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Complete Hamster Diet Feeding Guide: The Dos and Don’ts

If you’re looking for a complete hamster diet feeding guide, you’re in the right place!

As you can imagine, it’s imperative to feed your hamster the correct diet. Otherwise, the hamsters may start developing health problems.

This article will cover what to feed hamsters and what not and other food-related questions.

Let’s get started!

Get Your Own Hamster’s Handbook!

What Food Should I Feed My Pet Hamster?

what to feed hamsters

A hamster’s diet [1] consists of hamster pellets, a small amount of fruit and veg, and a constant clean water supply.

You can also feed your hamster timothy hay and occasional treats like mealworms, boiled eggs, and nuts.

There are various types of foods you can feed your hamster. The best kind is pelleted foods as they will have the same nutrients with every bite.

Some foods are a mix of pellets, dried foods, seeds, and nuts, but these foods are not ideal.

If you add them to your pet’s dish, your hamster might pick out only the parts he wants to eat, leaving the pieces he needs to eat for balanced nutrition behind.

Hamsters are tiny and do not need to eat much food.

For most foods, you only need to feed one to two tablespoons per day of the mix to provide your hamster with all the nutrients it needs.

You might find some places recommending that you leave food out for your hamster all of the time.

This isn’t ideal, as hamsters are hoarders [2] and will take food and hide it in stashes all around his cage.

They also might eat much of the food you put out, making him an overweight little hamster, which isn’t good for his joints or overall health.

You can supplement your hamster with certain fresh fruits and veggies, although most places recommend only feeding fresh foods every day and ensuring you don’t leave the food out to spoil.

It would be best to offer your hamster small amounts of hay. Timothy hay tends to be readily available and is healthier for your hamster than other types such as alfalfa hay.

cute hamster drinking water

Your hamster should always have access to freshwater, and most hamsters drink out of a water bottle.

You’ll want to keep your hamster’s water clean and check that he isn’t pushing bedding up to the water bottle, which could cause it to spill out and get the cage wet.

Watch this video for additional information about what to feed your hamsters.

What Treats Can I Feed My Hamster?

The best and healthy hamster treats for you to give your hammy are fresh fruits and veggies, especially those not full of sugar.

Two hamsters feeding on an apple

Dark, leafy greens make an excellent snack for your hamster if he eats them.

Walking through the pet store, you might find a variety of different hamster treats.

These tend to be full of sugar, such as yogurt drops, and they are not recommended.

If you give any of these sweet snacks, you should make sure that they comprise less than 10 percent of your hamster’s total diet.

You don’t need to give your hamster treats every day, and doing so may increase his risk of becoming overweight.

Rather than focusing on the treat you give your hamster, you could offer him fresh veggies and hide them around his cage, so he has to look for them.

This will help with his foraging behaviors and help provide some enrichment which many domesticated animals lack.

Things Hamsters Can Chew and Gnaw

Your hamster must have things to gnaw on because his teeth are constantly growing.

Cute black hamster chewing on cage

Your hamster can wear his teeth down on foodstuffs, such as hay, as well as sticks or chew toys.

When feeding different foods, you should make sure to offer your hamster firm foods over softer options.

Feeding a pelleted food helps with this as every bit helps to keep his teeth worn down.

Hay is another excellent way for your hamster to keep his teeth worn down, and options such as timothy hay tend to be low in calories, so you have less worry about your hamster becoming overweight.

You should make sure that you offer your hamster different items to chew. In the local pet store, you can often find sticks or blocks that are safe for your hamster to chew.

Other items that he might like to chew on include coconut shells and cardboard.

Don’t just go outside a get a stick for your hamster to gnaw on. Some types of wood can be harmful to him.

Some types of wood tend to be safe for your hamster to eat and include apple and dogwood, as well as grapevines.

It is recommended that you bake softwood for an hour in the oven before you offer it to your hamster, and make sure to give it a rinse to ensure no pesticides are on it.

What Fruits Can Hamsters Eat?

a hamster eating tomato

Hamsters can eat various fruits, and they tend to enjoy the taste.

You will want to be careful as some fruits are higher in sugar than others.

The moisture content can increase the risk of your hamster developing diarrhea or gastrointestinal upset.

Can Hamsters Eat Apples?

a cute pair of hamster eating apple, a hamster fruit and vegetables consumption guide

Hamsters can eat apples.

These are one of the most common fruits to offer your hamster.

Be sure to remove the apple seeds before giving them to your hamster.

While the apple seeds contain potassium cyanide and are, as such, toxic, the peel and meat of the fruit are safe for your hamster to eat.

You will want to wash the apple well before feeding.

Can Hamsters Eat Grapes?

a cute pair of hamsters eating grapes, a best treat for hamsters

Rest assured that you can offer your hamster a piece of grapes.

