Hamsters are thought to be granivorous, meaning they live solely on seeds and grains, which is just not true. Hamsters require a balance of animal proteins, seeds, nuts, and fresh fruits and veggies. Before you go and purchase a seed mix be sure to find out what the appropriate mix needs to contain.
First examine the mix itself. If the packaging prevents you from seeing the mix maybe don’t get that one. You want raw variety, meaning plenty of different whole foods. Whole foods are the ingredients that have not been pelleted, flaked, or kibbled.
Whole foods provide the hamster with different textures which satisfy their instinct to forage, even if you’re bowl feeding. The more whole foods you provide the better, and never pick things out of the mix!
Check the Guaranteed Analysis section on the packaging. If your hamster is under 6 months old they should have 20%-24% protein in the diet, and older hamsters around 17%-19%. Roborovski Dwarfs are suspected to like 20% even if they’re over 6 months due to their fast metabolism. The fat content needs to be 5%-6%, 7% is okay in some cases, but some hamsters become overweight. The fiber should be 7%-15%. If the mix meets those requirements, you can check for fillers.
Not Too Many Fillers
When you check the ingredients make sure that fillers are not very high on the list. The first thing listed has the most of it in the mix, and so on.
Now what is a filler? A filler is a food with little nutritional value that companies add in so they can make the bag look fuller. Corn or hay based pellets for example. Corn kernels are quite large, but are mostly just empty calories. They don’t provide a lot of nutrients, and hamsters don’t need hay pellets in their diets. Keep an eye out for fillers in mixes. Some fillers are okay, but only if they’re low on the ingredients list.
Tips for Enriching Your Hamster Through Normal Feeding
There are a few ways to enrich your hamster by using their everyday diet.
- Scatter Feeding
Scatter feeding is a very simple and enriching feeding method that I wish more people used. It consists of basically sprinkling their normal amount of food around the cage. It’s very simple, and can be done in two different ways:
- Sprinkling the food everywhere
- Placing the food in tiny piles in different places
I have used both methods, and both work very well. However I recommend the second method if your mix has lots of smaller whole foods like millet in it.
2. Hollow Boredom Breakers
Another way to enrich your hamster is using boredom breakers. You basically just put the feed inside it and the hamster chews it out. It is a very simple and stimulating way to feed your hamster.
The two boredom breakers that I find work the best are the overlapping toilet paper tube balls, and rattan balls, which I poke the food inside of. These keep any rodent busy and they love getting the reward after their hard efforts.
Just make sure you don’t use anything too thick for them to chew through during their waking hours or they won’t get enough to eat.
Healthier Ways To Treat Your Hamster
I love giving my hamster treats. I love seeing her enjoy them, but I overfed Yogurt Drops for a long time before I understood what a treat is (Don’t worry, Beanie’s not diabetic). A treat doesn’t have to be something unhealthy or store bought, a treat is just something that your hamster enjoys, whether it be an exciting new toy or a food that he/she loves. Here are some healthier ways to treat your hamster.
- Fresh Fruits and Veggies
What hamster doesn’t enjoy fruits and veggies? They’re healthy, delicious, and available at all grocery stores. You don’t even have to get them specifically for your hamster, just get yourself fruits and veggies and share a little bit once or twice a week.
Just do plenty of research about what’s safe because some fruits, nuts and veggies can cause diarrhoea or even death if fed in large amounts. Feed maybe a teaspoon or more every 3-4 days, but feed juicy foods like apples and melons in moderation.
2. Hand Feeding Their Favorite Foods From Their Seed Mix
After a while you may notice which foods from your seed mix your hamster enjoys most. Use these to your advantage, especially when taming when you’ll need lots of treats. Simply scoop out your hamster’s usual amount of food and pick out all the interesting things and your hamster’s favorites.
Hand feed their favourite pieces of the mix as treats, then put any extras into the cage after the evening taming or playtime. This way your hamster associates your hand with good food, they feel treated, and they get the appropriate diet without a bunch of sugary treats.
3. Baking Your Own Hamster Treats
I created a super easy 2-3 ingredient recipe for Hamster Banana Bread. It is Beanie’s favorite food, but I only make it once or twice a month due to a banana’s high levels of natural sugar. They only take maybe 30 minutes tops including baking time, and they are a healthy alternative to Yogurt Drops. Besides checking out my personal recipes, get creative and experiment with mushed up safe fruits, seeds, flour, vegetables and water mixes to bake into your own healthy hamster treats.
- A good hamster seed mix should contain: – 17%-20% Protein, 5%-7% Fat, and 7%-15% Fiber. – Lots of Whole Foods that have not been flaked, pelleted, or kibbled. – Very few fillers, such as corn or hay pellets.
- Healthier ways to treat your hamster are: – Feeding fresh fruits and vegetables. – By hand feeding your hamster’s favourite pieces of their mix and putting any leftovers into the cage after the taming or playtime session. -Baking your own fruit/vegetable-based treats with very few ingredients.
- You can enrich your hamster using their everyday seed mix by: – Scatter feeding the food in little piles or everywhere around the cage for them to forage for themselves. Maybe feed them every other day twice as much so they have time to find all of the food. – Put their food in hollow boredom breakers so they have to chew it out. Make sure the chew is thin enough they can get through it in one night.
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you learned a lot about hamster dietary needs and that you now have some new ideas for feeding, enriching, and treating your small pets by using their simple, everyday seed mixes!
If you’re interested in more hamster-related content be sure to like this post and follow the blog, and I’ll be back on Tuesday with more small pet care, DIYs, recipes, cage setups, stories and more, have a ham-tastic day!
Thanks to the ‘Hamster Hideout Forum,’ ‘The Hamster Handbook,’ and my little Beanie for all the information, experience, and drive to write this blogpost!