Hamsters are fun to watch, and their antics are entertaining.
Due to their tiny size, they’re easily taken care of and don’t make much noise. However, they’re can be quite mischievous.
When they are hungry, they may nibble at each other. So, do hamsters eat each other?
Hamsters are known for their friendly and playful personalities. However, they’re not always as friendly as they appear to be.
In fact, some hamsters have been known to eat their hamster friends! However, this behavior is rare and typically only occurs in young hamsters raised in small cages.
They’re often kept in small cages because they tend to bite and chew on their cages. This behavior is known as stereotypy, which occurs in 75% of pet hamsters.
Stereotypy is most common in male hamsters, but female hamsters can also exhibit this behavior.
Do Hamsters Eat Each Other?
Hamsters often eat each other when they are caged together.
While in the wild, hamsters eat insects and other small animals. Once they end up in cages, however, they develop a taste for each other’s flesh.
They usually start by eating the paws and tails of their cage mates, but they will move on to eating each other’s heads and internal organs.
Do Hamsters Cannibalize?
Most hamster breeds do no cannibalize one another; however, some do.
However, a variety of factors may cause this behavior; including if their diet changes, if new hamsters are added to the cage or if their mates are taken away.
Almost all dwarf hamster species will cannibalize if they are caged together because their natural diet includes insects and other small animals which they won’t find in their cages.
In contrast, Syrian and Chinese hamsters usually won’t eat each other because they’re fed a pelleted diet which doesn’t cause them to be territorial.
However, some Syrian and Chinese hamsters start eating each other if their diet changes or if new hamsters are added to the cage.
Some Syrian and Chinese hamsters also eat other hamster species if kept in smallholding cages.
If this describes your hamster’s behavior, talk to your hamster breeder about trying another food or just keep your hammies in separate habitats until you’re sure they’ve stopped exhibiting cannibalism tendencies.
Why Do Hamsters Eat Each Other?
Choosing the appropriate cage arrangement for your dwarf or Syrian hamster is very important to prevent cannibalism from occurring.
Hamster cages come in a variety of materials, however wire is the best material to use for dwarf or Syrian cag.
Cage fury is a typical behavioral issue that may take place in Russian dwarf or Chinese dwarf breeds of hammies.
Protection of Their Territory
Despite having a plenty of nutrients and shelter, some hamsters become territorial and feel the need to protect their territory.
While being territorial isn’t necessarily a bad thing in animals, it’s often undesirable in our pets.
Cannibalism is one of the territorial characteristics that may occur if your hamster shows territorial behavior.
In some cases, this behavior may be explained away by a disrupted diet or roommates. Hamsters are social creatures that need company, stimulation and interaction if not provided care by humans.
If their cage is too small, they may eat their hamster friends out of loneliness and boredom.
You may feed your pet hamster a nutritionally balanced meal; however, this doesn’t mean he or she will eat it entirely.
Broccoli, kale, cucumber, celery, carrots and other vegetables that are high in fiber may stimulate your rodent to hoard the food and not eat it.
You may also give your hamster treats like Cheerios®, birdseed or dried fruit.
When you feed hamsters a monotonous diet consisting exclusively of pellets (or seeds), they may become bored and start eating each other out of boredom.
Even if you have docile and calm hamsters at home, they may still start eating each other if you try to feed them certain foods.
Foods like corn, Indian corn and popcorn can be harmful to hamsters. However, hamsters may also show cannibalistic tendencies simply because of food allergies. Do Hamsters Like Corn?
Sometimes, the hamster you’re feeding may ingest food he’s allergic to. This will result in an allergic reaction, causing intestinal inflammation and diarrhea which may lead to cannibalism.
Hamsters may spread out in colonies in the wild because of seasonal changes; however, this can cause overpopulation that may result in more fighting and food hoarding among pet hamsters as well.
How to Avoid Cannibalism in Hamsters
Keep an Eye Out for Newborn Hamsters
After a mother hamster gives birth, keep an eye open for newborns in the nest.
They will spend a lot of their time hiding in the nest and may accidentally be eaten by their siblings.
Separately House Your Hamsters
To minimize territorial conflicts, keep your Syrian or dwarf hamsters in separate habitats to avoid cannibalism.
While one hamster may eat the hammie next door, the hamster next door may eat the hamster to his left.
Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Own Babies?
Threat From a Male Hamster
Male hamsters are more aggressive than females and may attack and kill babies from female cages.
All they are concerned with is protecting their mates and babies.
A male hamster generally annoys the innocent infants while trying to assert his dominance over them.
Change in Scent
Scents are used by rodents to mark their territory and defend it against invaders.
While caring for their young, hamsters will scent-mark the area around the nest using urine, feces and pheromones.
If a human touches one of the newborns, the mother’s scent will change to that of the human and the newborn will get confused.
The hamster will smell the change and believe that it’s an intruder and try to defend its nest by killing it.
To Safeguard the Live Babies
If a wild hamster gives birth to numerous kids and one of it is injured or sick, the mother hamster will usually keep feeding it as long as it’s alive.
However, if one of her babies dies or is injured, the mother hamster will bury it or leave it nearby for other rodents to eat.
Hamsters experience a great deal when giving birth, especially when taking care of a large number of pups.
While hamsters can handle the stress of parturition and raising a litter, excessive stress may cause them to neglect their babies or even eat them by mistake.
Environmental stressors for hamsters include loud sounds, bright lights and moving objects.
Hamster foods may influence the behavior of mothers and their offspring, especially if their diets are lacking important nutrients.
When hamsters are fed diets deficient in protein, calcium, vitamins and other essential nutrients, they may lose their appetites and start eating their own young.
For example, hamsters fed maize will sometimes start eating their own offspring because they lack enough protein from the maize.
Also Read: Do Hamsters Get Fleas?
Cannibalism in hamsters is terrible, but it happens more often than you may think.
A human may forget to clean a toilet, which can cause a hamster to claw it to death. Other times, a hamster may nibble on a hamster that is sick or dying and die afterwards itself due to stress.
Instead, if you take efforts to limit the risk, you should be able to raise a healthy family of baby hammies.