Hamsters are not very discriminating when it comes to food. They’ll eat just about anything. Hamsters are small creatures with small stomachs. These stomachs fill quickly. It’s important for the hamster caretaker to make sure that the hamster will only have access to nutritious foods in order to keep that belly full of nutritious foods rather than junk.
Hamsters should have a mixture of commercial foods and fresh foods. They also need constant access to fresh water. Check the ingredients labels of commercial hamster foods and treats. If it has sugars and dairy products, leave it on the shelf. Even if the label says that the item is good for hamsters, treats loaded with sugar and dairy products can keep a hamster full but not get the right nutrition it needs.
Good Foods for Hamsters
Check the label of commercial hamster food again. It should list a protein content level. Hamsters need 18 to 22 percent protein in order to thrive. Dwarf hamsters need slightly higher protein levels. Supplement their diets with a weekly treat of a live mealworm or a pinch of finely diced cooked beef or mutton. Dwarf hamsters also like seeds more than larger Syrian or teddy hamsters.
Fresh treats for hamsters need supervision when giving these treats. Fresh food spoils quickly and could expose your small pet to harmful bacteria. Always remove any uneaten portions of fresh foods after an hour. Good treats for hamsters include:
- · individual pieces of dry cat food
- · individual pieces of Monkey Chow
- · a small handful of fresh hay
- · fresh baby carrots or carrot pieces
- · fresh broccoli
- · fresh spinach
- · a small amount of boiled egg.
Bad Foods for Hamsters
Hamsters are like people in that they often prefer foods that aren’t good for them. One such food commonly given to hamsters is sunflower seeds. These should only be given as an occasional treat, if at all. They are far too rich in fat and calories for pet hamsters. Check commercial hamster foods for sunflower seeds.
Other foods that you should never give your hamster include:
- · human junk food
- · chocolate or other candy
- · onions, garlic, leeks or any food in the onion (allium) family
- · heavily salted food
- · canned foods, which are loaded with salt, sugar and other preservatives
- · peanuts, which contain afaltoxin
- · almonds, which contain cyanide
- · baked goods like cakes, cookies and tarts
- · potato leaves
- · apple seeds, which contain toxin
- · iceberg lettuce
- · watermelon, which hamsters love so much they can gorge themselves to death on it.
Health Problems Due to a Poor Diet
Hamsters can experience many health problems if given a poor diet. These include diarrhea, hair loss, tooth loss and premature death. Obesity can cause many problems for pet hamsters, including arthritis and heart disease. If you are unsure about how much your hamster should weigh, check with your veterinarian.
Dwarf hamsters, especially Russian dwarf hamsters, are also prone to diabetes. The only way to manage hamster diabetes is through diet. No hamster insulin is available.