Can Hamsters Eat
Guinea Pig Food?
October 13, 2021
As pet owners, we all know the situation where you suddenly run out of pet food. You’re the proud owner of the most adorable little hamster, and it’s time to fill up their food bowl. Unfortunately, when you look in the cupboard, you notice you have run out of hamster food and forgot to buy more.
So, you make a run to the closest store that sells pet food, but they only have guinea pig food. What should you do?
- Can a hamster eat guinea pig food?
- Is it safe and harmless to feed your hamster with it for a few days, or can it lead to health issues?
- Can hamsters even have guinea pig food, or are their nutritional needs too different?
In this article, you will learn whether it is safe to feed you hamster guinea pig food or if it’s definitely a no-no. This is what you need to know:
Can A Hamster Eat Guinea Pig Food?
To put it shortly, no, hamsters should not eat guinea pig food. It is in no way toxic to them, and nibbling on some piggy pellets will in no way harm your hamster.
It’s not uncommon that hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and other small pets tend to be considered the one and same. They are all rodents, which explains why it is easy to group them together. Still, they are all very different species with different needs and nutritional requirements.
Hamsters and guinea pigs have very different diet
Hamsters have very different dietary requirements than guinea pigs and therefore require a very different diet.
- While guinea pigs are herbivores and only need a plant-based diet to thrive, hamsters are omnivores which means they use both plant-based and animal-based energy sources.
- While guinea pigs eat mostly hay because it’s high in fiber, a hamster’s diet should include vegetables, fruit, meat, grains, and seeds. Hamsters need more protein, which is why they can’t survive on hay alone.
Because hamsters need more protein in their food than guinea pigs, the foods sold for both species are formulated very differently.
Hamsters often eat a seed mix with pellets, seeds, fruits, and nuts, or a pelleted hamster food that provides them with a balanced diet with all the right nutrients. Their food contains more fat and protein than guinea pig food.
Guinea pigs, on the other hand, need a high fiber diet and eat pellets that are made of timothy hay.
3 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Feeding Guinea Pig Food To Your Hamster
1. Guinea pig food is not suitable for hamsters
Considering what a hamster needs from its food, guinea pig pellets are too low in protein and fat but too high in carbs and fiber.
A hamster can eat hay and hay pellets, but they are only considered a supplement and not something hamsters need to have in their everyday diet.
A hamster’s daily food intake should mainly come from hamster food, with only 10% of the food being vegetables, fruits, seeds, grains, or meat. Your hammy needs 15% of crude protein in its daily diet, which means that high fiber and low protein guinea pig food is not suitable for them.
Other differences need to be considered as well.
2. The quantities of Vitamin C in guinea pig food are too high for hamsters
For example, guinea pig foods are fortified with Vitamin C because they cannot produce this vitamin and need it to come from their food. However, the quantities of Vitamin C in guinea pig food are too high for hamsters. So, although it is unlikely to cause serious harm, it can make your hamster feel unwell and cause stomach issues.
3. Guinea pig pellets can be too big and sticky
In addition, hamsters hoard food and store it in their cheek pouches. Guinea pig pellets can be too big and sticky and get caught in the pouch. This is another consideration you need to take into account when deciding to offer your hamster guinea pig food, even as an occasional treat.
As you can see, both species have very different needs when it comes to their food, and the commercial foods sold to these pets are formulated accordingly. A hamster can not thrive on guinea pig food and vice versa.
Although you may find foods formulated for ”small pets” in general, you should always choose food specifically tailored for a particular species.
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Should Hamsters Eat Guinea Pig Food?
No, a hamster should not eat guinea pig food. Although having a taste won’t hurt them, and they probably won’t suffer any harm from eating guinea pig food for a day or two, hamsters still have specific dietary needs and won’t survive with guinea pig food.
Because hamsters receive most of their daily energy intake from commercial hamster food, it should be specially formulated for them. These foods have the correct ratio of protein, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals, considering your hamster’s nutritional requirements.
A food that is tailored with your pet’s biological needs and natural diet in mind will help them stay happy and healthy.
Can Guinea Pig Food Kill Hamsters?
Yes and no. A few pellets of guinea pig food won’t harm your hamster and most certainly won’t kill them. However, if fed for longer periods, guinea pig food will lead to nutrient deficiencies because of the unsuitable makeup of the food. Not being fed a balanced diet and suffering from malnutrition may kill your hamster.
Signs of malnutrition in hamsters include symptoms like:
- frail coat
- dull eyes
- losing weight
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should take your hamsters to get checked by a vet as soon as possible. A veterinarian will also be able to advise you on the correct diet and how to treat possible nutrient deficiencies.
Although guinea pig food will not harm your hamster in small quantities, we recommend you ensure your hamster is fed a species-appropriate diet every day.
Can Hamsters Eat Guinea Pig Treats?
Yes, hamsters can eat guinea pig treats, but only occasionally and in moderation – as with treats in general. Basically, there is nothing in guinea pig treats that would be considered toxic to hamsters.
For both species, it is important to choose healthy treats that don’t contain too much fat or sugar. High sugar and fatty treats may lead to weight gain and other health problems in both hamsters and guinea pigs.
It is important to choose healthy treats that don’t contain too much fat or sugar.
Actually, many hamster owners choose guinea pig treats for hamsters because hamster treats are often less healthy. Hay-based treats for guinea pigs are high in fiber, but if a hamster is getting enough protein from their diet otherwise, you can use guinea pig treats to treat them.
However, guinea pig treats may be fortified with Vitamin C, which can be harmful to you hammy if their diet contains too much of it. Also, guinea pig treats can be too large in size, especially for dwarf hamsters. You need to keep in mind that hamsters use their cheeks to store food, and treats that are too big or could stick to the lining of the check can be dangerous.
We recommend you stick to treats that have been designed for hamsters, as they are the safest choice. Still, most of the options available for hamsters contain high-fat seeds and are often coated with honey. Therefore, guinea pig treats can be a better option.
For some excellent, healthy treat choices that have been approved by a vet, check out this article on hamster treats. You will find out that certain baby snacks and dog treats can be an excellent choice if you want to treat your hammy to something delicious yet healthy.
Bottom Line – Can Hamsters Have Guinea Pig Food?
To sum it up, hamsters should not be fed with guinea pig food, although guinea pig food will not harm them when fed in very small amounts here and there.
Because hamsters and guinea pigs have species-specific dietary needs, you should always feed them with food that has been specifically formulated for them. Hamsters need hamster food, and guinea pigs need guinea pig food.
As herbivores, guinea pigs won’t be able to digest hamster food that is high in protein, while omnivorous hamsters won’t get enough protein or fats from guinea pig food that is made primarily of timothy or alfalfa hay.
Therefore, to keep your hammy healthy, safe, and happy, you should always make sure to provide them with food that meets their needs.
As a pet parent, it is your responsibility to feed your hamster with suitable food considering what they are used to and what their nutritional needs are. To learn more about what you should feed your hamster, check out our article on what hamsters can eat. Also, here you can find our vet-approved hamster foods that will provide you hammy with everything they need.
Small amounts of guinea pig pellets shouldn’t cause major problems for most hamsters. Still, hamsters should not be fed guinea pig food exclusively or for a prolonged period of time. Part of this is because dietary changes can cause digestive upsets, which can be life-threatening in our tiny rodent buddies.
In addition, hamsters are probably best known for storing food in their cheek pouches, and large pellets can traumatize the delicate lining, causing pain and possibly causing your hammy to stop eating.
– Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your pet’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.