What Do Hamsters Eat ? – Food List And Exceptions

What do you usually feed your hamster ? What can hamsters eat ? What should they NOT eat ? I had some many of these questions when I first got my Teddy, and I can tell you what I found out.

Some I found out by trial and error, some I asked vets, and some still I found out from other hamster enthusiasts. So I’ve compiled a big ol’ list here, so you can have all the info you need for your hamster’s food and diet.

hamster food
Teddy enjoying his food

So what can hamsters eat ?

First off, hamsters are omnivores. That means they can and will eat anything from plant-based food, to grains, to meat and insects. This applies for every kind of hamster out there, be it Syrian, Robo, Campbell, or Chinese.

If you look at a box of hamster feed, you will usually just see grains, a few seeds, and a few vitamin pellets. But if you turn the box and look at the ingredients, you will often see protein sources like chicken/fish/beef/shrimp. 

You can feed the hamster an omnivore diet yourself, or get a pre-made mix that will last for several weeks, even a couple of months.

I’ll get into more detail with each food group a hamster can eat, along with actual examples you probably have in your home. And I’ll give you a couple of food mixes you can buy for your hamster, along with other treats.

But first, let’s see what hamsters should definitely avoid.

What hamsters should never eat

In general hamsters should stay away from anything acidic. Even if you give your hammy a piece of orange he will turn away from it, but that’s just because of the strong smell.

Best to avoid acidic food altogether. There are other foods your hamster should avoid, mainly because his stomach is not built for such foods. Here are a few examples of foods your hamster should never eat:

  • any type of citrus at all – lemon, orange, clementine, grapefruit, etc.
  • any part of a tomato, it’s acidic as well, even if less than a lemon
  • chocolate, and anything sweet – can cause diabetes
  • fruit seeds or peels – apple, grapes, strawberry, etc
  • onions, garlic, peppers, spices – anything extra spicy or tasty will upset his stomach
  • high-fat content foods – like extra fat meat, or even some types of dairy
  • anything unwashed like unwashed fruits or vegetables
  • any part of a rhubarb(1)
  • almonds, apricot pits can be highly toxic
  • celery or very stringy/fibery foods like cabbage
  • anything containing added sugar or salt
  • raw potato or beans (any kind)

These are all foods that your hamster is better off not eating, since he can’t digest them. In some cases these foods will kill the hamster, so best to avoid them completely.

Alright, now let’s get into the food groups your hammy can eat, along with actual examples. Yay !

Protein foods your hamster can eat

Hammies do eat protein, and it doesn’t have to be soy-based necessarily.

While you can feed your little hammy something soy-based like tofu, you can also find some soy protein in his food mix as well. But I wouldn’t advise giving the hamster and actual, raw soy bean. Best to stay away from that.

For example I’ve given my Teddy boiled egg white, boiled unseasoned chicken and turkey, and he loves them both. Actually, most of the time hamsters just store food in their cheeks and hide it in the house. But with the egg and chicken, Teddy dropped everything he had and ate them right there.

Of course, the pieces you feed your hammy should be small, so he can eat them on the spot. If you give him too big a piece, he might want to save some of it for later and we all know how quickly meat goes bad.

Mealworms are sometimes a treat for hamsters. I’ve never give my Teddy one, but I’ve met hamster owners who give them to their hammies as treats. Not all hamsters will like them, but you can try. Do not give them mealworms too often though, since they are very filling.

Teddy: If your feed any kind of meat or egg to you hammy, keep it simple, unsalted, unseasoned. Never feed any raw protein tot us, like raw meat or egg.

Dairy is also a good protein source, but don’t give it to your hammy often ! Hamsters are mammals just like us humans, and as such we can’t process milk-based products very well when they are in large quantities.

So, keep the dairy to a minimum. Something like a peanut sized piece, once per week is alright.

Vegetables and Legumes you can feed your hamster

Most vegetables are safe for hamsters to eat, but some are to be avoided. Especially legumes like lentils, beans, peas, chickpeas and so on are not alright.

This is mostly because of their high fiber content, which can upset your hamster’s guts. So best to stay away from legumes for your hamster.

Vegetables like leafy greens and roots are mostly alright. But let’s talk about a few clear examples. Here are some vegetables your hammy can totally eat:

  • most leafy greens, like spinach, watercress, lettuce, kale
  • cucumber, zucchini
  • carrots are okay, but any other hamster than a Syrian will have to eat them less frequently (higher sugar content than other vegetables, can cause diabetes for dwarf hamsters)
  • sweet potato, cooked – same as carrots, keep a very low intake for dwarf hamsters
  • asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower (cooked)

You probably have most of these in your fridge or pantry already. So feel free to feed your hamster small pieces of these veggies as a treat, or even as a supplement to his usual food mix.

Hamsters can eat pasta and bread too !

But only in small quantities. The thing with pasta, bread, rice, and so on, is that they’re all high carbohydrate foods. As such, your hamster needs them, but not as much as you’d think.

The carb content of a hamster diet should not get past 20%, since they require a balanced dies of protein and veggies as well.

