A Guide to Choosing an Appropriate Hamster Food Mix and How to Read Our Quality Rating System

Foodmix Database | Foodmix Calculator

This post attempts to serve as a guide to help better interpret our foodmix database and help you choose a suitable foodmix for you. No one hamster is exactly identical and it’s best to truly know your animal when selecting a mix. Adjust depending on your animal’s needs and behavior. Remember that no one mix will work well for all hamsters, and there are different philosophies when it comes to selecting a mix. For hamsters with diseases and special needs such as diabetes or kidney failure, it may be best to consult an exotic vet for your best options. Always weigh out the pros and cons when choosing your hamster’s food as this is what they’re possibly going to eat every day.

Disclaimers: The author is not a nutritionist, nor is she a veterinarian and will not claim to be one. Every claim that needs to be cited will be cited and all sources can be found at the end of this guide. Feel free to read the sources yourself. There still needs to be more scientific research and testing done on the nutritional requirements of each species, and most of the works cited and researched were based on Syrian hamsters. Feel free to email or message us on our social networks for any corrections and we will be updating this guide whenever new information comes to light.

Last Updated: October 31, 2020

On Prices and Availability

The prices in our database are converted to USD and other currencies will be supported in the future. However, not all products will be widely available in America, the UK, Asia, and other countries as it is currently very difficult to track who sells what to all the countries.

We also want to note that some mixes that may be considered inexpensive and widely available to get in some countries would be considered very expensive and limited in other countries. We do not recommend breaking the bank if you cannot afford to feed your pet an imported high quality food mix, and I would look at high quality food mixes that are also locally available. Creating your own food mix may also not be an economical option as many high quality ingredients can be quite costly. Commercial brands should do a better job at making species appropriate food mixes more widely available to other people and educating the general public on how to feed our pets better.

Buy the highest quality food that you are able to and always strive to do better. A food mix that may seem like a big spend in the beginning will not cost you as much in the long run, and it may even help prevent sickness that could cause heart break and a painful vet visit.

It is an absolute privilege to be able to have instant access to a higher quality foodmix that can be purchased for a lower price. Not everyone will have the knowledge to formulate their own food mix. Not everyone is privileged enough with the time to learn.

Remember, your first priority is getting your hamster fed. If you cannot find a high quality food mix just make sure you are at least feeding them. A hamster on a lower quality inappropriate foodmix will do much better than one that is starving.

Table of Contents
Species Appropriate Feeding
Factors That Affect Nutrient Requirements
Types of Diets
Beneficial Ingredients
Questionable Ingredients
Nutritional Requirements
How We Measure Quality

Species and Condition Appropriate Feeding

There are different species of hamsters, the most commonly owned ones being the Syrian, the Campbell Dwarf, the Winter White, the Chinese Hamster, and the Roborovski. Each species of hamster has come from a vastly different place and has a different palate and tolerances when it comes to eating[1][4] and a species appropriate diet should replicate things they eat in the wild[4]. The Syrian hamster, for example can be found from a limited range in the middle east where they may store up to several pounds of grain[38] and thus have a stronger grain tolerance than that of the Roborovski, who originates from Mongolia where some robos have been reported to eat a diet composed of almost entirely insects[31]. Some hamsters, such as the Chinese hamster, may also be more genetically predisposed to conditions such as diabetes[12] and would need a different diet from their less prone counterparts. A pregnant hamster would also have different needs from a hamster who isn’t pregnant. Due to this, no diet can be assumed to be one size fits all, and if you were to feed them all one type of foodmix you would quickly get symptoms of overfeeding in one and/or deficiency in the other[1]. Some hamster sites recommend the hamster’s diet to be as natural as possible[1][4][40].

In General

Hamsters are omnivores and eat grains, vegetables, and insects[38]They are hoarders and will hoard food in underground burrows to ensure a constant source of food[27][41]. Hamsters are also coprophagous and will consume feces[38] and get considerable amounts of vitamin K from consuming it[25]. They typically do not overeat and do not increase the size and frequency of their meals beyond their usual levels even when offered more food[41]. They eat regularly, typically at 2 hour intervals throughout the day[27]. They should also have access to clean water at all times[25].

