8 Signs your hamster is hungry: When you are a new hamster owner, it can be hard to decide how much food to give your hamster. You don’t want to overfeed your hamster, but you also don’t want your hamster to go hungry. And even seasoned hamster owners can get it wrong, after all, not every hamster is the same!
Having said that, there is a general guide on how much food to give your hamster however, this of course does depend a bit on the size and activity level of your hamster.
How much food should I give my hamster?
As a general guide, Syrian hamsters eat more as they are larger than other hamster breeds. You can expect your Syrian hamster to eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of pellets or seed mix every day. On top of that they will need fresh fruit, vegetables and a snack.
If you have a dwarf hamster, then about 1 tablespoon is normally enough.
As hamsters often empty their food bowl relatively quickly, it looks like they are very hungry and need more food. However, hamsters have big cheek pouches which can hold a lot of food. Chances are your hamster is moving the food from the bowl to a hiding spot somewhere in the cage.
Hamsters don’t eat large amounts of food in one sitting. They prefer to eat little amounts of food, often throughout the night (as that’s when they are most active).
The fact that hamsters empty their bowl often also means that some people think their hamster is storing any excess food and therefor think their hamster is getting plenty to eat.
This can lead to a shortage of food.
NOTE: One great reason of underfeeding hamster happens when hamster owners change the brand or type of food, they have been giving their hamsters. Not all foods are the same and different portions might be needed depending on the brand and the type of food you are giving!
To avoid you from underfeeding your hamster, here are 8 signs your hamster is hungry:
1. Your hamster eats all the food and doesn’t store it
When your hamster is hungry, there is no excess food to stockpile. So, when you clean your hamsters cage, and you don’t find a stockpile in the bedding, then that means your hamster has eaten all the food you have given them that week. You will need to increase their food by at least half a tablespoon. While it seems like a waste to throw food away you hamster wasn’t going to eat anyway, it’s important to have some spare food for your hamster to store. It will give a feeling of security to know there is enough food to go around. As hamsters are prone to stress, the feeling of running out of food might trigger your pet.
Don’t worry about overfeeding your hamster if you mainly give them pellets and seed mix. Problems with overfeeding normally occur when hamsters are given too many ‘human foods’ like cereals and dairy products.
2. Your hamster starts to look thin
You should always be worried when you hamster loses weight. This can be a sign of underfeeding, but it can also be a sign of illness. Unfortunately, if your hamster is thin because of lack of food then that indicates you have been underfeeding your hamster for some time. If you use an electric hamster feeder, make sure you check regularly that the feeder dispenses food and isn’t blocked.
The good news is that you can increase the amount of food you give your hamster, and you will see your hamster will put on weight quickly.
If your hamster doesn’t put on weight after increasing their food, then you should have your hamster checked out as there could be an underlying illness.
3. Your hamster is awake during the day more than normal
Hamsters are nocturnal and while they will have short periods of time during the day when they are awake, they should be asleep most of the day and awake during the night.
If your hamster starts rummaging around the cage during the day, especially when you are around, give them some more food as they are likely to be hungry.
4. Extra activity when you are around
If your hamster reacts when you are walking past the cage or runs to your hand as soon as you open the cage, then this could be a sign that your hamster is super tame. It could also be a sign that your hamster is keen to get some food from the hand that feeds him!
While it’s great to have your hamster run to you as soon as you open the cage, it’s best not to assume he’s super happy to see you. Yes, we all love the feeling of being liked, though it’s important to keep your hamster in mind first and foremost. So, check for food stores and increase their food. It will ensure your hamster is less stressed and is therefore more likely to like you more and become tamer!
5. Excessive rummaging in their cage
If your hamster is hungry, they might well try to turn their cage upside down to find something to eat.
Even if this seems like silly behavior – surely, they know where their stockpile is – it’s quite normal behavior for a hungry hamster.
A bit like you walking into the kitchen checking every cupboard for something to eat, full well knowing there’s not much to eat and you need to go shopping!
