Feeding your hamster a healthy diet
You should ensure your hamster has access to good quality food and fresh, clean water at all times. The exact nutritional requirements of the hamster are not known, but in the wild they are ‘omnivores’ meaning that they eat both vegetarian food (plants, fruit, vegetables and seeds) and animal protein (usually insects). Unfortunately, most hamster mixes are entirely vegetable matter, without any animal protein; many of these mixes are also very low in some vitamins and substances called ‘essential fatty acids’ that are especially important for a healthy skin and coat.
What should I feed my hamster?
Pet hamsters are best fed a commercial diet containing at least 16% crude protein. These foods are usually available as dry blocks or pellets. Make sure you choose a really good one and supplement it by adding lots of healthy bits and pieces. If something’s good and healthy for you, it will be just as healthy for your hamster.
You can feed lots of different fruits and vegetables, use whatever you have available at home each day – make sure these are thoroughly washed to avoid exposing your hamster to pesticide residues and possible bacterial contamination. You can also feed small pieces of stale bread or toast, and sugar-free cereal. Why not try some left over pasta, rice or potato, bits of meat, cheese or chopped boiled egg? You can also feed your hamster live insects, but this is not always possible. Hamsters also like sweet things, so you could see if your hamster likes a spoonful of fruit yoghurt. Some things he will like, but others he won’t, it will be a case of trial and error.
How do I choose the best commercial food?
The best hamster mixes are those that contain animal protein. These are sold in sealed packs, with a sell by date on them, this ensures the food is fresh and you can also check the vitamin content on the packet. When buying this type of hamster food, be sure to buy small quantities, this will ensure the food is always fresh. Once you have opened a new packet, store it in an airtight, insect-proof container. Even on the best hamster mix, your pet will benefit from some fresh food too.
Hamsters can never be given ‘too much’ fruit or vegetables, however, be aware that if your hamster stores his food, any fresh food will go mouldy, so make sure you clean his home out daily to avoid this from happening.
It has been purported that meat and even onions can makes hamsters savage – this is of course untrue. However, no hamster likes having his favourite food being taken away, just like a dog with a juicy bone!