A fat hamster is always funny. But is your hamster too fat ? I know I wanted to be careful with my Teddy so that he never ends up too fat. Actually he’s pretty fit.
But how do you know when your hamster is too fat ? How big can hamsters get in general ? Is he eating too much ? This is what I’ll talk you through today, and Teddy will be our reference. Let’s start by figuring out if your hamster is fat.
So is your hamster fat ?
Often times hamster owners don’t know how much to feed the hamster, and end up making their pets fat. For reference, a healthy, adult Syrian hamster will be around 6-7 ounces/170-200 gr. They will weigh much less as babies, but they reach their largest size when they’re around 3 months old.
You can use a kitchen scale to weigh your hamster to see how much he weighs. He should not be having any food in his cheeks at this time.
Our Teddy doesn’t really sit still, and your hamster probably won’t either. So you must be quick, or you can put your hamster in a cup that he can’t climb out of, and measure him like that. Take into account the weight of the cup as well.
If your hamster is of a smaller breed, like Chinese or Roborovski those are usually much lighter. They reach between 20-25 gr/0.70-0.88 ounces. They are very tiny and very fast, so you definitely need to put them in something when you want to weigh them.
Is the hamster fat or just fluffy ?
This is something that made me look intently at Teddy so many times.
Hamsters rarely every sit up straight, so the skin on them will bunch up.
Their cheek pouches can reach behind their head and on their shoulders, so that can throw you off as well.
And finally they’re the fluffiest thing ever. You can’t figure out anything through all that fur.
So how do you tell if he’s really fat or just fluffy ?
Well, one thing to look for is when your hamster does sit up straight. This usually happens when there’s something he wants and it’s way above him.
Or, you can try feeding him a treat but holding onto it with your thumb and index finger. Once your hamster holds onto the treat, lift him gently off the ground a couple of inches/cm, still inside his cage. He will hang freely, and not be hurt.
If when you see him straight like this he is… well, straight and not fat, then he’s fine. Just a lot of fur. But if your hamster is chubby and slightly round even when he’s straight, then you can be sure he’s fat.
Why your hamster is fat in the first place
If your hamster is in fact fat, there’s a couple of reasons for that.
First, he can get fat if you feed him too much. For an adult Syrian hamster anything past 2 teaspoons of dry food will be too much. Hamsters hide a lot of food in their house, or stash it away under some bedding in the corner of the cage.
So if you put some food for your hamster now, and check back after half an hour and it’s all gone, don’t put more. You hamster just took it into his house, where he will eat it as he needs. This is normal for all hamsters.
Sometimes you’ll see some food left in the bowl even after a few hours. This happens when he still has enough food in his house, and also if he feels very safe and doesn’t need to hide his food.
Second, you hamster could be fat because of what you’re feeding him. A diet heavy on nuts and sugary treats will get your hamster fat.
So peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, etc are all fine for your hamster but do no feed him just that. Keep them as nice treats every now and then.
Third, your hamster can get fat if he does not get enough exercise. If he has no wheel to run in, or an exercise ball, some other form of activity, he will get fat.
What to do when your hamster is fat
Slimming down your hamster will be to his benefit, and will extend his life expectancy. So here area few things you can try for your hammy to help him slim down.
First, you can reduce the amount of food you give him. If you’re overfeeding him, then this will be the first step to help your hamster reach a normal weight. Transition feeding sizes slowly, until you reach the amount of food he normally needs.
Second, make your hamster work for his treats. For example you can set up a sort of obstacle course for him, and place a bit of food at the end.
If your hammy will have to climb a few toys and squeeze through some nooks and crannies to get to a treat every day, he will shed a bit of weight.
Of course, the most work is done when he is running, so make sure he has a running wheel. For Syrians the wheel should be 8-10 inches across, to allow their backs to be straight.
Smaller breeds need slightly smaller wheels, but it’s better to get a bigger wheel for them as well. Hamsters can damage their backs if their wheel is too small, so best to get a large wheel for your hammy to run.
The best would be those metal wheels, with barely any space for his feet to sink into or he might hurt himself. If you can find a full wheel, even better.
If you want to know more about hamster exercise wheels, check my full guide.
Third, you can change his food. Switch your hamster to vegetables and dry grains, and you’ll see a clear difference. Make the switch slowly over a few days, so he has time to get used to it.
If you want to know exactly what a hamster can eat, and what he should not eat read my article on how to properly feed your hamster.
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Not all hamsters are the same
Some hamsters eat a lot, some are kind of constantly dieting. Some are greedy and some can be more tempered with their food.
It really comes down to your hamster’s personality, aside from what you feed him and how much, or how much activity he has.
For example my Teddy is a very very active Syrian. He runs most of the nights and rarely ever sits still more than half a minute. His little paws are everywhere and when he was younger he used to scale his cage to reach me.
He gets into the weirdest situations and does silly things like jump out of his moving wheel to race around his tube.
Maybe your hamster is the same, or maybe yours is slow, or more relaxed. Hamsters in general are jumpy and tend to be all over the place. But I’ve met really tame and slow hamsters, who are still healthy, they’re just … so relaxed.
This translates into how your hamster eats its food as well. Teddy gets his daily feeding, 2 teaspoons of dry grains and pellets, and some occasional slices of carrot or a piece of lettuce. Depending on what we have around the house he’s gotten fruits and vegetables on different occasions.
And he only takes as much as he needs, and leaves the rest for later. I’ve often found spare food in his house when I clean his cage, from the days before.
I’ve spoken to other hamster owners and some of them leave food for the entire week, and their hamster will only take as much as it needs.
Others have hamsters that would binge on everything if they found enough food.
Not all hamsters are the same, and some of them will have an easier time getting fat. If you end up with a hamster that is not very active and absolutely loves food, then he’ll get fat faster.
If you’d like to know more about how to properly are for your hamster, then feel free to check this guide on the 15 essential steps to take car of your furry little friend.
A word from Teddy
I hope you’re clear on why we can get fat, and just how big a hamster needs to be. Remember, there’s clear differences between Syrian hamsters and the smaller sizes.
I am a Syrian hamster, and my kind is the largest. Roborovski and Chinese hamsters are much smaller, but you can figure out for any of us if we’re fat or not.
Feel free to look around the site, you might find something you like. There’s info on how to choose a cage for us, or how to feed us, and even why and how we eat our poop !