To stop your hamster searching for food continuously, increase the food you give them every day and maybe get in the habit of putting some vegetables in their cage every day, so they always have something to nibble.
Yes, you will need to remove fresh fruit and vegetables every day to avoid them rotting and spreading bacteria (which can make your hamster ill), but if it ensures your hamster eats well, healthy and enough, then that’s a small price to pay.
6. Escape artist – your hamster is constantly trying to escape
While many hamsters do escape every so often, if your hamster is hungry, they are likely to have a fresh surge of energy for a breakout.
Their need to eat will ensure their instincts take over and they will do anything to survive, including breaking out of their cage.
Of course, an escaped hamster faces many challenges and dangers, however, in your hamsters mind the only thing important is getting enough food to survive before they get too weak. They will not think of consequences of escape. Quite frankly, they are incapable of that. They simply act in impulse to find more food.
If your hamster is constantly trying to escape, again, add more food and see if he calms down.
7. Your hamster might become more vocal
Hamsters squeak for different reasons, but if your hamster is all of a sudden becoming more and more vocal, it could be that they are trying to tell you that they are hungry.
It might look to you like your hamster is angry and is therefore squeaking, but yes, hunger does make hamsters (and people) angry so don’t dismiss your hamsters’ anger.
8. Lethargic hamster
Hamsters are normally very active creatures, and if your hamster seems without energy and sleeps a lot both day and night, then you really need to find out what’s wrong. Things to consider are illness, old age, stress but also lack of (quality) food.
This stage is normally after the many behaviors discussed above have been tried already. Your hamster will have gotten weak due to lack of food and with that; minerals and vitamins.
This could be a very dangerous situation as your hamster might not have enough energy to eat.
As there are many reasons why your hamster lacks energy, it’s best to fully investigate what is going on with your hamster and ask the vet for help.
If you have more than one hamster, fights might break out where the strongest hamster will try to get the main share of the food. When you have more than one hamster it’s even more important to give plenty of food, water, hiding places and space so all hamsters can live in peace and no fighting is necessary to survive.
These are 8 things to look out for which could indicate that your hamster is not getting as much food as they should be.
From this list, the easiest way to find out if you are feeding your hamster enough is simply checking their cage and bedding when you clean their cage out every week. You should always find food in the bedding and hideouts. If not, increase their food!
What do you do when your hamster is weak because of lack of food?
This could happen when you have unknowingly been underfeeding your hamster, but also when your hamster has managed to escape from their cage.
You should always offer water as that is more important than food. If there is always fresh water in the cage and your hamster hasn’t escaped, you can buy a product from Oxbow animal health called ‘critical care-Herbivore’ which is suitable for hamsters as well.
It’s a powder which you dilute with water. It is easy to feed your hamster through a syringe if he’s too weak to eat.
The many nutrients in this food will help your hamster get its strength back. It’s not a replacement of normal daily meals, however.
I personally keep a pack at home and give my hamster some every so often especially when I think she’s a bit under the weather. I hope I don’t have to use it to nurse my hamster back to health, but I like to make sure I have supplementary food for my hammy should she need it for whatever reason.
If your hamster weak and doesn’t take the food, then please contact your vet.
What causes a hamster to stop eating?
It could be that you are actually giving your hamster plenty to eat, but for some reason he or she is not eating at all. This is often than not a problem.
Here are 3 serious reasons why your hamster might have stopped eating:
- Your hamster is sick
- Your hamster is stressed or depressed
- Your hamster is injured
These are serious issues, and you should have your vet check your hamster to make sure he or she gets back to their happy self soon, rather than leaving it to get worse.
Some less serious reasons could be:
- Your hamster is bored with their food
- You have changed their diet and your hamster doesn’t like the new food
- Your hamster has just come to live with you and is not yet used to their new surroundings
Lastly it could be that your hamster is dying and has stopped eating as he or she is too weak and old to do so. In that case, there is nothing you can do other than to comfort them.
In 8 signs your hamster is hungry we looked at things to look out for so you never have a hungry hamster!
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