Hamsters like to eat – and they are fun to watch eating. Here are a few facts about hamster feeding habits.
How Hamsters Eat
Hamsters like to explore. And that’s true with their food, also. When you first put out their food, they will usually run right out and check out what’s in the food bowl. They will look for their favorites, which is often a treat or a piece of a fresh fruit or vegetable. Sometimes they will eat their favorite right in front of you.
Or your hammy might stuff as much food as it can in its cheek pouches, then run off to store the food in a hiding place. Hiding places can include its hamster cage bedding or inside a toy house.
Your hamster will store more than it can eat at one time. This is called hoarding and is typical hamster behavior. When no one is looking, your hamster will then return to its food hiding place and eat in private. He or she may do this whenever it’s hungry throughout the day.
When to Feed Your Hamster
Even if there is no food in your hamster’s bowl, you can be pretty sure it has stored food somewhere in the hamster cage. So only feed your hamster once a day.
Try to feed your hamster at about the same time each day. The best time for feeding is usually toward the evening. As you know, they are nocturnal creatures so this is when hamsters are often the most active.
How Much to Feed Your Hamster
The amount of food a hamster eats can depend on a number of different factors.
Health. If your hamster is not feeling well or is sick it will tend to eat less. That’s why it’s important for you to know what your hamster “normally” eats. Then if he or she starts eating less, you should check for health problems.
Age. Older hamsters tend to eat less than young, growing hamsters.
Activity level. Hamsters that are more active running in their wheel or through hamster cage tubes will eat more food than less active hamsters.
Heat and cold. If it’s warm, your hamster will think it doesn’t need to have extra fat on its body so will tend to eat less. If it feels cold inside the hamster cage, your hamster may think it needs to fatten up – so it may start to eat more.
Food mix. If you put more of what your hamster likes in the food mix, it may eat more of it. But you must be careful to provide a nutritious diet with all kinds of food your hamster needs. Too much fatty foods and treats can make your hamster too fat. If you want to know what food to feed your hamster read What You Should Feed Your Hamster.
Once your hamster becomes accustomed to a certain mix of food, it will be wary of trying something new. Changing the hamster diet every time there’s a sale on a new type of hamster food can be disturbing for your hamster and can result in him or her eating less or not getting the nutrition it needs.
If you try out a new food, do it slowly, with a little at a time. Watch what your hamster does with the new food and give it time to get used to it.
You may not want to know this, but hamsters will eat their own feces. They don’t do it because they’re sick. They actually need to do this so they can digest their food a second time. This is called caprophagy and actually helps your hamster get all the nutrition it needs from what you feed it.