Syrian Hamsters

Found in the middle east, these hamsters have been found to store several pounds of grain[38]. In the wild, they are found to eat wheat[11][40][41], barley, chickpeas, lentils, melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, hibiscus[39], insects[11][41], and other grains, seeds, and vegetables[40]. Wild Syrians get an adequate diet from foods varying in caloric intake[41] They eat approximately 5-12g of feed a day[26][38] and regardless of gender, Syrians consume about the same amount of food[23]. They are highly susceptible to dietary cholesterol which promotes robust hypercholesterolemia[7]. They also have a higher tolerance for grains and cereals, vegetables, and fruit[4][13].

Chinese Hamsters

Chinese hamsters were collected in NorthEast China[27]. Spontaneous diabetes mellitus was first recognized in this species in 1957 during the course of inbreeding[12][22][23][34]. The disease is similar in a number of aspects to insulin-dependent diabetes of humans[12]. Due to their genetic disposition, these hamsters can become diabetic even without being obese[5][24]. Diabetic Chinese hamsters tend to eat more than their nondiabetic counterparts[5][24]and restricting their diet to a normal amount rather than giving them an increased amount can reduce the severity of diabetes[5][24]Giving them a low fat diet of 4% can also reduce symptoms of diabetes[5][12]. Do not completely cut out carbohydrates from their diet and instead just avoid feeding them simple carbs such as sugar and fruit[5]. It may be recommended to feed diabetic hamsters a high protein, high fiber, low fat diet[8].

Campbell Dwarves

The campbell dwarf and winter white were once assumed to be subspecies, but now we know them as separate species[23]. This hamster is native to the steppes of Kazakhstan, Manchuria, and Northern China[23]. Their diet varies amongst different parts of where it was found[32]. 51 species of plants have been identified in the diet of the Transhaikalia population, the most important including needle grassallium (the genus of flowering plants including chives, onions, and leeks), and the ever blooming Iris[32]. In the Tuva population, 2 of the most important plants are the cinquefoils and Aneurolepedium[32]They also eat insects such as beetles[32]. They were observed to excrete glucose in their urine[17] and they are less tolerant to carbohydrates[4][17][32]. They are also known to be a species susceptible to diabetes[1][17][20]and diabetic hamsters may be recommended to be fed a high protein, high fiber, low fat diet[8]. We do not recommend feeding them food rich in simple sugars on a daily basis.

Winter White

Winter Whites are a distant relative of the Syrian Hamster and have been traced to Siberia, China, and Mongolia. [23]. They have been collected from dry steppes, wheat, and alfalfa fields[33]Their diet in the wild consists mainly of wild plants that were mostly grasses, but insects (particularly grasshoppers) were also eaten. They have also been known to feed on undigested grains in horse droppings in the winter[33]. A shorter day length increases the consumption of complex carbs and protein, and decreases the consumption of fat in these hamsters[33]. Studies have found that Winter Whites that were induced with diabetes may require insulin replacement therapy for survival[3]Winter Whites that do not have an official pedigree are assumed to be hybrids[4].


These hamsters Inhabit the steppes and semi-deserts of central Asia[31]. These hamsters inhabit areas with loose sand and limited vegetation. The summer diet of the Roborovskii consists almost entirely of the seeds of the desert like madwort, milkvetch, and sedges[31]. Because remains of locusts, earwigs, and beetles in some burrows were found, and some roborovskis that were found may have had a diet that is composed almost entirely of insects[31]. In some areas, such as Shaanxi, Roborovskis eat millet seeds[31].

Captive roborovskii hamsters also eat millet, but remains of insects like crickets, grasshoppers, and snails have been found in their nests[31]. Because of their natural habitat, they may not take to cereals or grains being a part of their daily diet the way a Syrian hamster would[4].

Syrians and Dwarves

Although the dwarf hamsters are different species from each other, it is more permissible to feed your dwarves a similar diet to each other, but it is not recommended to feed your Syrian and Dwarf the same diet[4]. Winter Whites and Chinese Dwarf Hamsters can generally eat any diet that is dwarf hamster appropriate. However, due to their disposition against grains and cereals, Campbells, Hybrids, and Roborovskis may not take to a diet tailored to Winter Whites and Chinese Dwarf Hamsters that are rich in grains[4].


