The adorable looks of hamsters do not lead us to believe they eat themselves. But it is true that hamsters possess cannibalism characteristics naturally. Okay, that’s still fine; lots of animals do the same.
But can hamsters eat themselves to death? Yes. Some of the mother hamsters eat their live babies. And also, hamsters used to eat the dead bodies of other hamsters.
However, here we explore its cannibalistic characteristics while examining the reasons for such behaviors.
Can Hamsters Eat Themselves to Death?
Yes. Hamsters can eat themselves to death. However, in the case of hamsters eating hamsters, three prime scenarios have been found until now that are scientifically proven, and many hamster lovers have witnessed this.
Below is the list of its activities related to cannibalism characteristics and preventive measures.
|Hamster Eating Hamster
|Mother eating babies
|Supply enough food, provide a larger space, do not disturb, and separate the babies after a few days
|Hamster eating another hamster’s dead body
|Remove the dead hamster’s body from the house as soon as possible before the living hamster notices it
|Fighting results death of a hamster and the living one is eating the dead one
|Seperate them if fighting and allow ample time to become habituated with each other before permanent pairing in a cage
1. Hamsters Eat Own Babies
Yes, the mother hamster may eat her own babies. It is totally normal and can happen for the reasons below.
Hamster mothers seem to maintain the natural rule of “Survival of the Fittest.” In general, they give birth to more than four babies at a time.
And by nature, all pups do not have the same strengths to survive. To ensure the survival of the strong ones, hamster mothers kill weak babies and eat them.
It is undeniable that babies come with greater responsibilities. When the hamster mother becomes overwhelmed by her responsibilities, she eats some of the pups to relieve herself of the burden.
It is applicable to first-time mothers. By giving birth for the first time, some of them become confused with the “what to do” context and eat the litter.
If a hamster delivers an above-average-sized pup, it may be shocked and reject the pup. As a result, the mother eats that one.
Stress over Food and Cage Space
As mentioned earlier, hamsters may give birth to more than six pups at a time. They may find the supplied food is not sufficient and eat some of the babies to reduce pressure on the food supply.
Space inside the cage is also an issue. If the mother believes there is insufficient space for herself and the babies, she will eat some of the pups to ensure there is enough space for everyone.
Gone of Mother-Feel
Hamsters’ brain size is as small as their body. Their memory is also very weak. After a few days of giving birth, they forget motherhood and consider the newborns as rivals. This situation leads to the hamster mother eating some babies.
2. Eating Another Hamster’s Dead Body
Yes, hamsters also eat other hamsters’ dead bodies. It is also natural and has a scientific explanation. The following are the reasons:
- Not to attract predators but to save themselves
- By eating dead bodies, hamsters restrict the spread of diseases
3. Fighting with Other Hamsters
Hamsters’ cannibalism also directs them to fight against each other. Sometimes, those fights conclude in death. Later on, to do the “clean up” task (to avoid predators and restrict the spread of diseases), the living hamsters eat the dead hamster.
Check this YouTube video to understand hamsters’ fighting characteristics:
How to Restrict Hamsters Eat Themselves
Below are the preventive measures. To project the preventions, we use the categories mentioned above.
To Restrict Eating Babies
You should do the following:
- Supply your hamster with enough food to ensure that there will be no food shortage
- Place the pregnant hamster in a larger cage (if the earlier one was small) to ensure there will be no space shortage
- Don’t bother it after giving birth, and don’t allow others to disturb it as well
- It is always better not to touch the babies
- Separate the babies from the mother after a few days before the motherly feeling disappears
- Ensure more comfort and cleanliness
To Restrict Eating Other Hamsters’ Dead Bodies
It is simple: if the cage mate or any of the siblings is dead, immediately remove it from the house. In this case, it is better to go for either grave or burning solutions.
As fighting against one another can cause death, and the living one is used to eat the dead one, it is better to restrict fighting. Here is what you can do.
- Separate them yourself
- Don’t put the new cagemate in before they become habituated to each other
- Hamsters mostly tolerate the same gender’s presence. So keep a pair of males or females
- Consult with the vet
Below are the answers to some common questions you may find useful.
Q: Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Siblings?
The possibility of eating live siblings is nearly nil. However, if a hamster receives an altered diet (favoring hamster meat), it can attack and eat its sibling.
Q: Do Hamsters Eat Their Own Limb?
No, but they do bite or lick their own bodies. This can be due to various reasons and is quite common for hamsters.
Q: Do Hamsters Chew Themselves?
No. Hamsters like to chew on objects when in stress or boredom. However, it’s very unlikely for them to chew on themselves for any similar reason.
We hope that now you have the answer to the question of whether can hamsters eat themselves to death. If you consider “eat to death” related to eating a live hamster, it happens only for hamster mothers who eat their babies for various reasons (already elaborated).
In a more generalized context, eating another hamster’s dead body is a very common scenario. They eat dead bodies to protect themselves and other living hamsters within their surroundings. However, you should not be bothered by its cannibalism, as they are naturally bound to do that.