So here are a few examples or carbs and bread your hammy can safely eat:

  • Bread, as long as it has no added sugar and has a low salt content. That rules out toast bread, hot dog buns, and hamburger buns as well. Whole grain or multi-cereal bread is great for hamsters actually.
  • Dry grains, of basically any kind
  • Cooked brown rice, unseasoned
  • Cooked wholegrain pasta, unseasoned. Regular white pasta becomes too sticky for your hamster, and will leave residues in his cheek pouches that can cause problems later on.
  • Corn flakes, oat flakes, most muesli mixes
  • Unsalted, unsweetened crackers and biscuits, small piece

The food mix you give your hamster is usually well balanced, so don’t feed your hammy too much additional bread or other carbs. Keep them as a small treat every now and then.

Nuts and seeds your hamster can eat

Hamsters love to chew on a lot of things, and nuts and seeds give them just that opportunity. Most nuts and seeds are okay for hamsters to eat, but there are a few exceptions. Here’s a list of seeds and nuts your hamster can enjoy:

  • dried sunflower and pumpkin seeds, with or without shell, unseasoned
  • peanuts and hazelnuts, unsalted, plain; remove shell and skin
  • walnuts
  • chestnuts, without shell, cooked, plain
  • sesame seeds

Do keep in mind that nuts and seeds have a high fat content. So don’t feed too many or too often to your hamster. Keep them as a treat every now and then. Especially if the food mix you bought for the hamster already has a couple of seeds and nuts included.

Teddy: Stay away from almonds though. They classify as a nut, but they are toxic for us hamsters !

Fruits your hamster can eat

Most kinds o fruit are safe for hamsters. There are a few exceptions, and I’ll cover those too. But first, here is a list of fruits your hamster can eat:

  • apple, pear, peeled and cored (no seeds)
  • strawberries, no seeds
  • banana slice, in a very small amount
  • grape, no seeds, peeled
  • dates and figs, dried
  • raisins
  • blueberries, blackberry, raspberry
  • cherries, no seeds

Again, keep the hamster away from citrus fruits. The citrus oils is toxic for hamsters, and will harm them. If you’ve ever peeled an orange and got your hand close to your hammy, you saw him pull away.

(If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.)

hamster food 2

Pre-made food mixes for your hamster

These are a convenient way to feed your hamster, and often are actually pretty well thought out. If you see the ingredient list, and think there’s something vital that’s missing (like proteins) you can look for another brand or supplement with proteins like the list above.

Grain and pellet food mix for your hamster

I use a pre-made mix for my Teddy, and give him fruits, veggies, and meat whenever I’m cooking. So he gets the grain and pellets mix, with an assortment of carrots and other foods I have around the house and are safe for him.

As I said above, I’ll give you a few options on store bough food to give to your hamster. The first one I found is an actual food mix, with a fair amount of seeds and pellets as well.

The whole bag will last you for a couple of months or more, depending on how much you feed the hamster, and what you supplement alongside (More on that below).

You can check the Amazon pricing here, and other details as well.

Treats for your hamster

While most hamster food mixes have a balance of protein, vitamins, and carbs, you can give your hamster occasional treats. These don’t have to be often, but need to be kept as a treat every few days, or when you’re trying to teach or tame your hamster.

For example I give Teddy cheese drops as a treat, and he absolutely loves them. The drops can be made of other fruits or veggies too. But Teddy seems to prefer the cheese.

I found a variety pack that you can give your hamster. They’re yogurt based and suitable for all kinds of hamster, rats, gerbils, even ferrets.

You can find the listing on Amazon here, and check the price as well.

There are other types of treats hamsters go for, like for example simple dog treats (no flavors) or milk bones, and some granola bars(no sugar or honey). But my Teddy loves these cheese yogurt drops, and he gets them 2-3 times a week.

Teddy: Whatever treat or food you choose, make sure you feed us hamsters responsibly ! Treats are treats and we don’t need them every day. Food mix is a great way to make sure we get the proper nutrition and stay healthy.

How much does a hamster eat ?

Alright, now that you know what kind of foods your hammy can and can not eat, and you’ve seen a few examples of pre-made food and treats, let’s talk about how often to feed the hamster.

This depends mostly on the hamster himself, in that a baby hamster will need a bit less food than an adult hamster. But in general, 2 teaspoons of dry food are enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Dwarf hamsters need less, 1 teaspoon.

It might sound like very little food, but look at the size of your hamster. Not only can he not eat much, but also dry food keeps him full for much longer than veggies.

If you’re unsure, grab a teaspoon and put the necessary amount in your hand. I’ll attach a photo here of how much 2 teaspoons of dry food is for my Teddy. This is enough for an adult Syrian hamster.

hamster food 3

Teddy: Remember, we don’t need a lot of food, and we also hide food in our hideouts ! So if you just fed your hammy, and see no food there 5 minutes later, don’t give him more food.

He just took the food into his hideout, to snack on later. Us hamsters are funny like that, and love to hoard our food !

