Keep your hammie happy with the best hamster food

From hay to carrot treats, we've got everything you need to keep your little fluffball thriving.

Hamster eating cheese

by Eleanor Weaver |

If you have a new little furry friend or want to feed your hamster the best grub available, you'll want to feed them the right foods to suit their tiny little bodies, keeping them happy, healthy, and least of all, hungry.

Just like us, hamsters need well-balanced and nutritional meals packed with all the right vitamins and nutrients to help them grow and thrive - with some treats thrown into delight and excite their tastebuds.

We've shared exactly what you should be looking for and have hand-selected our favourite picks for hamster food, mixes, hay, and treats with the help of our hamster-owning experts. Plus, we've added some feeding advice and some fun ways to keep your hammie active and excited for feeding time.

What is the ideal hamster diet?

In the wild, hamsters are omnivores and so the ideal hamster diet would be similar to what they would find with a mix of protein-packed treats like mealworms, and plenty of fresh vegetables.

The PDSA suggests the ideal, well-balanced hamster diet should include:

• Small pieces of fresh vegetables and fruit

• Hamster-specific pellets

• Timothy hay

• Constant access to fresh and clean water - ideally a water bottle with a metal spout

• Occasional treats, like mealworms or nuts

Now you know exactly what your hamster should be eating as part of their diet, here are some great recommendations for feed that tick all the boxes.

The best hamster complete food and mixes

If you're a new hamster parent, make sure to check what feed your little one is used to eating by asking the breeder or pet store. As your hamster will be used to this type of pellet, we'd recommend buying this original food, first of all, and then gently ween them into their new hamster food to prevent the risk of an upset stomach.

The best hamster mixes have 17-19 per cent protein, 4-7 per cent fat, and 6-15 per cent fibre.

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Our top choice for hamster pellets, these small nuggets are designed for little mouths, high in protein, and a great pick for all hamster breeds. They contain linseed to support healthy skin and coat, keeping your hamster looking its absolute best. A complete diet, these are easy to digest and at a very reasonable price, you need not look any further if you want the best for your furry pal.

Tried and tested by Commercial Content Writer Eleanor Weaver, pet parent to Nova: "I've been feeding my Syrian hamster these nuggets for most of her life, and even now, coming up to the age of two, she still enjoys it. I truly believe that this feed has contributed to her living a happy and healthy life as she's never had any digestive issues and her long-hair coat has always been fluffy and healthy, even as it has thinned a little with old age. These are perfectly sized for her to nibble on or carry to her hide in her cheeks, and I've found even just one of these packets goes a long way and lasts a long time!"

With zero added sugar and rich in all-natural ingredients, your pet benefits from a nutritionally complete diet, formulated specifically for hamsters. This complete hamster food is packed with wholegrain goodness, supports digestive health and will help to maintain healthy clear skin and a shiny coat. Veterinary approved, reviewers have raved about this being a great food to meet their hamster's dietary needs, especially among breeds including Syrians and Russian Dwarf hamsters.

This mix provides your hamster with great high-quality animal proteins, great for meeting their natural desire for an omnivore diet. It's packed with mealworms, sunflower seeds, pepper, puffed rice, grapes, and varied gourmet muesli that will provide your hamster with a balanced diet with added vitamins and prebiotics to promote healthy digestion. Many reviewers have found their hamsters gobbled this up by the bowlful without being picky.

If you're looking for a low-cost complete food for your hamster, the Pets at Home hamster nuggets offer amazing value. Specially formulated with a mix of ingredients, vitamins, and minerals, it's full of nutritional goodness and meets your little fluff's dietary needs with 17 per cent protein, 4 per cent fibre, and 4 per cent fat (though we'd recommend supplementing in some extra fibre).

Our Commercial Writer Eleanor fed this to her Syrian hamster Nova when she first came home: "When I first got my hamster from Pets at Home, I was told that these were the pellets the hamsters were accustomed to eating while in the store. I bought some and took it home, and our Nova certainly enjoyed it over the first month before we switched her to different complete food. Despite switching, I do think that she would have been perfectly happy and healthy continuing to eat these nuggets. They are sized perfectly for little mouths, especially considering the fact she ate it whilst still very young and tiny."

