Hamster are ‘omnivores’ – this means wild hamsters eat a mix of plants and insects. The best diet for you hamster is one that’s similar to what they would eat in the wild, including fresh veg and protein-packed treats like mealworms.
Hamsters love to hoard their food. They pack extra food into special cheek pouches and then store it around their cage for later.
Top tip: don’t feed your hamster a muesli-style food mix. They leave the parts that are high in fibre and eat the bits that are high in sugar. This can cause painful problems with their teeth and can also mean they put on weight.
The ideal hamster diet will include:
- Commercial hamster pellets (not a muesli-style mix). You can buy these in pet shops.
- Small amounts of fresh fruit, vegetables or herbs
- Timothy hay. This is a special variety of hay that’s full of fibre and is ideal for small pets. You can buy it in pet shops.
- Occasional treats, like nuts, boiled egg or mealworms.
- You hamster will also need constant access to clean, fresh water. It should be in water bottle with a metal spout.
Make feeding fun
Hamsters in the wild spend a lot of time searching for food. Making them work for their meal is a great way to keep them occupied and stop them getting bored. You can try things like:
- Scattering some of their food pellets around their cage instead of feeding them from a bowl. This is a really good idea if you have one hamster that is very protective of the food bowl and won’t let other hamsters have their fair share of the meal.
- Hiding hay, food pellets or fresh greens inside paper bags or cardboard tubes or boxes. Your hamster will enjoy searching for their food and can also gnaw on the packaging you hide it in.
Healthy fruit, veg and herbs
These fruits, vegetables and herbs are all suitable for your hamster. Make sure you give them a good wash before you feed them to your hamster and only feed a small amount each day.
- Sweet peppers
Don’t feed citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons or grapefruits, to your hamster.
Things to chew and gnaw
Hamsters love to chew and gnaw on things. It’s a natural behaviour that helps keep their teeth healthy and stops them getting overgrown. It also gives your hamster something to do and helps to stop them getting bored.
Hamster love to shred and chew things like:
- Coconut shells
- Hay cubes
- Unbleached loofah
- Pumice stone
They can gnaw on untreated softwood. Before you give them any softwood branches to chew, bake them on a low heat for an hour and give them a good wash to make sure they’re safe for your hamster. Good woods to use are:
- Elm & Red Elm
- Grape & Grapevine
- Willow (goat, weeping, or pussy willow)