Unlike dogs, grapes are not toxic to hamsters and can be a valuable part of their diet.

When you offer your hamster a grape, you will only want to give part of one until you learn if he can tolerate it or not.

The high sugar content and moisture in grapes can make him more likely to have diarrhea [3].

Can Hamsters Eat Bananas?

hamster eating banana, hamster fruit and vegetables consumption guide

Bananas are safe for hamsters to eat and can provide many health benefits.

But make sure that the banana isn’t overly ripe, or it could spoil in the cage.

Bananas offer your hamster some essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B and C.

They also offer potassium and fiber that help keep him healthy.

Can Hamsters Eat Strawberries?

a hamster eating strawberries, what fruits and vegetables can hamsters eat

Strawberries are a great snack to offer your hamster in moderation.

Because they spoil quickly, you won’t want to leave them in the cage for your hamster to hoard or store indefinitely.

Strawberries are a great source of vitamins and minerals, including manganese and potassium.

Strawberries are also a great source of antioxidants.

Can Hamsters Eat Blackberries?

blackberries

Your hamster can eat blackberries, although they should be offered in moderation as with other fruits.

But the moisture content in this fruit may lead to diarrhea in some hamsters.

Blackberries are also high in fiber, which can help regulate your hamster’s digestive tract.

They are also high in antioxidants like other berries, including strawberries, making them a wholesome snack to keep your hamster healthy.

Can Hamsters Eat Pears?

Pears for hamsters to eat,

Yes, your hamster can eat pears.

Like apples, these fruits contain plenty of fiber and help keep your hamster’s digestive tract healthy.

You’ll want to make sure to remove any seeds before you offer your hamster a piece of pear.

Like apples, these fruits can contain cyanide in the seeds, which would be toxic for your hamster to ingest.

Can Hamsters Eat Watermelons?

Watermelon

Your hamster can eat watermelon but only in moderation.

The high moisture content of watermelon is about 90 percent water. This can cause diarrhea.

Watermelon is very low in calories [5].

It is also nutrient-dense, containing beneficial compounds such as lycopene and vitamin C.

Can Hamsters Eat Tomatoes?

a hamster eating tomato

Tomato is safe for your hamster to eat in moderation, but only if it is fully ripened.

The worry with tomatoes is that, as a nightshade plant, they contain toxic compounds when they are not fully ripened.

You should avoid giving your hamster unripe pieces of tomatoes.

The leaves and vines of tomato plants should also be avoided as they are toxic to your hamster and can make him very sick.

Can Hamsters Eat Cherries?

a hamster with cherries to eat

Your hamster can eat cherries, and these fruits are very rich in nutrients, making them beneficial to offer to your hamster in small amounts.

It would be best to be careful when giving your hamster cherries and make sure they are pitted before offering them.

The pit of the cherry contains cyanide and is toxic if your hamster chews on them.

Also, take a look at the video below for a list of safe fruits and vegetables for hamsters.

What Vegetables Can Hamsters Eat?

There are plenty of vegetables that your hamster can eat and enjoy. These foods tend to be low in calories and high in fiber and other nutrients.

As with fruits, moderation is key when offering your hamster fresh veggies. These should make up only a tiny portion of their diet.

Can Hamsters Eat Carrots?

a hamster eating carrot, can hamsters eat carrots

Carrots are one of the best vegetables that you can offer your hamster.

They are low in calories and, more importantly, they are firm so your hamster can gnaw on them and wear down his teeth.

Carrots do contain some sugar, so you will want to limit the number of carrots they get, usually offering a small piece several times per week for him to gnaw on.

Can Hamsters Eat Lettuce?

a hamster with lettuce in hand

Hamsters can eat lettuce, but this vegetable offers little in the way of nutritional benefits.

The high water content of lettuce, as with fruits such as watermelon, can increase the chance of diarrhea.

There are better vegetable options for your hamster to eat, such as romaine, kale, or spinach leaves, which are all low in calories and pack more of a punch with nutrients than regular iceberg lettuce.

Can Hamsters Eat Cucumber?

a hamster eating a small cube of cucumber

Your hamster can eat cucumber, but you should only offer a small amount of this vegetable.

Cucumbers have a high water content, making them prone to developing diarrhea and other gastrointestinal upset.

Cucumbers are low in calories, making them a great treat to give.

When you offer it to your hamster, you’ll want to provide a tiny amount, such as about the size of a bean for him to nibble on.

Can Hamsters Eat Celery?

a celery to eat

You can offer your hamster small amounts of celery, as this is a very healthy snack option for him to nibble on.

Be careful, though, because celery is high in water content and fiber, so it is more likely to cause issues like diarrhea.

Celery is low in calories, which makes it a very healthy food. It also contains antioxidants and phytonutrients, which confer plenty of health benefits for your hamster.

Can Hamsters Eat Spinach?

a bowl of spinach

Hamsters can eat spinach and this low-calorie food option.

