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Looking for high-quality hamster food to help keep your little one spinning?
That tiny little fur ball sure can eat, right!?
Buying food for a hamster can be tricky though, they’re not all the same!
As with all other pets, hamsters have their own unique dietary requirements; they don’t just differ from other animals, but even among their own kind!
For example, dwarf hammies have faster metabolisms and shorter lifespans, so they’re not going to eat the same food as a Syrian hamster.
And with so many brands to choose from, you’re going to need a little help!
Top 5 Hamster Foods Compared
It’s hard finding time to catch up with your dearest friends these days, let alone spend hours online comparing and contrasting good hamster food.
Which is why we did it for you!
These five options are both delicious and nutritious, and in them you’ll find a worthy feeding choice, whether it be for a Syrian, Dwarf, or a Chinese hamster.
1. Wild Harvest WH-83543 Advanced Nutrition Diet for Hamsters
- 15% Protein
- Great variety, and good amount of fiber
- Fortified with vitamins and minerals
- Comes in sealable plastic container, keeps food fresher
Wild Harvest is a great choice for pet owners who are struggling to get their hamsters the nutrition that they need. The variety in size and shape of the pellets accommodates both small and larger species, such as Syrian hamsters. Wild Harvest is also meant to be a supplementary snack, so be sure that you’re still giving them sufficient amounts of grass and hay, as well a base of grains and pellets.
Since fruit has quite a bit of sugar in it, you may want to cut back feeding your hamster Wild Harvest or just use it as a snack. It won’t necessarily make them ill, however it will make them fat if they aren’t very active. Your ham should be fluffy, but being overweight or obese isn’t good for any species! Keep their heart healthy and their body at an appropriate size.
Wild Harvest is also high in fiber, ensuring that it makes its way through your hamster’s body with ease, making for an easier transition if you just recently switched foods.
With soybeans, pumpkin seed, cranberries, bananas, and oatmeal, the ingredients included in Wild Harvest hamster food provide a satisfactory level of extra nutrition, and your ham will love the taste.
However, the round pieces that resemble cheerios are quite hard, and it’s not uncommon for them to get stuck around tooth. If this does happen, all it takes is a little water to loosen it up and remove it, but your pet will need some help.
2. Vitakraft Vita Prima Sunscription Dwarf Hamster Formula
- High-diversity formula
- High nutrient bioavailability
- Fortified with Omega-3’s, Dha & Probiotics
- No harmful sugar additives
- Can also be used for Robo, Chinese, and Russian hamsters
Since dwarf hamsters are much smaller than the Syrian and other large hamster breeds, they won’t be able to live on the same diet as larger hamsters (1).
With an abundance of Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and an extra boost of Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitakraft provides the perfect balance for your hamsters fast metabolism. This food also contains a mixture of veggies to help fill up your pet without causing them to become overweight.
Most hamsters enjoy the Vitakraft formula, however there may be too many pellets. Either that, or the pellets just don’t taste very good; owners have mentioned that their pets don’t eat them, and there are always quite a few leftover per bag.
Something that owners have complained about in other brands is that there aren’t enough seeds, or that there are too many. Vitakraft is sort of like the Goldilocks version of other hamster foods, it’s just right! If you have a Robo hamster who just won’t eat other brands, try this one and see how it goes.
3. Kaytee Fiesta Hamster Food
- Supports dental health through natural chewing
- Prebiotics and probiotics for digestive health
- Assorted fruits and veggies for enrichment and variety
- Rich in natural antioxidants
- Picky Robo hamsters appear to really like this mixture
- Can also be used to feed gerbils
The Kaytee Fiesta batch is incredibly tasty with bits of papaya, apples, and bananas for a sweeter taste without all the extra sugar. Containing both pre and probiotics, your hamster should be able to easily digest their meal and absorb the vitamins and nutrients included.
If your pet has runny stool or diarrhea, the digestive enzymes might help with that! This mix has natural preservatives, so you won’t have to feel concerned about them consuming toxins or harmful chemicals.
One thing to keep in mind if you do decide to go with the Kaytee Fiesta mix is that your hamsters poop might change from its normal color. This is to be expected when making a change in their diet, but if you’re concerned, consult with your veterinarian.
4. Forti Diet Pro Health – Hamster Food by Kaytee
- DHA, Omega-3’s and Probiotics
- Formulated to support brain and heart health
- Balanced fiber and antioxidants
- Tightly sealed package maintains overall freshness
- Large packaging ensures that you won’t have to buy a new one for several weeks
When purchasing hamster foods most owners expect to see more grains, fruits and veggies. The Kaytee Forti Diet is packed with sunflower seeds, which are a tasty treat for any hamster.
