Helen's Hamster Pages and Hamster Pictures

Hamster Food and Treats

Originally this text was on the FAQs page, but I still receive questions or comments about the types of food or treats that can be given to a hamster. So I have added more information to this and created a new page as it is obviously a big and popular topic for hamster owners.

What food and treats can I give to my hamster and how much?

Hamsters enjoy a wide variety of food so it is easy to start by saying what you should avoid. They do not normally do not like salt or very strong flavours like onion or garlic. They are not keen on citrus fruits or tomatoes. The unhealthy things like salt, sugar or fats are not good for them. (The hamster salt lick blocks sold in pet shop are made from minerals and not table salt.)

You should avoid giving them food which will melt, as they may stuff it into their pouches which are warm. If food has melted in a pouch it will be hard for the hamster to remove. They can clean the pouches by pushing then inside out through their months and cleaning the inner skin, which does look a bit strange. But if melted food becomes stuck I have heard that this can cause infections.

Most hamsters will turn their noses up at crisps which tend to be salty or strong flavoured. Crisps tend to be the food which hamster least like. I have only known one hamster to eat a crisp, that was Neo and he pinched the crisp out of my hand when I was trying to eat it. He nibbled on the crisp but I think he was mainly just interested in finding out what I was eating.

The basic hamster diet should be the dried food you buy from pet shops or lab blocks. The normal amount of dried food is about one desert spoon per day. However hamsters can be very picky about which things within the mix they will eat. With new hamsters you need to check what they eat and the things that they leave behind. A hamster should have just enough so that he has a small store of the things that he likes. Most hamster mixes seem to come with a type of grass or alfalfa pellet, I have never know a hamster to eat these. Also the yellow flakes are unpopular. Things that they like are sunflower seeds, peanuts, green flakes of dried peas, dried sweetcorns, smaller grass type seeds and the hard, rough textured, coloured vegetable bits. These vegetable bits are often more popular, especially for old hamsters, if they are soaked in a few drops of water so that they become a goo - I sometimes use a separate bowl for this.

You can introduce treats slowly and start with small quantities so that they adapt to the change in their diet.

Hamsters vary in what treats they prefer. They will normally like the treats that you can buy from a pet shop such as yoghurt drops, honey-nut sticks and dry carrot and apple crunchy sticks. I have found that too much fat in the diet is probably not good for them, so I recommend that yoghurt drops are a very rare treat. Hamsters also like the occasional bit of milk, but again only in small amounts as it contains fat. I like to give my hamsters a little bit of milk on my spoon which they can lick off.

Hamsters like to eat an occasional bit of protein. They love small amounts of plain meat such as chicken, eggs are also a favourite. Some protein about once a week seems to go down very well.

A hamster can eat a large amount of fresh vegetables and fruit (avoid potato roots as these are suppose to be poisonous). Feed the vegetables or fruit in small amounts to begin with and do not give them much lettuce as this can make them ill with diarrhoea. Favourite types of vegetables are carrot, courgette, peas, cress and cucumber. Cucumber is particularly good as it is a source of water. Pups can nibble it before they can reach the water bottle or an old or ill hamster can eat it instead of going out to the water bottle. Hamsters also love dandilion leaves, give a dandilion leaf to a hamster and it is likely to be gone within seconds, just make sure that no one has treated to plant with weed-killer and wash the leaf.

Hamsters eat cooked rice and pasta, and uncooked pasta but they seem to prefer it cooked. They like to eat pastry, cooked and uncooked. Cheese is popular in small amounts. Breakfast cereals are nearly always very popular, just be careful in case the hamster decides to climb into the bowl of rice crispies.

You can give them a variety of nuts, such as walnuts, brazils, almonds and hazelnuts at Christmas. When they are in the shells the hamster can chew at them to wear down his teeth, but you will normally need to crack them so that the hamster can eat the nut. My dwarf hamster loved walnuts in particular.

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