Hamsters might be small, but these adorable balls of fluff need a healthy, balanced diet just as much as any other pet in your household. When you bring your new furry friend home from the pet store, it might be tempting to just buy a bag of pellets and call it a day.
But not all brands of hamster food are made equal, and some are better suited to your pet’s unique dietary needs than others. When choosing the best hamster food for your pet, you’ll want a brand that’s made with natural ingredients, packed with vitamins and minerals, and calorie-dense to support your pet’s energetic lifestyle.
Everything You Need to Know About Feeding Your Hamster
With so many options on the market, choosing the best hamster food for your pet can be a little intimidating. Do you want grain or pellets? What kinds of ingredients does your pet need? How do you make sure your hamster is getting a healthy diet? To answer your questions, we’ve put together a handy guide so you’ll know what to look for when buying hamster food.
What kinds of hamster food are available on the market?
There are two main types of hamster food on the market: seed mixes and pellets. Both have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. To get the best of both worlds, some hamster owners feed their pets a mixture of seed and pellets. You can also supplement your hamster’s diet with fresh greens and healthy hamster treats. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of food on the market, and the features you’ll find in each one.
They might look like bags of bird food, but seed mixes are actually a great way to keep your pet healthy and happy. A seed mix is a mixture of various seeds and grains. Some brands include other ingredients like legumes, nuts, and dried fruit. Seed mixes are similar to what your pet would eat in the wild, and they’re usually minimally processed and contain few (if any) artificial chemicals or additives. And the more variety, the better studies have shown that using only a few types of seed can lead to health problems like obesity.
However, this type of food usually has more waste, as your hamster can “pick and choose” what it wants to eat and discard the rest. This might also make it harder for your hamster to get enough nutrients in their diet. If they don’t like a certain type of seed in the mixture, they’ll simply eat around it and move on.
- Made from all-natural ingredients
- Minimally processed with few artificial ingredients or chemicals
- Has a variety of tastes and textures
- Loaded with nutrients
- Similar to what hamsters eat in the wild
- Tends to be wasteful, as your pet probably won’t eat everything
- Your pet can “pick and choose,” so they might not get all their nutrients
Pellets and blocks
Hamster pellets look like a smaller version of the kibble you pour in your dog’s food bowl. They can be made with a variety of ingredients, including fruit, vegetables, grasses, seeds, grains, and more. Some brands are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals to make sure your pet gets a well-rounded diet. They’re quick and convenient, and your pet has to eat the entire thing, so there’s no food waste.
However, as Hamsters 101 points out, pellets offer little variety in texture and taste. They also tend to be more expensive, and they’re heavily processed, so your pet might be getting some artificial chemicals or additives in their food.
- Contain a variety of ingredients including fruit, vegetables, and grasses as well as seeds and grains
- Your pet has to eat the entire thing, making it easier for them to get a balanced diet
- Less mess and minimal food waste
- May contain artificial chemicals and additives
- Tend to be more expensive than seed mixes
- Little variety in taste and texture
Break up the monotony of bagged food once in a while by giving your hamster a treat. Healthy treats can supplement your pet’s diet with extra vitamins and nutrients, and give you some entertainment as you watch your pet enjoy their snack. My Perky-Pet recommends giving your hamster a small cube of a fruit or vegetable. Make sure you avoid anything with salt or sugar, as these can cause health problems like obesity and diabetes.
You can also buy commercial brands of hamster treats on the market. When you browse the selection, look for something made with natural ingredients that have few artificial flavorings or additives. Remember that treats should be fed to your pet sparingly, not used as a meal replacement. Their main diet should still consist of seed mixes or pellets.
How often should I feed my hamster?
Pet Helpful recommends feeding your pet once a day. Most hamsters eat only one or two tablespoons of food, then store the rest in secret stashes around their cage. You know that your pet is going to be fed every day, but they don’t know that–making stashes of food is a natural instinct that can’t be trained out. For this reason, you should be extra careful not to overfeed your hamster. They could be snacking on food from their bowl as well as the strategically placed stashes throughout their cage.
How can I supplement my hamster’s diet?
Seed and pellet mixes are great, but they don’t always provide the maximum amount of nutrients that your pet needs to maintain a healthy diet. You probably won’t need to add a lot of supplements, but Caring Pets suggests adding a few extra ingredients to your pet’s diet. Adding one square inch of greens a day to their bowl can help them get extra vitamins and minerals. However, make sure you do your research on acceptable greens, as some fruits and vegetables can be toxic to hamsters.
Hamsters burn a lot of energy throughout the day, so they might also need some extra carbohydrates. If you feel that they’re not getting enough carbs in their diet, try feeding your hamster small amounts of wheat, oats, cooked pasta, cooked rice, milk, or barley. Just make sure you don’t give your pet too many carbs, as this can quickly lead to obesity.
