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NUTRITION
(food & treats)

Correct nutrition, from as young as possible, even during gestation, will make a big difference in your hamster’s well-being and longevity.

The diet needs to consist of (1) GOOD QUALITY DRY FOOD MIX, (2) FRESH FOOD (fruit, veggies & protein), and (3) FRESH WATER. Hamsters with poor nutrition usually suffer from various ailments as a result, especially as they age.

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HOW MUCH FOOD DOES A HAMSTER EAT?

Your hamster not only needs a good quality dry food mix, but it is also VERY important that s/he receives fresh vegetables, fruit, and proteins (dwarfs should not have fruit and sugary vegetables, except as an occasional treat).

  • Most people tend to put in more dry food than what the hamster can actually eat and also don't take into account the amount that they are hoarding. Some hamsters hoard more than others so, if you have a manic hoarder, you can keep a check on that in order to avoid unnecessary wasting.

  • Some people will only put in new food when the hamster has been forced to eat every last grain (even the bits that he really doesn't like, or are simply hay fillers, because he's desperate). We do not recommend this method very highly as it can often result in food deprivation anxiety and the hamster will then most likely want to hoard even more.

  • While it is good to get the hamster to each as much of the dry food over a few days in order to benefit nutrition from most ingredients, rather waste a little than cause the hamster to stress about something as important as food.

  •  Your hamster's body will let him know what and when he needs and, as long as he's given a good variety of quality foods, he will most likely be getting a good balance of what he needs over the course of a few days to a week. 

GENERAL QUANTITY GUIDELINE (dependent on each hamster's size ,age, and level of activity):

  • DWARF HAMSTERS - approx. total of 2 teaspoons of food in a day (dry and fresh total together), give or take a few grains. You can put in a Tablespoon of dry mix in an empty bowl and then top up with a teaspoon a day, or as necessary.

  • SYRIAN HAMSTERS - approx. total of about 2-3 Tablespoons of food in a day (dry and fresh total together). You can put in 3 Tablespoons of dry mix in an empty bowl and then top up with a teaspoon or two a day, or as necessary.

  • This will give enough to eat and hoard without causing anxiety, but you can gauge over time how much is actually eaten and adjust according to your own hamster...some will eat less and some will eat most of it. Remember that most hamsters generally don't overeat, so too much leftovers are really just a waste. 

  • It is important to throw out leftover dry food every few days to avoid it going stale or rancid (particularly fatty seeds and nuts), which the hamster won't like even if s/he has hoarded them. Uneaten fresh food needs to be removed every day...don't let it go slimy and rotten! 

how much food
Food Pyramid for Hamsters
DRY FOOD info

DRY FOOD & MIXES

  • Although difficult to find a mix with exact perfect nutritional values, the general rule is that a good food mix should contain 18% protein + 6% fat + 8% fiber.

  • Pups and pregnant/nursing females may be fed up to 24% protein, and adult hamsters should be reduced to 18%, and decreased a little again as they become senior (pregnant females should have slightly less, since too much can apparently result in larger pups and a difficult birth).

  • When changing to a different food, it is important to ‘wean’ the hamster onto it by mixing old with new and gradually decreasing the old brand in order to avoid upsetting the tummy with food he has not had before.

 

PLEASE FREEZE ALL DRY FOODS, SEEDS, TREATS, ETC. FOR 24 - 48 HOURS BEFORE OPENING, AND STORE EXCESS IN THE FREEZER OR FRIDGE THEREAFTER.

Eggs/nits of bugs can lurk within grains and seeds, through no fault of the food manufacturers...it's just nature. Freezing will kill most of these.

 IT IS EASIER TO FREEZE THAN TO GET RID OF A PROBLEM THAT MAY TAKE MANY MONTHS TO BATTLE.

TIP: Storing excess food in a tightly sealed container in your fridge or freezer will also maintain freshness for a lot longer.

BEST RECOMMENDED FOOD MIXES IN SA

BEST DRY FOOD
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Generally, these foods fulfil most of the analysis criteria, but please note that not all should be fed alone, as they may lack sufficient variety for adequate nutrition. Mixing 2 or 3 commercial brands is recommended in most cases.

Unfortunately, we don't have many decent choices here in SA, but these are the options:

Olivers Burrow
Hyggelig food

PREMIUM MIXES: CAREFULLY RESEARCHED & MADE IN SA

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HYGGELIG FOOD MIX

Regarded as the best quality & balanced food available in SA, with an excellent variety of safe ingredients.

Suitable to use as the only dry mix, but also good to mix into commercial brands for improvement.

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OLIVER'S BURROW HAMSTER MIX

Good variety of safe ingredients.

Good one to add to commercial brands.