Labs have reported feeding hamsters (specifically Syrian hamsters) pelleted diets intended for mice and rats, and they have shown normal growth and reproduction[23][25]. However, it has also been reported that hamsters grew very poorly and failed to survive on diets that were good for rats[6]. It is important to note that because of their biology they have different requirements from other rodents[23]. Some labs have also said that the campbell dwarf and winter white can be maintained on the same diet as the Syrian hamster[23], but once again we insist on reading the ingredients to make sure they are species appropriate.

When adding a pellet to your diet, we recommend using pellets that are formulated specifically for hamsters. Pellets created for rodents that also fulfill a hamster's nutritional needs are also appropriate. We highly discourage feeding hamsters pellets from other species (such as chickens, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, etc.) as these may be unsuitable, not meet your hamster's basic needs, or can even potentially be dangerous when fed long term. You can see the pellets we highly recommend in our database, but some examples of these are the Envigo Harlan Teklad pellets, and the Mazuri Rat and Mouse blocks.

You should also make sure your hamster is exercising at least regularly.

Factors that May Affect Nutrient Requirements


This includes the species of the hamster, their sex, and individual hereditary factors that may affect their nutrient requirements[27].

Stage of Life

Their nutritional needs may change depending on what stage of the life cycle they are[27]. A baby hamster will have different needs than an adult.

Environmental Impacts

In labs, hamsters are typically studied under controlled environments with minimal variations because they are typically used as test animals. However, in a natural setting, variations in environment are common. Different temperatures[3], stimuli, social conflict, length of day, and other environmental factors may change what a hamster needs[27]. An example of this is how some animals have a lower requirement for zinc because the zinc may have come from their cage. They may also ingest bedding or other materials that provide an unintended source of nutrients or toxins[27].

Types of Diets

Seed Mix

A seed mix tends to be more than just a mix of seeds, it usually involves various grains, herbs, nuts, and sometimes even fruits. There are many commercial seed mixes that also contain cereals and pellets. In a seed mix, it is important to look at the variety of whole ingredients, and if applicable, the ratio of pellets to the actual seed mix[36].

Higher quality seed mixes contain quality ingredients that properly reflect the species it is catering too[4]. Most commercial seed mixes are only labeled as a general “hamster” mix, but there are brands such as Rodipet that sell seed mixes that were formulated for a specific species.

Higher quality seed mixes also should have a higher proportion of small seeds, oil seeds, and have a lower proportion of nuts[40] and other filler items[36]. Whole seeds and ingredients are typically preferred over flakes[1][20]. You should also always look at the ingredients and see if it looks and smells fresh, and avoid seed mixes that seem dull and gray[40]. There is also an assumption that just because the seed mix contains only natural ingredients that it’s automatically a good food mix, however, you still need to look at the ingredients to determine if it’s right for you[20].

Avoid seed mixes that only have either millet or sunflower seeds as their main seeds[4], and have a high proportion of filler items like corn[36]. They should also not contain too many ingredients that are modified to be more appealing such as added dyes, flavorings, or sweeteners[4][20][36][40], and avoid seed mixes that are dusty and gray in coloring[40].

Some forums and websites will also recommend not feeding your hamster a mix that contains animal by products (as it is mostly waste from the food industry)[13][20][42]. Seed mixes that contain pellets may also be a sign of a lower quality mix[1][4][13][20][42].

For Campbell Dwarves, Hybrid Hamsters, and Chinese hamsters, though some forums say avoid feeding fruit at all[1][20][40][42], it is only a myth that fruit causes diabetes. It is better to avoid a diet high in saturated fat with sugar or cholesterol[7][12][14][17][23][30][39]. The cereal intake for the aforementioned hamsters may also need to be limited[4][17][42], and we do not recommend ingredients rich with simple sugars (such as fruit) being a part of their daily diet[4].

