We’ve talked earlier than about how hamsters usually are not simply hamsters; there are a number of completely different species, every with its personal wants. The identical is true for feeding. While many pet shops and on-line outlets nonetheless promote “hamster meals” (or, the good rodent protect us, “rat, mouse, gerbil and hamster meals”), most of those diets received’t be wholesome in your pet with out cautious modification to satisfy species particular wants.
Right now we’re going to have a look at what’s wanted to feed dwarf hamsters accurately. We’re utilizing the phrase “dwarf hamster” as that’s the title that usually crops up on meals or in hamster care. In actuality, what we imply is all of the hamster species stored as pets, aside from the bigger Syrian hamsters who’ve completely different wants. These are the Chinese language, Russian, and Roborovski (robo) hamsters – they aren’t really “dwarf” animals – simply smaller species from different elements of the world – however that’s the pet classification that has caught.
Chinese language, Russian and Robos are all completely different species, so how come we group them collectively for feeding? It’s as a result of their wants, so far as we all know, are fairly related. There isn’t a variety of analysis on them within the wild, however based mostly on the science we do have, this grouping works fairly nicely.
Article content material supplied by Beri Instone, small rodent food regimen supremo.
The place do dwarf hamsters come from – and why meaning no sugar?
Russian and Chinese language hamsters stay within the northern steppe grasslands of China, Mongolia, southern Russia, and Kazakhstan. This closely influences the diets which might be good and dangerous for them, because it means their our bodies have advanced to eat solely the meals which might be accessible in these environments.
From our viewpoint, crucial factor is that this implies a food regimen with no sugar – that features no contemporary or dried fruit, and even avoiding candy greens like carrots. The native wild food regimen doesn’t embrace sugary meals because the crops that make them don’t develop on the steppes, so the animals’ our bodies haven’t advanced a capability to tolerate them. If a pet Russian (together with hybrids) or Chinese language hamster is fed candy meals it has a really excessive likelihood of creating life-limiting diabetes.
Wild Roborovski hamsters stay in a semi-desert atmosphere within the Gobi. In comparison with Russian and Chinese language hamsters they’re higher capable of tolerate sugar and are much less diabetes susceptible. Nonetheless, additionally they don’t want a food regimen with additional sugar in, and since they’re so tiny, it’s a lot simpler to feed them on the identical food regimen as the opposite small species.
The way to feed a dwarf hamster
Ought to I feed hamster pellets?
Brief reply – not as the one merchandise within the food regimen. Pellets and nuggets generally is a tempting choice for homeowners undecided the best way to feed their animal as a result of they declare to place all the required diet into one easy type. Nonetheless, there are three issues in feeding your hamster on these meals alone.
- Firstly, you don’t have any management over the elements, which implies you may’t adapt their meals to well being or life stage, and must belief that producers have taken account of points like avoiding sugar.
- Subsequent up, pellets are a very, actually boring food regimen for an animal to eat (this is applicable to hamsters, rats, mice, gerbils and just about another animal you may consider). Each piece of meals eaten is an identical, at each meal, for all times. I don’t assume any human would fancy that food regimen so there is no such thing as a good cause to impose it on our pets. Wild hamsters are foragers/scavengers, which implies they make investments big quantities of their power and mental effort into discovering meals. Captive hamsters want stimulation and curiosity by their meals to cease them becoming bored. Boredom in hamsters can result in over-eating which places the hamsters prone to well being issues.
- Lastly, most pellets bought for “hamsters” are fairly massive – dwarf hamsters solely want two or three to make a meal per day, however that’s arduous for homeowners to imagine which might result in over-feeding.
So, what ought to I feed my hamster?
Dwarf hamsters must be fed a dry combine containing quite a lot of varieties of meals. The essential tips are that it ought to include +17% protein and +10% fats. These fats and protein ranges are vital as a result of being small signifies that these hamsters have a big floor space relative to their dimension, which in flip means they lose warmth extra rapidly than bigger animals and have to burn extra energy to maintain heat.
Should you stay in a very popular place like desert and southern American states you would possibly be capable of get away with fats across the 7% mark particularly in the summertime. Within the steppe and semi-desert meals availability is commonly seasonal, so having a distinct summer season and winter combine is okay.