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"DECENT" COMMERCIAL MIXES AVAILABLE IN SA

Versl Laga Food

LOCALLY BLENDED COMMERCIAL FOOD MIXES

Conveniently mixed commercial brands. Often with added ingredients for variety and improvement (check with each business).

Two or three of the following NEED TO BE MIXED together,

or with one of the Premium Mixes, to ensure variety & better balance:

 

PUUR (Witte Molen) HAMSTER and DWARF HAMSTER 

Slightly low in protein, but decent variety of ingredients with pellets.

HARRY HAMSTER

Lowest quality of the acceptable brands.

VERSELE-LAGA NATURE HAMSTER (for Syrians & MINI for Dwarfs)

Heavily pelleted. Not very popular with many hamsters.

BURGESS HAMSTER, GERBIL & MOUSE 

Pellets only. Good quality but really not popular at all with hamsters.

RAISINS ARE TOXIC FOR HAMSTERS. 

BEST TO REMOVE ALL FRUITS & FEED FRESH INSTEAD.

DWARF HAMSTERS ARE PRONE TO DIABETES (see Fresh Food List)

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ADDITIONAL (BUT NOT SUITABLE AS MAIN MIXES)

ADDITIONAL DRY FOOD

These do not meet any ideal balance and can therefore not to be fed to your hamster as a main dry-mix diet.

  • Acceptable to mix a little of each with one of the above commercial dry mixes in order to try and add greater variety, particularly for hamsters who refuse to eat the pellets in those. 

  • Can be used as treats.

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These two are sold in large bags, but are NOT suitable as a food mix.

  • No balance at all.

  • Will probably go stale by the time you get through the bag.

  • Have a lot of pellets, sunflower seeds, and muesli.

  • We suggest rather exploring the Cereals, Proteins, and Nutties Snack options in the smaller bags as additions or treats. 

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VERY POOR QUALITY MIXES * NOT RECOMMENDED *

These foods do not come close to meeting any balanced or healthy diet, even if mixed with a Premium Mix. They generally consist mainly of sunflower seeds, corn / mealies, peanuts and filler pellets, as well as sugar or artificial sweeteners, artificial colourants and flovourants.

Such mixes will cause obesity, fatty liver disease, and/or malnutrition if fed as a main diet. 

Sadly, there are more bad than good foods available in SA, but please do not risk your hamster's health by buying an inferior mix. With two local businesses producing Premium quality mixes & able to send anywhere via Pudo or PostNet, there is no excuse to be feeding your hamster any of the following:

BAD FOOD MIXES

ANIMAL ZONE HAMSTER FOOD

BRIT ANIMALS HAMSTER

BRENNCO HAMSTER FOOD

DARO HAMSTER & MICE FOOD

DARO FROOTY HAMSTER MIX

GRANT'S HAMSTER FRUIT & VEG

GRANT'S HAMSTER GOURMET

MARLTONS COMPLETE DIET HAMSTER FOOD

MARTLONS HAMSTER & MOUSE FOOD

PET'S CHOICE HAMSTER FEAST

TOP PET DELIGHTS HAMSTER

TWEAT HAMSTER MIX SPECIAL

WESTERMAN'S HAMSTER MIX

UNBRANDED PET SHOP ‘OWN’ HAMSTER MIXES

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BIRD FOOD

IS NOT A HAMSTER MIX !

FOOD MIXES FOR OTHER RODENTS ARE ALSO

NOT HAMSTER FOOD !

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RECENT RESEARCH: A diet too full of corn (mealies) can result in hamster cannibalism due to resulting causes of nutritional deficiencies!

 Refrain from feeding any corn to pregnant/nursing females, as well as babies, or too much to any hamster. 

mealies and birdfood
lab block

LAB BLOCKS are popular in some other countries to ensure balance to most commercial hamster food mixes.

  • The Mazuri Rat & Mouse brand appears to be the most recommended for hamsters but, as far as we are aware, suitable lab blocks are not yet available in SA.

  • While Lab Blocks are reportedly fully balanced, they do not provide interesting variety for your hamster to pick at or forage.

  • Can be useful for a few days to ensure that the hamster has sufficient nutrition in your absence, particularly if your pet-sitter is not very clued up about hamsters.

food hack for fussy ham

THE FUSSY HAMSTER

Please do not let your hamster starve itself, but don't be tempted to switch to a nasty cheap mix that is filled with sugar, preservatives, colourants, unhealthy fat, and little nutritional value.

PELLETS: Some hamsters don't mind pellets, but most are generally not fond of them and may refuse point-blank to eat any at all.

  • Unfortunately a lot of pet food manufacturers have changed formulations towards this kind of diet to save costs and extend shelf-life. 

  • Much of these pellets are also simply compressed hay, used as fillers to bulk up the weight/volume. Too much hay food can be quite difficult for hamsters to digest so, if you know which are hay, you'll have to pick them out and waste a large portion of your bag. 

