Aug 252013

You worry when your hamster won’t eat. Here are some of the common reasons your hamster is not eating and a few ideas for what you can do about it.


Hamster cheeks

All he does is eat eat eat ! by jpockele, on Flickr

Hoarding is a typical hamster behavior. Your hammy will stuff its cheeks full of food then find what he or she thinks is a safe spot in its cage and store that food. When it feels safe, it’ll come back and eat from the food it’s been hoarding.

Since hamsters are nocturnal animals, they may often be doing this at night while you’re sleeping. So your hamster may be eating but you don’t see it.

What to do:

You can look around your hamster’s cage while he sleeping (usually during the day). Poke around and see if there is a bunch of food being stashed somewhere. It may be inside a toy or in a corner not being used for a bathroom.

Don’t take the food away from the stash that your hammy has hoarded. Hamsters feel safe knowing they have a safe place to hide their food.

New stuff

When new things are introduced to a hamster it sometimes becomes nervous enough to stop eating. New things can include a new hamster cage or moving the cage to a different location. Even adding a connecting cage or new hamster tubes might cause your hamster to stop eating. hamster cage

Also in the new category might be something as simple as giving your hamster a new type of food or new brand of food.

Another new thing that can scare your hamster so it stops eating is another pet in the house such as a cat or dog.

What to do:

First, give your hamster a little time to adjust to anything new in its environment. Give it a few days.

Also, when you add something new (such as hamster tubes) try to make your hamster more comfortable by petting it or holding it – if your hamster likes you to do that.
Hamster treat

Another option in this case is to try bribing your hamster with a treat – something you know he really likes such as a grape or a yogurt drop. Especially if you’ve introduced a new food, try mixing some treats in with it so your hamster learns to like the new food by associating it with the treat.

Abscess in mouth

An abscess is a sore or blister that occurs on the skin of your hamster. An abscess can occur in your hamster’s cheeks. It may look like the hamster has food stored in their cheek pouch, but it’s really the blister that pushing the cheek out.

What to do:

An abscess needs to be looked at by a vet. First check your hamster’s mouth to see if you can spot any sores inside his or her cheeks. If you see anything red, bring your hammy to the vet. The vet will most likely drain the abscess.

Once you hamster is home, you will probably need to feed it soft food while it’s recovering. People recommend using cooked pasta, baby food, or cooked oatmeal so your hamster can still get nutrition without having to chew any hard food.


There are many different hamster illnesses that can cause a loss of appetite.

Wet Tail is a bacterial infection usually found in younger hamsters. You will see a wet and soiled bottom area on your hamster. There might also be a bad smell. Since this is a contagious disease, you should take your hamster to the vet immediately to be checked out.

Diarrhea can be spotted when you see soiled bedding throughout the cage, not just in the spot your hammy normally uses for its bathroom. Diarrhea may or may not include loss of appetite. If there is no loss of appetite, you may just want to try changing your hamster’s diet – feed it fewer vegetables and fresh food. But if diarrhea is accompanied by a loss of appetite, this is another situation when you should take your hamster to the vet because you don’t want your hamster to get dehydrated.

It is also possible for a hamster to get the flu or an intestinal infection. You hamster may also suffer from a serious illness such as prolapse or bowel obstruction. A prolapse will appear as a red sack coming out of the hamster’s bottom.

What to do:

Unfortunately, these illnesses will require a trip to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.

Old AgeHamster Sleeping

Remember, a hamster’s life span is typically 1 ½ to 3 years at most. As a hamster reaches older age, it becomes less active and begins to eat less. It is the hamster’s way of preparing for the end.

What to do:

Comfort your hamster and remember all the good times you had with him or her.


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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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