However in fact, the elevated energy wanted shouldn’t come from sugar, so no dried fruit, dried candy veg, fruit juice, honey, and molasses. Remember that it isn’t only a case of eradicating bits of fruit from an unsuitable combine – these meals are sometimes sprayed with fruit juice and/or molasses to make them extra palatable – and eradicating one a part of the combination will alter the dietary steadiness of the remainder.
As talked about above, Roborovoski hamsters can tolerate some sugar. Nonetheless, they’re tiny – actually, actually tiny! – so a single raisin can type an entire, unhealthy meal. That signifies that though we generally is a bit much less vigilant about their sugar consumption, it’s nonetheless finest to go for a combination with out candy issues added.
Is it protected for my hamster to eat complete, unprocessed grains?
Sure! There’s a fantasy on the market that hamsters can’t have complete grains as a result of the ends of the husks might be pointy and this would possibly injury their cheek pouch lining. That is unfaithful. Unprocessed grains are what dwarf hamsters eat within the wild, and are significantly better for his or her well being than extra processed meals (resembling pellets or processed cereal puffs), as a result of they’ve a low glycaemic index. Which means they launch sugar into the blood stream extra slowly than excessive GI meals. Clearly, that could be a actually vital factor in an animal that’s liable to diabetes. Ideally, complete grains must be fed reasonably than extra processed variations like flakes and puffs, and will actually type the idea of the dwarf hamster food regimen.
What does a very good meals for hamsters appear to be?
Discovering a very good dwarf hamster combine is HARD, particularly if you happen to stay in North America. Whereas data that they’ve completely different dietary necessities to Syrian hamsters is slowly spreading, understanding of their dietary wants remains to be restricted. It’s frequent for business meals to be labelled as appropriate for dwarf hamsters while having unsuitable sugar, protein and fats ranges.
Supreme Harry Hamster (referred to as Hazel Hamster in N. America) is a whole business combine. The recipe for this has modified through the years, and the present recipe branded as “tiny buddies tasty combine” is appropriate for dwarf hamsters. It does have fairly huge items and processed grains, so if feeding this you will need to pay attention to the quantities being fed and make sure the hamsters have loads of enrichment and cage house to encourage bodily exercise.
The opposite finish of the size is feeding a completely selfmade combine. This may be difficult to steadiness for dwarf hamsters and isn’t one thing to aim with out intensive dietary data. It’s simple to get it fallacious and because the animals are so small, it’s also simple to overlook well being issues. In lots of international locations, hamster homeowners promote their very own mixes on-line instantly or through a small firm. In case you are enthusiastic about these diets, you will need to verify their dietary composition, as one thing that appears nice on the floor can nonetheless not meet the important thing wants. If you wish to feed meals like this, Beri recommends choosing a identified model resembling Rodipet or Getzoo (each German, however might be imported to most European international locations).
The simplest method for most individuals to feed is to mix business and selfmade meals – by shopping for small quantities of fascinating elements from well being meals outlets it’s doable to complement a business food regimen resembling nuggets to create one thing that’s each nutritionally appropriate and fascinating. The only method to do that is to feed one or a part of a nugget per day together with a tiny quantity of selfmade grain combine. Purpose for the food regimen to be not more than 60% nugget in complete.
Business meals choices for this methodology of feeding embrace
For making a selfmade combine to feed in tandem with nuggets, your pals are:
Offered for human consumption
Dried lentils and peas, bought for people to make use of in broths and soups – these are excessive in protein however low in fats. These are extra applicable for dwarf hamsters than pet grade pea flakes on account of their dimension. Notice: don’t feed dried beans as these are poisonous.
Oily seeds and their mixes. Notably good choices for tiny hamsters are linseed/ flaxseed, hempseed, and sesame seeds. It’s best to keep away from pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds as they’re too massive and sunflower seeds don’t have the precise oil ratios. You’ll be able to add tiny quantities of ‘spice’ seeds like fennel and cumin for number of style.
Different minimally processed grains from well being meals outlets e.g. rice, buckwheat, job’s tears (that final one being East Asian may be very species applicable).