 

SUPER PICKY EATERS often also turn their noses up at other ingredients, even in the very best of food mixes.

  • However, pellets aside, it is important that they do consume most ingredients in quality mixes, in order to acquire good nutrition.

  • It may require a bit of experimentation to get the right mix for your hamster's particular liking (change brands if necessary). There is good value in finding the right mixture to suit each hamster's taste that he will enjoy more readily, rather than forcing himself to only eat what is available in desperation not to starve.

TRY THIS if you are concerned that your hamster may not be consuming an adequate balance from his mix:

  • Finely grind up some pellets and/or other ingredients in a liquidizer/electric coffee grinder/pestle & mortar

  • Mash this “powder” into his favourite fresh food (works well in pureed/mushy foods). Most hamsters will happily eat it in this form.

  • Grinding hemp seeds and flax/linseeds is suggested, as it is absorbed/digested better this way than if fed whole. Add to his fresh food twice a week for skin and fur health. 

  • Some hamsters may even prefer pellets and other bits if they are dampened. Simply place a few ingredients in a small bowl each evening, pour a little boiled water over, and mix to make a "porridge". 

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If you are tempted to make your own dry mix instead of ordering one of the recommended locally produced mixes, there is a reasonably good guideline on the

 DIY page IF you have access to a variety of essential ingredients, but note that it can be expensive, particularly if you only have one hamster. 

FOOD BOWLS:

Any strong, small-ish, bowls with smooth edges, about 2.5cm deep. 

Metal or strong ceramic/glass is good in case your hamster is a chewer, and they're more hygienic.

​NOTE: Dwarf hamsters love to get into the dry food to scratch around, and can make quite a mess. It is therefore convenient to provide a nice wide bowl (about 3 to 3.5cm deep) that they can easily fit into, but the food will be contained during this wild activity. 

 

You do not necessarily need a bowl at all for dry food. Food and treats can be scattered and hidden to encourage your hamster to forage and dig for these, as they would in their natural wild habitat. However, hamsters can be picky eaters so you could end up with lots of unfavoured food going old all over the habitat. A bowl would therefore keep the habitat cleaner, but do constantly check the hording zone and clear that out regularly to remove stale food.

FRESH FOOD

FRESH  & OTHER FOODS

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In addition to the dry foods, fresh food is absolutely vital in the diet for important vitamins, proteins and minerals, as well as the enjoyment of variety. A HAMSTER SHOULD NEVER LIVE ON DRY FOOD MIX ALONE!

Portion size guidelines: Revisit the 'How Much' section and the 'Food Pyramid' at the top of this page.   

Uneaten perishable food must be removed daily.

Food  can be complicated in terms of safe & unsafe parts of a food, method of feeding (cooked or raw), high sugar, etc. but we keep it as simple as possible here.

The list below contains the most commonly available foods in South Africa, with basic guidelines regarding suggested frequency of feeding each category.

Depending on you and your hamster, you can offer a very small amount of two or three fresh foods every evening, or a little buffet every 2nd or 3rd evening, as long as you provide a decent variety over the course of 5 - 7 days, e.g. whether you give every day or twice a week, don’t just give broccoli every time.

FOOD LISTS (SAFE & UNSAFE)

FRUIT & VEG

COLOUR KEY:

PINK = High sugar foods. Be conservative.

  • Dwarf Hamsters are prone to diabetes, so only one small piece every week as a treat.

  • Syrian owners also exercise some restraint.

GREEN = Cruciferous foods. Small amounts only in raw form.

  • Too much raw can cause thyroid & hormonal problems, and they can be a bit "gassy" too.  

  • Good for preventing heart disease & cancer, so don't avoid...just be cautious.

  • If your hamster really loves these foods, the best way to avoid issues is to actually COOK the veg to remove the problematic enzyme.

  • If your female hamster has had uterine infections or pyometra, avoid raw altogether and feed the cooked veg as a treat only. 

ORANGE = High in oxalic acid. Small amounts only.

  • Can cause kidney stones if fed too much. Avoid altogether if your hamster has had kidney or bladder problems.

Protein
Bad fresh foods
NUTS
TREATS - FRESH

SAFE FRUIT & VEG

(OFFER A VARIETY EVERY 1 to 3 DAYS)

Alfalfa (small quantities for young & pregnant hamsters only)

Apricot

Apple (not the seeds)

Asparagus

Baby Marrow/Courgette/Zucchini

Baby Spinach

Baby Corn

Banana

Barley Grass

Bean (Mung) Sprouts - shoots only

Blackberry leaves & fruit

Blueberry 

Broad beans

Broccoli (florets & leaves - no thick stems)

Butternut (pips also make great treats)

Carrot

Cauliflower (florets & leaves  - no thick stems)

Chard/Spinach (small amount only)

Cherries (not the pips)

