Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Babies?

Hamsters are recognized as adorable, pint-sized pets who spend their days running around on wheels and eating their mouths with pellets. While these characteristics are attractive, they can have some primal moments that aren't as warm and cuddly as their appearance. One such instance involves...well, eating their young on occasion. Whether you've witnessed it firsthand or witnessed newborn hamsters abruptly vanish, the experience is upsetting and perplexing. There are a few possible explanations for this unexpected conduct, as well as measures to avoid it in the first place.

Nesting Behavior in Hamsters

In preparation for the arrival of their young, female hamsters will begin to build a nest. A hamster is only pregnant for approximately three weeks, and up to 20 kids can appear seemingly overnight in a hamster's nest if you weren't aware your hamster was pregnant. Hamsters may commonly utilize tissues, paper towels, shredded paper, and the cage substrate to create a comfy nest for their babies. Food is sometimes maintained in or near the nest.


Diet of a Normal Hamster

Hamsters will eat more when pregnant and nursing, but their diet will be the same as if they were not. During pregnancy, seeds, fruit, veggies, and pellets remain staples in a hamster's diet.1 Treats are fine on occasion, but fresh water should always be available.

Reasons a Hamster Would Eat Its Young

If a hamster has nestled and eaten a little more food than usual in preparation for a normal birth, it can be especially shocking to see a hamster kill and consume its kid. While a scarcity of food may be the cause, there are a few more reasons why a hamster might eat its kids.

Stress: Anyone who has had a baby can identify with a stressed-out mother hamster. Pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, and caring for several babies is extremely stressful for anyone, including hamsters. If a hamster becomes overly anxious, it may consume its young. It may feel that caring for its young is too much for it, and it will, tragically, kill and consume its infants. This is more likely to happen in young hamster mothers or if you agitate the mother too much during the day.

Fear: It is natural for mothers of many species, including hamsters, to wish to protect their young. However, when hamsters are terrified, they may kill and eat their offspring.2 Threats such as a frightened person, other pets, loud noises, and other things that are frightening to a small hamster can all drive it to consume its kids.

Scent: A mother hamster spends a significant amount of time cleaning and caring for her offspring. The aroma left on each newborn aids the mother in identifying the young. If a new scent, such as a human scent, is discovered in newborns, the mother may become confused and fail to recognize her children. Because the scent of the newborn altered, it may then kill and swallow the supposed impostor.

Food scarcity: Perhaps the most obvious reason a hamster would eat its own young is a lack of food. Any pregnant or nursing animal expends more energy in its body than it would normally provide for its offspring. As a result, extra food is critical. The hamster may just be hungry, or it may be afraid of not being able to provide for its offspring due to a shortage of food.

Inability to care for all the puppies: If a mother feels overwhelmed with her new litter of puppies, especially if it is a larger litter, she may decide she is unable to care for all of them and devour them. Even though it does not appear to be a kind thing to do, the mother does it for the sake of the other babies' survival.

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How to Stop a Hamster from Eating its Babies

There are a few simple things you can do to keep a hamster from eating its pups:

Maintain peace and quiet: create a peaceful and quiet environment for your hamster to nest and care for its offspring. This may imply keeping children and other pets out of the room where your hamster lives, lowering the loudness in your home so as not to bother your hamster, and possibly even covering the cage so it cannot see any imagined threats or stress.

Examine the babies but do not touch them: Taking a look at the infants is fine, but you should leave them alone for at least the first week of their lives. Avoid touching the babies with your bare hands and, if possible, avoid moving them at all.

Make sure your hamster has plenty of food: This may seem obvious, but make sure your hamster has lots of food when it is caring for its young.

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