Dangers of overfeeding your hamster

The first and immediate danger is getting your hamster fat. While you might think that a chubby hamster looks cute (and he does, not gonna lie) it’s very bad for his health.

Hamsters are very active creatures, and must be able to run and sprint and dart through tubes or into hideouts at any point. This is their instinct, and a large fat hamster will not be able to do any of these, or at least not properly.

This will shorten the hamster’s lifespan as well. A hamster can only live for so long (2-3 years), might as well make his short life comfortable.

If you want to know more about why your hamster can get so big or fat, check out my article on this exact topic. There I’ll tell you everything you need to know about why hamsters can get fat, and even how to slim yours down.

Hint: it involves getting your hammy more exercise opportunities. For this a great hamster wheel is essential.

You’ll also find out what a reasonable weight is for the hamster himself, so you have a guideline to follow.

What to do if your hamster is not eating

Some hamsters are very picky about their food. They will not eat just anything, and need more attention in that way.

So play around with his food, change up the flavors a bit. Maybe he only likes chicken flavored pellets or treats. That could be a start to your hamster eating more.

If your hammy is not touching dry food, try with veggies. Give him alternatives, like a piece of broccoli, one asparagus, and a small kale leaf. See which he likes, and keep giving him that.

Then, continue adding new foods to his diet, from the list of foods I wrote above. Until you reach a mix of vegetables that you can give him daily, and you know he will eat them.

If veggies are not an option for him, try giving the hamster meat. I’ve never seen a hamster turn down meat. Make sure the piece is cooked, but unseasoned. The extra salt is not needed in your hamster’s diet, since he needs much less than humans.

If, in an exceptional case, your hamster turns down every kind of food, call the vet. Especially if you see other signs of a possible illness like sparse fur, a wet tail (very bad), dried blood on his body, or anything that looks out of the ordinary.

In a worst case scenario, you might want to know how much a hamster can survive without any food and water. I wrote an article on that topic, and the point is that if your hamster is not eating, but at least has water he has a higher chance or survival.

In any case, contact your vet if your hammy seems sick, along with not eating.

A word from Teddy

I hope you’re very clear now on what us hamster can and can not eat. I know it’s a bit of a list to remember, but it’s in your hamster’s benefit.

If you’re not sure about a food, and you can’t find any info anywhere, maybe don’t feed it to your hammy. That way at least you’ll be sure he’s safe.

You can find more info on the best kind of bedding for us hamsters, or why we sometimes eat our own poo, and even why we’re sometimes scared of you ! Just check out the articles below and you’ll find your answers.