Chickweed

Cornflowers (blue or pink)

Corn (baby corn, mealies)

Cos Lettuce (dark tips only)

Courgette/Zucchini/Baby Marrow

Cranberry (not dried/crasins)

Dates

Dandelion flower/leaf/roots (not the milky veins)

Dill ‘leaves’ (not bulb)

Endive (leafy parts only)

Fennel ‘leaves’ (not bulb)

Fig

Flowers (see topic on Accessories page)

Green Beans

Gem Squash (pips also make great treats)

Hemp (seeds & leaves)

Kale

Kiwi (without seeds)

Lentils (cooked or sprouted only)

Loganberry

Lychee

Mange Tout (snap peas/snow peas)

Mango

Marigold petals

Melon 

Mealie kernels (corn) - avoid for pregnant/nursing mums & baby hamsters.

Millet (sprays can be left in the habitat)

Mung Beans (sprouted or cooked only)

NUTS - shelled, fresh (Sweet Almond, Brazil, Cashew, Hazel, Pecan, Pistachio, Walnut)

Pansy/Viola flowers

Papaya

Parsnip

Patti-Pans

Peach (not the pip)

Pear (no seeds)

Peas (ordinary garden peas)

Peppers (sweet/salad kind - red, yellow, green)

Pet Grass

Plum

Prune (not the pips)

Pumpkin (pips also make great treats)

Raspberry

Rice Cakes (unsalted - plain or multigrain)

Rocket leaves

Rose Petals

Snap/Snow Peas (mangetouts),

Spinach/Chard (small amount of leaf part only)

Sprouts (Lentils, Mung beans, micro herbs)

Strawberry

Tomato (flesh only)

Turnip

Water Cress

Water Melon

Wheat Grass

Whimzees (dog chews – can be left in the habitat) 

Zucchini (courgette/baby marrow)

SAFE PROTEINS (2 or 3 x A WEEK):

COOKED/STEAMED; PLAIN (NO SALT, SPICES, BUTTER, ETC.); SMALL CUBE PORTIONS.

Beef – Lean/Extra-Lean mince (plain, steamed/cooked)

Chicken meat (plain, steamed/cooked)

Crickets (clean & specially bred)

Egg (hard boiled/ well scrambled)

Fish (fresh, not tinned; bland, not very salty kinds of fish - steamed/cooked)

Hills Kitten Chicken Mousse tinned food (not very popular with most) 

Hills Restorative Care (chicken) tinned food

Mealworms (dried or fresh) 3 to 5 at a time; chop heads off the live worms first - the jaws are strong and can injure your hamster.

Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Chicken Mousse tinned food (not very popular with most hams)

Shrimps (Gammarus) - small fresh water kind.

Silkworms (dried or fresh 3 to 5 at a time)

Superworms (dried or fresh) 3 to 5 at a time; chop heads off the live worms first - the jaws are strong and can injure your hamster.

Turkey meat (plain, steamed/cooked)

ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK TREAT OPTIONS

(ONE SMALL PORTION AT A TIME)

Basil leaf

Beetroot

Bread (w/wheat toasted or not)

Brussels Sprouts

Celery

Cheese (preferably ricotta and low-salt cheeses - yellow cheese is high in fat and salt)

Coconut (fresh or flakes, not sweetened desiccated)

Coconut Milk (unsweetened; not cream)

Coriander (leaves & stems)

Cornflakes (unsweetened & salt-free) 

Couscous (cooked, plain)

Cucumber (small piece)

Dog Biscuits (Plain, home-baked style only)

Flax/Linseeds - preferably crushed for better absorption and mixed into wet food (quarter tsp)

Mint leaf

Oats & Barley flakes (soaked)

Peanut (in or out of shell).

Parsley (as a tonic)

Pasta (pref. cooked, plain)

Potato (FLESH ONLY; must be really well cooked)

Provita crackers

Rice (brown, cooked, plain)

Sunflower Seeds (white, not black striped)

Tofu (rinsed and/or cooked) - high in fat and calcium, so only a tiny piece.

Weetbix

Yogurt - tiny amount, plain unsweetened, pref. organic (however, in the case of babies & nursing moms, a daily lick of yogurt is particularly good)

UNSAFE FOODS

Acorns

Alcohol

All-Bran Flakes

ALL FRUIT SEEDS & PIPS

Artificial Sweeteners

Aubergine

Avocado

Bacon

Biltong

Bindweed

Bitter Almonds

Bran

Brinjal

Bulbs (of any sort)

Butter

Citrus Fruits (lemon, orange, naartjie, etc.)

