So you have brought home your new hamster and now you want to know what can hamsters eat?
Well, that is a good question.
Actually, it is a very good sign that you are a responsible pet owner because you are taking the time to check to see what is safe for your hamster to eat.
That is the question all new hamster owners ask themselves as they are purchasing their new pet.
We know you want to provide the best diet for your hamster, and that includes you providing nutritious hamster food and hamster treats to your new companion.
What Can Hamsters Eat?
What can hamsters eat and what do hamsters eat are two different questions.
What are the Best Foods for Hamster Diet
Hamsters are omnivores which means they eat just about everything.
In the wild they eat berries, nuts, fruits, a wide variety of vegetables and grasses, a wide variety of seeds, and occasionally insects.
Hamsters need a source of protein and in the wild they fulfill this need by eating the occasional insect.
Hamsters are opportunistic feeders and will eat what is readily available to them.
They scavenge throughout their native environment collecting any foods they can carry in their cheek pouches.
Hamsters will take these foods back to their burrow and store excess foods to eat later as needed.
What do Hamsters Eat as Pets?
Hamsters generally will eat the same things as a pet as they do in the wild.
The one difference will be that we as pet owners do not usually offer high protein insects to their diets.
These high protein foods are supplemented with other commercial foods that will be mentioned a bit later.
Today, hamster owners have a HUGE selection of commercial hamster foods available to them.
Some are of better quality than others because the manufacturers load the hamster food with vitamins, supplements, and sometimes medications.
Something all hamster owners learn is that hamsters love to eat!
The truth is they forage actively, especially at night, and spend a large portion of their time on food gathering activities.
Hamsters consume about a tablespoon of food per day spread throughout the day.
Hamsters typically collect food at night and wake every couple of hours during the day to snack.
A fast metabolism ensures that hamsters require food regularly in small amounts.
Hamster Staple Diet Base
Hamsters know which type of food their bodies need at any given time and commercial grains cover most of these requirements.
It is safe to use packaged grains from the store as the staple or base of your hamster’s diet.
You will want to supplement a base diet with proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fresh vegetables and the occasional hamster treat to keep your pet healthy and happy.
Needed for building of healthy tissue additional protein is recommended for young or pregnant hamsters.
Good sources of protein include corn, nuts, oats, peas, barley, cooked beans and wheat.
Hamster Fats and Carbohydrates
Eating fats only results in a fat pet if eaten in excess, otherwise your hamster needs fats and carbohydrates to maintain a healthy level of energy.
Carbohydrates are abundant in potatoes, milk, sugar and yeast and readily provided by barley, corn wheat and oats.
Note: avoid giving your hamster pure milk as this can sour quickly in a warm environment.
Hamster Vitamins & Minerals
Ask your vet if they recommend additional vitamins or minerals when you bring your hamster in for a checkup.
Too many vitamins or minerals can cause as many problems as not enough.
Hamster Water Needs
Hamsters require fresh water daily even if they are not finishing the bottle.
Clean the bottle regularly and boil it to disinfect as required.
Stagnant water breeds mold that can harm your pets health.
Hamster snacks can be added to the diet of a healthy pet in moderation.
A hamster eats a relatively small amount of food each day so focus on snacks that have a good nutrient value.
Do not feed your hamster human snacks with empty calories such as chocolate or your pet will eventually get sick.
Fresh Vegetables for Hamster
A list of recommended fresh vegetables to feed your hamster is available below.
It’s important to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables to remove any trace of pesticide before feeding it to your hamster.
Hamster Food Types
Today, there are so many different types of hamster foods on the market today.
The following section will briefly discuss the differences between the types of hamster food on the market today.
Hamster Seed Mixes
Hamster seed mixes can be purchased in bags that range from 2 -5 pounds.
Most common size bags found on the market today are 2 – 3 pound bags.
Kaytee Fiesta Max offers your hamster a good blend of vegetables, seeds, fruits, and grains.
Your hamster will LOVE this seed mix!
Hartz Bonanza (4 lb. bag) includes a great combination of ingredients such as carrots, pinto beans, almonds, seeds, and pellets.
This larger bag is a great value and offers great nutritional value.
Common commercial Hamster Seed Mixes often contain the following:
- Sunflower Seeds
- Split Peas
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Various dried Fruits
These seed mixes also contain other supplements, minerals, and vitamins.
I urge you to read the bag’s ingredients before purchasing.
Hamster Pellets are available in various sizes, shapes, and color.
Hamster pellets or hamster cubes usually contain the same ingredients, vitamins, and supplements that the Hamster Seed Mixes do but simply come in a different format.
Hamster pellets are good because they contain everything the hamster needs to eat all compressed into one chunk.
The benefit of feeding Hamster Pellets is that the hamster can not pick out only what they want to eat.
With hamster pellets, the question:”What Do Hamsters Eat?” is answered simply with “everything”!
Hamster pellets ensure your hamster eats all the good stuff and the stuff they “prefer”.
A hamster is like a small child, put all types of food on the table and let them choose, and they will pick only their favorites.