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This means that you won’t really be up to see him do most of these things, since he’s awake when you’re sleeping. But if you were to ever stay up all night and just observe him, you’d see all the things I described above. He can get bored though, only if you’ve given him an especially bare and small cage. Let’s see what that means. The minimum cage size for a single hamster is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. Every hamster will like a larger cage better, so if you can get a big cage you should do that. Aside from the minimum bedding on the cage floor, there is also the absolute need for a hideout. Your hamster will make himself a nest anyway in the most hidden corner he an find. But a hideout will provide definite shelter, and he’ll be thankful for it. A food bowl and water bottle are mandatory as well, and they’re easy to find. An exercise wheel is mandatory as well, simply because running is half of everything a hamster does. He spends most of his life running, so not getting him that would be like someone never letting you out of your house. These are the bare minimum, but there are toys to take into consideration. Some you can DYI, some are store bought. Look around and see which you like best. You can save up money and still keep you hammy happy with cardboard tubes (from paper towels and toilet paper rolls). Teddy has a grand time with those cardboard rolls, and he uses them as chew toys too. Any other distractions you can provide your hamster – like time outside his cage in an exercise ball – will be welcome too. A large cage will also mean lots of space for him to run around in, explore, and have a whole bunch of toys. Finally, keeping your hamster in a dirty cage will lower his general disposition, since no one likes that. A hamster’s cage needs a full cleaning once per week. A dirty cage can lead to several health issues, which is never something you want. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Do you need to get your hamster a friend so he’s not bored ? Alright, let’s say you’ve got a hamster, and he’s got a very big cage, with every toy ever and everything he could ever want. But you think he’s possibly bored, and wouldn’t he maybe need a friend ? To be fair, that’s a question many hamster owners have at first. However hamsters do not need a buddy. That sounds terrible, but bear with me. Hamsters can be social, sometimes, under certain circumstances. But for the most part they will fight to the death with other hamsters. In the wild the hamster is not a very cuddly animal. Sure, Dwarf types can live together if they absolutely have to, but they end up fighting over food and space in the nest. They end up on their own, and the Syrians are definitely to be kept alone. And very important – if you’ve got a hamster already, and he’s past the 3 month mark, then introducing him to any other hamster will most likely not go well. Hamsters need to grow up together in a very large cage, with lots of food and toys and space, order to get along. Introducing a new hamster out of the blue ends in pain. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hamsters may look like we’re bored every now and then, but we’re very different from you humans. We  don’t do the same things or have the same thoughts. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life. [...] Read more...
These Are The 4 Best Hamsters For Beginners
These Are The 4 Best Hamsters For BeginnersHamsters are cute and small, and they seem to be great pets for children. You only have to feed them, clean their cages, and give them attention. They are great for teaching children responsibility or as a starter pet before you get them a dog or a car. There are 16 types of hamsters that we have discovered, and only a few of them are kept as pets.  That being said, not all these hamsters are suitable to be children’s pets. Some are more difficult to tame, some need more care, and others will bite. You want to pick a hamster that is easy to care for and that doesn’t bite. Make sure you do your research before you get a hamster to know exactly what to expect. For example, hamsters are nocturnal, which means that they are only active during the night, and they will probably wake up your child if the cage is in your child’s bedroom. You should also be aware of the fact that hamsters never bond with people as cats or dogs do. If you’ve done your research and are sure that you want to get a hamster, here’s a list of 4 hamsters that are best for beginners.  1. Syrian Hamster The Syrian hamster is also known as the golden hamster, and it is one of the most popular hamsters that people keep as pets. They make very good pets for beginners since they are easy to tame, fun to play with, and very low-maintenance. Syrian hamsters originate from dry areas of northern Syria and southern Turkey. Their fur is naturally colored golden brown and they have a lighter belly. Nowadays there are many different colors, patterns, and hair lengths of Syrian hamsters thanks to selective breeding.  The captive-breeding programs for Syrian hamsters have begun in the 1930s both for experiments and pet trade. Because they are losing their habitat in the wild, they are considered to be vulnerable. It’s very easy to take care of a Syrian hamster. You can find food made specifically for them in the pet store, and their housing won’t take up much of your space. Syrian hamster weighs around 5 ounces and is 5 to 9 inches long. It lives for 2 to 4 years.  You might have heard that Syrian hamsters have a reputation that they bite a lot. This is, however, mostly because people don’t know how to handle them. If you don’t squeeze or shake it while you’re holding it, the Syrian hamster will learn that it has nothing to be afraid of when it’s in your hand. This type of hamster likes to be alone and is very territorial. You should never have more than one Syrian hamster living together in a cage. If you keep 2 or more Syrian hamsters together in a cage, they will get really aggressive, and they sometimes even fight to the death. You should keep any other pets you might have in your household away from the hamster because they will likely hurt each other.  Syrian hamsters, like all hamsters, sleep during the day and are active during the night. They are generally quiet, but it would be best if you kept it away from your bedroom at night because it could wake you up.  