Encourage natural foraging behaviour with this tasty muesli mix officially approved by the National Hamster Council. This highly palatable, well-balanced mix includes soya, whole peanuts, banana, oats, and sunflower seeds to enhance digestive health and promote dental wear for your furry friend.

Many reviewers loved this mix as it felt more varied, colourful, and 'natural' to forage for considered to pellets. We'd recommend these alongside complete food nuggets.

The best hamster hays

Hamster timothy hay is full of fibre, and ideal for small pets, and supports digestive health.

Kaytee's timothy hay provides the nutrition your hamster needs and desires, with the highest quality. It's a great source of high fibre to get their digestive systems moving along healthily.

These Kaytee cubes are similar to the timothy hay bale, but their convenient size makes them perfect for encouraging activity play in mazes and log treats. The lower protein and calcium supports urinary health, and this is ideal as a natural treat and a high fibre source that complements their usual complete food.

Oxbow Hay Blends is a hand-selected mix of Western Timothy and Orchard Grass to create the perfect blend of tastes and textures. It provides essential fibre to support the digestive and dental health of your pet that your hamster is bound to love and benefit from.

The best hamster treats

Treats should be fed occasionally - as with humans, too many sweet treats could lead to weight gain and problems with their teeth, and like us, they'll most likely pick the goodies over their usual feed.

We'd recommend at most a couple of times a week (though you may be tempted to feed them more to reward them or entice them into your hand when they're still young and getting used to you.)

Alongside fresh fruits such as apples, pears, strawberries, and bananas, these are a few of our favourites to buy:

Fresh from the bakery, these apple and sweetcorn biscuits are made with the wholesome goodness of natural grains and tasty fruit and vegetables. The green, orange and yellow sticks make for a tasty treat to use for foraging or bonding with your pet.

Tried and tested by Commercial Content Writer Eleanor Weaver, pet parent to Nova: "My Syrian hamster Nova adores these treats and when I give these to her, I often bury it in her floor bedding or in her hide for her to seek out and find - it really doesn't take long! They're quite large in size, but my hamster carries it back to her nest every time, and by the time I tidy her cage it's always completely gone. This is a good treat to provide not too regularly as it lasts them a while."

This treat bag is made up of 50 per cent dried parsnip and 50 per cent dried beetroot provides a great veggie snack for your hamster to be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet and contains no added sugar.

Tried and tested by Commercial Content Writer Eleanor Weaver, pet parent to Nova: "This was something I bought on a whim to encourage more veg into my hamster's diet - I don't often have fresh veg available in my fridge, other than carrots, and didn't want her to miss out on a range of other vegetables. Getting dried veg is a great alternative and my hamster loved these dried beetroot and parsnip bits. I usually sprinkle these in with her complete food every now and again as a healthy treat."

With a crispy cereal shell and soft fruity berry centre, these treats have been formulated to maintain your hamster's wellbeing, packed with flavour, vitamins, and Omega 3.

These are super cute! Designed to look like a doughnut, this yummy treat is made of eggs, flour with tasty carrots, with each pack containing four treats to be given sparingly. Biscuit-like in texture, they provide complete nutrients, making them a healthy snack option for your beloved pet friend.

Tried and tested by Commercial Content Writer Eleanor Weaver, pet parent to Nova: "My hamster absolutely loved these and I loved to watch her eat them! Just seeing my hamster's tiny paws grip on to this doughnut treat was adorable. These doughnuts are quite large for hamsters, but it makes for a great long-lasting treat that my hamster nibbled to pass the time, and then carried back to her nest when it was smaller in size. I've bought these a few times and they've always been great quality and consistently shaped."

If you're looking for a treat to help wear your hamster's teeth and keep them gnawing, these dental cookies from Wilko are hard textured to suit the job, whilst still providing an all-natural, nutritious treat. In a bag, you get six cookies with two beetroot, two carrots, and two dandelion cookies for them to enjoy.

Tried and tested by Commercial Content Writer Eleanor Weaver, pet parent to Nova: "These were actually recommended to me by my sister, whose hamster loved gnawing on these treats. In the past, I had typically bought gnawing blocks for my Syrian hamster who would spend hours nibbling away, but I was finding them harder to find in stores or online. These treats do just the trick - my hamster can enjoy a tasty snack, which lasts a long time for them to gnaw through, whilst exercising her jaw and wearing down her teeth. These are quite sizable, so I find they're better to tuck into bedding or by playthings for your hamster to enjoy, as they're a little bulky to hand-feed or bond with."

