You might be asking yourself, “what can hamsters eat?” While it might be tempting (and adorable) to serve your furry friend a teeny tiny cheeseburger, hamsters require a complete and balanced diet with adequate nutrition to keep them healthy.
With the thousands of options available, it is incredibly difficult to determine which food is going to best provide a nutritious diet that is rich with vitamins and minerals. Lucky for your, feeding your tiny pet just became a lot easier. Below you’ll find a guide to follow to help choose the best hamster food.
The Best Hamster Food
Have a hungry hamster? Here is our top choice:
The Oxbow Essentials Hamster and Gerbil Food is our top rated pick when it comes to choosing the best hamster food.
After reading it’s natural and nutrition-rich ingredient list, it was clearly the best pick for feeding our hamster Daisy.
It’s free of any unnecessary additives, like high sugar fruit or corn.
It also promotes digestive health and provides the correct amount of protein, fat, and fiber to keep your hamster healthy and energetic.
I found comfort in knowing that the food I chose for Daisy offered a complete diet that was full of the nutrition she needed to be a happy pet.
Types of Hamster Food
There are two main types of hamster food that you can opt for.
The first are chow diets, which, at first, might not seem like the most appealing to you or your pet. Chows are comprised of ground up ingredients that are then mixed and compacted together into a small square.
If chow diets aren’t your style, you can always choose a mixed-seed diet. Mixed-seed diets are exactly as they sound: a mix of seeds and grains.
Both types of foods have their individual benefits. Because the chows come in compacted squares, your little pet will have fun gnawing on and breaking down their food.
The mixed-seed diet promotes foraging, which is an instinctual hamster habit. They will pick and choose which seeds and grains they like best and store them for later.
However, experts argue that the mixed-seed diets are the better choice, since it allows hamsters to satisfy their instinct to forage as they would in the wild.
Whichever type of food you decide is best for your hamster, there are three key components you’ll want to be sure are included in each bag of food in order to provide a complete and healthy diet for your little pet.
Food should offer a certain amount of dietary percentages to keep your hamster’s diet and nutrition balanced and complete.
Each bag should contain at least 17 to 22 percent protein, 4 to 6 percent fat, and 8 to 10 percent fiber.
In my experience, it was very hard to find hamster food with an adequate amount of protein, so I had to offer Daisy with protein rich treats.
Hamster food of good quality will offer a wide variety of different ingredients.
As I mentioned before, hamsters are foragers by nature, and will love digging through the different items. Not only will your pet be fed, but also entertained.
Look for hamster food that contain nutritious ingredients rather than fillers that add no value to their nutrition at all.
For example, corn is a very popular filler that does little to nothing for your pet’s diet.
While they’re great for the occasional treats, dried fruits add high amounts of sugar to hamster food.
After spending what felt like hours researching different hamster foods, I came across the Oxbow Essentials Hamster and Gerbil food, and quickly realized it was what I needed to keep Daisy’s diet healthy.
It is rich in natural antioxidants, contains no added sugar, has a healthy blend of grains, and is specially formulated with probiotics to promote digestive health for your hamster.
It meets each dietary requirement as well, with 15 percent protein, 4.5 percent fat, and 15 percent fiber.
Each bag of food is fortified with vitamins and minerals, so there is no need to worry about supplementing your hamster’s diet.
Things We Like:
- Meets the minimum nutrition requirements for protein, fat, and fiber
- No fillers or additives
- High fiber content for digestive health
Things We Don’t Like:
- Uniform kibble bits that don’t promote foraging or activity
The Oxbow Garden Select Hamster and Gerbil Food is a close second for the best hamster food available.
It is made with ingredients like tomato, yellow pea, and thyme to give it a fresh and aromatic flavor that your pet will love.
The veggie flavors also simulate flavors found in the wild, which stimulate foraging activities.
This hamster food is also made with three different types of hay, providing variety and diet enrichment.
Each bag of food contains 16 percent protein, 2.5 percent fat, and 18 percent fiber.
As a bonus, it is GMO-free.
Things We Like:
- Mimics flavors found in the wild
- Variety of ingredients that support an enriched diet
Things We Don’t Like:
- Fails to meet the required fat percentage
- Uniform kibble bits
If you find that your hamster becomes easily bored of their food, then the Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Hamster Food is the choice for you.
It contains a variety of flavorful ingredients, including dried fruits, veggies, and legumes.