If you are looking for a hamster to bond with, you will have to look for some other type of hamster, because Syrian hamsters never really bond with their owners. Some might come closer when they see you and sleep on your hands. Make sure you spend enough time with your hamster each day to keep it tame. The Syrian hamster will need as big of a cage as you can get. The smallest cage you can put your Syrian hamster into can be 1x2x1 feet. Make sure you put a lot of hamster toys in its cage and don’t forget to put an exercise wheel. It’s best that you get an exercise wheel that has a solid surface so you avoid any injuries. Place a sleeping hut in the corner of the cage, you can usually find these in the pet store. You will have to feed your Syrian hamster with nuts, grains, and seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Syrian hamsters are omnivores, so you can occasionally give them a hardboiled egg or some insects. You should talk to your vet to see what is the best diet for your hamster because it depends on the size and the age of your hamster. Make sure there’s always a bowl of food in the cage and throw away any food your hamster doesn’t eat after a day. There should also be a water bottle or a water bowl in the cage, and you should change the water each day.  Syrian hamsters rarely get sick, but there are a few diseases you should be on the lookout for. One such disease is a wet tail, a gastrointestinal infection that is caused by stress. This is the most common disease that affects Syrian hamsters. You will know that your hamster has a wet tail if you notice that it’s not eating, has diarrhea, and the area around its tail is wet. Make sure you take your hamster to the vet if you notice any of these symptoms.  2. Dwarf hamsters Dwarf hamsters are tiny hamsters that originate from the desert regions. Unlike larger hamsters, they are very social and are happiest when they are in groups. Unlike cats or dogs, they won’t bond with you, but they will recognize you and come close to the side of their cage if they see you. They weigh between 1 and 2 ounces and are around 2 inches long. You can expect them to live for 3 years.   Dwarf hamsters are also nocturnal, but they can sometimes adapt to their owner’s schedule. That being said, if you try to wake up the Dwarf hamster, it will probably bite you. Most hamsters wake up in the evening and are happy to hang out with people then. When they wake up, they will make noises during the night, so you shouldn’t keep them in your bedroom if you are a light sleeper.  This type of hamsters usually likes being held by people, however, if they feel uncomfortable, they will bite you. You should start handling them when they are young and always be careful and gentle. This way they will learn that they shouldn’t be afraid when you handle them. When you try holding your hamster, it’s best that you’re in a closed room and that there’s something soft underneath you. Hamsters are very quick and they can escape from your hands before you realize it. That’s why there should be something soft for them to land on, and the door should be closed so they can’t escape to the other room. If your hamster falls from even a couple of feet and hits the ground it could lead to some serious injuries.  Your Dwarf hamster should have a big cage because it needs a lot of room to play in. The smallest cage you can keep your Dwarf hamster is in 1x2x1 feet, but that is the bare minimum. If you have more than one hamster, you will have to get a bigger cage. Dwarf hamsters usually live in glass or plastic aquariums, or in wire cages. Wire cages provide better airflow, but they won’t protect your hamster from the draft. If you choose to get a wire cage, make sure that the distance between wires is narrow so that your hamster can’t escape. You should place at least a 1 to 2-inch layer of bedding, for example, chemical- and dye-free shredded paper or hardwood shavings. You will have to change the bedding once a week, and clean all surfaces with water and soap. Make sure you clean up any wet spots each day. You should never forget to place an exercise wheel in your hamster’s cage, as well as many toys. There should be a lot of mineral or wooden toys to chew on so that hamsters can take care of their teeth, and add a sleeping house to the cage. Your hamster should be fed once a day, and ask your veterinarian how much food you should give it. You can buy food blends that are made specifically for Dwarf hamsters. You can also feed your Dwarf hamster with a bit of nuts, seeds, oats, bananas, and carrots. Never feed your Dwarf hamster with avocados, almonds, and chocolate as they are very toxic. Dwarf hamsters are prone to many health issues, and make sure you have a veterinarian near you who treats Dwarf hamsters before you buy this type of hamster.  They can lose hair and get skin lesions from rubbing on something in its cage or because it was attacked by another hamster. Make sure you take your hamster to the vet as soon as you notice any skin injuries because they can get infected quickly. Dwarf hamsters are known to be prone to diabetes. You can prevent this if you don’t let your hamster eat a lot of sugar and make sure it gets a lot of exercise. Check your hamster’s teeth every once in a while. Unlike human teeth, hamster teeth never stop growing, and if your Dwarf hamster doesn’t have anything to chew on, its teeth will become overgrown. This will make it hard for your hamster to eat, and the vet will have to trim its teeth.  3. Robovski Hamsters Robovski hamsters are the smallest and fastest hamsters. When they grow up they are as big as an adult’s thumb, which is about 2 to 3 inches. They originated from China, Mongolia, and Russia.  Wire cages are the easiest to clean up, but since Robovski hamsters are so small, it’s hard to find a wire cage that won’t let them escape. It’s best to get an aquarium that is 24 inches by 12 inches and minimally 12 inches high for two hamsters. If you choose to have more than 2 hamsters, you will have to provide 12 by 6 inches of space for each new hamster. Make sure you cover your hamster’s cage with mesh so nothing falls into the cage but the air is still able to flow.  There should be at least 1 1/4 inches of bedding because Robovski hamsters love to burrow. It is not recommended that you use pine or cedar shavings because they can be harmful to hamsters. This type of hamster loves being active so make sure it has a lot of toys and an exercise wheel. Robovski hamsters don’t like to share, so make sure you get toys for each one of your hamsters. This also goes for food and water.  Robovski hamsters are also active during the night and sleep during the day. They are gentle and rarely bite. However, they are extremely fast which makes it hard to handle them. You should always handle them above a large box so you can catch them if they slip away. You can train Robovski hamsters to take treats from your hand. To do this, you will have to rest your hand and put a treat in your palm. The hamster will explore your hand and find the treat.  