Hamsters are one of the most popular rodent species to keep as pets as they require a low-maintenance diet. If you’re a new hamster owner or considering to be one you might be wondering what do hamsters eat. While their diet includes a variety of things, some foods are far better than others. We are going to discuss some dos and don’ts when it comes to feeding hamsters.
What Do Hamsters Eat
Feeding Your Hamster: General Guidelines
The easiest and safest approach to feeding your hamster is to go with a complete meal that you can find at a pet shop or store. According to veterinary technician, Robyn McGeorge registered veterinary technician and owner of Robyn’s Nest in Germantown, Ohio. She recommended pelleted feed which serves as a complete food for hamsters. These pellets are preferable to a hamster-formulated seed mixture because many hamsters will pick out what they like from these mixtures missing some of the nutritional value in the seeds they don’t eat. For daily intake about a tablespoon of food once a day is enough for their daily dietary needs. Cindy Cribbs, owners of Haven for Hamsters Rescue and Sanctuary gives their hamsters about a tablespoon of food once a day. Providing your hamster with any more food than that may lead them to stock their food.
Can Hamsters Eat Carrots?
Yes, Carrots are safe for hamsters, when they are fed to them in moderation, as stated by Dr. Carol Osborne, owner of Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center & Pet Clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. As there are sugar contents in them, carrots may not be the ideal snack for dwarf hamsters, which are prone to diabetes. Carrots, in general, are not the problem here as stated by Osborne. The problem arises when people overfeed their hamsters, which can lead them to become overweight and susceptible to diabetes.
Can Hamsters Eat Grapes?
Same as carrots, grapes can also serve as a healthy and safe option for rodents like hamsters. The intake of an appropriate amount of grapes for a hamster depends on its size. Smaller hamsters eat fewer amount of grapes while larger hamsters can consume more. Before feeding your hamster any grapes, the best practice is to discuss the suitable amount of grapes with your veterinarian that can be offered in one meal or per day. Despite their size, grapes as a whole should not be fed to hamsters as they are rich in sugar contents and may cause digestive problems like diarrhea. Similar to grapes, raisins are known to be the cause of kidney problems in cats, dogs, and ferrets due to their unknown toxic effect. Although there isn’t much evidence of them causing the same problems in hamsters, it’s best to first confirm with your veterinarian before feeding it to them.
Can Hamsters Eat Tomatoes?
Tomatoes are generally not recommended for hamsters by veterinarians, especially when they are not fully ripe. The unripened tomatoes along with stem and leaves are rich in tomatine, which can act as a toxin for hamsters. When tomatoes are perfectly ripe, they can be considered safe for your hamster, but only in moderate quantity, which is not more than half a tablespoon. Dr. Karen Schachterle, an avian and exotics specialist at ACCESS, said “There are many safe fruits and vegetables that owners can offer as alternatives to tomatoes.”
What Other Fruits and Vegetables Can Hamsters Eat?
The foods which are safe for your hamster to eat are:
- Bok choy
- Sweet potatoes (should be removed from their skins before feeding, as molds can flourish in the skins and cause digestive tract upset and other ailments)
Other additional foods such as a small piece of hard-boiled egg not bigger than the size of two raisins could also be fed to a hamster. You should be careful while hand-feeding a Hamster, they can also bite. With dwarfs, one must be careful not to put your hands by their bowls since they can be territorial. The safe way is to try petting them with one hand while giving them a treat with the other, according to Osborne. “Feeding your hamster by hand is a good way to socialize your pet and to bond”. In the end, whatever you choose to feed your hamster in addition to their pellets or seed mixture should not exceed the size of two raisins.
What Shouldn’t You Feed Your Hamster?
With such a varied diet, it may seem that hamsters can be fed anything, but there are some foods to steer clear of. such as:
- Apple seeds and skins
- Grape seeds
- Fruit pits
- Chocolate (or any other sugary sweet)
Peanuts and almonds are not directly harmful to hamsters but they have a higher concentration of caloric and fat content and if the intake exceeds the normal range it can quickly surpass the daily caloric requirements and can cause obesity. Therefore, it is best to use vegetables and fruits as snacks as they are rich in fiber and water contents instead of seeds and nuts. Yeast (like in bread) and alcohol(beer, spirits, wine) should also be avoided as they can be lead to toxicity in hamsters.