If you do purchase a seed mix with any of the above ingredients, you should not remove any filler ingredients as they contribute to the overall general analysis and removing such ingredients changes the balance of the mix[16][36]

Labs typically do not recommend seed based diets because of the assumption that feeding them will make hamsters only consume the high-fat seeds and create an unbalanced diet[38], however, in a species specific diet, their food will more likely be nutritionally complete and more desirable to the hamster[4]. And, if your hamster is also a picky eater, you shouldn’t top up their food until it is completely empty.

Pelleted Diet

A pelleted (sometimes referred to as lab blocks, though not every pellet is a lab block) diet is the most common form of feed used in laboratory animals[27]. It is easy to store and handle, is less wasteful, and it prevents hamsters from selecting their favorite ingredients[27]. They are also considered to be nutritionally complete and well balanced, which assures people that their hamster will at least be consuming a combination of fats, proteins, fiber, carbs, vitamins, and minerals that meets their nutritional needs[21]. Hamsters can be raised and maintained successfully on a pelleted diet[25]. Processed pellets are also convenient in that they require little to no preparation[21].

The main problem with a diet that is mainly pellets is the fact that there is no variety and that many pellets contain artificial sweeteners (often used as a binding agent)[4][36]. Most hamster food that is commercially available is often made with feed-grade ingredients (which often means a lower quality) instead of human-grade ingredients[21]. Pelleted diets that are used in labs tend to be very high quality due to the fact that they need to ensure that there are no variables in terms of nutrition. Purified, and chemically defined diets, for example are very expensive to produce because of the quality of ingredients used[27].

Feed-grade ingredients have a higher allowance for toxins (such as mold-produced mycotoxins) than in human-grade food[21]. Animal “by-products” may contain dead animals from farms, animal shelters, and other facilities[21]. They may also contain fats, grease, and other food waste from restaurants and other stores[21]. Because of this, they may also contain pentobarbital, which is an anesthetic used to euthanize animals[21]. Some may even have rendered fat, which can provide flavor enhancements but is a source of dangerous microorganisms like salmonella, and toxins[21]. Should moisture enter one of these bags, harmful bacteria and mold could cultivate[21].

Highly processed food is also cooked at high temperatures in order to kill bacteria. However, this process also deactivates enzymes and reduces nutrients in your hamster’s food[21].

In a pelleted diet, it is best to look for natural preservatives and human-grade ingredients. Ingredients such as corn gluten and wheat gluten may also be an indicator of lower quality food[21].

There are different kinds of pelleted diets.

Natural Ingredient Diet

A natural diet is any pellet that is formulated using agricultural products using ingredients such as whole grains (like ground corn and ground wheat), mill by-products (wheat bran, corn gluten meal), high protein meals (soybean, fishmeal), and other livestock feed ingredients (dried molasses, alfalfa meal)[27]. Most diets that are commercially sold are natural ingredient diets[27] and these are usually inexpensive to manufacture[20][27].

However, with natural ingredient diets, no two batches are identical as soil and weather conditions, fertilizers, harvesting and storage procedures, and other factors can influence the composition of the pellet[27]. Because of this, the nutritional factors that are listed are typically their minimum value[27].

Purified Diet

These diets are typically formulated with a more refined set of ingredients and only relatively pure and invariant ingredients are used in these formulations (such as casein, sugar and starch, vegetable oil, and lard) . The nutrient concentrations in these diets are usually less varied and are more easily controlled. They also tend to be more expensive to manufacture[27].

Chemically Defined Diets

These diets are made with the most elemental ingredients available such as specific sugars and vitamins. They tend to be used in studies with strict control over nutrient concentration, and thus are typically more expensive to manufacture[27].

Seed Mix + Pellet Mix

This is usually a combination of a commercial seed mix and a pelleted diet mix. The typically involves taking a high variety seed mix and mixing it together with good quality lab blocks to get both variety and nutrition. Some sources however say that you do not need a seed mix and a lab block to ensure nutrition if you have a good quality and appropriate seed mix[1][4]

Homemade Diet

Creating your own diet involves a lot of research. There are many articles that provide different philosophies on how to create your own homemade diet and I will list my favorite ones below. Remember that these posts will serve as guides and it is important to supplement this with your own actual research.

