Chinese Hamster

Library

All about Chinese hamsters. All in one place.

Chinese Hamster Library

All about Chinese hamsters. All in one place.

Feeding

Feeding a Chinese hamster is a subject that provokes much argument online. Ultimately you need to make the decision for your hamster; weigh up your own views of the risks and benefits. Always ensure your hamster has free access to water. A 50g Chinese hamster drinks around 5-7ml of water per day.

Anatomy

Hamsters have a different anatomical layout of their digestive tract to humans. Therefore their dietary requirements are different to a human. A hamster stomach is separated into two parts by muscular folds. The forestomach acts like the rumen in herbivores and contains a higher number of helpful micro-organisms. The pyloric section of the stomach has glands which secrete digestive juices. After being eaten, food reaches this pyloric section in 10 to 60 minutes.

As well as the food you provide, hamsters also practice coprophagy; in other words, they eat their own poo. This is perfectly normal, and it helps them get the most nutrition from their diet.

Hamster Mix

The main part of a hamster’s diet should be a good quality hamster mix, like Harry Hamster. Removing elements, for example corn or alfalfa pellets, from the mix upsets the balance; it is not recommended.

You can use a bowl in feeding your hamsters, however it is normal for a hamster to move the food and stash it somewhere else. Feeding ‘beyond the bowl’ is a simple way of adding enrichment to your hamster’s life.

The nutritional requirements of hamsters are described in scientific literature. Most research, however, looks at the effect of nutrient levels on younger hamsters. 50g Chinese hamster consumes around 29kcal per day. 

Protein:

Studies show that 18% protein gives the best growth rates for young hamsters and meets the needs for reproduction. There are no studies on old hamsters who can develop kidney problems. Older hamsters may therefore have lower protein requirements.

Fat: 

Hamsters are described as thriving on a range of fat in the diet from 4-20%. However, studies observe higher mortality with the higher fat diets. A level of just over 5% fat leads to maximal growth.

Fibre:

Fibre assists with supporting the micro-organisms in the gut. These bacteria have been found capable of breaking down fibre sources. Diets without fibre result in high mortality.

Treats

You don’t have to spend a fortune on your hamster’s treats! Many shop-bought treats are coated in honey which is not ideal for Chinese hamsters. There are more healthy options available. These lists are some suggestions; they are not an exhaustive list of all safe foods.

Treats should be given in small amounts. When you are feeding your hamster fresh foods, start with a thumbnail-sized piece to reduce the risk of diarrhoea. When you look at treats from your own kitchen, avoid foods with flavourings, spices, salt or pepper. Keep cooked onion and garlic to a minimum. If your hamster is old, take care with protein-rich treats (those with * by them). Instead choose another option.

From the Kitchen

Cooked rice

Cooked couscous

Pasta (dry or cooked)

Mashed potato

Unsalted nuts, e.g. cashews, monkey nuts, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts

Plain popcorn (no salt, no flavour)

*Scrambled or boiled eggs

*Cooked chicken or turkey

Cooled porridge

Seeds, e.g. linseed, hemp seed

Other Pet Food

Millet sprays

Dog biscuits 

Budgie seed

*Mealworms (live or dried)

Seeds, e.g. linseed, hemp seed

*Crickets (live, dried or canned)

*Dog kibble

Soft hay

Alfalfa

Vegetables

Cucumber

Peas

Celery

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Brussels sprouts

Mangetout

Green beans

Asparagus

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