Put only one type of food in front of them, they will most likely eat that one food.
When you ask what do hamsters eat, you simply must remember they will eat almost anything we as pet owners give them so let’s make sure we give them the best foods possible.
Hamsters are really not that picky.
So when you begin asking what can hamsters eat, you really need to think about what we shouldn’t feed our hamsters.
Below I am going to list out the common foods that hamsters enjoy and that are safe.
The following food items are generally safe for hamsters, but like all animals, every individual specimen is different and pets can have allergic reactions to certain foods.
The foods below are believed to be safe to the general population of hamsters, but if you notice any difference in health, behavior, or appearance of your hamster after feeding a certain food, please look into possible allergic reactions.
Safe Hamster Foods
The following foods are hamster safe and can be given to them a few times a week.
I highly suggest you provide a commercial grade hamster food that contains all the vitamins and supplements hamsters need.
You can add these foods several times a week along with their staple diet.
Hamsters Favorite Fruit and Veg:
- Seedless Apples
- Peaches (no center core)
- Plums (no center core)
Read detailed reviews about what fruits can hamsters eat:
- Can Hamsters eat grapes?
- Can Hamsters eat strawberries?
- Can Hamsters eat blueberries?
- Can Hamsters eat bananas?
- Can hamsters eat apples?
- Bean Sprouts
- Corn on the Cob (uncooked, small piece)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Green Beans
- Bok Choy
- Cabbage (small portions)
- Romaine Lettuce
- Bell Peppers
Proteins for your Hamster:
These foods add the proteins a hamster would normally eat in the wild.
When asking What Can Hamsters Eat, I bet you didn’t think they would eat insects!
If you decide to feed insects, be sure they are pesticide free (found in your local pet store -store bought are usually really safe) and feed occasionally.
Meats & Insect Foods
- Cooked Chicken or Turkey (not fried)
- Crickets (Pet Shop)
- Eggs (boiled or scrambled)
- Grasshoppers (Pet Shop)
- Low Fat Cottage Cheese
- Low Fat Yogurt (unflavored)
- Meal Worms (Pet Shop)
- Bread (whole wheat)
These foods can be offered as treats a few times a week.
Remember these are treats, not foods to be given every day.
- Peanuts (no salt)
- Cooked Plain Brown Rice
- Dry Wheat Toast
- Flax Seed
- Pumpkin Seeds (unsalted)
- Sunflower Seeds (unsalted)
- Squash Seeds
- Bran/Wheat Germ
- Plain Popcorn (no salt or butter)
- Dry Oatmeal
- Sesame Seeds
What Can Hamsters Not Eat:
These are the foods to avoid.
Remember hamsters should not eat a lot of sugars, salts, and preservatives.
- Almonds (Cyanic Acid)
- Apple Seeds
- Apricot Stone
- Avocado (Cardiac Glycosides)
- Canned Foods
- Cherry Stone
- Chips, Cookies and Junk Food
- Grape Seeds
- Iceberg Lettuce (liver problems)
- Jams and Jellies
- Lemon or Lime
- Onions (N-propyldisulfide is toxic to hamsters)
- Oranges or Tangerines (no citrus fruits)
- Pork Products
- Raw Kidney Beans
- Raw Potatoes
- Raw Rhubarb
- Spicy Foods (indigestion)
- Tomato Leaves
- Unwashed Fruits & Vegetables (toxic pesticides)
- Watermelon (high water content, diarrhea)
This list of foods that Hamsters CAN NOT eat is a good beginning list.
If you have a food in mind that is not mentioned here, simply search on the internet to see if that specific food is hamster safe.
When asking What Can Hamsters Eat, it is better to be safe than sorry!
- Feed a Commercial Hamster Food as your staple diet.
- Always monitor your hamster to ensure no food allergies are present.
- Provide Commercial Hamster Treats that are high in vitamins and minerals.
- Feed in moderation.
- Leafy veggies and fruits no more than two to three times a week (too many and your hamster will have diarrhea).
- Wash fruits and vegetables properly.
- Be aware that some foods above will be stored and not eaten by your hamster, so clean old food stored or you will have odors and flies on the uneaten rotting foods.
- Stay away from sugars (some hamsters are prone to diabetes and obesity).
- Stay away from canned, salty, preservative laden foods.
Should I Use a Bowl?
A bowl is recommended to keep foods off the bottom of the cage however hamsters will likely move the food into their sleeping area.
It’s also perfectly acceptable not to use a food bowl.
A regular feeding schedule and placing the food in the same location each day will limit the hamsters desire to relocate food.
I recommend placing a food bowl just outside your hamsters primary sleeping area to further minimize hoarding outside of the bowl.
Important: if you notice the hamster sitting in the bowl regularly and doing his business in it consider moving the bowl or using a smaller bowl.
Do you have a name for your new Hamster? If you are still brainstorming, let our Hamster names inspire you.
What Can Hamsters Eat Infographic
This is our hamster food guide on infographic. Feel free to share it, or place it on your website, just link back to petsium.com.