Why Do Hamsters Eat their Babies

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Hamsters are prone to accidental pregnancies. This is because of how incorrect information most pet stores give to new and inexperienced hamster owners. When this first-time hamster parent realised the shop’s mistake, it was often too late to do anything.

Hamsters are known for many things – they are adorable, cute, and can be an easy pet to manage. However, there are also not-so-nice facts about hamsters such as being aggressive, hard to tame, prone to biting you, and the fact that they eat their babies.

But why do hamsters eat their babies? Is it normal for hamsters to eat their babies? Well, the answer is more complicated and elaborate. In this article, we’ll talk about how wild instincts still flow through a domesticated hamster’s brain.

MUST-READ: How to avoid accidental pregnancies on hamsters

DO HAMSTERS EAT THEIR BABIES

4 images - baby dwarf hamsters, baby roborovski hamsters, baby syrian hamsters, and a picture of a Russian hamster with white background - Why Do Hamsters Eat their Babies

Yes. Hamsters eat their babies for many reasons. some might argue that it’s an altruistic act while others would simply say it’s an instinct and honestly a smart move.

WHY DO HAMSTERS EAT THEIR BABIES

There are a few reasons why a hamster would eat its babies. Not only hamster does this, bears, felines, primates, and canids would eat their offspring for many reasons. Here are quick explanations of why hamsters do this (and most likely similar reasons to other animals):

It’s really improtant that you separate your hamsters at the age of 5-6 weeks old. Regardless if they are the same gender. If you’re not well-educated in hamster breeding, you shouldn’t attempt to do so for the safety and well-being of your pets.

There are too many hamster pups

When a mother hamster gives birth to more pups than teats she has, this could result in the mother making a tough decision. She would rather provide full care to a limited number of hamster babies than see her pups struggle.

The hamster baby is weak

The result of having too many hamster pups but with limited nipples to suckle on, 1 or 2 pups will be skinnier and smaller than the other. Again, the hamster mom will make a decision to end the life of the weak baby than let it suffer. In her eyes, the tiny pup will most likely die. Keeping the hamster baby means that there will be more competition to limited food or milk available.

Protection from danger

In the wild, when a predator such as a snake attacked a hamster’s living quarters, hamsters don’t fight the predator. Instead, their instinct will tell them to run away. This will result in the mother hamster trying to carry as many hamster pups as she could carry to safety.

If she has 4 but she can only carry three, the hamster mom will sacrifice the weak pup (aka eat) instead of letting the predator hurt or kill her baby.

Extra protein

A hamster’s diet requires 18% protein. When a hamster just gave birth, the hamster mom needs more protein to sustain the diet of the fast-growing hamster pups. When the hamster mom cannot find more sources of protein, she will have to make a tough decision.

She will choose which hamster baby is the weakest and end its life then proceed to consume it for the benefits of extra protein. She has to do this not only to survive but to ensure that she can feed her other babies.

If a hamster’s living area gets attacked by a predator and the hamster’s mom cannot carry all her babies, she will sacrifice the weakest pups and consume them. In her animalistic instinct, it’s better that she benefit from the extra protein from her pup than the predator who came to hurt them all.

HOW TO AVOID A HAMSTER FROM EATING ITS BABIES

There are a few things you can do to stop the hamster mom from eating its baby:

  • provide balance and a healthy diet to the new mom – give her lots of protein, green, and carbs (egg, chicken, dried mealworm, tofu, pasta, bread, and vegetables)
  • do not disturb the cage – it’s best to not get near the cage for the first 2 weeks of giving birth, set up the food corner before the hamster gives birth and only approach the cage when giving yummy food
  • do not attempt to hold the pups or the mother – wait until the 3rd week or when the baby hamsters can eat on their own before holding the pups
  • don’t clean the cage – wait until the hamster babies are ready to have their own cage before you clean the cage

When you approach the cage after the hamster’s mom gives birth, your presence is seen as predatory and provoking. It doesn’t matter if your hamster is tamed or knows you well. A hamster that recently gave birth is very sensitive and protective of her offspring.

When you disturb the cage, the mother might panic and eat her babies because of the danger you possess.

Providing the hamster mom with lots of food (especially lots of protein) means she doesn’t need to sacrifice her pup for the extra energy needed. You should also replenish the water daily.

FIRST-TIME HAMSTER CARE TIPS

We have been writing, publishing, and promoting ethical hamster care since 2019. We have written nearly 100 articles that are helpful for all hamster owners. Whether this is your first time having a pet hamster or need more help in specific situations, we have it covered!

But for now, since we’re talking about hamsters and babies, it’s safe to assume that you don’t know much about hamsters or proper care. If that’s the case, here is a list of the best and free hamster care tips to ensure that you are providing the absolute best care to your pet.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Hamsters are not evil animals for ending their pups’ life and consuming it. There are many reasons behind it that are common and acceptable in the animal kingdom. The most effective way to avoid this from happening is not allowing more than one hamster to live in a single cage.

Preventing your hamster from getting pregnant is the best way to avoid being in this awful situation.

I hope I was able to answer your question “why do hamsters eat their babies” or “why do hamsters eat their own babies” and provided you with some insights regarding this concern.

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Hamsters might eat their babies due to stress, lack of food or water, illness, genetic issues, or lack of experience as a mother. It's important to provide a safe and stress-free environment for hamster mothers and their offspring. via @thehamstercareblog

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