As with any leafy green vegetable, you’ll want to offer small amounts because of the water content.

Spinach may cause gas in your hamster, so you’ll want to watch them closely after eating it.

You can also hide spinach around your hamster’s cage for him to find if he likes the taste of it.

Can Hamsters Eat Cabbage?

Cabbage for hamsters to eat

Hamsters can eat cabbage, but it should be offered in small amounts as some hamsters develop diarrhea after eating cabbage.

Cabbage is low in calories which is a great reason to give it small amounts.

Cabbage should only be fed occasionally as some hamsters get very gassy.

Can Hamsters Eat Peppers?

peppers

You can offer your hamster bell or sweet pepper.

But avoid feeding him chili peppers which can be too hot for him to consume safely.

Bell peppers provide some crunch to your hamster’s diet and are low in calories.

Bell peppers also provide plenty of nutrients for your hamster.

They contain vitamins and lycopene, making them an overall healthy addition to your hamster’s diet.

Can Hamsters Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Sunflowers

Your hamster can eat sunflower seeds.

But these should only be offered in small amounts, as they are very fatty and can increase the risk that your hamster will gain weight.

You can offer these seeds in small amounts, although you’ll want to be sure that your hamster’s diet mix doesn’t already contain it.

Be careful with sunflower seeds and watch your hamster after he eats them.

They can stuff their cheeks full and get these seeds stuck in their cheek pouches, which can be very painful and potentially lead to infections.

Can Hamsters Eat Broccoli?

a hamster eating broccoli

Your hamster can eat broccoli, and it’s a healthy treat for them.

Make sure you wash the broccoli well before giving it to your hamster.

It’s an excellent source of different vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A.

In addition, broccoli provides something for your hamster to gnaw on. It helps keep his teeth worn down as he chews on the firm stalk of the broccoli.

Can Hamsters Eat Potatoes?

Potatoes

Hamsters can only eat cooked potatoes.

Uncooked, raw potatoes have toxic compounds in the green potatoes that can be very harmful to your hamster.

In addition, the potato’s eyes are toxic and you should remove them before you offer them to your hamster.

You can give sweet potato, but the peeling should be removed before offering it as the peel can harbor molds.

READ MORE: Can Hamsters Eat Cucumbers?

What Fruits Can Hamsters Not Eat?

Your hamster can eat a wide variety of fruits, with most of them being perfectly safe. Some fruits are toxic or upset their gastrointestinal system and should be avoided at all costs.

The main fruits to avoid giving to your hamster are citrus fruits, including oranges, lemons, and grapefruits.

These acidic fruits can cause significant indigestion and cause tummy problems for your hamster.

You should avoid certain parts of some fruits. Apple seeds and cherry pits have cyanide in them, as well as the seeds of other fruits.

You must remove the pit from the cherry or cut away the seeds from the piece of apple you offer your hamster, or he could get very sick.

What Vegetables Can Hamsters Not Eat?

Most vegetables are safe for your hamster to eat. You should however avoid some exceptions to keep your hamster healthy and happy.

Members of the Alium family should be avoided for your hamster.

These include onions and garlic, which are toxic to your hamster and can be very dangerous if he eats them,

These vegetables can cause issues with their red blood cells, causing the body to destroy them and cause anemia [6].

Uncooked beans, such as kidney beans, can also be dangerous for your hamster to eat. The raw kidney beans have toxic compounds which can prove deadly for your little hamster.

Stick to greens such as spinach and kale in small amounts for your hamster instead.

How Much Fruit and Vegetables Should I Feed My Hamster?

Any fruits you offer to your hamster should be limited and should not be unripe or overripe, which can be toxic or increase the risk that they will spoil.

Typically a good amount of fruit to offer your hamster is the size of a pea or a bean daily.

Like fruits, you should limit the number of fresh vegetables you offer your hamster each day. A suitable amount is usually approximately the size of a pea or bean.

Some vegetables are not considered toxic but can be harmful if you give too much.

Lettuce has high water content, so while it doesn’t usually hurt your hamster in tiny amounts, too much and your hamster can develop diarrhea.

What Other Household Foods and Drinks Can Hamsters Consume?

Since hamsters are omnivores, they can also eat a small amount of protein.

In the wild, they catch insects to supplement their diet.

You can feed your hamster a small amount of a hard-boiled egg or a small piece of a scrambled egg occasionally.

Like the other foods you offer your hamster, it should be a small amount, roughly a cube-sized piece a centimeter big.

If you don’t want to cook an egg for your hamster, you can also offer him a small number of mealworms, usually one for a dwarf hamster.

For your Syrian hamster, you can offer up to two mealworms instead of an egg; regardless, you should not give mealworms and eggs to your hamster at the same time as that would be too many calories.

hamster feeding on meat.jpg

As hamsters are omnivorous, you can also offer tiny amounts of certain types of meat.