What about proteins? If your pet needs a little extra protein, try feeding them live insects once in a while. This is also a great way to mimic the kind of diet they’d have in the wild. You can also give your pet small amounts of hard-boiled egg or chicken, beef, or fish (yup, hamsters can eat meat!)
What should I look for in a brand of hamster food?
Not all hamster foods are created equally. And while some can provide a balanced diet for your pet, others might be loaded with sugar or artificial chemicals. As Caring Pets points out, a good hamster food contains 12 to 24% protein and 3 to 6% fat, with higher percentages of fat and protein if you’re raising pregnant or infant hamsters. A good hamster food also has plenty of carbohydrates, as your pet needs high levels of energy to maintain an active lifestyle.
You should also look for food that’s been minimally processed, with as few additives and artificial chemicals as possible. Make sure the food doesn’t contain high amounts of sugar or molasses, as these can be unhealthy for your pet. A good brand of hamster food is (mostly) composed of real ingredients that you can actually pronounce.
How much should I feed my hamster at a time?
When you feed your hamster their daily meal or a small treat, make sure you dispense the food in small quantities. If you leave a pile of food in their bowl, you could run into a couple of different issues. First of all, your hamster could eat too much and become obese. And second, your hamster will store anything that it doesn’t eat right away in different stashes throughout the cage. This isn’t a huge issue for nonperishable foods like seeds and grains, but if you give your hamster perishable foods like cheese or fruit, you’ll have spoiled food lurking in your hamster’s cage in no time.
Does my hamster need a salt lick or mineral chews?
Many pet stores sell salt licks and mineral chews for hamsters, which are purported to give your pet extra minerals as well as something to chew on. However, according to First Hamster, your pet doesn’t need a salt lick or mineral chew if they’re getting a balanced diet. If your hamster needs something to chew on, try adding a wooden block to their cage instead.
How can I keep my hamster from becoming obese?
If your hamster starts to look a little too chubby, make sure your pet has plenty of exercise equipment like tubes, wheels, and hamster balls. Your pet’s diet can also have a big impact on their weight. The Hamster House points out, avoid giving your pet large quantities of fatty seeds and nuts like sunflower seeds.
Not all seeds are healthy for your pet, and if the seed mix you’re buying has lots of fatty nuts and seeds, you might want to start picking them out or choose a new brand altogether. Feeding your pet foods that are high in sugar, including certain fruits and vegetables, can also contribute to obesity.
Best Hamster Food – Product Reviews
Now that you’re an expert on feeding your hamster, it’s time to go shopping! We’ve rounded up six of the best hamster food options on the market, so you’ll be able to give your furry friend a healthy, nutrient-rich diet. Each brand comes with its own features and drawbacks, so weigh your options carefully before making a decision that’s right for your hamster.
Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Blend Gerbil & Hamster Food
As you read about the ways to supplement your pet’s food, you might have wondered if there’s a brand that mixes the supplements into the food in the first place. Higgins seed mix is loaded with seed and grains, as well as extra ingredients like dried fruits, pre-cooked legumes, and nuts. This doesn’t mean that your hamster won’t need any supplements, but some of the work is already done for you. This colorful mixture offers a variety of flavors, textures, and nutrients to keep your pet healthy.
Higgins seed mix is also fortified with a number of vitamins and minerals, including amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics. This brand contains no artificial chemicals or preservatives–it’s just a big, heaping mixture of all-natural ingredients. The ingredient list has a bit of just about everything: raisins, peanuts, carrots, yellow peas, corn, sunflower seeds, beans, oat, wheat, and much more. No two scoops are the same, and your hamster will appreciate having a variety in their diet.
This mixture is fortified with vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin B12, and other nutrients that your pet needs to stay healthy. While there are some added colorants and preservatives, they were made from natural sources like algae meal. This brand is even fortified with probiotics to give your pet a healthy, functioning digestive system. It’s got everything you need, and your pet will thank you for it.
- Mixture contains a variety of ingredients, including fruit, vegetables, seeds, and grains
- Reduces the number of supplements you’ll have to feed your pet
- Fortified with extra vitamins and minerals to keep your pet healthy
- Contains fatty ingredients like sunflower seeds and peanuts
- Dried fruits and vegetables might be high in sugar
Brown’s Tropical Carnival Gerbil & Hamster Food
This brightly colored mixture has just about anything your pet could want or need in their diet. In addition to grain and seeds, you’ll also find corn, pasta wheels, oats, alfalfa meal, dried fruit, vegetable pieces, and much more. This brand also contains small biscuits that are fortified with nutrients. Every mealtime is different when you add a scoop of Brown’s hamster food to their bowl. Plus, it’s fun to watch your hamster try the different foods and textures.
