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What to Feed Pet Hamsters

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Feeding Hamsters - Basics
The basis of a hamster's diet should be a good quality store-bought food designed specifically for hamsters. Should you choose a pelleted diet or a diet based on a loose seed mix?

Pelleted Diets
Pelleted foods offer a completely balanced diet, and for this reason I generally recommend pelleted diets. As explained below, a hamster can be picky iwth loose mixes resulting in an imbalanced diet. However, pelleted diets are a bit monotonous and some hamsters will refuse them. A pelleted mix can be supplemented with a variety of other items, as long as the pelleted food makes up the bulk of the diet to ensure well-balanced nutrition.

Loose Mix/Seed Diets
It is important to pick a loose mix diet that contains a variety of foods such as grains and dried vegetables along with some seeds -- and some loose mixed foods also contained a balanced pellet food as part of the mix. As mentioned previously, the biggest problem with loose mixes is that hamsters can pick and choose their favorite bits, which could result in a dietary imbalance. When feeding a loose mix, make sure your hamster empties the food bowl before adding more as this is the best way to make sure your hamster does not just eat his or her favorite parts.

My recommendation: try to get your hamster to eat a pelleted diet, and supplement it with a vareity of other foods such as human foods. If you like, you can even sprinkle a bit of a loose mix diet in with the pellets to add a bit of variety.

Fresh Foods and Treats
You can feed your hamster a variety of human foods, as long as you stick to healthy human foods and limit the treats to no more than about 10 percent of the diet. Skip the the junk food and stick to healthy things like whole grains and fresh vegetables and fruits (in moderation, or diarrhea may result). Store-bought treats such as yogurt drops and honey/seed sticks are generally sugary, and I recommend avoiding them.

Note: since dwarf hamsters are somewhat prone to diabetes, it is prudent to avoid much sugar in their diet, so avoid fruits as treats for dwarf hamsters.

Some suggested fruits and vegetables:

  • apples (no seeds!)
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • cucumber
  • dandelions greens
  • grapes
  • kale
  • peas
  • potato (cooked)
  • romaine lettuce
  • spinach
  • straewberries
  • sweet potato
  • squash

Other treats:

  • hay
  • whole grain bread or toast
  • whole wheat pasta (cooked)
  • brown rice (cooked)
  • whole grain cereal (no sugary cereal)
  • meal worms
  • crickets or
  • small pieces of cooked chicken
  • bit of hard boiled eggs
  • nuts (no almonds; unsalted)
  • unsalted peanuts
  • pumpkin seeds
  • lentils
  • sunflower seeds
  • plain air popped popcorn (no butter or salt!)

Hamsters usually love peanut butter, but it must be fed carefully (as with any other sticky food) because it can get stuck in their cheek pouches and cause severe problems. A very thin layer on a piece of wood is okay as an occasional treat, but peanut butter must be given with caution.

What to Avoid

  • apple seeds
  • raw beans
  • raw potatoes
  • almonds
  • citrus fruit
  • garlic
  • onions
  • rhubarb leaves or raw rhubarb
  • chocolate
  • any sugary or salty foods
  • any junk food
Related Video
Feeding Your Hamster
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