However, they’re also high in fat, and eating too many could cause them to become overweight. You may need to take a few minutes to pick out the excess seed and place them in a separate container.
Aside from that minor inconvenience, the fresh variety that this bag offers is a great way to allow your hamster to decide what they need. If they’re craving some papaya and sweet potato, they can have a little snack and save the other items for later. The ground flax seed is also a great source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids.
The one, glaringly critical problem with this brand is that there have been several complaints of owners finding moths, worms, and larvae in their bags. This could just be a problem with batches that are made in a specific factory, however it is highly recommended that you inspect the food before feeding it to your hamster.
5. Oxbow Animal Health – Essentials Fortified Hamster & Gerbil Food
- Made with hand selected Timothy Hay
- Kibble only
- All natural with vitamins and minerals
- Can also be enjoyed by guinea pigs
- Comes in a one pound bag so you don’t have to purchase as often
For hammies with sensitive tummies, Oxbow just might help with this situation. Since Oxbow recently changed their formula, this food now has less dye and artificial flavoring. The downside? There aren’t quite as many nuts or seeds, lowering the protein to about 15%.
So you may need to supplement your hamsters diet by giving them a few more fresh veggies and maybe a few peanuts. Aside from that minor issue, most hamsters seem to pretty pleased with the change, and their owners aren’t going through so much waste from pellets left behind!
Tips on Feeding Your Hamster
Here are but a few things to keep in mind when feeding your little ball of fur.
Things to Consider When Buying
The nutritional needs of smaller mammals such as hamsters vary to those of their larger counterparts. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind some hamster specific nutritional needs. You and your vet know your hamster best and decisions should be made based on that fact, while some other key considerations may be the following.
According to experts, for an average hamster you want to aim for a food mix of 15% protein and around 3-6% fat (2). For baby hamsters, pregnant hamster and nursing hamsters, these percentages should be slightly adjusted upwards.
As mentioned, you want to ensure the food you spend your money on meets their nutritional needs as completelty as possible. For example, they burn through carbs rather quickly, so feeding them complex carbs like those found in natural grain and veggies sources is prefered.
In order to keep their jaws healthy and teeth at a proper length, these little creatures need to chew. When it comes to buying and feeding your hamster food, if it’s too soft their jaws and teeth won’t get the workout they need.
But hey, some are just picky eaters right!? If yours is one of them, make sure you have a lot of stuff inside their hamster cage for them to chew on (stuff that’s safe of course!).
Hamster don’t need much sugars in their diets, too much sugar has actually been associated with an increased mortality rate in various experiments (2). Remember that fruit is a source of sugar, and some foods have fruit mixes that may look good on the surface, but for your little one going with an alternative that is lower in sugar is a healthier approach.
Unlike sugar, salt is actually needed for a hamsters water retention,dental and overall health. In fact it’s not uncommon for hamsters in the wild to lick rocks to obtain salt, traces of calcium and other essential minerals.
There are companies out there that make hamster salt licking stones, if your hamster gets their salt from licking those, make sure there is always an ample constant supply of water nearby!
You Don’t Have to Use One Kind of Food
If you get tired of eating the same food all the time, your hamster probably does too! In fact, it’s best to switch it up or introduce different variations to your pet every couple of months.
If your hamster is picky, or seems to enjoy some parts of their meal but leaves behind excessive pellets, this may be another good reason to try something new. For new hamster owners, try purchasing a smaller size first to see how your pet likes it.
Most hamster food will last for about 3 to 4 months before they go bad, so don’t go and buy a 4 pound bag for one hamster unless you’re sure they can get through it.
The best foods will be half seed, and half of all other ingredients included. Check the label carefully to ensure that the variety consists of pumpkin and sunflower seeds so that you don’t introduce too much fat to their diet. Your hamster may choose to chow down on the sunflower seeds anyway, which is why you might need to pick them out regardless of how much is included in the bag.
Don’t Forget to Provide Fresh Food
Although commercial hamster food provides the majority of nutrients needed for their overall health, they still need the occasional fresh piece of lettuce, or a few small pieces of strawberry as a treat. These should be given to your ham once a day, just like the sunflower seeds have too much fat, fruit has quite a bit of sugar.
Only Add What’s Needed to Their Bowl
Free feeding hamsters isn’t really ideal as each one is different, and they might not finish everything you give them. If the food sits in a dish too long it becomes stale, and your pet loses interest.
You might have to refill the bowl a little more often, but it’s a minor inconvenience in comparison to wasting your hard earned money on food your hamster won’t finish.
