The majority of a pet hamster's food should be made up of a good quality, store-bought food designed specifically for hamsters (not for rats, mice, or cats). But your pet food choices at the pet store can be overwhelming even by narrowing it down to hamster food. The decisions don't end when you get home and want to offer fresh foods and treats to your hamster. Learn the best diet to give your hamster and the safe foods you can offer as treats.
Pelleted Hamster Diets
Pelleted hamster foods offer a completely balanced diet in every bite, and they are often recommended for this reason. Pelleted diets can come in many shapes but usually look like small biscuits, cookies, or cereal. A hamster can be picky with loose seed mixes, eating only their favorite items, resulting in an unbalanced diet. Pelleted diets prevent this from happening, but they are a bit monotonous and some hamsters will refuse them. A pelleted mix can be supplemented with a variety of other items as long as the pelleted food makes up the bulk of the diet.
Seed Hamster Diets
It is important to pick a loose seed mix diet that contains a variety of foods such as grains and dried vegetables along with some seeds. Some loose seed mixed foods also contain a balanced pellet food as part of the mix (which is ideal). When feeding a loose seed mix, make sure your hamster empties the food bowl before adding more, not allowing your hamster to eat only its favorite things.
Fresh Foods and Treats for Hamsters
You can feed your hamster a variety of human foods as long as you limit the treats to no more than 10 percent of your hamster's diet. Skip the junk food and stick to healthy things like whole grains, fresh vegetables, and fruit (in moderation, otherwise diarrhea may result). Store-bought treats such as yogurt drops and honey/seed sticks are too sugary for a hamster and they should be avoided. Since dwarf hamsters are somewhat prone to diabetes it is also especially prudent to avoid sugar in their diet, so avoid fruits altogether as treats for them. Some safe foods you can offer to your hamster are:
- Apples (no seeds)
- Dandelion greens
- Potato (cooked)
- Romaine lettuce
- Sweet potato
- Whole grain bread or toast
- Whole wheat pasta (cooked)
- Brown rice (cooked)
- Whole grain cereal (no sugary cereal)
- Small pieces of cooked chicken
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Nuts (unsalted, no almonds)
- Peanuts (unsalted)
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Plain air-popped popcorn (no butter or salt)
Hamsters also usually love peanut butter but it must be fed carefully (as with any other sticky food) because it can get stuck in their cheek pouches and cause severe problems. A very thin layer on a piece of wood is okay as an occasional treat, but peanut butter must be given with caution.
Foods You Should Not Feed Hamsters
- Apple seeds
- Raw beans
- Raw potatoes
- Citrus fruit
- Rhubarb leaves or raw rhubarb
- Any sugary or salty foods
- Any junk food
The Best Hamster Diet
The ideal diet for a hamster is a pelleted diet that is supplemented with a variety of other safe and human foods. If your hamster won't eat the pelleted diet then sprinkle some seed mixture onto the pellets or find a seed diet that already has pellets in it.