
  • Kumquat
  • Lychee
  • Mango

4- Chew 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.

Good hay and hay cubes 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.

Organic Cardboard, Coconut shells, and seagrass may also be given to your hamsters as an enrichment.

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.

Types of branches that are allowed for hamsters:

  • Maple
  • Dogwood
  • Apple tree
  • Birch
  • Goat Willow
  • Weeping willow
  • Pear tree
  • Hazelnut
  • Beech
  • Alder
  • Ash
  • Hornbeam
  • Hazelnut Bush
  • Blueberry bush
  • Quince
  • Black currant bush
  • Linden
  • Poplar

The precautions to take is to remove the bark and leaves of these branches before installing them in your hamster’s cage.

5- Hamsters need Fresh Water

Of course, The average adult hamster needs approximately 10 ml of water per 100 grams of body weight; so 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.

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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 it as a toilet.

Some other unsafe foods for Hamsters :

What to Avoid feeding it to your hamster :

  • Froot Loops
  • Avocado
  • Bacon and ham
  • Chilli peppers
  • Chives
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Candies
  • Citrus fruits
  • Pickles
  • Lettuce ( iceberg)
  • Raw or uncooked potatoes
  • Spices

Don’t add a lot of corn to your hamster’s seed mix!

what do hamsters eat ?

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 at 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, which also happens to wild hamsters in corn fields.

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 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 a 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

  • 40% seeds
  • 30% vegetables
  • 20% legumes
  • 10% animal protein.

Hamsters 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:

  • Cardboard
  • Coconut shells
  • Hay cubes
  • Unbleached loofah
  • Pumice stone
  • Seagrass

Final Thoughts

Hamsters are omnivores and opportunists and to avoid having a picky hamster or him ignoring his food, 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 meals.

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 scattered in the hamster’s cage, two to three tablespoons at a time, and added when your hamster is finished eating them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about hamsters’ diet :

Here are some clear and precise answers to the most frequently asked questions about hamsters’ diet, especially about what they can and cannot eat.

These answers are only for hamsters that do not suffer from any disease. I recommend that if your hamster is ill, you consult a veterinarian for more information on what your own hamster should or should not eat to avoid complicating his case.

Finally, I would be very glad to answer any other questions left in the comments about hamster nutrition and diet.

Can hamsters eat blueberries and strawberries?

Hamsters can have blueberries and strawberries but in moderation. Cut a small piece of the fruit (half the fruit) and offer it to your hamster but not often!

Can hamsters eat tomatoes?

A hamster can have the equivalent of half a teaspoon of fruit each day, so your hamster can have a small dice of half a centimeter of tomato, without the skin and seeds of course!

Can Hamsters eat grapes?

Hamsters can eat a grape or two every once in a while but not often since this fruit is too sweet. You should also remove the seeds and skin from the fruit before offering it to your hamster.

Can Hamsters Eat Cherries?

Hamsters can eat Cherries, but offer them small cubes of this fruit without seeds because the pits that cover the seeds contain Persian, which is toxic to small animals, so this part of the fruit should not be offered to hamsters, as it can poison them.

Can Hamsters Eat Sweet Potatoes?

Hamsters can only eat boiled sweet potatoes because raw sweet potatoes are indigestible and can poison your hamster. Do not add any seasoning or salt to your sweet potatoes when preparing them to avoid upsetting your hamster’s digestive system and making it sick.

Can hamsters eat sweet potato skin? 

No, you must peel and then boil sweet potato before offering a piece to your hamster once it has cooled down, and be sure to pick up what is left as soon as it finishes eating to prevent the food from rotting.

You should also never let your hamster hide sweet potatoes or any other fruit or vegetable in his food supply to prevent his supply from rotting.

Can Hamsters Eat Argula (Arugula)?

Yes, you can give your hamster a few leaves of arugula, but not every day and in moderation. Even though arugula is rich in vitamins A and C and minerals, it contains oxalate and if your hamster eats it regularly, it may develop kidney problems.

Can Hamsters Have Spinach?

Hamsters can eat Spinach, but only once or twice a week, because like Arugula, Spinach also contains a large amount of Oxalates which can cause kidney stones and harm your axolotl.

Can Hamsters Eat Pineapple?

Pineapple is a good treat for your hamster, but I emphasize the word “treat” because this fruit contains too much sugar and is too acidic. Given without moderation, that is to say just a small half-inch dice each week, it could disrupt your hamster’s digestive system and cause other complications.

Can Hamsters Eat Oats?

Oats are packed with nutrients, vitamins, and fiber; but this treat also contains a high level of pantothenic acid and phosphorous which puts it in the “treat with moderation” category for hamsters.

Can hamsters have Avocados?

Hamsters can quickly become overweight if they eat Avocado slices often because it is too fatty. Avoid avocado seeds as they contain persin which is toxic to small mammals.

Can hamsters eat popcorn?

Yes, you can give your hamster popcorn from time to time, but never sweet, salty, or otherwise seasoned popcorn.

What is the best hay for hamsters?

The best hay for your hamster will be grass hay, which is not too high in protein so as not to unbalance his diet, so avoid Alfalfa hay and offer Timothy hay or Orchard grass hay so he can file his teeth and this hay can also be used as a supplement to your hamsters’ bedding.

How often should a hamster be fed?

There should always be some dry food in your hamster’s bowl, he will, of course, hide some of his food in his bedding and you need to do a little math to figure out when to give him more seeds and when not to give him so that he doesn’t store too much food and it doesn’t rot!

When it comes to fresh vegetables and fruits, he should have his daily ration of fresh food and make sure he doesn’t hide it with the seeds, remove the rest of the vegetables as soon as he finishes eating!

M Samy pet blogger and author at famillypet

About Author

Hey! Samy here , Welcome to my Blog I'm an animal lover, especially pets and Really concerned about their well being ; I've been around and caring for all my life and Now ; a full-time Pet blogger at your service . My motto here at Famillypet is: "Pets First" ... Read More