Like all other pets, hamsters love some good food. But it’s important for their health that they eat the right amounts of the right food. In this post we’re going to take a look at what makes up a healthy diet, and how to make sure our hammies are getting the nutrition they need
First of all, we have to remember that hamsters are omnivores, which means that they can’t get all the nutrients they need just from plants. In the wild, a hamster’s diet would normally be made up of grasses, grains, seeds, and insects. And for a healthy hamster diet, we need to make sure our hamsters are getting the same nutrition they would get from these foods.
Muesli & Pellet Feeds
There are quite a few different hamster feeds out there, most of them being muesli and pellet feeds. These feeds are generally cheap to buy and easy to get your hands on, but they're usually not the healthiest option for your hamster. The main issue with these feeds are the 'filler' ingredients that are added to them. Fillers are added to the feeds to bulk them up, but they have very little to no nutritional value for your hamster. As much as your hamster might enjoy them, they're really just filling themselves up with junk foood, with very little nutritional value
So What Should I Feed My Hamster?
As we've said before, for a healthier hamster diet, we need to look at what would make up the diet of our hamsters' wild ancestors, and go from there. It's important to note here that different species of hamster come from different parts of the world, and so their natural diets are quite different. We're not going to go into specifics in this post, but when you're looking for a good quality feed for your hamster, make sure it's one that's recommended for your specific species of hamster (i.e. a feed suitable for Syrian hamsters won't necessarily be suitable for Campbell's Dwarf hamsters).
The best place to start is usually with a good quality seed mix. Some hamster parents feel that seed mixes don't provide the balance of nutrients that a hamster really needs in their diet, because of selective feeding. But they actually come much closer to replicating a hamster's natural diet. In the wild a hamster forages around for their food, picking up and pouching whatever seeds, grains or insects they can find. Seed mixes usually contain some small grains, small pieces of dried vegetables, dried insects, as well as a wide range of seeds- so they have a lot of similarities to your hamster's natural diet.
A few good options for hamster seed mixes include GetZoo, Rodipet and Mixerama.
Some hamster parents prefer to make their own seed mixes, but before doing this you would need to do a lot of research into the specific nutrients, and quantities of each, that your hamster needs.
Seed mixes are also a great way to encourage your hamster to forage for their food. Foraging is one of those natural behaviours that's really important to encourage in our hamsters. Keeping them foraging around for bits of seeds, grains, and insects is a great way to keep your hamster busy, stimulated and getting some exercise.
Another way to encourage your hamster to forage is by giving them seed sprays and hamster-safe dried leaves and flowers to rummage around in.
Shop-bought treats are notoriously unhealthy for hamsters because they contain a lot of ingredients that a hamster would never naturally eat. A much better option for treats is little pieces of veg, scrambled/boiled egg, dried insects, or plain, cooked meat. These can each be fed once a week, except for veggies which can be fed once or twice more. Just remember that these are only in very small quantities, and any leftover fresh food needs to be removed from your hamster's burrow after 12-24 hours.
Changing Your Hamster's Diet
So even if you're moving your hamster from an unhealthy diet to a healthier one, its really important to make any changes gradually. Hamsters have sensitive digestive systems, and any sudden changes, even to a healthier diet, could do more harm than good. It's usually best to change about 1/4 of their food at a time, each week until they're transitioned over to their new diet. If they have any issues during this time, go back to what they were eating while they were still ok (and see a vet if you're worried).
Thanks for reading, and I hope this post was helpful to you and your hamster 🙂