  1. Hamster Hideout
  2. Five Little Hams (Not a total guide, but it is a good read for a way to understand how to choose and make a food mix)
  3. Das Kipi Konzept [German]
  4. Das Hamster Forum [German]
  5. Diebrain [German]

It is important to note that the typical hamster owner will not usually have access to any added micronutrients or appropriate probiotics and prebiotics that could aid your hamster’s digestion[37]. Leaving this out could potentially be dangerous[37]. However, it is important to take note that hamsters also do not have access to these additives in the wild. The homemade diets that have been dangerous to hamsters may be a case of an unbalanced diet with poorly selected ingredients[4].

Unless you are a trained nutritionist (or someone who has a lot of certified experience and knowledge in rodent/hamster nutrition) we recommend feeding a homemade diet in conjunction with a commercial foodmix to ensure your hamster gets adequate nutrition (see hybrid diets below) .

Hybrid Diet

A hybrid diet, as coined by Taxonomist from Hamster hideout, is a diet that is a combination of a homemade mix and a commercial one[37]. A hybrid diet may also be a good option if there are no species appropriate diets near you and you are considering formulating your own but are just starting out. Use our mixing calculator and add in your own ingredients to see the general analysis you could be getting for that mix.

Beneficial ingredients and Supplements

Probiotics and Prebiotics

These are different bacteria, yeasts, and enzymes that are beneficial for your hamster’s digestion and are usually added to the mix in forms such as fermentation products or yeast[36].

Added Vitamins

Unless for medical purposes, a hamster on a healthy and complete diet should not typically need any vitamin drops or added vitamins[1].

Dietary Supplementations of other Grains, Fruits, and Vegetables

Many hamster care forums recommend supplementing your hamster with vegetables and some even find it necessary[1][4][13][40][42]as supplementation of fresh fruit and vegetables has been seen to improve health and lifespan[26]. However, some labs do not recommend feeding hamsters additional supplements and can even consider them unnecessary as they may increase risks of unwanted exposure to contaminants and germs[23][25]This is usually for research purposes however, as any variable can greatly affect a study[26].

Dietary Supplementation of Protein

Some mixes do not include animal protein in their mix. There may be the option to purchase it with protein (see the site of the mix you are looking for details or instructions on how to do this), but in general, many mixes wouldn’t have it. If this is the case, you will need to supplement your hamster with animal protein (remember that hamsters are omnivores) . Insects are preferable (alive if the insect is an appropriate prey item), or freeze dried[4]If you do not have access to insects, you can supplement them with other sources of animal protein such as freeze dried or cooked unseasoned chicken[4]. If neither of these options are available to you, your hamster still absolutely needs to get protein. If this is the case that insects, chicken, and other cooked or dried lean meat are absolutely not available to you, you can also try using a lab block to meet any protein requirements[36].

Questionable Ingredients

Added Sugar

Sugar is often used as a binder to hold certain pellets in food together. Sugar may not be inherently bad on its own[36], however, any foodmix rich in sugar may be an indicator that it is of low quality and should be avoided[4][13][20][36][40][42]. Sugar is also known to be addictive, and some forms of sugar can be harmful to the cheek pockets as it can be very sticky[13][42].


  • Corn Syrup[36]
  • Corn Sugar[36]
  • Dextrose[36]
  • Fructose[36]
  • Fruit Juices[36]
  • Molasses[36]
  • Sucrose[36]
  • Rice Syrup[36]
  • Honey[13][42]

Artificial Dyes

Some dyes have been regarded as safe while other dyes may be more risky and can be carcinogenic[10]. Artificial coloring is mainly used for aesthetic purposes for humans and isn’t really beneficial for hamsters, so it is best to avoid them[21].


  • Blue 1[10]


  • Blue 2[21]
  • Green 3[10]
  • Red 3[10]
  • Red 40[21]
  • Yellow 5[21]
  • Yellow 6[21]
  • 4-Methylimidazole (4-MIE)[21]

Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 have all been documented to contribute to allergic-type hypersensitivity reactions, behavior problems, and cancer in humans[21]. 4-MIE is a known animal carcinogen[21].

Dangerous Preservatives

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) - These are chemicals that are added to oils (fats) as preservatives and are on the list of known carcinogens. BHA is a known reproductive toxicant. BHT can cause kidney and liver damage in rats.[21][36].

