All About Hamster Nutrition, Variety, And Quality [Hamster Diet]

by Hamster Care

Hamster nutrition, variety, and quality

Our articles is inspired and guided by the multi-thread series on Hamster Hideout. HSS hopes to localise the content provided by these useful international platforms so that parents in Singapore can better apply this knowledge within the context of Singapore. 

This article will introduce the 3 pillars of hamster nutrition:

  1. Quantity (Guaranteed Analysis)
  2. Variety
  3. Quality

Hamster nutrition

How much of what does a hamster need? What is too much or too little? 

There are 3 key components of hamster nutrition, namely protein, fat, and fibre. 


Protein promotes physical growth and development, which is why young hamsters require higher levels of protein than adult hamsters. Adult hamsters undergoing physical stress (e.g. pregnant hamsters and hamsters recovering from birth) also need slightly more protein than usual. An elderly hamster (above the age of 1.5 years), on the other hand, would do better with a diet with lower levels of protein, as too much can cause kidney damage and other health complications. 

As a rule of thumb, it is usually better to err on the side of giving slightly too little protein than too much, especially with fully grown hamsters. 


Fat provides us with the energy we need to move and get things done, and the same is true for hamsters. While we’ve all heard the dangers of consuming too much fat, too little fat can also be detrimental to health too, so always adjust your hamster’s fat intake according to their weight and/or health issues.


Fibre is necessary for a healthy digestive system, and can mainly be found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. In general, the older your hamster gets, the more fibre it should consume.

Note: Commercial seed mixes in Singapore tend to contain too much fat and too little fibre!

Quantity: Guaranteed Analysis (GA)

The percentages of protein, fat, and fibre present in a hamster’s diet are referred to as the Guaranteed Analysis (GA). These values can be found on the packaging of your hamster’s food mix, or through a simple Google search. 

Here is an example of a recommended GA (from

<6 months
Protein: 19-20%, fat: 7-8%, fiber: 8-10%

6-18 months
Protein: 17-18%, fat: 6-7%, fiber: 10-12%

>18 months
Protein: 15%, fat: 6-7%, fiber: 12-15%

As you can see, recommended GA values tend to be broken down by a hamster’s age, and are usually given as a range of values instead of a fixed number.

The reason for this is that you should always tailor your hamster’s nutrition intake according to its own unique physiology. Younger hamsters need more protein, while older ones require more fibre. If your hamster is a wheel maniac, it may need a bit more fat; if it is a little lump of chill, you should probably scale down its fat intake, or you will have an obese lump of chill on your hands very quickly.

Adjusting the GA of your hamster’s diet can be done by switching to more suitable food mixes, or through food mixing, which will be covered in Part 2 of our Hamster Nutrition series. 


Imagine being given nothing but bowls and bowls of plain white rice every single day. Sounds awful? Not only to you! Just like us humans, hamsters need variety in their diets too.

But what does variety actually mean?

There are 3 things to bear in mind when looking for variety in your seed/food mixes:

  1. Raw variety
  2. True variety
  3. Significance of variety

1. Raw variety

Raw variety refers to the number of unique ingredients, which are of nutritional significance to hamsters, that are present in a seed/food mix.

In order to increase the number of perceived ingredients in their mixes, manufacturers often list the same ingredients multiple times, either through paraphrasing, or listing an ingredient, as well as all the sub-parts derived from it separately.

Let’s try to identify and count the number of unique ingredients in the Versele Laga Hamster Nature mix: 

Cereals, derivatives of vegetable origin, vegetables (green peas 12%), seeds (striped sunflower seeds 6%), vegetable protein extracts, fruit (apricot 1.5%, raisins 1%), nuts, insects (mealworms 4%), minerals, yeasts, oils and fats, herbs, MOS, FOS, calendula, grape seed

“Derivatives of vegetable origins”, “vegetables”, “vegetable protein extracts” are essentially just vegetables. These have been listed separately by the manufacturer to present a false image of variety.

“Minerals, yeasts, oils and fats, herbs, MOS, FOS,” are most likely byproducts from manufacturing and of low nutritional significance, and are thus not counted.

This brings us to 16 ingredients listed, but since only the 8 bolded ones are considered to be unique ingredients, the raw variety of this mix is actually only half of the listed ingredients!

