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Hamster Food: What Do They Eat?

Last Updated - June 6, 2022

One of the many factors to consider when getting a new pet hamster is the hamster diet. What can hamsters eat? What hamster food should you be prepping for? What human food should they avoid?

Below we will take a look at the most common types of hamster foods you should feed your hamster, as well as what foods to be careful of or avoid altogether. 

Hamster Eating Habits

Hamsters are foragers and omnivores, so the variety of food you should provide should be wide. A little bit of a lot of types of food will ensure that they get a balanced diet.

Hamsters eat mostly at night, so you should not worry if you never see your hamster eating. They love to stick a large amount of food into their mouth and store them in their cheeks. They will then hide them around their cage, so it will be normal to find food caches when you clean their cage.

What Do Hamsters Eat

Pellets

Commercially produced pellets can be a good way to provide some of the staple nutrients your hamster needs, and hamsters love to chew on them. However, it is important that you not give them only pelleted diets, since they require more variety than that. Your feed blend should include seeds and grains too. 

Seed Diet

A seed-only diet is another way to provide a hamster's necessary foods. However, it can be much easier to overfeed your hamster on seed mixes with more potential for more fat and sugar than is healthy. The key is to allow your hamster to empty the food bowl entirely before adding more.

Pellet/Seed Blend

Ideally, you will find a feed blend of pellets, seeds, grains, and dried vegetables. A healthy blend will include ingredients like barley, pumpkin seeds, safflower seeds, sunflower seeds, spelt, canary grass seed, sweet corn, lentils, chickpeas, milk thistle seed, hemp, alfalfa sprouts, oats, and millet. This mixed with the commercially produced pellets, will provide a balanced diet with enough variety to ensure your hamster stays healthy. 

It is recommended you feed your hamster about 1/8-1/3 cup of the blend daily, depending on the size and breed of your hamster. 

Fresh Foods

Vegetables

A dry food diet can be supplemented with fresh foods for even more variety and nutritional completeness. If possible, you will want to buy organically grown and always ensure that you clean everything before offering it to your hamster. 

Here are some safe vegetables:

  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Chicory
  • Clover
  • Cress
  • Cucumbers
  • Dandelion
  • Fresh greens
  • Kale
  • Peas
  • Romaine
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Sweet corn
  • Sweet peppers
  • Watercress

You should gradually introduce vegetables and other fresh foods into your hamster's diet. A hamster's stomach is very delicate, so it is important to monitor how they receive different vegetables. Start small and introduce only one new veggie at a time. 

Herbs

A balanced hamster diet should contain some fresh herbs and plants. Here is a list of herbs and plants that are safe for your hamster to eat:

  • Alfаlfа
  • Bаѕіl
  • Bееtrооt (аll thе рlаnt)
  • Chamomile
  • Chickweed
  • Coriander
  • Cоrnflоwеr
  • Clоvеr
  • Dаіѕу
  • Dаndеlіоn
  • Dіll
  • Fеnnеl
  • Grаѕѕ
  • Mаrіgоld
  • Mіnt
  • Orеgаnо ѕаgе
  • Pаrѕlеу
  • Sage
  • Thуmе
  • Timothy hay
  • Ribwort рlаntаіn
  • Rrоѕе реtаlѕ
  • Wаtеrсrеѕѕ
  • Whеаt ѕрrоutѕ
  • Wоrmwооd рlаnt

Fruits

Fresh fruit can be offered to hamsters but only as a rare treat since it can quickly lead to obesity due to its sugar content.

Here are some safe fruits to feed your hamster:

  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Grapes
  • Pear
  • Peach
  • Melon
  • Raisin 

Others

Other safe human foods suitable for hamster consumption include sugarless breakfast cereal, which can be an occasional fun treat. Check the ingredient list and ensure it doesn't contain any sugar or ingredients hamsters can't have.

Everyone loves cheese, including hamsters. Hamsters are one of a few rodents who can digest cheese, so you can feed them very small amounts of unprocessed cheese to provide some calcium and protein.

A hardboiled egg is a great source of protein for your hamster. This can be especially helpful in supplementing a sick or recovering hamster's diet. 

On occasions, you can feed whole-grain toast as it can provide fiber and makes it a great treat when you don't have any fresh fruits or vegetables on hand.

Foods to Never Give Your Hamster

Hamsters can't eat all the fresh food that humans eat. While it can be fun to offer your furry friend some, there are several foods to avoid.

Here is a list of food to avoid:

  • Acorns
  • Almonds
  • Citrus food such as oranges, lemons, or grapefruits
  • Dried fruit
  • Garlic
  • Leek
  • Onion
  • Rhubarb
  • Raw beans
  • Raw potatoes

Avoid salty foods and sugary foods. Artificial flavors and colors are quite common in hamster food mixes, and you will want to avoid these as much as possible. You want your hamster to have a diet that is unprocessed, organic, low fat, and low sugar. 

Hamster's Diet Variety Depending on Species

While most hamsters eat relatively the same regardless of the species, in some cases, you may want to tailor your hamster's diet more, especially to its particular breed. 

A few examples of this are that Syrian hamsters favor a more agricultural diet, which means they thrive on a diet higher in various kinds of wheat and grains, veggies, and fruit. The grains and seeds can be larger, and their tolerance for sugar is slightly higher. 

Breeds like the Winter White, Campbell, Roborovski and other species of dwarf hamsters are smaller and come from a more arid climate. They prefer smaller seeds like millet and don't need as much cereal variety. These breeds should not be given fruit at all. They also may benefit from some insects being included in their diet. 

Final Thoughts 

Finding the right blend of foods for your hamster may seem like a daunting task but know that as foragers, they are pretty good at knowing what they need, provided you offer them the right options.

A good base feed of pellets and acceptable seeds and grains will be the foundation of their diet, and you can supplement with fresh vegetables along the way. Boiled egg, cheese, and some fruit can be offered occasionally, but only as a treat. 

With the proper diet, you ensure that your hamster will thrive and live their fullest and best life, providing you with years of fun and joy in taking care of them.

lara grisko the pet staff

About the Author

Lara Girsko

Doctor of veterinary medicine with extensive experience in animal welfare with a strong interest in feline medicine and plans to pursue ABVP-Feline specialty board certification. A key member of many local veterinary associations and avid reader of animal related science journals and studies.

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