This type of hamster is very social, and it is best if you keep it in groups with same-sex hamsters. You should establish groups from a young age. It is not advisable to introduce a new Robovski hamster to an already established group, as it’s not likely to survive. If your hamsters don’t kill each other, you can expect them to live for 3 years. Robovski hamsters are naturally sandy brown and they have white bellies, which lets them blend in with the desert nicely when they live in the wild. 4. Chinese hamsters Chinese hamsters are small hamsters that originated from China and Mongolia. Most of them are brown and they have a lighter belly and a black stripe running down their back. You can recognize these hamsters because they have longer tails than any other type of hamsters. They are easy to take care of, however, some of them bite. They weigh between 1 and 2 ounces and live for 2 to 3 years.  Chinese hamsters make good pets and they don’t mind when you handle them if you’ve done it since they were young. Always sit when handling your hamster because it could get injured if it falls.  You can choose to only have one Chinese hamster, or keep them in same-sex groups. That being said, there’s a big chance that they will be aggressive and territorial if they live in groups. It would be good if you can get hamsters from the same litter that will grow up together and gets used to each other. Make sure you keep your Chinese hamster away from any other pets you have because it’s so small and it could get easily injured.  They will also need 1x2x1 feet cages, and you should layer 1 to 2 inches of bedding, for example, aspen shavings or some other paper-based products. Make sure you add toys, an exercise wheel, and a sleeping hut to their cage.  You can find food for your Chinese hamster in the pet store, and make sure that it’s supplemented with vitamins and minerals. You can put food for the whole day in the bowl and place the bowl in the cage. Chinese hamsters like eating small portions throughout the day.  You can also supplement the commercial food with some seeds, nuts, and fresh fruit and vegetables, but make sure that the supplemental food makes only 10% of your hamster’s diet.  Chinese hamsters are prone to respiratory issues. You will be able to tell that something’s going on with your hamster if you notice it wheezing, sneezing and that it has nasal discharge.  They can also suffer from the wet tail. If you notice that your hamster doesn’t want to eat, that it has diarrhea, or that the area around its tale is wet, take it to the vet immediately.    [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Have A Good Sense Of Smell ? A Few Hammy Facts
Do Hamsters Have A Good Sense Of Smell ? A Few Hammy FactsIf you’ve got a hamster you know he’s a cutie pie, and he’s always sniffing out some thing or another. Does that mean he’s got a great sense of smell, or is he just curious ? Well, let’s see just how well hammies can sniff things out, and if they’ve got super-smell or not. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters have a good sense of smell ?Hamsters can smell anything on youMake sure your hands are clean when handling your hamsterHamsters are very sensitive to artificial smellsSyrians can’t really stay close to each otherKeeping the hamster’s nose healthyKeep the temperature in the room between 20-23 C/ 68-78 FDo not leave anything sharp or rough in the cageClean your hands before handling the hamsterKeep dust away from your hamsterOnly use safe bedding for the hamsterA word from Teddy So do hamsters have a good sense of smell ? Yes, hamsters do have a very good sense of smell. In fact, smell is your hamster’s first sense he uses when navigating his cage, and figuring things out about you. Hamsters have very poor eyesight, so they have to compensate with their other senses. The sense of smell will tell your hamster if there are predators around, if there is food, and if there’s another hammy nearby. Us humans don’t have the greatest nose, true. But hamsters have a very sharp sense of smell, and as such are actually sensitive to smells we like. Hamsters particularly hate citrus scents, since the smell is overwhelming for them. My Teddy scrunches up his face and wanders off whenever I peel an orange or cut a lemon. Hamsters can smell anything on you As it happens with pets that have keep sense of smell, hamsters can tell what you did. What you ate. Who you just hugged, and where those shoes have been. This is a reason to be careful about how strongly you smell when handling your hamster. I don’t mean body odor, hamsters tolerate a faint, intensely human smell. For example a perfume, even a gentle one, can be too much for your hamster. Any essential oils you may have rubbed on you fall into that category as well. Deodorant too, and in some cases fabric softener. Basically hamsters are the most sensitive things ever, especially since they are so small. So if you’ve got a strong smell on yourself or your clothes, they will feel it and shy away from it. Make sure your hands are clean when handling your hamster When picking up your hamster make sure you’ve got clean hands. I’m saying this as a warning, since hammies are easy to trick with smells. For example my girlfriend touched a few pieces of cooked chicken one day, we’d just eaten. She just wiped her hands on a kitchen towel, and went to pet the hamster. Teddy, thinking she really did have chicken fingers, bit into her finger like it was food. She’s never touched Teddy since, even if she knows why it happened. Now I’d have for you to end up in the same situation as my girlfriend, so please make sure your hands are clean. Before handling your hamster, make sure you wash your hands very well with soap. It should be antibacterial soap, and unscented. A very strong scented soap will either make your hamster pull away, like citrus for example. Or it’ll make him think you’ve really got mango and coconut on your hands and try to eat some. This happens with especially fruity soaps. If you want to know which fruits hammies can eat, so you know which soaps aren’t smart to use with him, try this list here. Hamsters are very sensitive to artificial smells Hammies have a very sensitive nose, yes. The will learn the smell of the house and know it as their habitat. However artificial smells are often used in homes, like air fresheners for example. We have one too, and it’s always on, except at night. At night, given the way our apartment is laid out, Teddy’s cage sits right under the air freshener shelf. So we turn the freshener off (it’s on auto) so Teddy’s nose doesn’t have to be bombarded with lilac and vanilla. So if you’ve got anything very strong smelling or scented, make sure it is as far away from you hamster’s cage as possible. The same goes for food. If you’ve got great, delicious food laid out somewhere, make sure it’s not near your hamster’s cage. He will smell the food, and try very very hard to get to it, chewing on the cage bars in the process. Once he gets into the habit of biting the bars, it’s nearly impossible to get him off of them. Syrians