The right hamster diet consists of both plant and animal food. Unlike rabbits or guinea pigs, for example, rodents are not vegan, but need animal proteins. Hamsters mainly eat dry food, which should be supplemented with fresh food and animal protein sources.
Om-nom-nom: This hamster is eating his food – Shutterstock / stock_shot
In the wild, hamsters eat grain, seeds, herbs, vegetables and fruits, but also insects. They spend a lot of time foraging for food and also gather supplies for the winter. Hamsters that are kept as pets should have a similar diet, except that the rodents can be fed appropriately all year round and do not have to stock up as much.
Healthy dry food for hamster nutrition
The main component of the hamster’s diet is the dry food, whereby you should ensure a healthy mix. Experienced hamster owners can mix the food themselves, beginners are better off using high-quality, species-appropriate ready-made mixtures from the trade. Otherwise the hamsters will not get enough vital nutrients and possibly too much fat or too much sugar if the composition is not right.
Feed mixtures that contain a lot of so-called pellets and popped grains are usually of poor quality. The pellets usually only contain any plant waste and often dyes and other useless additives that fool the buyer into thinking that he is doing something good for his pet. Popped up provides volume, but saves on important nutrients and is therefore also unsuitable for small rodents.
Good dry food that your hamster can eat is best made up of the following:
- ● High proportion of various cereals (oats, millet, barley, rye, kamut), but little wheat
- ● Dried vegetables
- ● Dry herbs
- ● Small seeds, such as grass seed, hulled buckwheat, amaranth, wildflower seed or canary seed
- ● Dried insects, such as crickets or house crickets
- ● Few oilseeds, e.g. B. sesame, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, rapeseed, flaxseed, hemp, poppy or soybean seeds
- ● Few nuts
To keep your hamster from getting bored, you can distribute the dry food around the cage or hide it here and there. So he has to look for it himself, just like in the great outdoors. Fresh hay is also a welcome addition to the hamster’s diet – while the chubby cheeks may not always eat the hay, they do like to use it as nesting material.
What else do hamsters like to eat? Fresh feed and protein sources
In addition to dry food, hamsters should regularly be given fresh food in the form of vegetables, herbs and fresh meadow greens. Small amounts of fruit are also allowed, but due to their high sugar content, apples, seedless grapes, or pears should only be used as an occasional treat. Otherwise, hamsters usually like to eat the following types of fresh food:
- ● carrots
- ● Broccoli
- ● peppers
- ● Pumpkin
- ● celery
- ● Cucumbers
- ● fennel
- ● Kitchen herbs such as dill, parsley, lemon balm
- ● Wild herbs such as dandelion, mugwort, field mint, chamomile, cabbage thistle
- ● Flowers such as daisies, sunflowers, marigolds
- ● grasses
Check every day whether your hamster has stashed some of the fresh food, because it spoils quickly and can then lead to illness. Fresh sources of animal protein include the following feed ingredients:
- ● Mealworms (sparingly as they contain a lot of fat)
- ● freshwater shrimp and shrimp
- ● Low-fat quark
- ● low-fat yoghurt
- ● cottage cheese (unsalted)
- ● Hard-boiled eggs (small pieces)
- ● Taurine-free cat treats
- ● Dog biscuits
Snacks and treats: What can hamsters eat?
Be careful with retail snacks and treats such as yoghurt drops, nibble sticks or hamster biscuits. It contains almost no valuable nutrients – but far too much sugar and/or too much fat. A little candy now and then may not hurt right away, but regularly in addition to the normal diet, the supposed treats cause obesity. In addition, sugar, molasses, honey and the like can cause the hamster’s cheek pouches to stick together. Only the front teeth of rodents grow back, not the molars – and they can get caries from sweets.
Your chubby cheeks will also be happy about a small piece of dried fruit per week, such as a raisin or a piece of dried apple, rosehip or pear. They contain at least a few natural vitamins, so they contribute to a healthy diet. Pieces of fruit are therefore the better choice if you want to do something good for your hamster from time to time.
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