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Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Babies? Should You Stop Them?

Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Babies? Should You Stop Them?

Hamsters are cute and small animals that people love to have as pets. These animals spend most of their days stuffing their faces with food and running on wheels; hence, most people have them as pets because they are easy to maintain. However, they also have some wild behaviors that involve feeding on their babies; this attitude can be disturbing and confusing.

Hamsters eat their babies due to different reasons such as hunger, stress, fear, scent confusion, inability to take care of the babies. They also eat their babies if they notice it has a health issue. It is important to stop your hamster from eating its babies by taking precautionary measures. 

If you have a hamster that recently gave birth, you will most likely notice that a few babies are missing. This can be very disturbing as you will be wondering what happened to the babies and why they are missing. It will be very surprising when you find out that the mother hamster ate her babies; so, you must understand what to do in cases like this and how to stop such action.

hamster babies on palm

What To Do If Your Hamster Is Eating Her Babies?

If you notice days after your hamster gave birth that a few babies are missing, you should understand that it is most likely the mother hamster that ate the babies or the father hamster if it is among the litter. The first thing you should do in cases like this is to figure out a way to stop that behavior.

There are several reasons why hamsters eat their babies. It would be so surprising to find a mother hamster eating her babies after you have made much preparation for the babies’ arrival. However, you can stop such an act by taking precautionary actions that prevent the hamster from eating her babies.

One of the reasons a hamster will eat her babies is because she is stressed out. Being pregnant, giving birth, nursing, and caring for several babies are very stressful for hamsters, just as it is stressful for a human. When a hamster is feeling very stressed, it can eat its babies.

The best way to stop this is to make sure you let the mother hamster rest during pregnancy and after it has given birth. Most times, when you are disturbing a mother hamster that just put to bed, you are increasing the hamster’s stress. So, you must make sure the mother hamster is always relaxed.

Hamsters also eat their babies when they lack food. If you are not feeding your hamster with enough food, it can turn to its babies as a source of food. A nursing hamster uses more energy and has to have a continuous energy supply from the food it eats. So, making sure your hamster never goes hungry will prevent it from eating its babies.

Fear is another cause of a hamster eating its babies. Every mother always wants to protect her young, including hamsters. When a hamster is scared or fearful, it can eat its babies as a protective instinct. To prevent this from happening, make sure you keep your hamster and her babies in a calm and quiet place.

Do Hamsters Eat Their Babies If Humans Touch Them?

Yes, when a human touches a hamster’s baby, the hamster will eat the baby. One of the reasons mother hamsters eat their babies is scent confusion. A mother hamster always cleans and takes care of her babies; her scent on each baby helps her recognize them.

Baby hamsters are blind and hairless, and as a human, you might be tempted to touch them. However, doing so can be dangerous for the hamster. When a human touches a baby hamster, it leaves a scent on the baby. When a mother hamster sniffs her baby and smells something different, she will consider that baby as an imposter.

Once the hamster considers her baby as an imposter, her defense mode is activated, and she will eat the baby as a means of getting rid of it. The relationship between a mother hamster and a baby hamster is mostly by scent. So once a mother hamster does not get a particular smell from her babies, she will eat them.

A mother hamster will also eat her baby if she senses a different smell because she will consider it flawed. When a mother hamster considers her baby as flawed, the chances of rejection are very high. Once the mother hamster rejects her baby, her best option to get rid of the baby is to eat it.

It is important that, as a hamster owner, you do not touch or pet a baby hamster immediately after it is born. You should wait for at least 3 weeks after the baby is born before you try to touch or pet them. Also, make sure you keep small children, friends, visitors, and other family members away from the baby hamster after they are born.

If a baby hamster has not been weaned, touching them can lead the mother to think they are foreign and not her babies. So, she might decide to eat such a baby hamster as a protective instinct for her other babies. However, if you touch all her babies, this may cause her to abandon the litter and stop taking care of them.

hamsters on grass

Will The Father Hamster Eat The Babies?

Sometimes in a hamster family, the father is the one that eats the babies. There is a misconception that only the mother hamster eats the babies; however, the father also eats the babies. Hamster fathers are not nurturing, unlike mothers who always want to ensure their babies are taken care of.

As hamster fathers are not nurturing, they do not care about the babies and may find it difficult to tolerate them. So, it might not regard the babies as important and might try to hurt or eat them. The father hamster might also view the babies as intruders in the home and try to get rid of them.

When a female hamster gives birth, her babies are her priority for that moment. So, she might not pay attention to the father hamster. This act can cause the father hamster to struggle and compete for attention with the babies. If the mother hamster refuses to pay attention to him, he can hurt the babies or eat them.

In the father hamster’s mind, eating the babies is the best way to get rid of them so that the full attention of the mother hamster will be on him. The mother hamster often does not always want the father to be around when she is with the babies. So, when she avoids the father or gives him an attitude, he might get angry and try to eat or hurt the babies.

The best thing to do is always to separate the father hamster from the mother when she is pregnant until the babies are fully developed. This way, you are protecting the babies from harm

One hazard of keeping the father hamster with the babies and the mother is that being there can make the mother stressed, which can cause her to eat her babies.

Final Thoughts

If you have a hamster as a pet, it is necessary to take good care of it. When you have a pregnant hamster, take precautionary measures so that you do not lose all the baby hamsters to the mother eating them. If you notice your hamster eating her babies, you should visit your veterinarian for advice.

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