Hamsters are small, cuddly, playful and cute. These qualities make them stand out among the many options for pets. Maintaining them, to most people, seems like an easy task as they are quite hardy animals.
Even so, without the right maintenance strategies, your hamster will run away time and again. To keep them comfortable, one of the things you should ensure is that they are adequately fed.
With quality food, your hamster will also thrive and live longer. Moreover, remember that you are your pet’s only source of food.
Hamsters are, by nature, omnivores and will eat a wide variety of foods. Nonetheless, the best options for your animal are the foods typically found in the wild. This will leave the hamster feeling free and comfortable in your environment.
Another element related to the feeding of a hamster is the frequency of the feeds. Experts recommend feeding your pet once or twice daily in the morning, evening or both.
Here are the other useful tidbits related to the frequency of feeding hamsters.
When Should you Feed Your Hamster?
Pet experts that champion for evening feeds contend this as the best time because hamsters are most active at night and will thus feed better.
Those that prefer morning feeds say they allow sporadic eating through different times of the day and therefore prevent overfeeding. Either way, it is good to pick a feeding routine and stick to it.
The best approach is to start with fresh fruits and vegetables in the morning and have hamster pellets or grains in the evening.
This guarantees your pet has enough energy for its nighttime activities and healthy snacks to keep it invigorated through the day.
The best vegetables for hamsters include broccoli, turnips, green beans, asparagus, parsley, chicory, spinach and cauliflower.
The best fruit options for hamsters include berries, seedless apples, raisins, peaches and pears. Steer clear of pits and seeds since these can be poisonous.
Once weekly, you can introduce proteins into the hamster’s diet with a few pieces of a hardboiled egg.
Pregnant hamsters nevertheless have a 60% increase in their protein needs. For them, you can include sunflower seeds in the diet to deliver proteins along with the folic acid, vitamins and fats.
What Should You do With Leftover Food?
Your hamster will, at times, not finish the food you give them. Remove the leftover food before refilling the bow. You should also clean the bowl before providing a different food variety.
Do this a few hours after the initial feeding. Leaving leftover food in the cage exposes your pet to diseases as it might feed on stale food.
You can refrigerate the leftovers and feed them to your hamster later. The leftovers should however be consumed within the same timeframe as you would use leftovers for humans, ordinarily two weeks.
Feed these leftovers in small amounts since too much of them might upset your hamster’s tummy. A teaspoonful of leftovers per day is often enough.
How Much Should You Feed a Hamster?
Hamsters should eat throughout their active hours to match their high metabolism rates. In the wild, food is scarce, and hence hamsters store some in their cheek pouches when they find it.
This behavior is also present in pet hamsters since you cannot explain to animals that you have enough food for them.
Give your pet enough food based on the recommended quantities of store-bought feeds. For other feeds, a teaspoon or two is often enough depending on the hamster’s size.
In winter, you can increase the feeds because the hamster needs extra calories to remain warm. Most pet owners give their hamsters too much food or as much as they can eat, but these approaches expose the animals to several health risks.
Can a Hamster Get Fat From Too Much Food?
Yes. Obesity is one of the main risks to which you expose your hamster with too much food or unhealthy feeds like those containing too much fat. Periodically weigh your hamster to ensure it is within normal weight ranges.
For instance, a golden hamster weighs 150-200 g (5-7 ounces) when fully grown while a dwarf hamster weighs 25-50 g. Hamster obesity is associated with heart issues, diabetes and a generally shortened life expectancy.
Other than giving your hamster just enough food, include an exercise wheel in the cage to encourage activity. You should also eliminate fatty foods from the hamster’s diet and include tunnels or mazes that encourage the hamster to remain active in the cage.
How Often Should You Give a Hamster Fresh Food?
There exist two primary reasons to add something different to your hamster’s diet from time to time. It helps your pet reach optimal nutritional levels and wards off the boredom caused by the same foods daily.
90% of your hamster’s diet should be high-quality commercial feeds. The 10% should comprise fresh foods like grains, seeds, leafy greens, fruits and nuts. You can also consider adding cooked brown rice, plain popcorn, dog biscuits and plain tofu to the diet.
Give fresh foods in small amounts and calculate them as a total of the daily dietary requirement rather than separate feeds. This is because hamsters store excess food.
Storing fresh food means that the food can go bad and lead to issues in your hamster. Fresh foods can be included in the hamster’s daily diet, or you can skip a day between feeding fresh foods.
Ensure you remove the leftovers to prevent contamination.
With these guidelines, you are sure to keep your hamster well-fed and healthy. When cleaning the hamster cage, you will often come across food stashes even if you give the animal just enough food.
Even dry food stashes can grow moldy and attract bugs hence should be removed from the cage. You, however, can consider leaving one stash for some time and get rid of it if the hamster has not eaten it the next time you clean.
If the hamster’s food stash is too large, this means you are giving it larger food portions than it needs. You should, therefore, consider decreasing the food amounts you serve.