Your hamsters can be full of surprises, some good, some not so good. Like the fact, disconcerting as it may seem, that mother hamsters can eat their babies. Why does this happen? Can it be avoided?
The animal world and cannibalization
In nature, cannibalization is not a taboo or unusual subject as it is for us humans. For some newborn hamsters, this process may be a natural order of events when a large litter is born. So why do hamsters eat their babies?
A mother hamster may eat her young out of anxiety or fear. fear motherhood is too overwhelming or dangerous in a chaotic environment. The mother's natural instincts, as well as feelings of intense hunger or strange smells on a baby hamster, can lead to cannibalization.
Are mother hamsters cannibals?
Hamsters are adorable pets who spend their days romping around in their cages and munching on a wide variety of treats. However, like all animals, they can display certain evolutionary traits that go beyond the stereotypes we have for some pets.
Nature isn't always the benevolent, comforting phenomenon we imagine it to be. Life, even for animals, can be an incredibly stressful and competitive experience.
A mother hamster can therefore eat her youngeven if it has sufficient food. It's not a matter of being strange or cannibalizing your young for no reason. There are many reasons why this happens.
How do you stop a mother hamster from eating her babies?
The most important thing is to ensure that the mother hamster has a spacious, stress-free cage. It is recommended to separating male hamsters to maintain a calm environment while she looks after her litter. This can also prevent the males from eating the babies.
Make sure her cage always has plenty of fresh water, and that she's regularly fed with treats nearby. If she's well fed and her stress levels are low, you probably won't have to worry about her eating her young.
What causes this behavior in female hamsters?
Let's take a look at some of the main reasons for this phenomenon.
Stress and Anxiety
Hamsters are naturally prone to stress and anxiety. They may eat their babies for a wide variety of reasons. Similar to post-natal depression in humans, a hamster mother may begin to feel overwhelmed by her new role and may eat her own babies to reduce the stress she feels about the litter.
Lack of food
Although less common, lack of adequate food could be a reason why mother hamsters eat their babies. Always make sure the mother hamster is fed a balanced diet during pregnancy and constantly after giving birth.
Another reason hamsters eat their babies has to do with the smells on the babies, which cause confusion in the mother. To avoid this behavior, try to avoid touching the babies or letting other animals touch or lick them.
Sense of danger
If a mother hamster perceives danger near her babies, an instinct may be triggered to think that eating her babies is preferable to letting them be killed or eaten by other predators.
Lack of adequate care
Although it may seem cruel to us, a nursing mother hamster may feel that she cannot properly care for so many babies. If the litter is large, she may choose to reduce the number of babies to provide more food for those she feels she can handle.
Don't worry, it's not that common!
Hamsters eat their babies for a variety of reasons, all natural, and in line with a mother's instinct to protect the majority of her young by sacrificing a few of them.
You can help stop this behavior by always making sure the mother has plenty of food and water, by not touching the babies, and by making sure the cage is safe and left alone.