How to make treat-time fun

In the wild, your hamster's food wouldn't be handed to them on a silver platter (or in a cute hamster bowl!) Instead, they would spend most of their time searching for their next meal.

To make feeding time fun, and to help them stay active and stimulated, hide treats around your hamster's cage, tuck bigger treats into their bedding or among playthings, and watch them snuffle them out.

Here are a few ways to bring fun back into mealtime and get your hamster's instincts working up a storm:

Stimulate and challenge your hamster, with this log-treat boredom breaker. Perfect for use with any small treats, fresh vegetables, and main diet feed, it's a great way to encourage fun and variety into their diet.

Relieve boredom and increase activity level at the same time with this fun activity treat ball that encourages your hamster to play and roll the ball to dispense treats. Great for physical and mental stimulation.

Challenge and stimulate your small pet by tucking their favourite treats and snacks between the natural gnaw logs of this activity toy, each of which you can add or remove as required.

Treat and toy all-in-one, this plaything for their home combines edible wood with a delicious hard carrot and millet filling, perfect for fighting boredom and wearing down growing teeth.

Want to create a personalised maze for your hamster? Why not use kitchen roll tubes, loo roll tubes, and old cardboard to create your own maze for them!

Hamster feeding dos and don'ts

• Don’t feed your hamster a muesli-style food mix as their main diet - they'll pick out the sugary, fatty bits and leave the more nutritious parts that are high in fibre.

• Do feed your hamster a wide-variety balanced diet full of grains, seeds, nuts, animal proteins, fruit, vegetables, and more.

• Don't worry if your hamster is storing their food in their cheeks or their nest. 'Hamster' comes from the German word 'hamstern', meaning 'to hoard'. It's normal behaviour and they may just feel more comfortable eating in privacy.

• Do store shop-bought treats, mixes, and foods in a cool, dry place unless otherwise specified.

• Don't worry if your hamster doesn't seem to be drinking lots of water. They only drink an average of 10-30ml a day, due to their size and where they originally come from.

• Do slowly introduce new foods to your hamster, gradually increasing the amount to prevent an upset stomach.

Hamster eating strawberry
Milo the hamster enjoying his strawberry ©Holly Weaver

What human foods can I feed to my hamster?

Alongside their regular feed, you can treat your hamster to many foods from around the home:

Fruits including raspberries, strawberries, banana, cherry (no pits), melon, apples (seedless), blackberries, blueberries, grapes (seedless), mango, peaches (no pits), and pears.

Vegetables including broccoli, cucumber, green beans, carrots, Brussel sprouts, bell peppers, cauliflower, celery, Bok Choy, parsnips, peas, cooked potato, sweetcorn, tomato, and turnip.

Leafy greens and herbs including spinach, cabbage, kale, mint, parsley, cilantro, basil, dandelion flowers or leaves, watercress, romaine lettuce, and thyme.

Proteins including boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, mild cheese, cooked beef, cooked chicken, and plain tofu.

Nuts and seeds including barley, sunflower seeds, almonds (skinless), hazelnuts, cooked brown rice, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts.

You can also feed your hamster plain popcorn, plain whole-wheat toast, and whole-grain pasta.

To find out the best amounts to give of each and to find other foods you can treat your hamster to, the Hamster Hideout Forum has some more information.

You should avoid foods that are toxic or unhealthy for hamsters, including avocado, olives, chives, ham, onions, chocolate, garlic, citrus fruits, iceberg lettuce, pickles, raw potato, spices, leeks, and fruit seeds or pits.

How much and how often should you feed your hamster?

The best recommendation is to feed your hamster 1-2 tablespoons of food every 2-3 days. This gives your hamster the opportunity to eat all their food and get all their necessary nutrients. Feeding them more often could cause them to be a picky eater, only picking out their favourite bits from a mix, knowing more food will be on the way shortly.

This is also recommended by Victoria Raechel, a great Hamster Care YouTuber who shares great hammie care advice for everything from food to products and hamster cages.

She goes into more depth on how she adapts this to her hamsters of different breeds:

What to read next:

The best hamster cages to keep your tiny pet happy

Ask the vet: hamsters, fish and dogs

Keep calm and carry on with the best pet calming products

The best pet cameras to keep an eye on your furry friend

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us