Keeping your hamster at the correct weight is important for their overall health.
A hamster with a good diet and plenty of exercise is a happy hamster.
But it can be hard to know when they are the correct weight. I’d love to know how many people have taken their hamster to the vet for having bloated cheeks just to find out they have been storing their food there!
There are steps you can take to check whether your hamster is overweight, in this article I’ll take a look at them and I’ll also give some advice on how to reduce the weight of a fat hamster!
Your hamster may be overweight if they have been given particularly fatty foods or if they aren’t getting enough exercise. A hamster’s diet doesn’t require much fat. You can weigh your hamster following my guide below to see if they may be overweight.
What is the average weight of a hamster
Establishing what a hamster should weigh can be a little tricky. Hamsters come in many breeds and they are quite different in size.
There will also be disparities between genders, and of course just like people are different sizes, even hamsters of the same breed can be naturally different sizes.
Having said that, it is useful to understand the average weight of a hamster, because it provides you with a good benchmark.
To help you out I’ve listed the average weights of the most popular breeds of hamsters.
|Syrian (Golden)||4 – 5.5 oz||120 – 150 g|
|Dwarf Hamster||1 oz||25 – 30 g|
|Chinese Hamster||1 – 1.5 oz||30 – 45 g|
If your hamster is 20% higher than these ranges then it might just be that you have a larger hamster, they might not necessarily be overweight.
But if you start edging towards 30% higher than these ranges then there is a good chance that your hamster is starting to develop excess weight.
How to weigh a hamster
Weighting a hamster is best done with a digital scale.
Some hamsters, especially dwarf hamsters, weigh so little that the exact weight can be hard to read on a traditional scale with a dial.
First, put a box on the scales, this is where your hamster will sit but before you put them in make a note of how much the box weighs on its own.
Pop your hamster into the box and you’ll see the weight increase. Then you can calculate the exact weight of your hamster.
On most digital scales you are usually able to reset the scale to zero when you first put the box on so that when you add your hamster it’ll just show their weight.
But if you don’t it doesn’t matter as you can just subtract the weight of both the box and hamster from the weight of just the box.
What can cause weight gain for a hamster
There are multiple reasons why hamsters can gain weight.
Type of food
Although they may seem it sometimes, hamsters aren’t overly greedy. Yes, they stuff their cheeks with incredible amounts of food but the key thing is they don’t eat it straight away.
Instead they store it until they’re hungry again.
So unlike some other pets, who will just eat and eat until they physically can’t anymore, hamsters are naturally more moderate with their food intake.
However, if they are given a lot of high-fat food, especially treats, then they usually will start to gain weight.
Hamster food will generally only contain around 6% fat which really isn’t much, so giving them fatty treats could easily lead to weight gain.
Not enough exercise
If your hamster is just eating a basic daily diet mainly consisting of their hamster food at around 6% fat then the most likely reason for weight gain would be lack of exercise.
Hamsters do enjoy quite a lot of exercise, both inside and outside their cage.
Make sure they have plenty of space in their cage and provide them with plenty of things to play with and enjoy, especially a running wheel.
Try to take them out of their cage daily and let them explore a little. Hamsters love crawling around on a big open floor, just watch out for them hiding under any furniture or getting stuck in cracks.
If your hamster is up to it, a good exercise can be climbing the stairs.
Make sure you follow them closely so they can’t have any accidents but I have seen Syrian hamsters that love to climb stairs and it’ll give them a bit of a work out that they can’t replicate in their cage.
If you think your hamster has plenty of opportunities to exercise and is being fed a low-fat diet but they are still overweight then they could very well have underlying health conditions.
This could also be the case if they are particularly inactive due to illness, which of course means they won’t be getting enough exercise either.
If that seems to be the case then the best thing you can do is take your hamster to a vet.
How to make a hamster lose weight
It’s quite easy to make your hamster lose weight if you are worried they have too much excess fat.
Really it comes down to two things, both totally in your control. Diet and exercise.
Feed your hamster a lower-fat diet
Check your hamster’s daily food.
On the back of the packaging, it should have a section called ‘Guaranteed Analysis’, there it should show the fat content.
You want a fat content of around 6%, a percent higher or lower shouldn’t cause much of a problem though.
That’s all a hamster needs, they really don’t require much fat.
If your hamster food is higher than that then I would recommend switching it.
Next, cut out any fatty treats. They could be treats bought from the store or they could be ‘human’ foods you give to your hamster.
You can still treat your hamster occasionally but try to find a low fat treat. A good natural example is bell peppers, but even things like that should be kept to a minimum.
Make sure your hamster has plenty of exercise
The next thing you need to do is increase your hamsters exercise levels.
This is the fun bit. You should take them out of their cage at least once a day and play with them.
Let them crawl from hand to hand, let them crawl around on an open floor (making sure they don’t go anywhere dangerous).
You can even see if you can teach them to climb stairs, but again keep close to them so you can support them and stop any falls.
If you combine that with providing them with plenty of toys and entertainment in their cage, along with a running wheel, they should get plenty of exercise and it’ll be fantastic for their mental stimulation.
If you follow those two basic principles of diet and exercise I’m certain you’ll quickly see a decrease in your hamster’s weight, and they will be much more active and healthy.
Of course, if they still seem reluctant to do any exercise then they may well have a health condition and you might want to consult with your vet.
Why is my hamster fat all of a sudden
If you haven’t changed your hamster diet but they seem to have gained a lot of weight suddenly then it could be an indication of a serious health condition.
Hamsters don’t tend to gauge themselves on food so unless they have new, higher-fat food, or they have been getting lots of treats then they should usually gain lots of weight in the short space of a week or so.
This kind of weight gain could be a sign of a serious condition such as a tumor that can develop very quickly.
I would recommend that you take your hamster to a vet if they gain a lot of weight in just a week period without any change to their diet or access to exercise.