The predictable palate of a dwarf hamster makes him easy to feed and easy to please. Most hamsters stay happy and healthy eating store-bought mix supplemented with fresh vegetarian offerings from your salad bowl. Providing the right nutrition is key to keep your hamster running at full speed.
In the Mix
The ASPCA suggests you tempt your hamster every few days with healthy greens and fresh vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, carrots and the occasional piece of apple. Alfalfa pellets and a bit of Timothy hay can provide fiber to the diet. Make sure to wash vegetables thoroughly to remove dirt and pesticides before offering them to your pet.
Your hammie may love peanuts and sunflower seeds, but certain favorite foods are too rich and high in fat and should be offered sparingly. Consider nuts and seeds special treats, not daily ones. you can offer fresh grains such as oats and millet occasionally, too.
If your tiny friend is a Campbell's, a winter white or a Chinese dwarf hamster, she is prone to diabetes. So make treats that are high in sugar -- such as fruits, dairy products and corn -- off limits. Even if your hamster is not diabetic, avoid foods such as honey sticks and other unnecessary snacks. Despite her energetic exercise routine, your pet can quickly gain too much weight or suffer other health problems that accompany a poor diet.
How Much Food?
Dwarf hamsters will consume about a tablespoon of typical pet-shop hamster food each day. If you notice more food than that disappearing, check your hamster's cheeks and his other secret stash. Hamsters are notorious hoarders and will stuff their cheek pouches with food, carry it to another spot in their cage and bury it to eat later. Make sure to clean all old food out of the cage on a regular basis to keep your pet from eating anything rotten.
Hamsters aren't terribly discriminating; yours may try to eat almost anything she comes across. Be aware that some seemingly innocuous foods can be dangerous for your hamster to ingest. Monitor everything that goes into your pet's cage or food bowl. Never allow your pet to eat human sweets such as candy or chocolate. Onion, rhubarb, and raw potato and kidney beans should be off the menu.
Be aware that changes in diet can cause your hamster to have an upset tummy. Too many fruits and vegetables can give your hamster diarrhea. Hamsters become dehydrated very quickly, and dehydration can be fatal. Call your vet at the first sign of gastrointestinal trouble. Diarrhea can be a sign of wet tail or another serious disease.
- The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals: Dwarf Hamsters
- SmallAnimalChannel.com: Campbell's Hamster
- "Dwarf Hamsters: Everything About Purchase, Care, Feeding, and Housing"; Sharon Lynn Vanderlip, Sharon Vanderlip
- SmallAnimalChannel.com: Chinese Hamster
- SmallAnimalChannel.com: Roborovski Hamster
- SmallAnimalChannel.com: Winter White Hamster
Based in Los Angeles, Mary Helen Berg has been writing about pets, travel, families and parenting since 1989. Her work has appeared in publications such as "The Los Angeles Times" and "Newsweek." Berg holds a Master of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.