(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.
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!
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
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:
PREMIUM MIXES: CAREFULLY RESEARCHED & MADE IN SA
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.
"DECENT" COMMERCIAL MIXES AVAILABLE IN SA
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.
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)
ADDITIONAL (BUT NOT SUITABLE AS MAIN MIXES)
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.
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.
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:
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
IS NOT A HAMSTER MIX !
FOOD MIXES FOR OTHER RODENTS ARE ALSO
NOT HAMSTER FOOD !
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.
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.
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".
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.
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 & OTHER FOODS
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!
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)
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.
SAFE FRUIT & VEG
(OFFER A VARIETY EVERY 1 to 3 DAYS)
Alfalfa (small quantities for young & pregnant hamsters only)
Apple (not the seeds)
Bean (Mung) Sprouts - shoots only
Blackberry leaves & fruit
Broccoli (florets & leaves - no thick stems)
Butternut (pips also make great treats)
Cauliflower (florets & leaves - no thick stems)
Chard/Spinach (small amount only)
Cherries (not the pips)
Cornflowers (blue or pink)
Corn (baby corn, mealies)
Cos Lettuce (dark tips only)
Cranberry (not dried/crasins)
Dandelion flower/leaf/roots (not the milky veins)
Dill ‘leaves’ (not bulb)
Endive (leafy parts only)
Fennel ‘leaves’ (not bulb)
Flowers (see topic on Accessories page)
Gem Squash (pips also make great treats)
Hemp (seeds & leaves)
Kiwi (without seeds)
Lentils (cooked or sprouted only)
Mange Tout (snap peas/snow peas)
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)
Peach (not the pip)
Pear (no seeds)
Peas (ordinary garden peas)
Peppers (sweet/salad kind - red, yellow, green)
Prune (not the pips)
Pumpkin (pips also make great treats)
Rice Cakes (unsalted - plain or multigrain)
Snap/Snow Peas (mangetouts),
Spinach/Chard (small amount of leaf part only)
Sprouts (Lentils, Mung beans, micro herbs)
Tomato (flesh only)
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)
Bread (w/wheat toasted or not)
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)
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)
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.
Yogurt - tiny amount, plain unsweetened, pref. organic (however, in the case of babies & nursing moms, a daily lick of yogurt is particularly good)
ALL FRUIT SEEDS & PIPS
Bulbs (of any sort)
Citrus Fruits (lemon, orange, naartjie, etc.)
Cabbage (particularly stems and veins)
Coffee and Ceylon Teas
Chickpeas (unless REALLY well cooked)
Elderberry leaves & branches
Flowers (see topic on Accessories page)
Greenies (dog chews)
Kidney Beans (unless REALLY well cooked)
Lettuce (particularly Iceberg and light green fancy)
Milk & Cream
Onion (all types)
Pips from fruits
Potato (eyes, leaves, skin, and raw pieces)
Processed meats (bacon, ham, macon, polony, viennas, etc.)
Seeds from fruits
Sweet Potato (unless really well-cooked, & flesh only - as a treat)
Tomato seeds, green parts & flowers
Tomato Paste (too strong and concentrated)
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.
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.
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
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)
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).
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 & GNAWS
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 are lovely little snack treats for your hamster and can be useful in the taming process with a new hamster.
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.
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)
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
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
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
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
Hamiform – Dwarf Hamster Optima
Hamiform – Essentia Hamster Regal
Hamiform – Essentia Hamster Acti
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