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Stop your Hamster from Eating its Offspring

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: April 26, 2018
Stop your Hamster from Eating its Offspring

There are few rodents as charming as the hamster, so it is no wonder that for decades this tiny animal has been commonly chosen as a pet, especially if there are children at home.

The hamster is an exceptional pet, and although it requires specific care - like any other animal - it will bring you many great moments in exchange for the appropriate attention. However, this may not always be the case, and you might be in for a bad shock.

You will surely have heard at some point that hamster mothers eat their young. Indeed, this cannibalistic behavior - whilst not exclusive to hamsters - is common in this animal. In this AnimalWised article, then, we will explain how to stop your hamster from eating its offspring.

You may also be interested in: How To Care For A Pregnant Hamster

Animal cannibalism

Animals, with the exception of humans, are not endowed with reason; therefore, they only behave instinctively. Their behavior is the clearest evidence of the dynamics of nature, which we can understand if we bear that in mind.

The phenomenon of animal cannibalism, especially in the case of mothers and offspring, has been subject to numerous scientific studies due to the concerns and discomfort that it arises in humans, for whom cannibalism is deeply taboo.

All of the conducted studies have failed to establish a clear cause why mother hamsters eat their offspring, but they have been able to develop different theories that would explain the reasons leading to this behavior.

Stop your Hamster from Eating its Offspring - Animal cannibalism

Why does the mother hamster eat its offspring?

The mother hamster doesn't always eat its young after birth, although you should be aware that this phenomenon is common. Scientific research has concluded that this behavior could be caused by various reasons:

  • The offspring was born with an abnormality and the mother wants to ensure that only the strongest hamster pups survive.
  • The mother sees the pups as small and weak and that she considers them unable to survive.
  • A large litter can be very stressful for the mother, so she may decide to get rid of 2 or 3 pups to be able to care for the rest.
  • The presence of a male hamster in the cage can also cause stress for the mother, leading her to eat some of the pups.
  • If a pup is born far away from the nest, the mother will not recognize it as her own and see it as an extra source of food.
  • The mother feels weak and uses one of her young to obtain all the necessary nutrients.
Stop your Hamster from Eating its Offspring - Why does the mother hamster eat its offspring?

How to stop your hamster from eating its offspring

If you share your home with a pregnant hamster, you should know that it is not always possible to prevent it from eating one of its young after birth. However, if you use the appropriate measures as mentioned below you will minimize the risk of it occurring:

  • When the pups are born, remove the father from the cage.
  • The mother and pups must be in a completely quiet environment; don't spend too much time near the cage.
  • Only go near the cage to provide food.
  • Do not touch the pups until they are at least 14 days old. If they start to smell like you, the mother will reject and eat them.
  • You should provide the mother with sufficient protein. You can give her a boiled egg and sprinkle her usual food with fish liver oil.
  • The mother should always have generous amounts of food available.
Stop your Hamster from Eating its Offspring - How to stop your hamster from eating its offspring

If you want to read similar articles to Stop your Hamster from Eating its Offspring, we recommend you visit our Gestation category.

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