Let’s start this discussion with a few cautions – what do hamsters not eat?
These animals cannot have anything that has a low pH. This includes oranges, lemons, grapefruits, limes, dill pickles, sweet pickles, pickled cucumbers, or pickled grapes. Feed them nothing in the citrus family. Feed them nothing that contains vinegar.
Hamsters must not eat any processed foods. If the nutrients have been stripped, then it provides no nutrition for the hamster. And the hamster has such a small stomach – every droplet of food counts! Therefore, do not feed your hamster cakes, cookies, biscuits, or candies. Do not feed your hamster any chocolate either; it could kill your adorable pet.
Hamsters cannot tolerate eating pesticides, even in small quantities. Therefore it is important that you thoroughly wash any produce before feeding it to your pet.
In addition hamsters must not eat food that has been contacted by wild rodents. Rats and mice carry diseases that can be transmitted to your hamster.
OK, then… so what do hamsters eat?
Well, to begin with they eat “pure” foods. They eat raw vegetables and fruits. They eat nuts, seeds, and whole grains. They also eat protein.
It is important to get the ratios of protein to carbohydrates to fats right. The best way to do this is to purchase a premium quality seed and grain mixture – made for hamsters. This last phrase is an important point. Hamsters need more protein than other small animals, and so not just any seed and grain mixture will do. You must select one that is formulated specifically for hamsters.
To that, you should give your hamsters fresh vegetables. Just a little bit, though, because its stomach is tiny. Every other day, offer it veggies. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to put aside some of the raw vegetables from any vegetables that you would be cooking for your family on a given day.
Periodically, say once or twice a week, you can give your hamster treats that contain more fat or fructose. This means that your hamster can eat pieces of fruit and sunflower seeds – but only as sporadic treats.
If you want to see a real show, put some live crickets inside your hamster’s cage. Regardless of its temperament and demeanor, your pet is sure to liven up as it chases these hopping bundles of protein around its cage.
Finally, to be certain that you have not missed any nutrients, purchase some lab blocks. These are plainly packaged hard pieces of food. They contain all the necessary nutrients that your hamster needs. They are also beneficial because they are hard and will provide your hamster something to gnaw on.
You may be wondering if your hamster could eat a diet of strictly lab blocks. And, truthfully, it could. But part of the joy of owning a hamster is watching its behavior. And it will revel in discovering hidden sunflower seeds and gobble up meal worms like there is no tomorrow. When you have the chance to witness your hamster experiencing joy (or at least what looks like joy to us), then you should take that opportunity to experience the joy yourself.