Higgins hamster food is also enriched with DHA omega-3 fatty acids that will help support your hamsters immune system.
It’s free of any unnatural preservatives, artificial flavors, and chemical food dyes. Probiotics are added in to support digestion.
Things We Like:
- Meets recommended dietary criteria (15 percent protein, 7 percent fat, and 9.5 percent fiber)
- Variety of kibbles for foraging
- No artificial additives
Things We Don’t Like:
- Dried fruit can increase sugar intake
- More expensive than other brands
4. Vitakraft Vitasmart Hamster Food (Our Budget Pick)
If you’re on a budget but still looking for quality hamster food, then Vitakraft Vitasmart Hamster Food is the choice for you.
It contains added antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to keep your hamster’s immune system in tip-top shape.
It provides a high-diversity diet with texted and long-stranded fibers to keep your critter’s teeth strong and healthy.
Each serving has 16 percent protein, 16 percent fiber, but only 3 percent fat.
Things We Like:
- Best bang for your buck
- Protects dental health
- Enriched with vitamins and minerals
Things We Don’t Like:
- Doesn’t meet the required amount of fat per serving
- Contains fillers (corn)
- Contains added sugar
If you’re looking for food that is suitable for your dwarf hamster, then the Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Hazel Hamster Tasty Mix is the way to go.
It contains no added sugar while also serving your hamster it’s daily requirement of vitamins and minerals.
Your tiny pet will love foraging through the pumpkin seeds, oats, peas, and wheat.
There is a guaranteed 18 percent protein and 6 percent fat. However, it falls short on fiber, containing only 6 percent per serving.
Things We Like:
- Suitable for all breeds, including dwarf hamsters
- No added sugar
Things We Don’t Like:
- Does not contain the required amount of fiber
- Ingredients included peanuts, which are known to cause dietary upsets
- Includes sunflower seeds, which can lead to obesity and calcium deficiency
Types of Food or Ingredients to Avoid
While there are many different types of food that can keep your hamster in shape, there are several that can be detrimental to its health.
Trying to look at the ingredient lists is often like reading a novel in a different language (trust me, I don’t know how to pronounce those words either).
However, there are a few main additions to your hamster’s food that you’ll want to steer clear of.
Some Surprising Findings
Surprisingly, sunflower seeds are actually unhealthy for your hamster. Think of them like you would ice cream; great in small amounts but bad in large quantities. You wouldn’t eat half of a tub of ice cream, right? (….okay, yes, so would I).
A sunflower based diet can quickly lead to obesity, diabetes, as well as calcium deficiencies.
Without calcium, your hamster is susceptible to weaker bones. A chubby hamster with weak bones sounds like an uncomfortable and unhappy hamster to me.
However, sunflower seeds are a great treat if you want to spoil your furry friend every once and awhile.
You might think that peanuts would be a great choice of food for you hamster, right?
Unfortunately, while high in protein, then can often cause dietary upsets and coat changes.
Now you have a chubby, weak, balding hamster with an upset stomach.
Yikes. Like sunflower seeds, peanuts can be used for the occasional treat.
If you look at the ingredient list on the side of the bag, you’ll often find some sort of sugar-based ingredient, most commonly molasses.
Some hamster foods can even contain dried fruit in their mixes. While your hamster might love this food, high sugar diets and mixes can be detrimental to their dental health.
Cavities, rot, root abscesses and tooth loss can all be consequences of too much sugar in your hamster’s diet.
A chubby, weak, balding, toothless hamster with an upset stomach will probably turn on you, and I wouldn’t blame them.
How to Supplement Your Hamster’s Diet
Nobody’s perfect, right? Same goes for a majority of hamster food. One may have the right amount of protein and fat, but not enough fiber.
Some may not be enriched the the necessary vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your hamsters need.
Others may just be plain boring, resulting in your hamster losing interest in it’s food.
Luckily, there are a few different foods that you can use to spruce up your hamster’s meals. You might even already have some in your pantry or fridge!
Some examples of safe foods to feed your hamster include but are not limited to: apples (be sure to remove all of the seeds), bananas, grapes, carrots, sweet potatoes, hay, whole-grain cereal (more like Cheerios, less like Lucky Charms), and whole wheat pasta.
If you want to treat your hamster to something not on this list, just be sure to research whether or not it is safe to eat.