Cabbage (particularly stems and veins)

Cayenne

Chilli

Chives

Chocolate

Cinnamon

Coffee and Ceylon Teas

Coriander seeds

Cream

Crocus

Currants

Chickpeas (unless REALLY well cooked)

Deadly Nightshade

Dragon fruit 

Eggplant

Elderberry leaves & branches

Evergreen plants

Flowers (see topic on Accessories page)

Garlic

Gooseberry

Grapefruit

Grapes

Greenies (dog chews) 

Ham

Honey

Jam

Jelly

Kidney Beans (unless REALLY well cooked)

Laurel

Leeks

Lemon

Lettuce (particularly Iceberg and light green fancy)

Lime

Liver

Macon

Milk & Cream 

Naartjie

Nutmeg

Oak

Onion (all types)

Olives

Orange

Pepper (spice)

Pickles

Pineapple

Pips from fruits

Pomegranate

Pork

Potato (eyes, leaves, skin, and raw pieces)

Processed meats (bacon, ham, macon, polony, viennas, etc.)

Radish

Ragwort

Raisins

Rhubarb

Salt

Sausages

Seeds from fruits

Spices

Sugar

Sultanas

Sweet Potato (unless really well-cooked, & flesh only - as a treat)

Sweets/Candy

Tomato seeds, green parts & flowers

Tomato Paste (too strong and concentrated)

Vinegar

NOTES:

  • Best to pick out most dried fruit from commercial food mixes and feed fresh or baby pureed fruit instead.

  • Similarly, nuts go rancid easily so rather pick out and provide your own freshly bought.

  • Sticky foods (e.g. dried fruits, nut butters, fruit jams, etc.) can cause problems in the pouches & mouth.

  • Please, everyone, hamsters are omnivores -  NOT vegans or vegetarians! They require a certain amount of PROTEINS. 

Do not enforce your preferences/principals on your hamster.

Although they don't require a huge steak or an entire chicken, a complete lack of proteins can cause certain issues, including fur loss.

If you are yourself against handling proteins, you can provide your hamster with this by giving Purity baby foods but please check the label for unsafe ingredients, like tomato paste, lemon juice, spices, etc. (Best flavours: veg & chicken, veg & beef, and veg & lamb...but please check the ingredients, since Purity seems to change the recipes often). See Baby & Pureed foods below.

PUREED FOOD

 

BABY and PUREED FOODS are also good to keep as backup for times when fresh fruit/veg is not too plentiful in the house.

CHECK THE INGREDIENTS on the packaging of commercial baby foods! Avoid those foods that contain onion, garlic, pork, salt, tomato paste, lemon juice, spices, and any other ingredients listed as bad in the above food list....or make your own by peeling, chopping and steaming them over plain water and then mashing it.

If you have excess that won't be eaten within 3 or 4 days, freeze it:

1. Line an ice-cream tub lid with cling wrap, and spread the food onto that;

2. Cover with another layer of cling and put into the freezer;

3. Set your timer for 1.5 hours, peel back the top layer of cling wrap, and then cut into little squares with a blunt knife;

4. Return to the freezer and the next day you can place the sheets in ziplock bags or sealed containers back in the freezer;

5. To defrost, simply break off a block or two and place onto a folded piece of paper towel to absorb excess water (otherwise it defrosts into a watery mess), chop and mush it up so it's not like a dry sponge block (takes about 30 min to defrost, depending on season). 

6. Now you can mix in some powdered pellets, Protexin, etc. 

... and voila! A little meal is ready to be served up to HRH Hamster.

Dwarfs should not have the fruit varieties, unless it's just for a little weekly or two-weekly treat. 

 

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AGEING & PREGNANT FOOD

AGEING HAMSTERS often find it difficult to eat and digest hard foods as their lives draw to an end. In such cases, you can provide shelled seeds and chopped up softer nuts, baby/pureed foods (see above), cooked/soaked oats porridge, baby cereal (don't mix with milk),  a little portion of plain scrambled eggs, etc. Do not overdo the proteins from about 18 months onward as too much can cause swelling of the kidneys (protein value in the diet can be dropped to 14/15%...baby foods with chicken or meat ingredients will be sufficient protein for old hamsters, twice a week).  A drop of CBD oil every 2 or 3 days also works wonders (mixed into tasty food). Some of the dry-mix can also be soaked in a little water until softened. Slightly warmed food (never hot) will be appreciated during the very cold winter months.

Three foods for elderly hamsters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8JLI7ghwLA&t=2s

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Note that baby cereal is not recommended as part of regular feeding for younger/adult hamsters, except as a little treat. It is recommended for old hamsters, or to beef up others that have lost weight due to surgery, serious illness, or malnutrition.

