Making a high quality balanced diet may look like a challenge but does not have to be. When you know basic rules about the food hamsters eat you just need to discover few more things about their eating habits and you will be perfectly capable to provide ideal care for your furry pal, keeping him healthy and happy.
Hamsters are tiny animals and do not require too much food. They are omnivores which means they eat a little bit of everything. These loving creatures are into free-feeding so you just need to fill up the food bowl once a day and your pet will eat every time when he feels hungry. Fresh food also should be on their menu but only in small quantities. Hamsters usually don’t overeat but like to hide their food or keep it in their cheek pouches.
It is very important to learn how to feed your little friend when he/she should eat, how much is enough, as well as what the best diet should contain. To these and some other questions, find the answers by reading our article.
How Many Times a Day Should I Feed my Hamster?
Hamsters are more into free-feeding so your pet will not eat just one time per day because you filled up its food bowl once. In other words, the fact you fill the bowl does not mean for hamster ‘come and eat until it is empty’
So the right answer is that you should fill up the food bowl just once with its pellets and according to most experts and experienced hamster owners, the right time in the morning.
Although there are some specialists who think that better is to feed your hammy in the evening as he is awake during the whole night so definitely eats more than during the day. As the opinions are divided, you pick your best time but it is important to stick to it, do not change it.
Do not be surprised if the food vanishes quickly from the bowl. It does not mean that your hammy was so hungry that he ate everything at once. No-no, hamsters do not do that.
Most probably, he used his ‘cheek bags ( pouches)’ to remove the food from the bowl to ‘much safer’ place- its larder.
Hamsters will eat every time when they feel hunger. It does not have anything to do with exact timing. Even though hamsters are nocturnal animals, which means they sleep for most of the day, they wake up during the sunlight to take some food.
Regarding fresh food, you can offer it to your hammy for example in the evening but in very, very small quantities.
How Much Should I Feed my Hamster?
This question is closely related to the previous one. If we talk about exact numbers and quantities – one tablespoon of pellets per day for the majority of hamster’s breed ( Robo and Chinese, Dwarf even little less then one tablespoon per day) but Syrian hamsters you need to feed with a bit more food, let’s say two tablespoons of pellets per day.
We also have said that you should fill up the food bowl on a daily basis. That is correct but only if the larder of your furry pal is not too big. It is essential to keep an eye on his storage. If it grows big, that means you are giving him too much food. You should first let him clean to storage and then add a portion of food in the bowl.
It is also very important to prevent him from taking fresh food to his storage. That is why I have bolded that you should give your hammy very, very small portions of fresh food. Pieces of fruit, veggies or meat can easily go bad if they remain at room temperature.
Spoiled food can make a mess in the cage and also harm your pet’s health. You should remove any leftovers ( if there is any) of fresh food on the same day you have given it to him.
Do Hamsters Overeat?
You filled up the food bowl and shortly afterward you have found it empty. If you do not know about the food larder your hammy has you might think that he is overeating.
The truth is that hamsters do not overeat. Now, when we know that, another question arises – if hamster does not overeat how come he becomes obese?
There are several factors that cause obesity in hamsters. First of all, check the food you are giving to your pet. The size of the portion might be fine but the content is not good. Maybe you are giving your hammy greasy food or cheese rich in fat, too many peanuts or bread.
You are filling up the food bowl every time when you notice that it is empty. Be careful with that and always check your pet’s food storage, if it is too big, do not refill the bowl.
Another mistake you might making is that you do not provide enough space and toys for your hammy to exercise. Hamster’s wheel is a must for your furry pal to keep him fit.
You should weigh your hamster every now and then. It is not always easy to say if your hammy has gained some weight due to the rich coat it has. Also if you notice that your pet has become a little bit slow and lazy, check his weight and change the diet if necessary.
Perfectly Balanced Diet
We have solved the issues when, how often and how much you should feed your hamster and what you can do to prevent him from getting fat but now it is the time to discover the right content of the hamster’s food.
