Feeding your hamster should not be viewed as a repetitive action to keep him or her alive, but instead as an opportunity to maximise the happiness and health of your hamster. With this in mind, I set about trying to find out what hamsters can eat; at the end of the day, it as all about Littlefoot. (For those of you who are not familiar with Littlefoot, he is the star attraction and chief resident of this website!)
I want to ensure that Littlefoot receives a balanced diet which is packed with all the nutrition he needs and at the same time, one which he enjoys!
I will be totally honest with you and admit that I thought this post would be relatively straight forward to research and only take about 30 minutes to complete; but as with most things in life, nothing is ever simple and asking a question only leads to more questions. The remainder of this post is designed to provide you with a comprehensive guide on what to feed your hamster; the reason I say guide is because, as I have recently learnt, there is no single answer to this conundrum, the best results will be a culmination of persistence, observation and a fair amount of trial and error.
Popular Hamster Muesli Brands
Before I get started on this, I just want to point out a few extremely important points, which I will reiterate throughout the post:
- This post should only be used as a guide – The best source of information is always going to be your hamster. If they do not seem to get along with a certain type of food then you should not force it upon them just because this website suggests that they should like it.
- Proceed with caution! – Making changes to your hamster’s diet should always be carried out gradually and with great care. Simply by changing manufacturer of hamster muesli can introduce conditions such as diarrhoea or wet tail. If you have any doubts about changing your hamster’s diet then by all means, seek guidance from a veterinary professional.
Hamster muesli is probably the main dietary component for the majority of pet hamsters. Regardless of species, which will be an important factor when deciding what to feed your hamster, most owners will rely heavily on the contents of the “complete” mixtures which can be purchased either online, at the supermarket or at the local pet store. There are many different manufacturers of hamster muesli and an equally wide variety on the market at varying prices (See list below). Upon purchasing Littlefoot, I was witness to this extensive variety and made me wonder what the differences between them all were and what made some more expensive than others. The table below is a brief comparison between 3 of the leading brands of hamster muesli along with their nutritional information and ingredients.
As you can see from the table above, many of the ingredients used are common among all 3 brands of hamster food but there are also some major differences, especially when it comes down to the quantities and traces of nutritional additives. Now I am not going to pretend to know what some of these additives are and the effects they will cause if increased but it is easy to see how a sudden change of food could cause upset your hamster.
Happy Hamster Top Tips:
- If you purchase your hamster from a pet shop, you will be advised to purchase some of the in store food. While you may have reservations about this or already have a preferred brand in mind, it is very important that you do acquire some from the store. You can then begin a weaning process where you will gradually introduce the new brand of food into your hamsters diet. Failure to do so can result in discomfort to your hamster.
- Do not force food upon your hamster because you think it is the right one. Pay attention to your hamster and their reaction to the food. While you do have a responsibility to ensure that your hamster is presented with a balanced diet, remember that hammy knows best.
- It will not take you long to start noticing your hamsters favourite foods within their muesli. Why not try purchasing them separately and increasing the content within the mixture. For example. Littlefoot is very keen on sunflower seeds so I purchase some separately and mix them in to his food. Not too much though, Remember, everything in moderation.
The following list outlines a few of the major brands of Hamster Muesli, it is by no means a complete list as many local pet stores will provide their own alternatives. The list is in no particular order:
- Supreme Harry Hamster Complete Muesli
- Science Selective Hamster Food
- Wagg Hamster Munch
- Pets at Home Premium Hamster Muesli
- Burgess Supahamster Hamster Harvest
- Beaphar Xtravital Hamster Food
- Mr Johnsons Hamster & Gerbil Mix
- Albert E James Hamsters And Gerbil Mix
- Quiko Sunny Greens Complete Food Hamsters
- Burgess Country Valu Hamster & Gerbil Food
- Mayfield Hamster Food
- Tesco Hamster Food with Peanuts And Sunflower Seeds
Although this is not a complete list, you can already see that there is a wide range of hamster muesli to choose from. While I could give you my opinion on which is the best, it may not be the right one for your hamster. My advice would be to start off with the same food as used at the pet store/breeder and only introduce a change if you receive advice on good authority, have previous experience with a tried and tested brand or your hamster is not getting on with the food.
A balanced diet is a reoccurring theme throughout this post and something which I am a huge advocate of amongst both hamsters and humans alike. One of the main problems with hamster muesli is the ability to selective feed; this means that if your hamster develops a taste for a certain element of the muesli, they will selectively eat it and neglect a lot of the other elements. This problem is cured by the hamster pellet; each pellet is almost identical and contains all of the nutrition required by your hamster.