But as with everything you provide your hamster, it should be in small quantities.

If you feed your hamster meat, it should be cooked, with no seasonings or additives added, even salt.

Examples of meat that you can offer to include chicken and beef. Some reports note that pork is not safe for them to eat, so it should be avoided just in case.

You can also offer your hamster a tiny piece of canned dog food. Be careful with the amount of gravy it contains, as too much moisture can give your hamster diarrhea.

Some people online claim that giving your hamster meat is more likely to make him a cannibal that kills and eats other hamsters.

There is no evidence of this, and hamsters generally only kill other hamsters when they are in their territory or if there aren’t enough resources to support the mother and all of her young.

a hamster eating cheese

Most hamsters can eat certain cheeses, but you will want to test them with a small amount of cheese before you offer them more, as cheeses can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea.

When you give your hamster cheese initially, offer a small pinch and wait a few days to see how he does with it before offering any more.

When you feed cheeses, it should be an occasional treat, such as once per week. The cheese that you offer should be low fat, and ideally mild to minimize causing digestive upset.

You can also offer your hamster small amounts of low in fat cottage cheese. As with other cheeses, it should only be a small amount that you offer him.

Technically your hamster is able to drink milk similar to him being able to consume dairy products like cheeses.

That does not mean it is good for them, and it should likely be avoided for most hamsters.

If you do offer your hamster milk, it should be low-fat milk, and only a small amount should be offered. Avoid giving chocolate milk as the chocolate and high sugar content can make your hamster very sick.

Your hamster is able to eat bread, but only small amounts should be offered as a treat because it is not good for them.

The bread is mostly empty calories [3], which can make your hamster overweight and increase his risk for health issues such as diabetes.

If you give a small piece of bread, it should be whole wheat bread rather than white bread. White bread is higher in sugar and calories, and hamsters, especially dwarf hamsters, are prone to issues like diabetes.

Some nuts are considered toxic to hamsters and should be avoided, such as acorns. Brazil nuts appear to be safe in very small amounts.

One of the problems with nuts is that they are high in calories and fat, and your hamster only needs a limited amount of fat in his diet.

There are lots of things you can offer your hamster around the house to eat and drink, but that doesn’t mean they are all good for your hamster.

Sticking with small amounts of non-toxic fresh fruits and veggies, as well as the occasional protein source of egg or mealworms, will generally be the healthiest option for your hamster.

Hamsters Diet-Related Health Problems

Hamsters have teeth that grow constantly. If they don’t gnaw their teeth down appropriately, it can lead to painful issues such as their teeth impacting each other.

a hamster at checkup for teeth

If your hamster’s teeth get too long [4], they can also break, which is painful and increases his risk for a tooth root abscess, which can be difficult to treat.

If your hamster is having trouble eating his food, you should take him in for a checkup with your veterinarian.

One of the ways your hamster keeps his teeth at the right length is by gnawing on hard surfaces to wear his teeth down.

Check out this video of how to take care of your hamster’s teeth.

This can be done on certain foods, such as carrots and pieces of pellet foods that he eats normally.

You should also provide your hamster with objects to chew on, such as appropriate sticks that he can gnaw on.

Some pet stores even have wooden habitats that you can get for your hamster to sleep in as well as gnaw on.

Your hamster’s diet can also predispose him to become overweight, which can lead to health issues such as diabetes.

Limit high calories snacks or treats and offer him healthy greens instead to help minimize his risk for issues.

FAQs

Can I give my hamster milk?

You shouldn’t give your hamster milk as it carries a health risk and can harm your hamster.

Can hamsters eat cheese?

a hamster eating cheese

Hamsters can eat cheese as a treat and should only be given to them in small amounts.

Can hamsters eat chocolate?

No, chocolate is very fattening and can make your hamster ill.

Can hamster food go bad?

Yes, hamster food can expire. Each packaging has an expiring date that you should check before feeding your hamster.

How often should I give my hamster treats?

It would be best to give your hamster treats every couple of days. Overfeeding your hamster treats can result in health problems and obesity.

Resources

  • 1. Feeding your hamster [Internet]. www.pdsa.org.uk. Available from: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/looking-after-your-pet/small-pets/your-hamsters-diet
  • 2. APA PsycNet [Internet]. psycnet.apa.org. [cited 2022 Jan 5]. Available from: https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1952-01323-001
  • 3. Marcin A. Recognizing and Avoiding Empty Calories [Internet]. Healthline. Healthline Media; 2017. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/empty-calories
  • 4. Getting a Pet Hamster [Internet]. WebMD. [cited 2022 Jan 5]. Available from: https://pets.webmd.com/getting-a-pet-hamster

What do you normally feed your hamster? Let us know in the comments below

Alina Hartley
Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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