If you are interested in discovering what food your hamster should eat, you can check our article – ‘What is the Best Food for Hamsters’
The perfectly balanced hamster’s diet is composed of :
- Proteins – the average range is about 17-19%. Be careful with proteins – a general rule that younger hamsters need a higher percentage of proteins ( baby hamster even up to 25% ) and the older hamsters will be ok with 15%. Robo hamsters are more active than others so they need more proteins and So there is one number that fits all.
- Fibers – normal range is 6-15%. Fibers are very important for digestion. A low fiber diet may lead to poor digestion and different stomach issues. The reason is that good bacteria from the hamster’s gut are feed with fibers. You will hardly run into hamsters food that contains a too high level of fibers so only a low fiber diet could be potential trouble.
- Fats – the average range is 4-7 % Again not all hamsters need the same level of fat but the thing is that too much fat can lead to obesity and different kinds of diseases but a low level of fat is not good either.
- Vitamins – Vitamin D for healthy bones, Vitamin C, Vitamin B for decreasing the stress level, Vitamin A for nursing females.
- Minerals – Calcium and Phosphorus for normal bone formation, Iron, especially important for nursing and pregnant females, same as Zinc and Copper
But in order to consider some hamster’s diet as a good, not only nutritional elements count. A well-balanced, high-quality diet needs to offer variety as well.
Variety is the key to a healthy diet. Although pellets are very important, they should not be the only source of hamster’s nourishment.
Fresh food and whole ingredients ( fruit, veggies, seeds, nuts, insects, some meat ) must find their place in your hamster’s menu. Just be careful fruits and veggies should be given to you hammy 3-4 times a week, not every day.
How Can I Feed My Hamster?
There are two methods. You can put the food in the bowl or you can try hand-feeding. The best is to combine those two.
For pellets it is better to put the required amount in the bowl.
Regarding the bowl – it is better to buy a ceramic then plastic one. Hamsters like to chew on things so in order to prevent some accident better to put ceramic bowl. This kind of bowl cannot be easily tipped over, unlike the plastic one.
Also make sure the bowl is not too big, first because your hammy does not need a big bowl and second of all, a big bowl will occupy too much space in the cage, leaving less room for toys and other entertainment and exercise elements.
Place a bowl as far as possible from the toilette spot. Hamsters do not like to eat near the place where pee. Who does?
It is also important to wash thoroughly the food bowl every time you clean the cage ( once a week )
Hand-feeding is perfect when it comes to treats. It helps you make a tighter bond with your pet, allowing him to connect your scent with something positive and good.
Another good thing about hand-feeding is that you avoid a mess in the cage. Treats you are giving to your pet can be liquid ( drops of milk or yogurt or melted fruits juice) or sticky ( peanut butter ) or perishable ( some kind of fruits, meat, veggies …)
If you practice hand-feeding, you are preventing your furry pal from taking the treats to his storage and potentially making a big mess.
How to Introduce New Food – Changing my Hamster’s Diet?
Hamsters have pretty sensitive digestive tracts. Whatever you change in your pet’s diet, do it very gradually.
For example, you have decided to change the basic pellets. You have discovered a more quality brand or simply want to give something different to your furry ball. No problem, but follow the basic steps in order to avoid any kind of problems.
The main rule is – first three days give 80% of old food and only 20% of new food. Afterward, the next three days, divide old and new food into equal portions ( 50%-50% ) and the last two days of the new food adaption period give your pet 80% of new food and 20% of the old food.
If you want to introduce a completely new food, some fruit or vegetable, do it very slowly. Offer your pet a tiny amount of new food and do not give him/her again the next few days, watch for any kind of reaction.
If no reaction occurs you can continue giving new food to your pet but always bear in mind on quantity and frequency (any kind of treats are not suitable for everyday consumption).
Although hamsters do not require too much food, they can be picky eaters. It might happen that they choose what they like from the mix you gave them and rest leave behind. It also might happen that some of the food you are trying to feed your pet, he simply refuses.
Fortunately, as they eat plenty of different food, you will be able to find something they like and make a high-quality diet for your furry pal. Remember balance diet is the base hamster’s well-being and a healthy hamster is a happy hamster!