Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Own Babies? (and How To Prevent It)
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Why Do Hamsters Sometimes Eat Their Babies?
Hamsters are known to be adorable little animals that spend their days running around on wheels filling their faces with food.
While these qualities are a huge plus to having one of those fluffy friends, they can have some pristine moments that aren't as warm and welcoming as they seem.
One of those times is... well, they sometimes eat their young. Whether you've seen it with your own eyes or noticed the mysterious disappearance of little hamsters, the experience is haunting and confusing.
There are several reasons why this shocking behavior can occur, as well as ways to prevent it.
Normal hamster nesting behavior
The female hamsters begin to prepare the nest for the arrival of the babies. The hamster is only three weeks pregnant and up to 20 babies can appear in a hamster's nest, seemingly overnight, if you don't know that your hamster is pregnant.
Hamsters use a soft material to create a comfortable nest for their young. Tissues, paper towels, shredded paper, and a cage are often used. Sometimes the food is even kept in or around the nest.
The normal diet for hamsters
Hamsters will eat more during pregnancy and lactation, but otherwise, their diet will remain the same as if they weren't.
Seeds, fruits, vegetables, and granules remain the staple of a hamster's diet during pregnancy. Occasional treatment is fine, but cold water should always be available.
Reasons why a hamster would eat its babies
If the hamster has prepared for normal delivery by nesting and eating a little more than usual, this can be especially surprising when the hamster is killing and eating its baby. While this can lead to a lack of food, there are other reasons why a hamster can eat its young.
Stress: Anyone who has had a baby can relate to a stressed hamster mother. Pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, and caring for many children can be very stressful for anyone, including a hamster. If a hamster is stressed, it can eat its young.
It may seem that caring for your young is more than you can bear and sadly killing and eating your babies. This may be more likely in the case of young hamster mothers or if you disturb the mother too much during the day.
Fear: Mothers of many species often want to protect their young, and hamsters are no exception. But when hamsters are scared or frightened, this emotion can cause them to kill and eat their young. Dangers like who your hamster is afraid of, other animals, loud noises, and other things that intimidate your hamster can cause it to eat its young.
Smell: The mother hamster spends a lot of time cleaning and feeding her young. The smell that remains in each baby helps the mother to recognize the little ones. If a new odor is detected in babies, like humans, the mother may be confused and unable to recognize her own children. She can then kill and consume the perceived impostor as the baby's scent changes.
Lack of food: Perhaps the most obvious reason why a hamster eats its young is that it lacks food. Any pregnant or lactating animal uses more energy than normal in the body to care for its young. That is why more food is needed.
The hamster may simply be hungry or the lack of food may scare him away from being able to care for his baby.
Inability to care for all babies: If a mother is overwhelmed by her new litter of puppies, especially if she is a larger litter, she may decide that she cannot care for and eat all the babies. The mother does well with the rest of the children, helping them survive, even when things don't look pretty.
How to stop your hamster from eating its babies
There are several easy ways to prevent your hamster from eating her young.
- Calm and quiet: be sure to create a quiet area for your hamster to nest and care for her young. This could mean keeping children and other animals out of the room your hamster is in, reducing the volume of the house to avoid disturbing the hamster, and perhaps even covering the cage so it doesn't notice any danger or perceived stress.
- Watch babies, but don't touch them - it's okay to take care of babies, but you should leave them alone as often as possible, at least for the first week of life. Do not touch children with bare hands and avoid moving them if possible.
- Provide enough food: This may be a no-brainer, but make sure your hamster gets enough food when she takes care of her young.
Enjoy The Video Tutorial: 5 Reasons Why a Hamster Would Eat its Babies and how to prevent it
Source: Secret Life Of My Hamster
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