Hamsters will stuff their cheeks with just about anything, but they require a balance diet to thrive. As omnivores, they eat a number of foods, from seed, fruits and greens towards the occasional insect or any other type of protein.

A number of commercial hamster food is available for hamsters, from pellets, seed mixes and blocks. But which is the best to maintain your small animal healthy and thriving?

What Must i Feed My Hamster?

“Out within the wild, hamsters eat a variety of seeds and plants,” says Kristin Valdes, DVM, a very beautiful vet at Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital in Skokie, Ill. “A pet hamster should ideally possess a block or pelleted diet specifically for hamsters.”

First choice, according to Dr. Valdes, is a lab block or pelleted hamster diet. A lot of companies offer quality pelleted and lab block diets which contain all of the nutrients your hamster needs. An added benefit of blocks is they satisfy the hamster's desire to chew and help to keep his teeth trimmed.

While hamsters might prefer seed mixes, Dr. Valdes says they are best offered “as a little treat because they will pick the less healthy seeds first, then so on until the healthiest meals are chosen last.”

Also, hamsters are prone to obesity. Therefore, seed mixes with things that are dense in fat and calories, for example individuals with high amounts of sunflower seeds, can cause obesity or lack, so you will want to avoid them.

When feeding an industrial block or pelleted hamster diet, Dr. Valdes says to follow along with the business's recommendation how much product to give. This, too, can help prevent your pet from gaining excess fat and take in the nutrients he needs.

Can I Add Fresh Food to My Hamster Diet?

Yes. For a truly complete hamster diet, Dr. Valdes says to offer your hamster small amounts of greens and fresh veggies, in addition to a bit of lean boiled meat, but only as a snack.

“Here are a few things you can test to provide in small amounts as a treat,” she says.

  • Asparagus
  • Baked or Steamed Chicken, Turkey or Cod Fish (Skin and bones removed.)
  • Bananas
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Boiled or Scrambled Eggs
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Bran and Wheat Germ
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Chestnuts
  • Clover
  • Cooked Brown Rice (plain)
  • Cooked Ground Beef (Rinse it well in serious trouble to remove any grease.)
  • Cooked Whole Grain Pasta
  • Dandelion Leaves
  • Dog Biscuits (Make sure they don't contain garlic, onion or onion powder.)
  • Endive
  • Flax Seed
  • Lentils
  • Mango
  • Melon
  • Mild Cheeses
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Oatmeal
  • Parsnips
  • Plain Tofu
  • Raspberries
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Seedless Apples
  • Seedless Grapes
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips
  • Unsalted Popcorn (no butter)
  • Unsalted Pumpkin Seeds
  • Unsalted Soybeans
  • Water Chestnuts
  • Water Cress

“Good treats for any hamster are things like fresh veggies and a sparing quantity of fruit or whole grains,” Dr. Valdes says. “Fruit and whole grains can upset the GI tract if offered in too high levels. As a rule of thumb, only 5-10 percent of the diet ought to be treats.”

What Foods or Ingredients Ought to be Avoided?

Some fresh, human foods are unhealthy for hamsters, yet others are downright toxic. Based on Dr. Valdes, avoid the following fresh and eager components of your hamster diet.

  • Almonds (cyanic acid)
  • Avocado (cardiac glycosides)
  • Canned food (chance of botulism)
  • Chocolate (cardiotoxic risks)
  • Candies (too high in sugar)
  • Chips and Junk Food (excessive in excessive fat)
  • Chives (allium family; toxic to blood cells)
  • Citrus Fruits (e.g. oranges, kiwis, lemons, limes, pineapples, tangerines)
  • Garlic (allium family; toxic to blood cells)
  • Leeks (allium family; toxic to blood cells)
  • Onions (allium family; toxic to blood cells)
  • Pickles
  • Pork Products
  • Eggplant
  • Jams and Jellies (excessive in sugar)
  • Raw Kidney Beans
  • Raw Potatoes
  • Raw Rhubarb (toxic)
  • Tomato
  • Watermelon (causes diarrhea)
  • Scallions (allium family; toxic to blood cells)
  • Spices (e.g. cayenne, chili)

How Should I Feed My Hamster?

“Evening time seems to be preferred by hamsters his or her feeding time,” Dr. Valdes says. “That is the time when, in the wild, they wake up to forage for food.”

She recommends feed your hamster once daily. Put the food dish within an area from where your hamster sleeps and eliminates. Keep your food dish clean, and throw away any leftover snacks hidden in your tiny pet's burrow or left in the bowl each day. Hamsters prefer to cache food to snack on later, check inside hidey-holes and underneath bedding.

Remember fresh, water that is clean! Whether you use a bottle or a bowl, alter the water out daily.

“If you use a water bowl, you will probably have to fill and alter the water multiple times each day as hamsters will frequently fill the bowl with the bedding,” Dr. Valdes says. “You must also spot clean the bedding round the bowl to avoid damp bedding from relaxing in the cage too much time.”