In “how often do I feed my hamster” we’ll look at hamster mealtimes. We’ll talk about how often and how much to feed, how to know when your hamster is hungry, and how to make sure your hamsters enthusiasm for storing food doesn’t do him any harm
People are fond of regular meals and we often tend to put our pets on a similar system of two or three meals a day. At a minimum, most pets are fed at least daily.
But you can run into problems if you top up your hamster’s food bowl once or twice a day. Let’s find out why
Hamster cheek pouches
Those hamster cheek pouches don’t just add to the cute appeal of a hamster, in wild hamsters they serve a very useful purpose
Every hamster likes to keep a store of food in a safe place. Usually close to his or her nest. This helps wild hamsters survive during times when there are food shortages.
Instead of starving, the hamster can tuck in to the food stored in his larder.
Those cheek pouches are of course a brilliant way for such a small animal to carry much more food home when he finds it, than he could manage by carrying it in his mouth
Wild hamster food stores
In the wild these clever little creatures will sometimes store huge quantities of food.
It’s a great way of making sure they survive the bad times as well as the good
Your hamster’s empty food bowl
You’ll probably notice your hamster emptying his food bowl quite soon after you fill it up. He’ll stuff the contents into his cheeks and then return to his nest to empty the food into his store.
Pretty soon the store will be quite big. And your hamster will be ‘snacking’ at intervals during the night, and sometimes during the day, whenever he feels hungry
But you may be wondering whether or not to fill up the bowl again, or whether to wait until the hamster has eaten what is in his store.
How often to fill a hamster’s bowl?
You only need to fill your hamster’s bowl once a day because his mealtimes are not restricted to when the bowl is filled.
However, it’s a good idea to let the hamster eat most of the food in his store before giving him any more. This is because if the food is stored in his nest for long, it may go ‘stale’
You’ll need to check your hamster’s store from time to time and if it is getting much bigger, it means you are putting too much food in his bowl, or filling it too often
How much food to put in a hamster’s bowl
Try limiting your Syrian hamster to about two tablespoons of food once a day to begin with
If he builds up a big store in a few days, then cut down on those quantities.
Dwarf hamsters will need a little less, and Robo or Chinese hamsters may only need a single tablespoon of food once per day due to their tiny size.
Make sure you have several bowls so that you can put his daily rations in a clean one and remove the old one for washing.
Food bowls left in the cage for several days soon get contaminated with droppings
Cleaning out your hamster’s food store
It’s okay to remove your hamster’s food store and throw it away when you clean out the cage. At least once a week.
He won’t approve, but he doesn’t need it in the same way that wild hamsters do, and he’ll soon make another.
If you leave the store in his bed, then the food will go mouldy and potentially make him unwell.
How to stop your hamster getting fat
In addition to providing him with an exercise wheel, you need to make sure he doesn’t eat too much as this can lead to obesity too
It’s important that your hamster doesn’t get fat, as this can make him sick. So don’t be tempted to fill the food bowl every time it is empty.
All of this applies to dry food or commercial hamster pellets. Fresh food needs to be treated differently and fed more carefully
How often to feed a hamster fresh food
Because a hamster will try to store their food, fresh food should only be fed in tiny quantities.
If you let your hamster store fresh food, such as fruit or vegetables, it will rapidly go mouldy and may contaminate his whole food store, and if he eats it later, it may make him ill
If possible, it’s best to wedge fruit and vegetables to the bars so that your hamster cannot carry them back to his bed
How often do I feed my hamster – summary
Your hamster won’t get hungry if there is food in his store, but he may get fat if the store gets too big.
You can feed your hamster once a day if you place a small quantity of dry food in a small bowl
Fresh food and vegetables should be fed in tiny quantities and any that remains uneaten should be removed the same day.
Your hamster’s food store should be cleaned out at least once a week and checked every couple of days to make sure he is not being overfed. That way your hamster should stay happy, healthy and fit throughout his life.