Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Babies – Prevent Hamsters Eating Babies

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Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Babies?

do hamsters eat their babiesToday we’re going to explain why hamster mothers sometimes kill and eat their babies. Figuring out why do hamsters eat their babies can sometimes be a  little bit complicated. Whether it happens to you or a friend it’s important to know what causes this occurrence so that we can understand it and, possibly, prevent it from happening.

Learning why do hamsters eat their babies is a sensitive topic area to discuss. If you have hamsters it’s important to know the reason behind this seemingly dreadful act, so that you can explain it to your children who will struggle to understand. 

In our kids young minds, this unpleasant sight of seeing their pet hamster devouring one or more of her newborns will cause shock, fear, sadness and that’s why you simply need to know how to explain why do hamsters eat their babies.

Other Common Questions are:

  • do hamsters eat their babies if humans touch them
  • how to prevent hamsters from eating their babies

Related: How To Take Care Of A Hamster For Beginners

 5 Significant Reasons Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Babies?

A mommy hamster doesn’t just kill, but often moves on to eating her babies as a shear instinctive response triggered by one of the following reasons.

  1. Sacrifice for the greater good

If a female hamster doesn’t feel that she is able to provide enough care and attention for the entire litter, she’s going to be driven by instinctive litter-preservation impulse. She will sometimes kill, and possibly eat some of the weaklings in order to maximize chances of survival for the other babies.

This sacrifice is not elaborately planned, or logically thought of and deliberately put into action. It’s simply in most animals’ nature to use their instinct for self-preservation and survival of their offspring.

Simply put, since mommy hamster sees herself as solely responsible for managing the entire litter, she may recognize that she won’t manage a brood large in number. She will instinctively thin the litter until she feels she has a number of babies she can look after successfully and bring them up into happy and healthy hamsters.

Anything we can do to change their natural instincts? Not likely…

  1. Fear or stress

Most likely in first-time mothers, fear and stress come to play with having babies becoming a bit too much to handle for hamster moms. The litter can be numerous and demanding and the female in charge can simply feel she cannot handle all the babies. This is an important consideration when discovering the main reasons why do hamsters eat their babies.

As for the fear and stress caused by the excited pet owners, now, this can be prevented by giving the hamster mom the needed space and peace to look after the babies. Just leave her alone with the litter so she can do the nursing in peace and quiet.

Don’t spend too much time around the cage, excitedly admiring the newborns and taking photos with your mobile using flash and cheering for the new babies. Do the regular feeding and checking up on your pets but otherwise, stay away for at least one or two weeks.

Cages too small or not adequate will frustrate them, therefore be sure to pick a good one. This review of best cages for hamsters should help you make the right choice.

This will certainly diminish the chances of YOU becoming the reason for the mother acting frightened and stressed out so much to the point of feeling she cannot handle so many babies and killing some of them to make it easier on herself.

  1. Scent confusion

Baby hamsters are very very cute! Being hairless for the first few weeks makes them an ideal target for people to hold, pat and touch. People even try to take them out of the cage for an up-close photo shoot. Do not do this! Ever!

do hamsters eat their babies if humans touch them

When trying to discover why do hamsters eat their babies most people forget this simple fact. Hamsters are shortsighted, they rely on their sense of smell immensely and the relationship with the mother and the babies will be disturbed by any unfamiliar or confusing scent on the weaklings.

Mother hamster might get confused and think that there’s something wrong with the babies and reject them or kill just because they smell different.

If you touch them, you will leave your scent on the little ones and sometimes you may carry a smell of food so the mother might get confused and see the baby as a potential snack.

Once again, stay away and do not touch the babies: there’s plenty of time to play with them and admire them once they grow up.

  1. Inadequate Sustenance

Getting to the bottom of why do hamsters eat their babies means understanding the basic needs of your pet.

The female hamster might feel that there isn’t enough food or water for all the babies and herself. She might then be instinctively pushed to the point of figuring out that the only way most of her babies will have enough food to survive is if she kills a few of them.

This reason is similar to the first one: this is also an instinctive sacrifice of a few newborns so that the others can survive.

Is this preventable? Yes, by all means!

You can do your best to supply plenty of freshwater and food so the mother gets positive reinforcement and a sense that safety and wellbeing of her babies are not at risk. If she feels that she can sustain the whole litter, she will feel more confident and look after the babies in a normal way.

5. Limited Space

One important reason why do hamsters eat their babies is limited space in the cage. You should aim for your hamster cage to be a minimum of 24 inches by 12 inches. It should also be around 12 inches tall. However, for a nursing hamster, you need to have a bigger cage as this will help her to feel safe and secure in the knowledge that her hamsters have room to grow.

Remember, if your cage is smaller than an A3 sheet of paper it is very likely that you will be contributing towards dead babies.

Below we’ve compiled a list of the best hamster cages including nursing female hamsters. I’d strongly recommend you take a look:

Related: World’s Best Hamster Cage Reviews

How To Prevent Hamsters From Eating Their Babies

Here are a few tips to learn how to prevent hamsters from eating their babies.

Tip 1: Keep Your House Quiet!

how to prevent hamsters from eating their babiesKeep your hamster cage away from any loud or noisy areas. Hamsters nurse better in private areas away from view. This can sometimes be a bit difficult in smaller houses or if you want to show your friends your new baby hamsters. Resist the temptation to parade your new pets as you could be making it worse. Instead, keep children away and other pets restrained, at least for a few weeks.

The best thing to do is to cover the hamster cage up so that mummy and babies can get the feeling of shelter and privacy. Try to mimic a wild environment as much as possible as this will keep your pet hamster in the correct mind frame to raise her babies correctly

Tip 2: Check on the Hamster babies (without touching)

You should do a visual check on the babies to make sure there are any obvious anomalies, but try not to handle them too much. It’s important you don’t move them either. Mother will sense danger and if she doesn’t feel safe in her current setup she may try to move her babies which could damage them.

Tip 3: Keep a fresh supply of food and drink.

Remember the best and the safest thing you can do to help your pet hamster is to keep their food and water supply coming in. Your hamster will do their best to take care of babies and very soon they’ll be running around ready for petting. For now, keep mummy well feed and well-watered. By ding this you will be giving them all the best chance to thrive.

A few afterthoughts

Now, let’s go back to the part where we encouraged you to do your best to prevent babies from getting killed and eaten. So, let’s say you did your best. You gave them space, privacy, you didn’t touch them and you provided sufficient supplies of food and water but in spite of your efforts, it still happened. What then? Are you to blame? Absolutely not!

All you need to say to yourself and your kids is: “Hey, that’s nature…we’ve done all we could.” Learning How To Take Care Of A Hamster For Beginners can take some time. 

Strange things will happen in the fight for survival and preservation of life. Sometimes we can help but often time we are helpless. But understanding the whys and the hows gives us an edge. These strange occurrences, such as hamsters eating their babies, make us more knowledgeable, less judgmental and overall more humane to nature natural process.

1 Comment
  1. Reply
    Billy May 12, 2019 at 10:05 am

    Hamsters are bastards. Mean, rotten bastards.


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