can’t really stay close to each other I’m taking a separate note on Syrians here because most other hamsters – the Dwarf types – can live together. Syrians however will fight to the death and will not share one measly wood shaving with anyone. So if you’ve got two Syrian hammies, and they’re hopefully in different cages, they need to be far apart. Even if they’ve both got their own, private cage, they will know the other hamster’s there. You see hamsters communicate with each other through pheromones. That means that your hammy will literally smell other hamsters’ feelings and emotions. All hammies emit pheromones, as do we humans. Fear smells a certain way, heat a certain way, playfulness a certain way, and so on. Hamsters use that to communicate with eachother. However since Syrians are solitary animals, smelling another hamster will make them continuously irritated and territorial. A Syrian hamster will mark his territory through the scent glands on his hips(big black dots under his fur), and this will annoy the other hammy. He will see that as a sort of threat, and mark his territory, which will annoy the other hammy who will mark his and so on. Case in point, don’t keep solitary hamsters close together, even if they’re in different cages. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Keeping the hamster’s nose healthy Hammies can develop different illnesses and diseases, like us humans. When it comes to noses both us and hammies need  them to breathe, but they rely on their noses to ‘see’ the world too. While a cold can just annoy a human, for a hamster that blocks a lot of signals he gets from his habitat. So you can do the following to make sure your hamster friend not only doesn’t get a cold, but keeps his nose safe and clean. Keep the temperature in the room between 20-23 C/ 68-78 F Hamsters are very sensitive to temperature, and can catch colds quite easily. So, you should keep the hamster’s room at an even temperature like described above. A temperature lower than that can weaken the hamster’s immune system and welcome in a cold, which will impair his sense of smell. A much much lower temperature that that will set in a hypothermic shock, which can be lethal to the hamster. Do not leave anything sharp or rough in the cage Hammies can’t see very well, but they can distinguish what’s directly in front of them. Still, they can be a bit clumsy, and it’s your job as a responsible pet owner so make sure your hammy is safe in his cage. This means that pieces of toys or the hideout or the wheel that might stick out and be extra sharp, should be removed. The same goes for wooden objects, which maybe have certain very rough corners. Make sure those wooden objects are sanded down properly, so your hammy doesn’t have tiny razors to nick himself on. That being said, be sure to check everything, since I found a bit of dried pain in my Teddy’s wheel that I had to chip off, or it would’ve been like a nail for him to step on. Clean your hands before handling the hamster Another reason to clean your hands before handling your hamster, aside from the scent, is possible bacteria. Hamsters do have an immune system, but they’re very small creatures. They can’t withstand most infections and a stray bacteria or virus can be lethal to them. Best to make sure your hands are as clean as possible before you touch your hamster, or handle his food, or do anything with his habitat. Keep dust away from your hamster Hammies have very sensitive noses, and as such can develop lung problems easier than us humans. This means keeping your hamster away from any dust or dusty surfaces is mandatory. For example if you’ve got an exercise ball for your hamster, make sure the floor you let him roam on is clean, and has no debris or dust. The dust and debris will end up in the hamster’s ball, where he will breather them in. Never a good thing. The same goes for toys and a new cage, or anything really. A quick wipedown or cleaning will do the trick, even if it’s a bit of a hassle. The cage Teddy currently has was absolutely dirty and dusty when we got it, given how it was stored in the back of the shop. We gave it a thorough  cleaning in the shower, dried it down, and it was great for use Only use safe bedding for the hamster The bedding you give your hamster is like the drapes and carpet in your room. If they smell funny, you won’t feel alright, and they probably need changing. Wood shavings are what hammies usually get as bedding, and it’s a very good idea. Just make sure they’re not dusty, since wood shavings are made in the same place as sawdust. So, the bags can sometimes have a bit of dust in them, make sure you check for that. Also make sure you do not give your hamster pine wood shavings. Pine wood has phenols that are harmful for your hamster in large quantities. When it’s spread all over the cage as a bedding the hamster will have no option but to breathe them in. A word from Teddy I hope you found out more about us hammies’ sense of smell. We’re pretty good at it, and we can figure out lots of things with our tiny noses. In the wild we use our noses to find out food over vast territories ! If you want to know more about us hamsters you can check out the articles below, so you know how to best care for us and keep us safe. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Like Being Held ? Hamster Affection And Training
Do Hamsters Like Being Held ? Hamster Affection And TrainingIf you’ve got a hammy you might be wondering if he likes being held. I wondered the same thing about my teddy, and I’m here to help you better understand your hammy’s need for affection and touch. We’ll talk about whether hammies like being held, how to train them to be comfortable with your hands, and a bit about their personalities in general. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters like being held ?About your furry friend’s personality and habitsTraining your hamster to be comfortable with being heldStart small, but be consistent and patient with your hamsterGraduate to lifting the hamster off the ground for a inch or soPick him up with cupped hands when you think he’s okay with itHamsters and affection – do they like it ?A word from Teddy So do hamsters like being held ? This is not a straight answer. The short answer would be yes, but there are many things that must happen before your hamster is okay with you holding him. Hamsters are prey animals, and as such are not comfy with being picked up. They’ll have an instinct of pulling away, or trying to escape.  