Hamsters are energetic rodents that have to exercise to stay in good condition and live a long and fit life. Similarly to humans, to lose weight hamsters have to eat healthy. So, a key to make a hamster lose weight is to provide a plenty of room for exercise and ensure a balanced diet.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? However, it is not that simple. There is not much information available on the Internet or in the pet care guides. That is why I put together an ultimate guide on how to help your hamster lose weight. So, let’s get started!
Is your hamster overweight?
First things first – find out how much should a hamster weigh. Weight fluctuates according to hamster species. For example, a grown-up Syrian hamster can weigh from 3.5 to 7 oz (100 – 200g). In comparison, a Roborovski Dwarf hamster which is the smallest species weighs 0.88 oz (25g) maximum.
Also, keep in mind that most of the time when you pick up a hamster from the pet shop, it is usually around 5 or 8 weeks old. Your precious little furry friend is still in a process of gaining weight, so you don’t need to freak out. However, at this point you should implement weekly weighing for a health check.
There are a few more points to keep in mind before you decide that your hamster is overweight and needs to lose weight. Female hamsters weigh more than males! Moreover, growing hamster’s weight will fluctuate while an older hamster can start losing weight due to health problems.
How to help hamster lose weight:
1. Provide a hamster with a varied diet
Hamsters enjoy a varied diet predominantly consisting of seeds and nuts which resembles the food intake in the wild. It is important to realize that in captivity hamsters rely on the owners to provide them with food. So, you must know what to give, how often and how much.
Overfeeding your pet may result in weight gain which can lead to health problems like diabetes, heart disease, bladder infections, respiratory problems, and joint conditions. So, it is really only necessary to feed the hamster once a day!
I put together a diet char with what your hamster can eat, how often and how much. You can print it and hang it next to the cage or next to the food supplies.
Hamster’s Diet Chart
|What Foods:||When to feed:||Portion Size:|
|Mixed seeds, grains, nuts or hamster pellets with wholemeal bread, uncooked porridge oats||Early Evening||1 heaped tablespoon|
|Fresh fruit and vegetables and greenstuff||Late evening or morning||A couple of greens and a floret of cauliflower, or a small handful of raisins, or a couple of apple slices|
|Hard boiled egg, cheese, scraps of fish, cooked meat||As addition to the meal early evening or late evening or morning||In very small amounts, no more than will be consumed the same day|
Follow the chart above to make sure that your pet stays happy and in shape. There are many food types to choose from. I would recommend sticking with one type as frequent changes from one brand to another can cause stomach upsets.
Types of hamster food:
- Hamster Muesli
- Hamster Pellets
The first option is the most common staple diet for hamsters. It contains all of the vitamins and proteins your pet needs. You can buy hamster muesli on Amazon and 4.5 lbs of the product will last for a month but most likely up to 45 days.
What I like about pellets is that they help to keep your hamster’s teeth in good condition. Moreover, it prevents your pet from selective feeding. That is when a pet starts eating only the parts of the foods that they want. For example, when a hamster just eats sunflower seeds from the muesli.
Needless to say that it can lead to your pet being overweight. Many owners remove the seeds from the muesli mix but it sounds like an extra work. So, I just stick with the pellets. You can get a 3.3 lbs bag of pellets for 14$ on Amazon.
2. Keep the food in the dish
Place the pellets or muesli in the food dish. That way you can monitor how much your hamster is eating and adjust the amount to help hamster lose weight. As you know a hamster is a hoarding animal, so it will take most food to the food store to eat it later.
Don’t remove the dry foods from the store. In the wild hamsters spend hours in the day searching for the food. Chances are that if you just scatter muesli or pellets in the cage, it will trigger the need to store more food and overeat.
So, providing exactly the same amount of food in the same dish at the same time will help your pet to understand that the food supply is constant. Keep in mind that you would need to remove perishable foods from the cage. If there is constant excess of rotten food in the store, you are being over-generous.
3. Give treats occasionally and in small portions
We all LOVE treats and I am a BIG FAN of all things chocolate, so it is normal that we want our pets to enjoy glorious food too. However, it is important to understand that fruits and vegetables equal as treats for hamsters and you should only give them occasionally. Hence the name treats!
You should also keep the portions very small. For example, it is enough to give a couple of greens and a floret of cauliflower, or a small handful of raisins, or a couple of apple slices. Check out a list of good treat foods for your hamster:
- Mashed potato
You can also buy treats specifically designed for hamsters at your local pet shop or on Amazon. You can buy a treat holder and stock it with nuts and seeds. Also, you can get some animal chocolate drops as well as honey drops and natural wood treat packs.
4. House a hamster in a big cage
I can’t stress enough how vital it is to buy a large cage. In the wild hamsters travel long distances to collect enough food and water to survive in desert conditions. On average, a hamster will run around up to 5 miles (8km) every day! In captivity there is no opportunity to move around.
Also, a hamster will quickly realize that there is no need to do so anymore – food and water supplies are constant. Once your hamster is not able to express its natural instinct to run around, your pet becomes very lazy, sleeps a lot more and, as a result, gains weight.
That is why you need to buy the best accommodation, so your pet has a plenty of opportunity for exercise. The cage should be designed to enable the hamster to use all the cubic space available. If you don’t have enough space in the room, consider a two or three tier cage so your pet can run up and down.
5. Organize a good adventure playground
Hamsters are curious animals who absolutely love exploring their surroundings. Without any stimulation your pet can quickly become bored. Boredom = laziness = overeating = extra weight = health problems. Turn on your imagination and set up a good adventure playground!
Place ramps and galleries into the cage, include bars for climbing, tunnels, and an exercise wheel! Don’t forget to add plenty of materials for gnawing, shredding and tunneling. All these items together ward off the boredom and keep your pet well-occupied.
Some of the hamsters favorites that you can find at home:
- Toilet paper tubes
- Cardboard box
- Straw basket
Change the toys, houses and locations every week or so to keep things fresh and interesting for your pet!
These were my tops tips to make sure that your pet stays in shape and to help a hamster lose weight. Share this blog post with other hamster owners and let me know in the comments section down below what are your go-to tips?