Feeding ecology and diet

Living in dry, comparatively unproductive habitats, hamsters often travel long distances in search of food. Besides carrying seeds and grain in their roomy cheek pouches, they carry large items such as root vegetables in their teeth. By storing food, hamsters make sure they will have enough to eat when food is in short supply—especially in winter.

Hamsters eat frequently throughout the day; their mixed diet is mostly seeds and grains but also includes green plant parts along with insects such as moths, beetle larvae, earth-

A male golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus). (Photo by Carolyn A. McKeone/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

A 20-day-old hamster. (Photo by Carolyn A. McKeone/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)
The Dzhungarian hamster (Phodopus sungorus) will fill its cheeks with food to carry to its burrow. (Photo by © Jorg & Petra Wegner/Animals Animals. Reproduced by permission.)

worms, and grasshoppers. Some hamsters kill smaller rodents, lizards, frogs, or baby birds, and they will eat carrion as well.

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