Isn’t it adorable when your hamster’s cheeks are full of food? There is no better feeling than watching them scurry back to their beds, pouches full. Hamsters generally have an insatiable appetite, so it can be worrying if you notice that you hamster is not eating.
So, in answer to your question: ‘why is my hamster not eating?’ There are several different factors to consider. If your hamster is not eating, it is often a sign that they are not feeling well. However, it could also be that your hamster is not eating because they are hoarding food. It is important to keep a close eye on your hamster to determine the real reason why your pet isn’t eating.
Hamsters have pouches in their cheeks. These pouches are used to carry food around because in the wild, hamsters usually bring their food back to their burrows to eat.
When feeding your hamster, you may notice that they tuck the food into their cheek pouches rather than eating it right away. Your hamster is probably storing the food to carry back to their beds before eating it.
Is It Normal For A Hamster To Not Eat?
If you are concerned that your hamster is not eating, first check their bedding. We would recommend doing this when you clean them out.
You may notice that there is evidence of a midnight feast or two!
Remember not to remove food that your hamster has hoarded – they will feel safe knowing that their environment is their own.
Hamsters are typically nocturnal animals, meaning that they sleep during daylight hours and are most active during the night.
Your hamster might be eating during the night, but if you are concerned about whether or not your hamster is eating enough then we would recommend contacting your vet.
If you are sure your hamster is not eating, it can be a sign that they are unwell. Lack of appetite can be a symptom of several different illnesses in hamsters.
Owing to their small size, hamsters can be quite sensitive to illness and disease.
If you suspect your hamster to be sick, look out for any of these symptoms accompanying the lack of appetite including:
- Depression (changes in behaviour e.g. not leaving their bed for extended periods even when awake),
- Skin inflammation,
If you notice any of these symptoms in your hamster, do not hesitate to contact your vet as these symptoms can be a sign of something serious.
Your vet will be able to diagnose any issues and suggest an effective course of treatment.
If your hamster is not displaying any additional symptoms, they may not be eating due to the fact that they are bored of their diet.
If you are feeding your hamster shop-bought hamster food, try mixing up the blends or supplementing their diet with fresh foods.
As humans, we would become pretty bored quite quickly if we ate the same meals every single day, the same goes for hamsters!
However, it is important not to chop and change your hamsters’ diet suddenly.
Offering small variations from time to time often end food boredom when it comes to pet hamsters.
To vary a hamster’s healthy diet try adding small amounts of fresh food occasionally including:
Your hamster will be happiest and healthiest when they are fed a balanced and healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals.
Remember, if your hamster is not eating, to is advisable to eliminate the possibility that they are hoarding their food or bored of their diet before making the decision to contact your vet. If your hamster is showing and additional symptoms as well as a lack of appetite, contact your vet.
How Much Should A Hamster Eat?
Hamsters usually consume around 10 grams of food per day. This roughly equates to around 2 tablespoons of good quality hamster food.
Although once filled, your hamster will likely consume whatever is in their food bowl.
As a hamster owner, you should monitor the weight of your furry little friend as hamsters, as owing to their insatiable appetites, they have a tendency of putting eating too much.
If your hamster is starting to look a bit podgy or overweight, you may need to reduce the amount of food you are giving them slightly.
A healthy diet for a hamster consists of a balance of essential nutrients and minerals (found in any good quality specialized hamster food) and can be supplemented with some greens, root vegetables, and pieces of fruit.
If you want to give your hamster an edible treat from time to time, we recommend trying:
- A small piece of hard-boiled egg,
- A small amount of peanut butter (works well smeared on a piece of apple),
- A small portion of sunflower seeds.
Occasionally, your hamster will enjoy a Kaytee Timothy Biscuit Treat, which you can get for a great price over at Amazon.
As well as supporting dental health, these are apple-flavored providing your pet hamster with delicious and nutritious variation in their diet.
How Often Should A Hamster Eat?
A hamster can carry their own body weight in food in their cheeks. For this reason, it makes us wonder how regularly they should be eating if they have this storage mechanism freely available to them.
A healthy hamster will eat, over the course of the day/night as and when required.
When owning a hamster, you’ll notice that most of this food is put into storage. Their food bowls always seem to be empty!
Certain species of hamsters are known to eat more, whereas others are less. Two such examples are: larger Syrian hamsters (who are known to eat more) and Dwarf hamsters (who are known to eat less)
Hamsters do require a varied diet to stay healthy, and they will consume foods that are not ideal for them if presented.
This is why you need to ensure you never provide sugary sweets, along with other inappropriate foods like onions or even rabbit mix!
As hamsters are nocturnal, most owners provide a bowl of feed at night with a few treats throughout the day.
However, regardless of when you offer food – your hamster will likely store some of it away. This behavior actually helps to lower their stress.
For this reason do not feel the need to keep topping up their food bowls, or worry about throwing away old and stale excess food.
What Do I Do If My Hamster Won’t Eat?
Sometimes, hamsters can just be picky eaters! If you have recently changed the main brand of food that you are feeding them, you may find that your hamster is reluctant to eat the new food.
We would recommend gradually phasing out the old food before introducing the new food. You could do this by adding a little of both foods to your hamster’s food bowl.
It could be that your hamster is not eating due to a problem with its teeth. If you have noticed that your hamster has started chewing or gnawing at the bars of its enclosure, then this may well be the case.
Feeding your hamster a mix of hard and soft foods can help with dental health in hamsters, although if you do suspect there is a problem with your hamster’s teeth, they will need to be looked at by a vet.
Another reason your pet hamster may be off their food is due to stress or trauma.
If something has happened that would be considered stressful for your hamster, it may take them a couple of days to calm down and return to their normal diet.
Be patient and offer food to your hamster in a calm and non-threatening way to encourage and soothe them.
So, if your hamster is not eating, it can often be a sign that there is something wrong. If your hamster’s loss of appetite is accompanied by other symptoms, then do not hesitate to contact your vet.
It could be a sign of illness or disease that your vet is best placed to treat.
Some variation in your hamster’s diet can also stop them from losing their appetite due to boredom.
Try supplementing your hamster’s dry food with fresh foods for added nutritional benefit also.
If a hamster eats too much or does not burn off the energy with enough exercise, it will gain weight. Excess weight is particularly unhealthy for a hamster and it can add strain to its small frame and body. Other signs to look for that indicate a hamster is overconsuming food is lethargy, illness, and even oversleeping.
Hamsters can die from eating too much. However, this is likely to be over time as being overweight leads to more health issues and complications. Even though hamsters are known to eat a lot if offered, it is unlikely that they would eat themselves to death given the opportunity.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.