Offered for aviary birds
Aviary meals based mostly on millets and canary seeds – usually labelled for budgies, finches, and parakeets. These are kidney-kind grains that are at all times complete grain nonetheless of their husks, and a stunning small dimension. E.g. Kaytee FortDiet Parakeet (amazon.com hyperlink).
An instance selfmade grain and seed combine is:
- 50% Kaytee parakeet
- 15% different grains
- 20% legumes (lentils/ peas)
- 15% oily seeds
Nonetheless, on high of that you just’ll have to present protein (particularly if the chosen nugget has low ranges). One of the simplest ways to do that for hamsters is to make use of dried bugs (labelled for unique pets, wild birds and reptiles). Mealworms are like marmite, some hamsters love them, some hate them. Crickets and silkworm pupae are extra readily taken. Relying on the age of your hamster (children needing extra protein, oldies needing much less) you may feed wherever from one bug each day, to solely a few times every week.
After getting your combine, whether or not business or selfmade, you will need to add some dried forage. Some German meals have this as a part of the recipe however most manufacturers all over the world don’t. Attributable to evolving in grasslands, dwarf hamsters want a food regimen increased in fibre than different omnivorous rodents. Dried grass (extra nutritious than hay) and combined forage of dried leaves / stems / roots are each good. Nonetheless, make certain the chosen model doesn’t add dried fruit or veg, and, significantly in America, make certain there may be no liquorice, which is unsafe. Dried edible flowers and petals are additionally applicable – they’re a very good low-sugar method to supply quite a lot of tastes and flavours. A giant handful of forage in complete combined up per 500g of meals works nicely. Acceptable manufacturers embrace:
Does my dwarf hamster want dietary supplements?
Dwarf hamsters are arduous to complement. Their small dimension and caching behaviours make including dietary supplements to contemporary meals tough, whereas they drink little or no water, so including them to their water bottle additionally doesn’t work. Actually, the latter might be harmful, as a tasty complement can encourage hamsters to drink an excessive amount of and trigger kidney failure. Nonetheless, through the use of a proportion of economic meals of their food regimen, the necessity to complement is minimised, as business meals typically have dietary supplements added throughout manufacture.
Should you do wish to give a dwarf hamster dietary supplements, the most suitable choice is to repeat what reptile homeowners do and add a dusting of very advantageous complement powder to bugs and grubs earlier than hand feeding them (so it doesn’t get rubbed off once more). Day by day Necessities 3 (amazon.co.uk hyperlink), previously often known as Tiny Animals Necessities, is an insoluble vitamin and mineral complement designed to be added to meals and works very nicely for hamsters.
How a lot meals ought to I feed my hamster?
Tiny hamsters solely want a tiny quantity of meals. A one-finger pinch of an honest combine is sufficient meals per day for a dwarf hamster.
Bowls are a boring strategy to feed small animals – they take away all of the enjoyable, train and mental stimulation of discovering meals. So, it’s best to scatter the meals within the animal’s cage. Nonetheless, hamsters don’t are likely to dig for meals, so scatter it on the highest of the substrate for them to vacuum up. You’ll be able to up the engagement ranges by dotting bits of meals round on varied ledges and ranges in addition to on the substrate – that additionally helps you retain observe of which bits of their cage your hamster is utilizing.
It’s finest to solely feed a day’s value of meals at a time to cease stashing / caching behaviour. Wild hamsters eat the very best bits of meals first, after which use their cheeks as an enormous bag to move all the remainder again to their nest for later. It’s an important behaviour within the wild because it prevents the hamster ravenous throughout lean intervals. Nonetheless, in captivity it will probably as an alternative result in the hamster solely consuming the fattening stuff and filling their mattress with mouldering meals. It is best to verify hamster beds for meals weekly, particularly when they’re a brand new pet, as this may assist work out in case you are over-feeding. Enclosed beds with no flooring are excellent as you may simply raise them as much as peak beneath with out disturbing the hamster’s personal house.
To ensure you are giving your hamster the correct amount of meals, it’s best to weigh them recurrently on a set of digital kitchen scales. Sudden modifications in weight can level to issues in feeding or well being points.
So, now you realize the fundamentals of the best way to feed your Russian, Chinese language, or Roborovski hamster. Received a Syrian hamster? Look out for a future article all about their species-specific feeding wants.