It is definitely an unforgettable nightmare for every new hamster breeder to find that one day, your fluffy, chubby, cute hamster eats her own baby! There is even blood and body part around her mouth! Well, just relax and read this article. I will fully explain why this happens, and give useful instructions on preventing the preventable tragedy.
Is my hamster a psycho? Or Hannibal?
Definitely not. According to much scientific research, hamsters in the wild may also eat their babies under any circumstances, so this is just part of their instinct.
In fact, many animals, including mammals with high intelligence like the chimpanzee, have the habit of eating their baby, so, this is nature.
The behavior only occurs among hamsters during the breeding period, which seems bloody and cruel for us humans, but it does not indicate that your hamster’s character is bloody or cruel.
Therefore, you do not need to worry; he will harm or bite you in the same way. When their hormones went back to the normal standard after the breeding period, they would become your adorable fluffy again.
Why he/she eats his/her baby?
He or She matters, so I will explain the reasons separately.
Normally male hamsters do not eat baby hamsters in the wild because female hamsters bring up babies on her own. But in artificial circumstances, many hamster owners, though were seriously warned and strongly not recommended, still keep more than one hamster in a single cage.
For mature male hamsters, baby hamsters have no difference with other intruders rushing in his territory, so they will be highly aggressive towards the baby hamsters and finally eat them as refreshments rich in protein.
Since female hamsters are directly involved in breeding baby hamsters, the reason they eat baby hamsters is rather complicated. There are basically three reasons.
- Unhealthy babies
As small size rodents, wildlife of hamsters is very cruel. As a result, if the baby is born with health problems, which include genetic diseases, dysplasia, and lack of sense of competition, hamster mothers will not waste any extra energy to take care of such ill babies.
Since food, especially food rich in protein is rather limited in the wild, hamster mothers will choose to eat the weak ones, so that she can breed the other healthy, energetic ones better. Pet hamsters also follow the same behavioral pattern, so they may also eat unhealthy babies in the first place.
During the whole period of pregnancy, parturition, and lactation, hamster mothers will consume a large amount of energy, so a nutritious, balanced diet is always necessary for hamster mothers. Unfortunately, many new owners do not understand such a desperate need for nutrition and fail to adjust her diet correspondingly.
As a result, when hamster mothers feel like they lack certain nutrition, to make sure she can still feed up most babies, she would choose the easiest and quickest access to nutritious food, eating her own babies.
In the process of giving birth to babies and breeding them, all kinds of hormones change significantly, just like humans. Physical change in such quantity can cause severe stress for hamster mothers. Since hamsters are cautious, sensitive creatures, it is understandable that they behave abnormally under such stress.
Besides, breeding babies is an extremely stressful job itself, especially for those who become mothers for the first time. Once she is stressed out and feels like she cannot successfully feed up all her babies, she will give up some of her babies. In order to guarantee the survival of others, she would eat the abandoned ones to fill up her energy.
There are also possibilities that tremendous pressure will lead to tragic misread. As is well known, hamsters basically rely on their sense of smell to feel the surrounding world. Hamsters mothers are highly alert to potential danger and threat to her babies. Suppose innocent owners touch her baby and left the human scent on it. In that case, hamster mothers may fail to recognize her baby and treat it as some kind of alien intruder, so she would kill the “enemy” without any mercy.
Human behaviors may also be a threat to hamsters. They may be horrified by sudden noise or flash of light, which can trigger psychological stress surging up. Such stress will finally lead to irrational behaviors like eating their own baby.
How to prevent them from eating their baby?
- Single cage for each
It has been emphasized for thousands of times, but I still have to stress this again: NEVER keep more than one hamster in one cage. You may be confident in your feeding knowledge and experience, but always remember that hamsters prefer to stay alone even in the wild. Do not create positive conditions for the situation you do not want to witness.
Babies just born do not need to be separated from their mom. But since they can be sexually matured in shortly 35 days, once you find that hamster mothers stop lactation and show fading care in the cubs, find new cages for them immediately. They will be able to survive on their own then.
- Healthy diet
Hamster mothers consume a large quantity of energy, so you can offer her food without strict limits during the breeding time. The total amount of food should increase at least by 30% according to scientific researches. It is also an option that you can offer your fluffy buffet during this time, and she will choose the nutrition she needs by herself.
Balance is also of vital importance. Food rich in protein is highly recommended, including some salt-free cheese, egg white, etc. If you choose the form of a buffet, control the amount of food rich in sugar. Hamsters love sweet food, but it is a much worse choice of energy source compared with protein.
- Undisturbed environment
I know how badly the cage stinks without cleaning for half a month, but to make hamster mothers feel safe, we have no other choices. We should also be careful with our daily behaviors, to avoid making any large sound.
We should try our best to create an ideal environment for our fluffy to breed her child, stable and peaceful. This may cause inconvenience to some extent, but since baby hamsters grow really fast, this will not bother you for long.
Follow my instructions, and I hope you will not see such a bloody scene. But even this happens, try to understand the exhausted mother. After all, this is just her instinct to guarantee the best advantage for most of her kids.