There may come a time when you run out of hamster food. Hamsters have fast-paced metabolisms and can’t go a day without eating, so you’ll need to consider hamster food substitutes.
Feeding a hamster the wrong alternative can sometimes damage its health. So, you need to understand what a hamster can and can’t safely eat in an emergency.
What Can Hamsters Eat Besides Hamster Food?
Hamsters are omnivores, meaning they can eat plant and animal-based proteins. This gives us more freedom when choosing foods when we run out of hamster food.
Hamsters can eat human foods that aren’t mixed with additives, such as preservatives, salt (sodium), or oils. There are also categories of food that should be avoided altogether.
These can upset a hamster’s digestion or poison it. When feeding hamsters, avoid the following:
- Raw potatoes.
- Citrus food.
- Raw rhubarb and rhubarb leaves.
- Vegetables from the allium family, like garlic and onions.
What Household Foods Can Hamsters Eat?
Here are foods you might find in your pantry that are safe for hamsters to eat:
Fresh vegetables are often used to supplement a pellet-based diet. Vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Healthy vegetables to feed hamsters include:
- Bell peppers.
The abrasive texture of vegetables also enables hamsters to wear down their teeth.
Fruits are safe for hamsters to eat unless they’re a dwarf species (Campbell’s Dwarf Hamsters, Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters, Chinese dwarf hamsters, and winter white dwarf hamsters).
Dwarf hamsters are prone to diabetes due to the high sugar levels in fruits like bananas and mango. In regular hamsters, safe fruits for hamsters include:
When feeding fruits, remove the seeds and pits, as these may be a choking or poisoning hazard. Also, don’t offer citrus fruits because they’re highly acidic, leading to dental and digestive issues.
You can offer baked and raw seeds; baked seeds are ideal due to their added crunch.
Don’t pick salted varieties or those with added flavors, especially garlic and onion. Stick to plain, unsalted seeds. Here are some seeds you can safely give to hamsters:
- Sesame seeds: These are rich in calcium, protein, manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper.
- Pumpkin seeds: Contains magnesium, zinc, calcium, vitamin B12, and antioxidants.
- Sunflower seeds have an outer shell that allows hamsters to hold them. Sunflower seeds provide iron, magnesium, and vitamin B6.
Hamsters can eat a maximum of two teaspoons of seeds per day.
Nuts provide protein and roughage to a hamster. The following nuts are a good source of energy:
- Pine nuts.
- Macadamia nuts.
Hamsters shouldn’t eat bitter almonds because they contain cyanide.
Store-bought pellets don’t contain meat, but they contain protein (amino acids). You can feed a hamster protein from the following sources:
- Chicken: Prepare the chicken by boiling it in water.
- Fish: Fish contains amino acids that aren’t found in vegetables and fruits. The best choices include salmon, cod, and sardines. Avoid shellfish and tuna due to their high levels of mercury.
- Eggs: Boiled eggs (just the egg whites) are a good choice since they’re easier for hamsters to eat. You can also scramble eggs for variety. Feed up to ½ a teaspoon once every other week.
Only feed this meat in small amounts; limit it to ¼ teaspoon 1-2 times per week.
Don’t add any seasoning and flavors, like salt or oil.
What Human Food Can Hamsters Eat?
Some foods are considered exclusively for humans, leaving you wondering if they’re hamster-safe. Meals you can find in the kitchen and safely share with hamsters include:
Whole Grain Food
Whole grain refers to grains where all three parts of the grain are intact:
Compare this to refined grains, which have the bran and germ removed. This increases the grain’s shelf life and improves texture. Unfortunately, it also removes vital nutrients.
When it comes to feeding your hamster, you can offer some wholegrain bread and wholegrain cereal.
Whole Grain Bread
Wholegrain bread can be a good source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and selenium. It’s advisable to make bread because you can control the ingredients.
In a pinch, feed this to a hamster for 1-2 days. It’s best to stick to nuts and grains instead of bread. When feeding bread, consider toasting it for an added crunch.
Whole Grain Cereal
Wholegrain cereal is healthier than bread. Muesli targeted for humans can be fed to hamsters as long as it doesn’t contain unsafe ingredients, like chocolate.
Wholegrain boxed cereals are okay to eat, but check the labels. Cereals made with added sugar, especially ‘frosted,’ can cause weight gain and harm the digestive system.
You can feed popcorn to a hamster as long as you avoid oil and seasonings. To ensure that popcorn is healthy, you can pop the corn yourself in a microwave or stovetop.
Popcorn contains polyphenols (antioxidants) in the hulls of the popcorn kernels.
According to Pharmacological Reviews, polyphenols can improve blood circulation, control blood pressure levels, and fight diseases. Popcorn also contains the following nutrients:
Popcorn should only be consumed 1-2 times per week when your hamster food is running low.
There are more than 7,000 varieties of rice, and all types are safe for hamsters to eat.
Black rice is the most nutritious type due to its high antioxidant levels. The antioxidants provide the rice with its deep purple or black color. Brown rice is also healthy and nutritious.
Hamsters can eat cooked and uncooked rice. However, be careful not to overcook rice because it can become lodged in a hamster’s cheek pouches and go rotten.
Tofu is made of soy, which is safe for hamsters to eat. It’s a good source of the following:
- B vitamins.
According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tofu may lower bad cholesterol levels. Give the tofu plain; avoid dips, salts, and sauces. Provide no more than ¼ teaspoon of tofu per week.