2. True variety

True variety refers to the number of whole ingredients in a mix. Whole ingredients are minimally processed and provided in their natural form, in contrast to heavily processed food like pellets.

Let’s look at the two examples below:

Versele Laga Hamster Nature and Bunny Nature Dwarf Hamster Dream Expert

The grey blocks you see are pellets. Versele Laga Hamster Nature has both pellets and whole ingredients such as sunflower seeds and other smaller seeds. In comparison, Bunny Nature Dwarf Hamster Dream Expert clearly has a greater variety of whole ingredients. Dehydrated vegetables, mealworms, and seeds are present. In terms of true variety, Mix B definitely comes out on top. 

Why is true variety important? Hamsters are not inclined to ingest processed foods like pellets, which translates to leftovers. Leftovers are not only a waste, but also mean that you hamster will be missing out on the nutrition in the pellets, thereby skewing the GA values of the mix, and making it difficult to monitor your hamster’s diet. 

3. Significance of variety

Significance refers to the actual amount of any ingredient in the mix. Ingredients are usually listed in order of prevalence unless otherwise specified.

Take a look at this ingredients list from Bunny Nature Dwarf Hamster Dream Expert:

Plata millet, canary seed, pea flakes, quinoa seeds (6%), barley, mung beans (5%), amaranth puffed (5%), barley flakes, oat flakes, silver millet, perilla seeds (3%), red millet, carrots, linseed (2%), grass seed, parsnips, dandelion leaves, lucerne, mealworms (1%), yarrow, ribwort, sesame (1%), calcium carbonate, beetroot, marigold blossoms, camomile blossoms, rose blossoms, semolina bran (millet 24%)

Note how the percentages start from 6% and gradually drop to 1%. Furthermore, according to Hamster Hideout, calcium carbonate is a mineral additive added in foods in very small quantities. For these two reasons, it is safe to assume that any ingredient listed after calcium carbonate in the Bunny Nature exists in insignificant quantities. That is also why we cannot see any visible “beetroot” when we look into a packet of Bunny Nature. 


Quality refers to the nutritional suitability of an ingredient for a hamster’s diet. Hamsters, rodents and rabbits often have similar food mixes, but what is good for one animal isn’t necessarily good for the other. You wouldn’t feed your cat vegetables just because they are good for you, so we should beware not to feed hamsters certain ingredients just because they have nutritional value for another animal.

Look at this list of ingredients in Oxbow’s Essential Hamster & Gerbil Food:

Timothy Meal, Pearled Barley (Rolled), Oat Groats, Flax Seed Meal, Canola Meal, Canola Oil, Wheat Gluten, Millet, Limestone, Flax Seed, Salt, Yeast Culture (dehydrated), Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, Selenium Yeast, Vitamin A Supplement, Folic Acid, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Proteinate, Riboflavin Supplement, Manganese Proteinate, Biotin, Manganous Oxide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Magnesium Sulfate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Cobalt Carbonate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Rosemary Extract

As Timothy Meal is listed first, that means it is the primary ingredient in this mix. Timothy Meal is essentially a type of hay which is the staple in the diets of other animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs. Hamsters, however, do not eat hay. Therefore, timothy meal is a low quality ingredient for hamsters, and this seed mix where it is the primary ingredient should be avoided.

The visual evaluation

Sometimes, it is not even necessary to read the ingredients list to determine the quality of the mix. Below is a photograph of a poor quality mix. We can easily spot fillers like dehydrated corn, as well as a large proportion of sunflower seeds, which should not be fed to hamsters in large amounts.


  1. Quantity, Variety, Quality (QVQ) are your ways to a good hamster diet.
  2. Quantity: Guaranteed Analysis (GA) – Ensure that the guaranteed minimum percentage of protein and fat, and the maximum percentages of fibre and moisture are met.
  3. Variety: Ensure a wide variety of different, whole ingredients in significant portions.
  4. Quality: Ensure that every ingredient has strong nutritional value for your hamster.


Whenever you pick up any box/container of hamster mix, analyse the ingredients list using the Quantity/Variety/Quality rule. It may seem daunting at first, but give it a try! You’ll get the hang of it in no time. Eventually, you’ll be able to tell with just a quick glance at the mix itself just how suitable it is for your hamster!

If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!

Waiting for our next post here.

By HamsterCareTip.Com

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