Add Timothy Hay to Their Diet
Hamsters require a very high dose of fiber in order to function properly and maintain their health. In addition to whichever food you decide to use on this list or otherwise, it’s important to give your pet plenty of hay as well. They enjoy the taste, and it contains a large quantity of protein and calcium (3).
Hamster Food FAQ
Here’s a few of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to feeding hamsters.
How Much Food Should I Feed My Hamster
This ones a bit tricky, because hamsters actually store food due to their genetic survival instsict, so the bowl may look empty . . . but they probably hoarded some of it!
Thus the difficulty in knowing how much to feed and resist the temptation to overfeed, is observing how much is eaten and how much is stored away; which differs from breed to breed (Syrian breeds eat more and Dwarf’s eat less).
Thankfully, there is a general rule of thumb. According to most hamster diet experts, a typical hamster needs only 1-2 tablespoons of food in a 24 hour timeframe. So feeding them once a day is ideal. Whether it be in the morning or evening is up to you, but be consistent (4).
Should I Remove Stashes When Cleaning My Hamster’s Cage?
You’ll come across smile piles of food and/or treats while cleaning up after them, depending on how long you think they’ve been there, you may want to remove them. If left there indefinitely, they can attract some unwanted visitors, like bugs and mold!
If you feel bad and fear removing it will make them hate you, maybe leave a small relatively new looking stash behind for them. But if you can’t keep track of how old they are, it’s best to remove them.
What Can Hamsters Eat Besides Hamster Food
There are quite a few things you can supplement your hamsters commercial food diet with, here are some (by no means exhaustive) categorical examples of things hamsters can eat beside commercial food.
- apples (seedless)
- plums (no pits)
- cabbage (in moderation)
- romaine lettuce
- cooked meats (ground beef, chicken, turkey)
- cooked fish cod
- grasshoppers (from pet shop)
- mealworms (from pet shop)
- crickets (from pet shop)
- boiled or scrambled eggs
- plain brown rice (cooked)
- flax seed
- unsalted pumpkin seeds
- nuts (except almonds)
- sesame seeds
- unsalted popcorn (without butter)
Foods You SHOULDN’T Feed Your Hamster
Now let’s adress the foods you shouldn’t let your furry little friend get their hands on, these include:
- apple seeds
- chips and other junk foods
- kidney beans
- citrus fruits
- tomato leaves
It’s easy to forget, so try and make a visible list to put near their cage or in the kitchen somewhere. Also, don’t change your hamsters daily diet too quickly (or too often for that matter), it may cause unwanted issues.
How Long Can a Hamster Go Without Food
This is commonly asked and it’s honestly very difficult to answer, as it can vary from hamster to hamster and depends on the starting state of health and general care of the hamster.
Generally speaking, if a healthy hamster were to be left in an environment without food and water, they would typically not survive more than 3 to 4 days. A not so healthy one would probably survive only 2 days, but as mentioned before these average figures can vary and are not set in stone.
How Much Does Hamster Food Cost
As far as the biggest three online retailers for hamster food go, those being Amazon, Walmart, and PetCo, here’s what we found. Keep in mind these are just figures and much more comes into play when buying hamster food, like quality, nutritional value, size, etc.
Cheapest hamster food we found on:
- Amazon – around $2.70 for 2.5 oz or $1.08/oz
- Walmart – around $4.10 for 2 lbs or $2.05/lb
- PetCo – around $2.30 for 2.5 oz or $0.92/oz
Most expensive hamster food we found on:
- Amazon – around $126 for 25 lbs or $5.04/lb
- Walmart – around $57 for 20 lbs or $2.85/lb
- PetCo – around $35 for 20 lbs or $1.75/lb
Seed Hamster Food vs. Palleted Hamster Food
From a nutritional needs standpoint, when comparing pelleted and seed hamster food of the SAME quality, they’ll both pass the test. We’re pointing out that they have to be similar in quality when comparing, because when it comes to nutritional requirements, it’s quality of the actual food that counts.
Really the main thing to keep in mind is that seed food offers more variety than pelleted food. Your hamster will be glad they get it, but it’s the same ol’ look, taste, and texture to them day in and day out; case in point, they might get bored with it! On the other hand, seed hamster food comes with variety, but may not be suitable for hamsters that have certain dietary restrictions and/or health issues.
Bottom line: As long as the food quality is there, follow your little hamsters stomach and feed towards their preference. They may even prefer a mix of both!
That’s all for now, hope you’ve enjoyed this handy guide to feeding your pet hamster and buying hamster food; and hopefully you’ve found an item on our list that meets your little one’s specific dietary requirements so you can enjoy seeing them spin that wheel all day long!
Stock Photos via RaquelVizcaino & Victor FlowerFly / Shutterstock