Hamsters are such delicate little creatures, and feeding them something that is not good for them can easily harm their health and well-being. The good news is that fresh food for hamsters is not all that complicated, and they can safely eat more foods than cats and dogs.
To make it easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of safe veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, flowers, herbs, protein and grain – so pretty much everything you need to know! There’s also a list of unsafe foods and foods you should feed in moderation. This list is for all hamster species.
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Table of Contents
How to Feed Fresh Food to Hamsters
Fresh foods such as vegetables and fruits should make a small addition to your hamster’s regular diet. You can feed a few different vegs, fruits, and herbs a couple of times a week or even one small piece of veg (or fruit) daily. A general guide for serving is the size of your hamster’s ear.
Introduce any new foods slowly, so your hamster doesn’t get an upset stomach. If the food is causing a “wet tail,” i.e., diarrhea or an adverse reaction of any kind, stop feeding it.
Hamsters tend to hoard their food, and since fresh foods go rancid quickly, remove any uneaten veg and fruit pieces on the same day you give them. Also, check your hamster’s stash to ensure they didn’t hide any of it.
Safe Vegetables List for Hamsters
|Cucumber||Sweet Potato (cooked)|
Hamsters can safely eat a wide variety of veggies, but there are some rules to follow.
Green, raw potatoes contain large amounts of a toxin called solanine, so hamsters, like humans, should never eat such potatoes. Potatoes should be fed cooked, without salt or seasoning.
Garlic and onion have been an object of debate in the hamster-keeping community. Hamsters can eat cooked garlic and onion, and it even has some health benefits for them! You can read more about the research on garlic and onion for hamsters here. But as with everything, moderation is key.
Veggies that you should avoid as they are not safe are:
- Chili Peppers (and other hot peppers)
- Eggplant (Aubergine)
- Uncooked Broad and Kidney beans or other beans high in lectin
Although not necessarily vegetables, beans are most often grouped that way. It’s important to remember that some types of beans, such as Broad and Kidney beans, are toxic for humans and hamsters when raw. You should always cook those beans before feeding them to your hamster. Green beans, on the other hand, are safe to feed raw as they don’t contain high amounts of lectin as broad and kidney beans.
Safe Fruits List for Hamsters
|Apple (no seeds)||Kumquat|
|Cantaloupe||Peach (no pit)|
|Cherries (no pit)||Pear|
|Currants||Plum (no pit)|
|Grapes (no seeds)||Tomatoes (ripe)|
As we all know, fruits are generally high in sugar, so you should not feed fruits in excess. It is best to rotate different fruits (as well as vegetables) instead of feeding the same thing repeatedly, to add variety and enrichment to your hamster’s life.
Avocado flesh can be fed but in moderation, because it is high in fat. However, you should never feed avocado pit, skin, or leaves as they are toxic to hamsters.
Citrus fruits are another fruit family often perceived as unsafe due to being highly acidic. Also, research has found that citrus fruits can cause kidney tumors in male rats when fed in substantial quantities. But there is no evidence that citrus fruits are not safe for hamsters – science found that they can even be beneficial. Of course, you shouldn’t give your hamster large quantities of any fruits, including citrus, as they are high in sugar. But the occasional citrus treat is entirely safe for your hamster.
When it comes to tomatoes, it’s essential to keep in mind that you should only feed ripe tomatoes without leaves or stems as they are toxic.
Also, avoid the pits and seeds of some fruits (mentioned in the fruit list above) because they contain amygdalin which is converted into cyanide in the stomach and may cause toxicity in large doses.
Nuts & Legumes
|Black Eyed Peas||Lentils|
Nuts should be unflavored and unsalted.
Almonds often end up on the “unsafe hamster food” lists because people confuse bitter almonds with human-grade almonds. Bitter almonds are not safe for hamsters or humans due to a toxic chemical called hydrogen cyanide. But human-grade almonds, which we humans eat, are perfectly safe for hamsters too.
Although nuts make excellent treats, being fun and enriching, you should still be mindful of the quantities you feed them as nuts are high in calories and fat content, so they are not something you want to give every day.
|Chia Seeds||Pumpkin Seeds|
|Flax Seeds||Sesame Seeds|
|Hemp Seeds||Sunflower Seeds|
Like nuts, seeds should also be unflavored and unsalted.
Here’s a page from our “Safe & Unsafe Hamster Food List” printable that all our subscribers get for easy reference. You can get access to the printable by subscribing to our newsletter at the bottom of this post or here.
Herbs & Flowers
Herbs and flowers make a great addition to your hamster’s diet. They are excellent for foraging and enrichment. You can use fresh culinary kitchen herbs and dried herbs.
|Corn Flakes (plain)||Rye Flakes|
Grains make up a large portion of your pet’s diet. They are served in a dry food mix you give to your hamster, but you can add a little bit of your own as a treat from time to time.
|Cheese||Cooked Plain Chicken|
|Cottage Cheese||Cooked Plain Turkey|
|Crickets||Cooked Plain Beef|
Hamsters often get mistaken for herbivores, but they are actually omnivores, so having animal protein in their diet is essential. The most natural sources of protein for them are mealworms, crickets, and grasshoppers, as those insects are similar to what hamsters would eat in the wild, but you can also offer other protein foods such as cooked, unseasoned meat or eggs.
Keep in mind that cooked beef should not be fed often because it’s high in cholesterol. Chicken is a much healthier choice for hamsters.
Some foods are not that healthy for hamsters because of their high fat or sugar content. Feed the following foods in moderation only:
- Avocado – This fruit is very high in fat, so it should only be fed occasionally and in small quantities.
- Beef – This type of meat is high in cholesterol compared to other meats, so it should not be the primary protein source for your hamster.
- Dairy products, i.e., cheese, yogurt – Dairy is too high in fat to be fed often.
- Dried fruits – While fruits have natural sugars that are not bad for hamsters, dried fruits have a much higher concentration of those sugars, so they shouldn’t be fed often or in large quantities.
- Garlic & onion – These veggies are fine to offer when cooked into other foods, but best to avoid raw.
- High-fat foods such as coconut and other nuts.
- Hamster treats such as Yogurt Drops and other sugary treats.
Hamsters can eat a wide variety of foods. If a human can eat it, it’s most likely fine for a hamster too. But some foods are a strict “no” for hamsters:
- Uncooked Broad and Kidney beans and a few others – Broad, Kidney beans and some others contain a high amount of toxin called lectin, which makes them poisonous when raw. Beans that humans can’t eat raw shouldn’t be fed raw to hamsters, either.
- Packaged meats such as deli or canned meats are not healthy for hamsters.
- Chili Peppers or any hot pepper.
- Moldy cheeses such as Blue Cheese should be avoided.
- Eggplant (Aubergine) should be avoided as it contains high amounts of solanine. This alkaloid is toxic if eaten in large amounts.
- Raw potato – Hamsters, as well as humans, should not eat raw, green potatoes due to their toxicity.
- Rhubarb leaves – They are toxic to hamsters.
We’ve gathered the data for this hamster food list from the most reputable sources and double-checked everything to make sure the list is completely accurate. There are many hamster food lists shared around the internet, but not many are backed by science. Instead, they are created with “word of mouth” information which is often false. We wanted to create a go-to place for hamster owners to get the correct data.
- Ontario Hamster Club: “Safe & Unsafe Foods” – here, you can find scientific research on various controversial foods
- Happy Paws Hamsters: “Food & Nutrition”
- Hamster Society Singapore: “Hamster Fresh Food Guide”
Download the “Safe & Unsafe Hamster Food List”
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