A balanced and nutritious diet can help keep your hamster living a healthy and happy life. It doesn’t matter if you own a dwarf or Syrian hamster, their quantity and calorie needs will always be the same. Dwarf hamsters may be small in size, but they make up for it with their faster metabolism.
Knowing what your hamsters can and cannot eat and how much is safe for them is part of your responsibility as the owner. Before you offer any vegetable, mirror, or other edibles, you have to make sure your hamsters can have them in the first place.
What protein can hamsters eat, then?
Safe Proteins for Hamsters
If you are not supplementing the commercial food mix of your hamster with raw vegetables or fresh fruits, giving them a fresh source of protein is a good alternative. Some options you might want to consider include unsalted raw nuts and seeds, with almonds being the only exception.
If you want to give seeds to your hamsters for their proteins, your best options include flax, sunflower, or sesame seeds. Occasional legumes like unsalted raw peanuts, edamame, or lentils will also work. Your hamster will also love a rare piece of mild cheese or even a small dollop of plain yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese.
Hamsters can also get their dose of high-quality proteins from certain insects such as mealworms, crickets, and grasshoppers. From time to time, you can also offer your hamster a little bit of scrambled or boiled egg and plain baked turkey or chicken.
As you might already know by now, hamsters are actually omnivorous. This means that you can give some meat proteins to your hamster to help with his development and growth. Younger hamsters in particular need a higher amount of protein than adult hamsters.
You also need to remember that many animal protein foods must be cooked before you can serve them to your hamster. You should avoid feeding your hamster raw eggs or raw meat because these contain high levels of parasites and bacteria that can be fatal to your little pet.
Fatty meats are also not encouraged because these are not natural foods for hamsters. If you feed your hamster large amounts of fatty meats, this might put him at risk of obesity, kidney, liver, or heart diseases.
Once again, some of the best proteins hamsters can eat include:
- Plain low-fat yogurt
- Low-fat cheese cottage
- Cooked chicken breast or the freeze-dried ones available in pet shops
- Tofu (You can blanch this in hot water for 10 seconds if you are worried before you feed it to your pet. The suggested serving that would be good enough for your pet is one teaspoon per day.)
- Boiled eggs, feeding only the whites or scrambled egg with no milk or oil
- Mealworms from the pet store
- Dried crickets
Fresh Vegetables and Fruits for Hamsters
It is recommended that you feed your hamster only a tiny supplemental piece of fresh food just one time every other day or so. It is best if this fresh food is often in the form of raw vegetables and fresh fruits.
Some of your best options include those low in water and sugar. You need to remember that sugar is not a great choice for hamsters because these small animals are disposed to suffer from diabetes, while too much water can make them suffer from diarrhea.
This means that even if hamsters can eat mangoes, bananas, grapes, or figs, for instance, their high levels of sugar can make them bad options. Apples, berries, melons, peaches, plums, and pears are much better choices in this case.
However, you might want to stay away from watermelon because of its high amounts of water. Stones, pits, and hard seeds like those in plums, peaches, grapes, and apples, so keep them out of your hamster’s reach at all times.
Some of your best options of vegetables for your hamster include leafy greens. Just be extra careful with cabbage, lettuce, and others that have high water content. Other good options include zucchini, green beans, carrots, celery, asparagus, cauliflower, and broccoli.
Commercial Hamster Food Options
The main foundation of the diet of your hamster should always be a good commercial food mix specially made for hamsters. Be sure to pick a product that contains cracked corn, whole grains, seeds, and pellets. Pellets are standard and one of the best dietary items for pet rodents, including hamsters.
Manufacturers reinforce these products with most of the nutrients required by your hamster, including minerals, vitamins, fat, and protein. Not all hamsters will love all the ingredients found in a certain food mixture.
See to it that your hamster feeds on the pellets and not only the rest of the ingredients, or else, your pet will never get all the necessary nutrients. If your hamster refuses to eat the pellets, you can try giving him another brand.
Don’t forget that hamsters love burying food anywhere in their cages. This means that just because your hamster’s bowl is empty doesn’t necessarily mean that your pet ate everything. Make sure you checked for stashed pellets every day until you are completely sure about your hamster eating them.
What Foods Should You Avoid Giving to Your Hamster?
Some foods can make hamsters go ill, break their teeth, or otherwise cause them harm. As mentioned earlier, avoid giving fruits to your hamster with the pits and hard seeds still inside. Almonds are not a good choice, too.
Never offer candies, potato chips, chocolates, or other human junk foods. Stay away from all processed and canned foods such as breakfast cereals. Some other foods you need to forego include avocado, chives, citrus fruits, garlic, eggplant, kidney beans, leeks, onions, pickles, potatoes, rhubarb, and scallions. You should never feed pork products to your hamster, either.
That’s it! Take note that this is not a complete list of the proteins and other foods that your hamster can eat. If you got questions or you are in doubt about the safety of a certain food, don’t hesitate to check in with your vet.