CHECK THE INGREDIENTS IN COMMERCIAL BABY FOODS 

- NOT ALL ARE SAFE (REFER TO THE FRESH FOOD LIST ABOVE)

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YOGURT

PREGNANT & NURSING HAMSTERS require extra good nutrition in order to keep mom and babies healthy and strong. Ensure that her dry food mix is of a high quality and that she gets a little fresh veg every night. Extra protein is essential AFTER the babies are born (plain scrambled eggs, plain cooked chicken, mealworms, etc.) Do not over-do proteins while she is pregnant, as the babies can overdevelop, resulting in a difficult birth. Once she has given birth, a little lick of plain organic/probiotic yogurt every day will be beneficial too or Protexin (animal probiotic) should be given. Alfalfa is said to be good for pregnant hamsters too, due to the calcium content, which should normally be avoided but is good for keeping teeth and bones strong from the depletion that can happen during pregnancy and lactation.

NOTE that a diet high in corn/mielies causes a deficiency in Vitamin B3, resulting in cannibalism!  Therefore we suggest that you refrain from feeding corn/mielies to your pregnant/nursing hamster and the babies until all of them have been separated from each other.

BABY HAMSTERS  will start sampling solid foods as soon as they start emerging from the nest on their own (sometime from 2 weeks old).

They should be kept on a similar diet to the pregnant/nursing mother, as described above, and pureed foods may be easier for them to eat during the first few days. 

If your dry food mix contains large pellets, simply smash them up to make them easier for the babies to eat, and cut up any larger fruit pieces. Alternatively, get the Puur Dwarf Hamster food or Versele-Laga Mini Hamster food, which have smaller pellets. Protein content should be higher (up to 24% of the diet) for the first 8 weeks and then dropped to 18% until they reach senior age when it should be further decreased.

Once again, dwarfs should not have fruit and, for Syrians, please remember to pick out any raisins that are still included in the manufacturers recipe.

ELDERLY, PREGNANT/NURSING, AND BABY HAMSTERS WILL BENEFIT FROM COURSES OF PROTEXIN SOLUBLE TO IMPROVE THEIR IMMUNITY AND STOMACH BALANCE.

BOOSTER “MEATLOAF” RECIPE:

Great for nursing females, babies, sick/weak hamsters, and elderly hamsters. (Or as an occasional treat for any hamster).

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NO salt or seasoning to be used:   

1 Tbsp of plain oats (without oat bran)

1/2 Tbsp of plain probiotic/organic yogurt 

1/2 Tbsp tinned Hills Restorative Care (chicken)

1/2 Tbsp of shredded carrots and/or broccoli (or any other safe veggie/s)

1 pinch of wheat germ (optional)

Weak Rooibos/Nettle/Dandelion Tea (or plain boiled water)

Protexin Soluble (available from most vet shops and some pet shops)

  • Mix all together, except the Protexin.

  • Add rooibos tea, a few drops at a time, until it’s to a consistency that you’re happy with.

  • Feed in consumable portions (with a pinch of Protexin added).

    • Freeze or refrigerate any excess in convenient portion sizes for extended use.

    • Remove any leftovers that haven't been eaten within a few hours.

TREATS - DRY
GNAWS
TREATS & GNAWS
WHIMZEES
  • Your hamster will definitely enjoy some treats, and these can also be particularly useful during the taming process with a new hamster. Dried Meal Worms are particularly popular and actually have some nutritional benefit, albeit quite fatty.

  • It is very important to read the ingredients on the packages as many of these delights do contain sugar and artificial colouring which is not very healthy  (sweetened snacks should only be fed to Dwarf hamsters once a week, at the most, in a small portion). But, generally, these types are only to be given as an occasional delight, similar to us eating junk food or a guilty-pleasure snack. Such treats would be the smaller ones like Friends Farm treats, yogurt drops, etc.

  • However, nowadays we are also seeing an increase in treat products on the market that do contain healthier ingredients and have gnawing properties that are beneficial to dental care (see Teeth topic). These are larger than the junk food tidbits and can actually be left in the cage since your hamster will not be able to wolf down the entire thing in one go and will also serve as a boredom buster as he goes about breaking it up over time. These would be plain dog biscuits, Whimzees (not to be confused with Greenies that are not suitable), cockatiel seed bell, Grainless Snack Bowl, etc. 

CAUTION: PLEASE FREEZE ALL DRY FOODS, SEEDS, TREATS, ETC. FOR 24 - 48 HOURS BEFORE OPENING/OR PLACING IN YOUR HAMSTER'S HABBY!

You really don't want to risk infestation of some kind of bug that could take months to get rid of.

Storing extra in the fridge or freezer will also help maintain quality and freshness.

MEAL WORMS
Silkworms
Anchor 1

ABOUT MEALWORMS

 

Meal worms are lovely little snack treats for your hamster and can be useful in the taming process with a new hamster.

treats - meal worms dried.jpg
treats - meal worms tweezers.jpg
treats - meal worms live.jpg

DRIED are more intense/concentrated in nutrition so should really be fed 2-5 worms a day at the most, depending on whether you have a Syrian or Dwarf but, to be honest, many of us overdo them because if your hamster loves them, they REALLY love them and who can resist treating the little one? Just bear in mind that the fat content can be equated to you eating too many McDonalds fries!