Ethoxyquin - A chemical preservative that is illegal to use in human food. In some countries, it is still legal to add this to pet food. It is harmful if swallowed or if it comes into direct contact with skin. This ingredient may be listed or added through “fish meal” and may not even appear on any label[21][36].

Propylene Glycol (PG) - This is a moistening agent that is derived from ethylene glycol (EG), which is also known as antifreeze and is extremely toxic to animals. Though PG is often marketed as not being toxic or absorbent for your pet, it is still not a beneficial ingredient[21].

Nutritional Requirements

Unfortunately, there still needs to be more studies on hamster nutrition. Most of the studies the following is based on are studies done on Syrians.

In many countries, it is legally required to list down the ingredients of the product in order from most to least (this is usually based on weight). The guaranteed analysis (crude protein, fat, and fiber) are also usually legally required to be listed. These give us an insight on how to interpret the food that we are feeding to our pets. Though on a regular basis, we shouldn’t stress over feeding pets a certain percentage of protein, fat, and fiber, there are cases where it may be necessary. Reading the nutritional label can help us make better and more informed choices for our pets. Thus, the general analysis and ingredients list is definitely still very important.

The general analysis requirement we are going to recommend should loosely be followed as it does not apply to every single hamster. This is because of the many factors that can affect a hamster’s nutritional needs (see our section on factors that affect nutritional needs) . Treat it as a guideline based on the average healthy hamster and not the absolute law on hamster nutrition. If your hamster has any special needs, please see a vet or a nutritionist.


When it comes to protein, many sources have reported growths with feeding various amounts. It seems that the type of protein in the food mix plays a role on how much protein is actually needed. Hamsters at different stages of life will also have different protein requirements. Our recommendations are based on the studies we have found below. Younger hamsters will need more protein than older hamsters[17][36].

Hamsters Below 6 Months: Should receive about 18-25% protein.

Hamsters from 6-18 Months: Should receive about 15- 20% protein.

Hamsters Above 18 Months: Should receive about 12-15% protein.

Roborovskis are assumed to require more protein and hamsters with kidney diseases are assumed to need less protein[36].


Protein is an important part of a hamster’s diet. A diet with too little protein may not be adequate for growth and can even cause alopecia[38].

Here are some ranges of protein recommendation given by other hamster forums:

Hamster Hideout[36]
Below 6 Months
Elderly Hamsters
Need less than adults
The Pipsqueakery(Content found on HSS) [19]
Below 6 Months
6-18 Months
Above 18 Months


Earlier we discussed the different types of diets. Most of the studies done on protein in a hamster were done with the hamster being fed pellets. Earlier we saw how the pelleted diet can be composed of either natural ingredients, purified diets, and chemically defined diets. This is important to take note of because the amount of protein your hamster needs may depend on what ingredients make up your hamster’s diet.

A nutritional diet of 16% protein has been found to provide a nutritionally adequate diet[38]. There are sources that say that the protein requirement for Syrian hamsters is between 12-16%[2]. In weaning hamsters, a natural ingredient diet containing 18% protein showed growth rates of about 2g/day[27]. A diet containing 18% protein has also been thought to meet the amino acid needs for reproduction in hamsters[27].

When the source of the protein is natural ingredients, some studies have shown that a range of 15-20% protein is adequate for a hamster’s diet, however other sources have found satisfactory growth with a natural diet composed of 5-25% protein[25]. Addition of semi purified proteins to natural ingredient diets may reduce the amount of crude protein required to support the expected rates of growth[27]. Diets with a protein percentage as low as 13.7% have also supported growth in Syrian hamsters[27].

With semipurified pellets, sources have reported satisfactory growths at 12-24% when casein is the sole source of protein. Some sources say that in casein diets 18-20% should suffice[35], while others say that a diet of 12-16% is required for satisfactory growth[26].

When hamsters were fed corn-soybean or corn-soybean-alfafa meal diets containing 18% crude protein, reproductive performance was equal to or exceeded that of hamsters fed two commercial diets including 22-24% crude protein[27].