Fruit and Vegetables
Hamster muesli alone is a perfectly acceptable single source of food for your hamster, it contains all of the sustenance and nutrition needed, but at Happy Hamster we are not just aiming for acceptable, we want the happiest hamster possible. Hamsters are omnivores and in the wild, their diet will consist of a wide range of food sources ranging from plant life to insects. It is my intention to create an environment which will stimulate many of Littlefoot’s natural instincts, this will include providing him with variety of different fruits and vegetables. The following fruits and vegetables are perfectly safe to give to your hamster. Once again it is important to introduce these foods slowly to begin with and only ever give in moderation, as part of a balanced diet:
Apples, Bananas, Blackberries, Blueberries, Grapes, Mango, Melon
Beansprouts, Broccoli, Cucumber, Celery, Cauliflower (leaves included), Carrots, Peas, Sweetcorn
Once again, this list is by no means complete and there will many others which are perfectly safe for your hamster; not having tried and tested them, I cannot recommend them.
You should treat your hamster as you would treat your child. If allowed, my eldest son Oliver would eat Jaffa cakes all day with the occasional pit stop for a purple Babybel. Not only would this be seriously detrimental to his health, it would also drastically reduce his life expectancy. While treats can be a great training aid for your hamster and a means to start building an interactive relationship, they can also be dangeros if given in large quantities. Excessive consumption of saturated fats and sugars may lead to diarrhoea and obesity.
Some of the more popular treats are outlined in the following list:
- Yoghurt drops
- Chocolate drops
- Honey sticks
Many of the foods listed in the fruits and vegetables section are also considered as treat items and like the treats mentioned above, they should be given in moderation. For hamster breeds which are more prone to diabetes (hybrids, winter whites, campbells and Chinese) be careful not to give them too many sugary treats. Certain treats can also be given as a way to keep the teeth from becoming overgrown and work as a greatr alternative when you hamster begins to chew the bars of their cage. Follow this link for more informtaion on hamster bar chewing
Live Food / Protein
As mentioned earlier, hamsters are omnivores and will frequently partake in the odd insect or grub in the wild. I was quite surprised when I read about this and for some reason, I only ever associated hamsters with seeds and plant life. The hamster muesli will contain an adequate amount of protein but there is no reason why you cannot compliment this with even more. The following food items can be given to your hamster as a protein supplement:
- Mealworms - Live or frozen
- Crickets – Live crickets will provide a small treat and activity for your hamster
- Small amounts of cooked chicken or beef
Foods to avoid
It is equally important to learn about the foods which are unsuitable for your hamster as well as the ones which are good. The foods which are ill advised for your hamster are known to contain certain acids and extracts which will disagree with the hamsters digestive system:
- Almonds – known to contain cyanic acid
- Apple seeds, Grape seeds, Kidney beans
- Human chocolate
- Avocado – contains cardiac glycosides
- oranges, tangerines – large amounts of citric acids will upset the digestive system
- Watermelon – causes diarrhoea
What does Littlefoot eat
As the main inspiration of this website, I want to wrap this post up by shedding some light on what Littlefoot likes to eat. We purchased Littlefoot from Pets at Home, a large pet store chain in the UK. Upon purchasing him we were advised to maintain his current diet which surprise, surprise, consisted of their own brand of food. I had carried out some research prior to the purchase and had learned that it was well advised to purchase some of the existing food to assist with integration to his new surroundings. He seems to like it so I have not found the need to change, although I am more than welcome for any advice or comments on this subject and am still researching into potential alternatives.
As far as fruit and vegetables go, I like to drop a few of the items in the list above in to his home to see how he gets on. So far, I can confirm that he is a big fan of apples, carrots, broccoli and mango.
I am quite conscious of over issuing treats to Littlefoot so have only given him a few to date. The treats he has been given are:
- Yogurt drops – He was not overly keen on yogurt drops although he did eat one eventually. I’m not going to force the issue but will try again in the near future
- Hanging honey stick – Littlefoot loves his honey stick and had almost eaten the whole thing within a few days. I’m sure he would like more but as outlined above, only in moderation
- Sunflower seeds – probably his favourite food. always wants more!
So I guess it is about time that I updated this post to include some of the things that Misty likes to eat. I started out by giving her the same food which Littlefoot used to eat (Pets at home own brand) but it quickly became clear that she was not too keen on it – she would consistently leave out half of the ingredients so I was worried that she was not getting a balanced diet. it was time for a change
Changing Hamster food can be a risky procedure if not carried out with the proper care. You need to introduce the new food carefully as not to cause unneccesary distress to your hamster. Check out my article on how to change your hamster food
I decided to go with the Supreme Harry Hamster food after asking for recommendations from fellow hamster owners and am happy to say that Misty is getting on well with it – she especially loves the monkey nuts and lokes amazing when she is fully loaded up – I will post a picture soon!
Feel to explore other hamster foods – check out the Happy Hamster store for inspiration on Hamster Food
As far as treats go, I have tried to avoid anything too sweet. She has had the occasional hanging honey treat and yoghurt drop but I am trying to keep things healthy – I know that diabetes is rare in Syrian hamsters but not unheard of so I would not want to run the risk
Misty’s favourite treats or supplementry foods are:
- Cooked Chicken – no additives just cooked
- Corn – dried and unsweetened
- The occassional seedless grape
- Apple – avoiding seeds
All of the above are of course given in moderation
Feel free to checkout The Happy Hamster YouTube Channel and see him in action.