Where to buy? Most pet shops sell the dried worms packaged and are usually found in the bird department. Reptile shops and some exotic fish shops will also stock them. Builders Warehouse/Express stores often also have them in the pet isle by the bird feeders.

treats - meal worms nutrition1.jpg

LIVE worms, you could probably get away with a few more because the fat content, while still high, is somewhat less.  

Feeding: Since the worms have very strong pincer jaws, it is recommended that you either snip off or smash the head to kill the worm before feeding. The concern is that the worms could bite the hamster on the face/nose or inside the mouth/pouch. However, most mature hamsters seem to have a natural instinct about killing the worm in an instant and do indeed bite the head off first. Therefore, it may not always be necessary for you to embark on the gory task yourself but, for the first few times, we strongly suggest that you squeeze the head dead first and then observe your hamster tackling the beast (putting them in the fridge for 30 min before feeding and then knocking the head with a spoon apparently slows them down too). Once you are confident that your hamster is indeed adept at getting the worm's head first, you can simply give it to him while still alive (with blunt-ended tweezers if touching worms ain't your thing).

Where to buy? Reptile shops should sell little breeding kits, which you can also expand for continuous supply if your ham enjoys this snack. 

USEFUL GUIDE TO GROWING MEALWORMS:   https://www.youtube.com/....-Etn4bESrww

SILKWORMS: Interesting to note that silkworms (sometimes referred to as silkworm larvae, but this may apply to the pupa stage after the worm has spun a cocoon) apparently have better nutrition than meal worms. These worms don't have the strong pincer jaws so are perfectly safe to feed without killing them first. Many reptile suppliers also sell the larvae in dried form.   

 

We're probably all familiar with how to raise these with simple mulberry leaves, since most of us had them as kids in the spring/summer time. So ask around at your local junior schools and buy some eggs off a child, and raise your own. Let quite a few of the worms enter the cocoon stage and hatch as moths to lay more fertilised eggs for a new batch of wrigglies. Surplus eggs can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge (not freezer) until next spring when the mulberry leaves are out again.  

 

 

INTERNATIONAL COMMERCIAL DRY FOOD LISTS (GOOD & BAD) 

(NOT ENTIRELY UP-TO-DATE AS NEW BRANDS MAY HAVE ENTERED THE MARKET, & OTHERS MAY HAVE BEEN DISCONTINUED)

Since some people are ordering food from overseas, or travelling and bringing food home, we thought it a good idea to put up the international assessment list. This is from about 2017/18, so some foods may have been discontinued, and there may also be some new foods on the market now (perhaps some recipes have even been updated/improved?), but it should still give you a reasonable idea of what to get and maybe what not to.

(~ courtesy of Hamster Hideout and Hamsters Paw-fect Cages)

INTERNATIONAL FOOD

HIGH-GRADE COMMERCIAL FOODS

  • Brown's Tropical Carnival Natural Gourmet Food for Hamsters and Gerbils

  • Bunny Dwarf Hamster Dream

  • Bunny Hamster Dream

  • Burgess Hamster, Gerbil & Mouse (nuggets)

  • Burgess Supahamster Dwarf Hamster Harvest (not sure if this is still available but is still on the list)

  • Burgess Supahamster Hamster Harvest (not sure if this is still available but is still on the list)

  • CareFresh Complete Menu (hamster/gerbil)

  • Hamster Muesli by Pets at Home

  • Harry Hamster (although best mixed with something else due to lack of sufficient fat)

  • Hazel Hamster (confirmed same as Harry Hamster, but differently named for different countries)

  • Higgins Vita Garden

  • Higgins Sunburst

  • Mr. Johnson's Supreme Hamster & Gerbil

  • National Geographic Hamster Entree

  • Natural Balance Hamster Muesli by Pets at Home

  • Purina Little Wonders

  • Scarlett Nutra Hamster & Gerbil

  • Sunseed Sunsations Hamster & Gerbil

  • Versele Laga Hamster Nature Complete

  • Versele Laga Mini Hamster Nature Complete

  • VitaKraft VitaNature

  • VitaKraft VitaSmart

(Lab blocks):

  • Cuisine Rodent Chunk

  • Harlan Teklad (2018, 8604, 8640)

  • Kaytee Healthy Support Diet for Rat, Mouse, and Hamster (Forti-Diet Pro-Health) - Blocks