The key is making your hamster comfortable enough with you that he will allow you to pick him up. Once he is comfy with you, he does indeed like your touch. Hamsters can bond with their owners, though not all hammies do this. There are many personality aspects that need to be taken into account, and we’ll get right to it. Also keep in mind that once you’ve tamed your hamster, you’ll need to constantly handle him. Otherwise the bond can grow cold, and your hamster will need to be tamed again. About your furry friend’s personality and habits Let’s look at what the hamster goes through in the wild, so we can understand the pet hamster. After all, there isn’t much difference between wild hamsters and pet hamsters. They’ve only been with us for about a century so far, and rodents aren’t as easy to domesticate as dogs for example. In the wild a hamster will pretty much run for his life, all his life. He is hunted by almost every other animal that’s larger than him. He must hear and smell very well, and always be on alert. He even evolved to come out when his predators aren’t hunting. That being said, hammies have an instinct of being afraid of everything, and will run away or jump off if they feel threatened. Aside from all that, hamsters are solitary animals. Yes, some types of hamsters can live together, but only under certain conditions. They must be the exact same hamster type, siblings, never separated, and carefully watched. Even then, tensions come up, one is dominant, and sometimes bullying and fighting ensues. Best to keep them separated, even the Dwarf types. Now imagine a slightly grumpy, panicky, small animal, who likes being left alone, being comfy with two hands bigger than his own body picking him up. Even your first reaction would be to panic. Still, it’s possible to get your hamster to be comfortable with your big, human hands. It takes a lot of patience and consistency, but it’s totally doable. Important note, though: Even after you’ve made every effort to make your hammy comfortable, his personality is key here. If he’s a very independent, active hamster, he wont stay put. No matter how hard you try, your hamster can possibly be one of the independent types who would rather you put them down. Respect your hamster’s personality, and don’t force him into anything. My Teddy is like this. I’ve tried and tried again, with every trick and bribery I know, to get him to stay. He won’t stay in my hands for more than a few seconds at a time. There’s always something more interesting he has to see, and he’s just itching to go. He’s barely ever bitten me to let him go, and I doubt he’s stressed when I pick him up. He won’t come up on my hand, but he won’t object to me picking him up either. Bribing him with a bit of food works wonders though. Still, he’s a hamster of his own, and I love him the way he is. I’ve learned that not all hamsters are cuddly, and mine’s great just the way he is. Training your hamster to be comfortable with being held Whether your hamster will actually stay put in your hands or not, you can still train him. Hamsters are skittish, jumpy furballs, so of course they won’t stay for very long. Still, some might stay put in your hands. But in order for them to stay put, they first need to know your hand is a safe place, and they’re okay there. So let’s go through a few quick steps. This is part of the taming process, and you can find more info on taming your hamster here.  Do keep in mind that the hamster can be tamed in a few days or a few weeks. It varies from hamster to hamster, and you need to give him time. Start small, but be consistent and patient with your hamster A hamster is a skittish at first, and he won’t trust you. This is why you need to start slow, and feed him bits of food through the cage bars at first. This is aside from his usual meals. Your hammy will come to know your scent, and your voice, and associate them with food. When the hamster is okay with your smell, you can start putting your hand in the hammy’s cage. Have a treat on your hand, and he will come close. He might not have the courage to touch you and get the food, but he will come close. Keep doing this until the hamster eventually touches your hand to reach the food. Keep things like that for a couple of days. Then you can place both hands inside the hamster’s cage. Place a bit of food on the hand farthest away from the hamster. This will make the hammy have to walk over the first hand to get to the food, and thus get used to being in both hands. Once your hamster is okay with all of these steps, you can move on to the next one. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Graduate to lifting the hamster off the ground for a inch or so Once your hammy is okay with you, and your hands, you can place both hands on the floor of the cage and once he’s on them, lift them gently and slowly. Not much, just by an inch/2-3 cm or so. The lifting will possibly scare the hamster, so you might have to practice this for a longer time. Always keep the hamster off the ground only for a short amount of time, like 2-3 seconds. Once he’s okay with being held above the ground, you can practice cupping your hands over him. Again, only life the hammy an inch off the cage floor, and use the second hand to sort of cup/hold the hammy. Then put him back down after a couple of seconds. Your hamster need to get accustomed to being held, with both hands, and off the ground. Pick him up with cupped hands when you think he’s okay with it Once your hamster is okay with being held in cupped hands an inch of the ground, you can pick him up higher. This is probably a few days or weeks into his taming. So do not expect quick results. Once the hammy is okay with being picked up like this, he’s pretty much tamed. He might want to walk around, so you can use your hands as mobile platforms for him to walk on. Only do this very close to his cage, or right above his cage, in case the hamster jumps. Having a bit of food nearby to feed him while he’s in your hand is going to help him relax some more. Hamsters and affection – do they like it ? Alright, now your hamster’s tamed and can stay in your hands. At least for a few seconds. But does he like it ? Does he see it as a form of affection ? Well, yes, he does like affection. He’s not against it, but hamsters don’t show affection like most pets – cats and dogs for example. They’re not overly friendly or cuddly, and won’t seek you out for a hug. That being said hamsters that have bonded with their owners do like it when they’re cuddled. Any other hamster might find it as too touchy-feely. You can find out much more about whether hamsters like human affection here. And you’ll also find out a bit more about a hamster’s way of building relationships, and how he views other creatures, including you. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. Us hamsters do a lot of running around, but we do like being held by the person we trust. Only after a lot of taming though. If you want to know more about us hammies, you can read the related articles below. You’ll find more info on how to keep us happy and safe. [...] Read more...

References:

  1. https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/rodents/hamsters/diet