In addition to the natural vitamins and minerals found in the ingredients, this brand is fortified with healthy bacteria to improve gut health and digestion. The bag claims that this brand is “food and treat all in one.” It has the basics that your hamster needs for a healthy diet–nuts, seeds, grains–plus a few treats like pasta shapes and dried fruit to make their diet a little more interesting. If you choose this brand, you’ll want to go easy on the treats and supplements, as sugary ingredients like fruit are already in the mixture.
- Loaded with a variety of ingredients, including seeds, dried fruit, and pasta
- Offers different textures to keep your hamster engaged and active
- Fortified with healthy bacteria, as well as vitamins and minerals
- Contains sugary ingredients like carrots and dried fruit
- Has some artificial flavorings
Tiny Friends Farm Hazel Hamster Food
If your hamster’s getting a little too chubby, this food is specially formulated for overweight pets. It’s a mixture of real ingredients and dry kibble, so your pet can get their required nutrients instead of just eating the seeds they like and leaving the rest. You can also pick out the fattier ingredients like sunflower seeds. To make it even more interesting, this brand contains whole peanuts still in their shells. The brand claims to “encourage natural foraging,” possibly because it mixes in natural ingredients along with the processed kibble.
This brand has no added sugar, so it’s a good choice for pets who need to slim down a little. It also contains no dried fruit, which tends to be sugary. The list of ingredients includes corn, peas, sunflower seeds, soybeans, wheat, and more. There are some artificial colorants and ingredients. If you want to get the best of both worlds with a combination of natural seeds and vegetable pieces as well as kibble that your hamster can’t pick apart, this is the best hamster food for you.
- Contains a mixture of pellets and natural seeds
- Fortified with vitamins and minerals
- Contains no added sugar, making it ideal for overweight pets
- Made with some artificial ingredients
- Contains fatty ingredients like sunflower seeds, despite being touted as a low-fat option
Oxbow Hay Blends Western Timothy and Orchard
For something completely different, try adding hay to your hamster’s diet. This all-natural product is made from hay and nothing else–no preservatives, flavorings, or chemicals. In addition to providing nutrients, this product can keep your hamster engaged and stimulated between mealtimes. It offers different textures and encourages them to play and forage. Your hamster might eat the hay, or it might form a little nest in its cage. Either way, this is an all-natural source of fun to keep your pet active and entertained.
If you’re looking for natural hamster food, Oxbow Hay is about as natural as it gets. It’s harvested directly from the source and packaged with no artificial chemicals or additives. It’s like going outside and picking some dried grasses–except with this product, you can rest assured that the hay is safe and non-toxic for your pet. You can even hide treats in the hay to encourage your pet’s natural instinct to forage.
- Completely all-natural, nothing artificial
- Can be used to encourage foraging
- Provides food and mental stimulation
- Should be used as a supplement, not the entire diet
- Doesn’t have a lot of nutrients
Kaytee Fiesta Max Hamster/Gerbil
The Kaytee Fiesta mix offers just about everything. It’s made with natural ingredients like seeds, grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as nutrient-dense pellets in various shapes. The different shapes and textures keep your hamster engaged and stimulates their curiosity. And with the combination of fruits and vegetables, you’ll have to add fewer supplements to their food. It’s also made with natural preservatives, so you can use the same bag for months without throwing it out.
This product is fortified with nutrients and probiotics to maintain your hamster’s overall health. The ingredients include peas, dried sweet potatoes, dried papaya, corn, sunflower seeds, and more. It sounds so tasty, you’ll almost want to eat it yourself! Your pet can enjoy all the health benefits that come with a richly varied diet and have a little fun and entertainment with the different pellet shapes along the way. However, this product does contain molasses, so it might not be the best hamster food for overweight hamsters.
- Made with a variety of ingredients including nuts, seeds, and pellets
- Pellets come in different shapes and textures
- Fortified with minerals and probiotics
- Contains molasses, which has extra sugar
- Contains sugary ingredients like papaya and pineapple
It’s hard to decide, but overall, Brown’s Tropical Carnival Gerbil & Hamster Food is the best hamster food for your money. It’s loaded with all the basic ingredients that your hamster needs, including seeds and grains, as well as extras like dried fruits and vegetables. It even has pasta wheels that your pet will enjoy chewing on and playing with. Plus, this brand comes with tiny biscuits that are fortified with nutrients. There are so many different sizes, shapes, and textures in this package, your pet will never get bored.
The best hamster food is rich in vitamins and minerals, and this brand is fortified with everything your pet needs to stay healthy and maintain the proper weight. Most of the ingredients are all-natural, so you’re not feeding your pet a heavily processed food that’s loaded with preservatives. This mixture also has plenty of carbohydrates to keep your pet active and energetic throughout the day. And while it does contain some sugary ingredients, it doesn’t have any added sugars like molasses. Overall, you can’t go wrong with this hearty mix of ingredients.