  • Mazuri Rat & Mouse

  • Mr. Johnson’s Advance Hamster and Gerbil Food

  • ProLab RMH 300

  • Sunseed Critter Cubes
     

LOW-GRADE COMMERCIAL FOODS
 

  • All Living Things Hamster and Gerbil Daily Diet

  • Armstrong Milling Indoor Friends – Small Animal Mix

  • Best Friend Festival

  • Brown’s Classic Encore

  • Brown’s Encore Gourmet Foraging Feast

  • Brown’s Fruit Bites Banquet

  • Brown's Tropical Carnival Gourmet Food for Hamsters and Gerbils

  • Country Wide Hamster and Gerbil Mix

  • Drs. Foster and Smith Signature Series Hamster Food

  • Hartz Bonanza Hamster and Gerbil Diet

  • Hartz Small Animal Diet for Hamsters, Gerbils, Mice, and Rats

  • JR Farm Adult Hamster Food

  • JR Farm Hamster Feast

  • JR Farm Dwarf Hamster Feast

  • Kaytee Chunky Gourmet Diet (Fiesta Chunky)

  • Kaytee Fiesta Max Hamster/Gerbil

  • Kaytee Forti-Diet Nature’s Harvest

  • Kaytee Forti-Diet Pro Health Hamster and Gerbil Food (Mix)

  • Kaytee Gourmet Variety Diet (Fiesta)

  • Kaytee Healthy Support Diet (Forti Diet Pro-Health) – Mix

  • Kaytee Premium Fiber Diet

  • Kaytee Supreme Hamster and Gerbil

  • Kaytee Supreme Daily Blend Hamster and Gerbil Mix

  • Living World Classic Hamster Food

  • Living World Extrusion Pellets

  • LM Animal Farms Bonanza Gourmet Diet Hamster and Gerbil

  • Nature’s Feast Hamster, Mouse & Gerbil Food

  • Oxbow Healthy Handfuls

  • Premium Hamster Muesli by Pets at Home

  • Purina Garden Recipe

  • Royal Cuisine Small Animal Mix

  • Sunseed Sunscription Vita Prima Hamster and Gerbil Formula

  • Sunseed Sunscription Vita Prima Dwarf Hamster Formula

  • Sweet Harvest Hamster and More (by Kaylor of Colorado)

  • Tesco Everyday Value Gerbil and Hamster Food

  • Tesco Hamster Food Peanut and Sunflower Seed

  • Versele Laga Hamster Crispy / Crispy Cereal Hamsters & Co.

  • VitaKraft Emotion Beauty Hamster Food

  • VitaKraft Emotion Sensitive Hamster Food

  • VitaKraft Menu Hamster

  • Wagg Hamster Gerbil Mouse Munch*VitaKraft Menu Hamster

  • Wagg Hamster Gerbil Mouse Munch

UNSUITABLE FOOD

***(Dangerous ingredients):

  • 8 in 1 Ecotrition Essential Blend Hamster and Gerbil Food

  • Alcon Pet Rodent Extruded Food

  • Kaytee Chunky Hamster and Gerbil

  • Kaytee Forti-Diet Crunch Hamster and Gerbil

  • Mucki Menü Plus

  • Wild Harvest Advanced Nutrition

Extremely poor quality):

  • 8 in 1 Wild Harvest Daily Blend Nutrient Rich Food (Hamster and Gerbil)

  • Beaphar Care+ Hamster Food

  • Beaphar Care+ Dwarf Hamster Food

  • Beaphar XtraVital Dwarf Hamster

  • Beaphar XtraVital Hamster

  • Country Wide Hamster Supreme Raspberry / Hedgerow Raspberry Food

  • Cunipic Hamster Complete

  • FM Brown's Natural Hamster Food with Vitamins and Minerals

  • Grreat Choice Hamster/Gerbil

  • Hagen Original Blend Hamster & Gerbil Mix

  • Health Diet Hamster & Gerbil (Canadian version)

  • Health Diet Hamster & Gerbil (US version)

  • Kaytee Forti-Diet Hamster/Gerbil

  • Kaytee Nature's Benefits Hamster and Gerbil Daily Diet

  • LM Farms Hamster and Gerbil

  • Nature’s Touch Hamster

  • Small World Complete Feed for Hamsters and Gerbils

  • Wilko Original Hamster Mix

  • Wild Harvest Daily Blend Nutrition Diet

 

NO ASSESSMENT AVAILABLE AS YET

 

  • Country Valu

  • Cunipic Naturaliss

  • Hamiform – Dwarf Hamster Optima

  • Hamiform – Essentia Hamster Regal

  • Hamiform – Essentia Hamster Acti

  • LinkPet Fruitti

  • Mayfield Hamster

  • Pets At Home Nuggets

  • Pet Supplies Plus Ultimate Hamster Blend

  • Pet Supplies Plus

  • Rongis Hamster Premium Aliment

  • Quiko Sunny Greens Complete

  • Quiko Sunny Greens Premium

  • Versele Laga Crispy Pellets

  • Versele Laga Ha-Ca

  • Versele Laga Zero Classic

  • VitaKraft Emotion Nature Dinner

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