Aug 042010

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.

hamster food

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.

Diet Changes

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.


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Aug 042010

Hamsters like variety in their diet. It keeps them both healthy and happy. Feeding your hamster the range of food it needs means providing dry food, fruits and vegetables, the occasional treat, and, of course, water.

Dry Food

Dry food is where your hammy will get most of its nutrition. Here’s what should be in the dry food:

Proteins: Helps normal growth and maintenance of muscle and tissue. Should be 15 to 20% of diet. Very important for hamsters that are pregnant or nursing.
Fats and Carbohydrates: Provides energy; helps vitamin absorption; prevents skin problems. Should only be about 5% of diet.
Minerals: Maintenance of bones and teeth.
Vitamins: Enable chemical reactions within body cells. Helps cell growth; maintenance of general health.
hamster food

Although some people make their own dry hamster food, the easiest way to get it is to buy it in your pet store. Typical hamster food bags have a mix of seeds, grains, beans, and nuts. Some bags may also have alfalfa pellets and dried fruits and vegetables. Avoid bags of food that are mainly sunflower seeds and/or dried corn. hamster food

These bags are usually a loose mix. Your hamster will probably pick out the items that it likes the most, rather than the nutritional mix it needs. That’s why you might also want to buy block-type food. In this type pet food, all the seeds and grains stick together so your hamster has to eat a little of everything.

Look on the side of the food bag to check what’s in the mix and the nutritional information such as what percentage of protein is available in the food.

Fruits and vegetables

A few pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables each day will round out your hamster’s diet and make him or her quite happy. Be sure you wash and dry the fruit and vegetables and cut them into small pieces suitable for the size of your hamster. For fruits, remove stems, seeds, and large pits.

Typical safe fruits include:

  • Peach
  • Tomato
  • Apple
  • Plum
  • Pear
  • Melon
  • Blueberry
  • Strawberry
  • Pineapple

Typical safe vegetables include:

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Green beans

Avoid iceberg lettuce as its water content is high. This can cause problems for your hamster’s digestive tract.

Hamsters are hoarders. So if you have a typical hamster, it will take more fruits and veggies than it needs and stockpile the extra in its bedding or inside a toy. You’re going to have to check these places in the hamster cage every day for rotting food so your hamster will not eat it.


What pet doesn’t like an occasional treat? Just remember that it’s a treat, not a meal. Only give it once in a while and only give a small portion. hamster treats

Some typical treats include:

  • A small piece of fully cooked meat (Good for protein)
  • Live mealworms or crickets (Good for protein. You can get them at pet stores.)
  • A small piece of scrambled egg
  • A small piece of cheese
  • A teaspoon of plain yogurt
  • A few unsalted nuts
  • A teaspoon of sugar fee dry cereal

Pet stores also sell bags of treats such as yogurt or cheese drops. One a day is plenty!

hamster water bottle

It goes without saying, that an important part of your hamster’s diet is water. Your hamster needs clean, fresh water every day to prevent dehydration.

You can use a water bottle or a ceramic bowl for the water.

Foods to Avoid

Certain foods should never be fed to a hamster because they can make him or her ill.

Snacks that humans eat fall into this category. Do not feed your hamster:

  • Cookies
  • Candy
  • Chocolate
  • Potato chips
  • Any other type of snack food you might eat.

Anything sticky can get stuck in your hamster’s cheek pouches and cause a lot of problems.

Other foods hamsters should not eat include:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Raw potatoes
  • Canned vegetables
  • Fried foods
  • Pickles
  • Peanut butter


You should feed your hamster once every day, usually around the same time. Make sure food is available all the time by leaving some dry food in a food bowl. If you feed your hamster the right mix of nutritious food, you’ll have a contented and healthy hamster.


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Mar 222010

So you’ve bought your hamster cage and supplies and have brought them home. Here are some simple steps to follow to prepare hammy’s home so he or she will feel welcome when they move in.

1. Clean the cage. It may be new, but your cage may have collected dust, dirt, and germs in its travels from the manufacturer to you. Simply rinse and dry each piece before putting it together. You can mix some mild disinfectant in the water for extra safety.

hamster cage

2. Decide on a hamster cage location . You want to put your cage somewhere on a level surface where the air can flow easily through the cage. Remember, you don’t want to put the cage in direct sunlight or too close to an air conditioner. And never put your hamster cage in a place where your other pets can get too close.

3. Lay down the bedding. Your hamster will need at least two inches of bedding material so he or she can burrow, play, and sleep. Hamsters will also use a part of the bedding for their bathroom. Aspen wood shavings or a paper-based material such as Carefresh is recommended. Avoid pine or cedar wood shavings as they contain chemicals harmful to hamsters.
hamster bedding

4. Provide water. Hamsters, like us, need food and water to survive. You can use a water bowl or dish, but make sure it’s heavy or your hamster will knock it over. Hamster water bottles made of plastic are more commonly used. Hang the break-resistant plastic bottle outside the cage, with only the drinking tub sticking inside the cage.

5. Provide food. Put some hamster food in a small ceramic bowl. Make sure it’s heavy so your hamster doesn’t tip it over. And be sure to throw in some fresh vegetables from time to time.

hamster saucer

6. Put in the exercise wheel. You need an exercise wheel because hamsters typically like to run 3 to 6 miles (4 to 9 km) every day. The best kind is a wheel with a solid running surface and treads. The kind with wire spokes can catch your hamster’s small toes, resulting in injury. And make sure the wheel is large enough for the size of your hamster.

7. Add the toys. Hamster love to explore and they need to chew. So combine the two with chew toys. Put some wood blocks, little wood houses or a chew tube in your hamster’s home. That way, your hamster can play while keeping his or her teeth in good shape. You can add other toys, such as plastic cars and exercise wheels later.

8. Add the tubes, or levels. If you have a wire and plastic cage, there are usually holes where you can add additional hamster tubes. You can combine tubes in all sorts of ways so your hamster can climb through the crazy creative maze you create. In wire and glass aquarium cages, you can add levels with ladders that let your hamster climb up and down the full height of the cage. hamster tubes

9. Check your security. Before putting your hamster in his or her cage, check the latch on the door to make sure it fits tightly. If you’re using an aquarium, check the top to make sure the screen is fastened tightly and there are no spaces through which your hamster can escape.

10. Introduce your hamster to its new home. Gently place your hamster in its cage and give it some time to wander around and explore its great new home.


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