Although there is little information about the mineral requirements for hamsters, there are still vitamin and mineral supplements on the shelves.
Some hamster owners simply depend on the food they give their hamsters to nourish them properly, but others choose to watch their health more closely.
Both are acceptable, but if you resonate with the latter, feel free to purchase a supplement to give your hamster in addition to their daily meals.
Vitamins can be found in four different variations:
- Vitamin drops: drops can be added to your hamsters food daily. Our favorite vitamin drops are these.
- Water tablets: simply drop the fizz tabs into your hamster’s water. More detailed instructions can be found here, and can be purchased here.
- Treats: break the treat into bite small enough for a hamster, and give them as needed. Find Oxbow’s brand here.
- Powders: sprinkle or mix the powder into your hamster’s food as needed. A vitamin-rich powder can be found here.
Finding a food for hamsters that both nourishes and satisfies them can be tricky business.
Before I had Daisy, I would have never known that hamsters require a certain amount of daily nutrients like other animals, or even people, do.
Whether you’re a first time hamster owner or are looking to be more careful about your hamster’s health, the tips and guidelines above can be used when making the careful decision of what and how to feed your little friend.
As you are now equipped with the proper information and the best food, we hope your hamster leads a long, healthy, and happy life.
In the meantime, enjoy this painfully adorable video of a hamster eating a teeny tiny cheeseburger.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which is the best brand of food for hamsters?
A: After several hours of research, I’ve found that Oxbow Animal Health is the most reliable brand available to hamsters.
Every type of food provide the necessary amount of fiber, protein, and fat required for your hamster to stay energetic and healthy.
Their mixes contain no added sugars or fillers, and are enriched with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Each bag is reasonably priced, and the ones I have purchased for Daisy last about three months.
Q: Can hamster food expire?
A: While hamster food can technically expire, proper storage can ensure its longevity and freshness.
One vet recommends placing your unopened bag of hamster food in the freezer for one to two days before serving it to your hamster.
Also, read any labels to see if the food needs to be refrigerated after opening (this is due to high oil content).
Your hamster food might change color after some time, but it will still hold the same nutritional value.
Make sure to throw away any food that is showing signs of mold or staleness.
Q: How much and how often should I feed my hamster?
A: The frequency and amount that you feed your hamster is dependent on the size and age of your pet.
Typically, you’ll want to feed your hamster about two tablespoons of food per day. However, dwarf hamsters might eat less than a Syrian hamster.
Roborovski hamsters will only eat less than a tablespoon of food each day, so be sure to adjust accordingly.
If you find yourself with a sick or pregnant hamster, they will need more food than normal.
If you find that the food dish is empty more often than not, feel free to increase each serving.
Be careful though, because hamsters store their food inside their cheeks. Sneaky little guys.
Q: What should I do if I’m leaving home for an extended period of time?
A: Although they might use this trick to get more food, a hamster’s ability to store food in their cheeks gives them the ability to go three or four days without having to find more to eat.
Before you leave, make sure that their cage is clean, they have fresh water, and top off their food bowl.
If you’ll be gone for more than two weeks, it might be a good idea to find a trustworthy hamster-sitter.
Q: Which food is best for Dwarf hamsters?
A: Despite the fact that they are smaller than their Syrian cousins, dwarf hamsters require the same amount of food as they do.
The main difference between the two is how they actually break down the food.
The same goes for Roborovski hamsters.
Dwarf and Robo Dwarf hamsters are more prone to diabetes since their tiny bodies can’t break down sugar as easily as Syrian hamsters can.
Therefore, you should opt for a food that as no dried fruit or sugar additives, like molasses.
Either of the Oxbow hamster foods mentioned above would be a perfect choice for your dwarf or Robo Dwarf hamsters.
Remember to be aware of their sugar intake when feeding them treats as well.
Q: What do hamsters eat for treats that can be found in my pantry or refrigerator?
A: You might find yourself asking, “can hamsters eat bananas?” or “can hamsters eat grapes?”
The answer to both of those is yes! Most fruits are safe for hamsters to enjoy as a treat.
However, because fruit contains sugar, make sure to indulge them only occasionally.
Other household treats include eggs (scrambled or hard-boiled, but skip the salt), whole-grain bread, plain popcorn (no salt or butter), and uncooked whole-wheat pasta.
I enjoy giving Daisy dog biscuits as treats, since they are high in protein and the crunch will keep her entertained.