So why do hamsters eat their babies? In most cases, a hamster would eat her babies due to several things, such as stress, experiencing scent change, or starvation.
It’s all merry and exciting when more furballs are added to the family, and it might be the perfect time to check out these cute hamster names.
However, you shouldn’t be surprised when the new hamster mother eats her babies due to stress, fear, starvation, scent change, or failure to attend to all babies.
Don’t get them wrong; they undoubtedly love their younglings but often do this horrifying act as a response. As a pet parent, this is a time to be as supportive as possible by understanding their sensitivity.
Why do hamsters eat their babies?
Due to stress, fear, lack of food, and many more that we shall look into in this article. Generally, hamsters can get pregnant at 10 weeks old and take 16 to 22 days to give birth.
While the litter will depend on the type of hamster and egg production, you can expect three to twenty fur babies.
Still, they are born blind, immobile, and deaf, so imagine how stressful it can get for the mother hamster.
Reasons why a hamster would eat its babies
Although your hamster might be physically ready to host its newborns, conditions like food rationing or babies deficiency may result in the hamster feeding on its babies.
Lack of food is one of the primary reasons this happens though other reasons may contribute to and lead to the same. And So, why do hamsters eat their babies? These reasons may include the following:
Like with any mother out there, this can be a stressful period. Pregnancy, giving birth, and caring for young ones is quite overwhelming for all animal species. This may lead to mild or alarming amounts of stress.
Although other species may have different ways to cope with this, mother hamsters are known to eat their young ones to deal with this stress.
The hamster feels incapable of caring for its young ones, and eating its babies relieves stress. Eating up of babies often occurs in younger hamster mothers. Eating babies will also likely happen if you disturb the mother hamster too much.
Other adult hamsters in the cage can also cause stress to the pregnant or freshly giving birth hamster. This can result in fighting, causing stress or a feeling of discomfort.
It is therefore advisable to give privacy to the lactating mother, away from your or other hamsters’ presence, to avoid causing stress.
The primary and most apparent reason a hamster might end up eating its baby is due to a lack of food. Your nursing hamster uses more food to provide energy and sustain its younger ones, who depend entirely on it.
As a result, more food is necessary to ensure your hamster never gets hungry or lacks food, which will likely contribute to your hamster feeding on its babies.
Hamsters would rather eat up one baby and be able to provide for the rest.
We would highly recommend a diet with high-quality components for your hamster. High protein content would be most preferable to help your hamster build up and repair body tissues.
Do a little research and find out if bananas are a healthy treat or can hamsters eat carrots?
This feeding habit should begin when you notice your hamster’s pregnancy and should continue until the newborns are several weeks old.
Examples may include small amounts of cheese, wheat germ or boiled eggs.
Failure to attend to all babies
A mother hamster might feel overwhelmed by the new litter of babies, especially if they are many and end up eating them. Despite this being considered unkind, the mother hamster does this for the greater good of helping the rest of the babies survive.
It is familiar with young hamsters who may not have the best surviving ability. Some mother hamsters abandon their babies in such cases, while others cannibalize them. When the babies are less than ten days old, it becomes challenging to save them.
A mother hamster uses most of its time cleaning and cuddling.
Hamster mothers use the scent left on the babies to recognize their young ones. If the mother hamster finds a foreign scent on any baby, such as a human scent, it becomes confused and may fail to recognize the baby as its own.
Upon this confusion, the mother hamster may consume the alleged impostor to get rid of it.
One critical attribute of most rodent species, including hamsters, is the need to care. Once an animal cares for the well-being of its young one, it develops the need to protect it.
A hamster needs to protect its young one from animals, circumstances, and situations that it may find threatening. When hamsters are scared or fearful, they can kill and eat their young ones as an act of protection.
Loud noises, pets, or humans that may scare your hamster could foster this behavior.
Underlying health conditions
Mother hamsters can sense when something is wrong with their babies, whether ill or unable to survive for other reasons like physical deformities.
Their response is to reject the baby and separate it from the rest of the pups. This could mean eating them.
Prevent the act with the following tips
Promote a calm and quiet environment for the hamster mother.
Hamsters need a calm and quiet place to thrive during this sensitive moment.
Avoid anything that could interfere with your hamster’s peace, including covering the cage so they can’t see any threats. Keeping your house volume low is advisable.
Ensure the cage is very clean and habitable for the new mother.
Nursing mothers always provide the utmost care for their babies, including cleaning their whelping space.
However, this does not include the rest of the cage, which may be filthy if left unattended over time. One of the ways you can be supportive is by cleaning the cage.
Supply a nutritious and well-balanced diet.
That way, she can have enough to sustain herself and her younglings. The body of a lactating mother can be very demanding. Remember that they are in recovery and still feeding their litter.
Provide protein food sources before birth for rejuvenation, and keep up with pellets, veggies, fruits like grapes, and enough water. Cooked egg white and cooked plain chicken are examples of great proteins.
Provide nesting and bedding material.
When your hamster is almost giving birth, ensure her space is ideal for nursing her younglings.
Cozy nesting and bedding materials offer warmth and comfort. You can provide the materials so that they can customize their space.
Only check on the babies but do not touch them until after the weaning period.
Never touch the fur babies before the three-to-four-week period. This ensures that the babies’ scent doesn’t change, causing rejection from the mother.
Have other hamsters?
Please separate them from the nursing mother and her litter. Hosting other hamsters with the nursing mother can lead to conflicts.
This fosters stress and agitation and could even lead to fighting if the mother feels threatened.
Separate the hamster dad from the litter and mother.
To get the attention of the now-engaged mother, the father may try to hurt or eat the babies.
Hamster fathers are selfish and can’t keep up or tolerate all the nurturing and caring that comes with younglings. Besides, they can mate again immediately after birth.
Final thoughts on Why do hamsters eat their babies?
This article has answered this mysterious and unkind act that is often a response to unfavorable conditions. But remember that the mother hamster is only looking out for her younglings.
You can ensure a successful litter with the tips above. Your support could go a long way so promote a safe, stress-free, and comfortable environment for the new mother.
Most importantly, provide well-balanced nutrition and adequate water, and while you are super excited, don’t touch the babies until three weeks of age.