When it comes to Wheat Gluten, Ground Soybean Meal, or Fish Protein concentrate, hamsters grew better and had better protein efficiency ratio values on Soybean Meal than fish meal, while wheat gluten resulted the worst[2]. Soybean meal as a protein source has also shown to promote increased weight gain and improved protein utilizations compared to diets that contain wheat gluten and fish protein concentrate[25]


We recommend a diet of about 4-7% fat.

A diet of 4% has been reported to be adequate for growth[25] and a diet of 4-5% has been found by studies to be sufficient[25][26][38]. A level over 5% has shown to provide maximum growth in a hamster[16]. Some hamster forums have recommended a range of 4-7%[36], while others have reported a fat range of 7-8% for younger hamsters and a range of 6-7% for older hamsters[19].

Some studies have found that fat levels exceeding 7-9% have been associated with increased mortality[38], and some sources have stated that fat in a hamster’s diet should not exceed 6%[9].

A low fat diet of 4% has been shown to help improve symptoms of diabetes in Chinese hamsters while specifically, a 4% vegetable fat diet has been shown to eliminate ketonuria in Chinese hamsters with diabetes[12].

Hamsters fed high fat diets (15%) that contained modest cholesterol have induced symptoms of type 2 diabetes and obesity when the diet was fed for more than three weeks[23]. Hamsters constantly fed a high fat and a sugar rich diet show significant body weight gain, body fat accumulation, and impaired glucose tolerance[7][14][30][39], and symptoms became progressively worse as time went on[30]. A high fat, high sugar diet can induce diabetic symptoms even in Syrian hamsters[7].

Sometimes weight gain may not happen, but instead weight loss may happen on a high fat diet as kidneys may become damaged[30].


We recommend hamsters get at least 5% fiber.

Fiber is essential for proper digestion in hamsters[36]. Fiber has been shown to support the micro-organisms in the gut[16]. It is considered rare to find a hamster food that contains too much fiber[36].

Low fiber food can contribute to stomach issues[36]. It has been shown that diets with no fiber that contain high levels of refined sugars have been associated with higher mortality[16][25][27]

Studies have shown that food containing 4-5% fiber has been adequate for normal growth[25], however many hamster forums recommend a higher range of fiber. HamsterHideout’s Taxonomist would recommend a fiber range of about 6-15%[36], while HSS (who quoted the Pipsqueakery) would recommend about 8-10% for younger hamsters, 10-12% for hamsters between 6-18 months, and a range of 12-15% for older hamsters[19].

Diets that contain starch or lactose may not require any additional fiber because these ingredients have been found to support favorable microflora in the colon[27].


Carbohydrates are an important part of a hamsters diet. There are even studies that show that “Wet tail” could be prevented by the inclusion of rice flour, lactose, and fiber in your hamster’s diet as diarrhea may be a result of an insufficient amount of complex carbohydrates[27]. Satisfactory growth in Syrians has been observed in a diet containing 35-40% carbohydrates[25].

It is important that the source of carbohydrates in your hamster’s diet is not mainly fruit, as a diet containing mostly fructose (60%) has led to the development of obesity, hyperinsulinemia, and hypertriglyceridemia[25]. Hamster diets containing mostly fructose and lactose also have an increased mortality rate[27].

Starch has shown to be a good source of carbohydrates as it may be more difficult for the hamster to digest simple sugars[26]. Campbell Hamsters also have a genetic trait that makes them more intolerant of carbohydrates[17]. Hamsters are also prone to obesity and can develop an insulin resistance when fed a high fat and high carbohydrate diet[7].

When it comes to pellets, it is shown that cornstarch is a good source of carbohydrates for hamsters[25][27] and has helped improve growth, reproduction, and life span[25].

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is essential to the hamster diet[28]. It helps prevent myocytolysis and can reduce a fatty streak accumulation[23]. In a Vitamin E deficient diet, a hamster may seem like they’re growing normally at first, but they usually collapse or even die 4-18 weeks later[15]. A pregnant hamster who does not receive enough vitamin E is also at risk of losing their babies[38].

Hamsters who have collapsed from a Vitamin E deficiency can usually be saved with the administration of Vitamin E[15].

