Feeding your hamster
Hamsters are omnivores, so they need both meat and vegetables in their diet. Feed your hamster a good quality, complete dry mixture that provides their essential nutrients.
There are many good quality foods available for your hamsters. Choose one that has a good mixture of grains, seeds, pulses and a meat source such as dried meal worms.
Help your hamster forage for food
Hamsters are foragers and will spend hours digging through the bedding and searching through their cage looking for food. To avoid your hamster becoming obese and bored, scatter their daily allowance around the enclosure rather than feeding in a bowl.
Add a variety of treats to their weekly diet to keep it interesting and to provide all the essential vitamins and minerals your hamster requires.
Healthy treats for hamsters include:
- Pasta, cooked or raw
- A variety of fruits and vegetables including broccoli, curly kale, strawberries and grapes
- Small amount of boiled eggs
- Pulses and cereals
- Fresh mealworms – one or two at a time, unless your dry food already has these included
- Apple wood – or other fruit tree wood – to gnaw on
- Dried herbs. There are many mixtures available from pet stores such as mountain and garden mix
- Dog biscuits such as gravy bones
Water supplements, fatty or colourful chew sticks and mineral and salt blocks are unnecessary and can in some cases be harmful. Avoid these and stick to healthy, natural treats and food options.
How to handle your hamster
Hamsters can become easily hand-tame and enjoy coming out of their cage.
When your hamster arrives in its new home, avoid handling for a day or two to allow them to settle in. When preparing to handle your hamster, ensure they are alert and aware of your movements.
Syrian hamsters, in particular, can find a hand suddenly hovering above them when they are resting very threatening. Ideally, handle your hamsters during their active periods to reduce the stress of waking them up.
How to pick your hamster up
The best way to pick up your new hamster is to cup your hands under the hamster and gently lift them towards your body. Syrian hamsters can be gently picked up by placing one hand behind their front legs and supporting their rear end with the other. However, this should only be done once your hamster feels comfortable being picked up regularly using the cupping method.
Hamsters can make sudden movements, which could lead to injuries if they fall while you’re standing up. For the first few weeks, sit on the floor and allow your hamster to walk over each hand or sit in your lap.