Signs of Vitamin E deficiency

  • Testicular degeneration[27]
  • Decreased growth and muscular dystrophy[27]
  • Skeletal muscle degeneration[26]


Treats should be given in small amounts and introduced slowly[16] and can give more variety to your hamster’s diets.

Yogurt Drops are considered to contain too much sugar and fat and are not recommended for a healthy diet[39], though it is up to you to feed it to them as a rare treat.

Fruit should be given to Campbell Dwarves, Chinese Hamsters, Hybrid Hamsters, and other diabetic prone hamsters sparingly[5], some hamster sites will say to avoid it[29], while some hamster forums do not recommend feeding fruit to dwarves at all[1][20][42].

How we measure quality

The food will be judged based on their own merit, as it would not be right to compare a pellet with a seed mix. Pellets/Lab blocks for example will not be rated for variety. They will also be judged not for their mixability but how they stand on their own. We will also be prioritizing ingredients over general analysis. The quality of ingredients matters and we will also take into account if the food mix has any beneficial additives or was formulated with a certain species or condition in mind. The ratings are based off of the average hamster of that species of average age, weight, and conditions unless otherwise specified.

There are some food mixes included in our database that do not have the general analysis or other nutritional labels given. Because of this, we do not feel comfortable or confident giving them a higher rating due to the lack of information.

Please also take note that we are trying to be as inclusive to every country as possible. However, we should also remember that certain countries do have better access to hamster food with higher quality ingredients. Local pet food companies and bigger pet food manufacturers need to start making higher quality food for our pets. This database is also going to change and evolve over time. Please take extra time to read the ingredients and understand your hamster’s needs before choosing a foodmix. If you do not have access to any high quality food mixes, please make sure your hamster is still being fed.

Also keep in mind that there are many different ways to approach diets. There should never be one solid foundational rule because every hamster is different.

You may use the mixing calculator to determine if you want to see how your foodmix fairs when paired with mixes.

  1. Excellent - These are food mixes that have both excellent variety and nutrition. We absolutely recommend feeding this to your hamster. This can be mixed with other food mixes.
  2. High - This food mix has either high nutrition or high variety. We recommend feeding this to your hamster. This can be mixed with other food mixes.
  3. Average - Average variety or average nutrition. This food mix may not stand on its own and may need to be mixed with something else. We recommend feeding this if higher food mixes are not available.
  4. Poor - This has poor variety or poor nutrition. We do not recommend feeding this to your hamster.
  5. Dangerous - These food mixes may contain dangerous ingredients in significant quantities. We recommend you avoid these food mixes at all costs.


  • Dry food should not be stored longer than four months[40]
  • Tin cans, glass jars, and wooden boxes are all ideal for storing your food mix.[40]
  • Plastic containers may be less suitable[40]
  • Cardboard boxes or bags may be less suitable as they can be prone to parasites[40]

When Selecting a Food Mix

Many people are becoming more health conscious about the food that is being placed in their body. More and more people have started to read the nutritional labels on food. There are grocery stores dedicated to keeping things fresh and organic, and people have avoided processed food as it is usually considered unhealthy[21]. We need to start making better choices for our pets as well.

Just like with people, making careless dietary choices for our hamsters can expose them to different health problems in the long run. Obesity, diabetes, cancer, and different kinds of other diseases[21]are just as much of a reality to them as it is to us. A good diet can help improve the quality and longevity of your hamster’s life while a poor diet can contribute to overall poor health in the long term[21]

Feeding your hamster should not be stressful, and we highly emphasize that companies and manufacturers need to start creating better food for our animal companions as they should already have the resources and the research team to be able to do this. Many companies now will use buzzwords to promote the supposed nutritional value of their products[21] and this can mislead so many people into being secure and comfortable with the food that they are choosing, even though they can be doing more harm than good.

When it comes to selecting a food mix, ask yourself the following questions, and if you say no to any of them, it is a good idea to rethink your choices.

  1. Is this a healthy food mix?
  2. Do I feel comfortable feeding my hamster this mix?
  3. Should my hamster really have to eat this every day?
  4. Are the ingredients appropriate for my hamster?
  5. Is this worth the money I am paying for?


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