The list of foods a hamster can eat is long and varied. But nowhere on the list of acceptable things that hamsters can eat is other hamsters. Even though instances of hamster cannibalism are rare, they have been known to happen.
This article will touch on the reasons behind instances of hamster cannibalism. Factors that can influence this behavior can include:
In addition to discussing the reasons why hamsters may exhibit cannibalistic behavior, this article will outline some actions that hamster owners can take to ensure that their hamsters don’t attack and eat each other.
Cannibalistic Behavior in Hamster Breeds
Certain breeds of hamsters are more prone to these behaviors than others. Syrian hamsters are a territorial hamster breed by nature, exhibiting being fairly antisocial. Syrian hamsters may be prone to attack other hamsters that are kept in close quarters with them.
Roborovski hamsters may occasionally exhibit cannibalistic tendencies, but this isn’t necessarily due to a territorial instinct. Rather, cannibalism between Robo hamsters may be out of necessity when overcrowding becomes an issue in their colony.
Hamster Cannibalism as a Hamster Instinct
Rather than eating other hamsters for the sake of straight up aggression, there are other, far more primal reasons for hamster cannibalism.
Mother and Baby Hamsters
Unfortunately, there are certain instances of mother hamsters eating their babies. This type of cannibalistic behavior isn’t due to aggression or even feeling territorial. Rather, the fact that mother hamsters occasionally eating their babies may be based in a survival instinct.
If hamsters are born stillborn in the wild, the smell of the death can draw predators to the area, and to consume the carcass is a necessary, if not unfortunate, way to keep the rest of the colony safe from a threat. This wild instinct can carry over into the life of the domesticated hamster. If a hamster has a stillborn pup, you might find that they disappear. Even more than stillbirth, overcrowding can also be a catalyst for this issue.
Even when both hamsters are healthy, if one is determined to be significantly weaker than the other and thus a security threat – as it would be in the wild – a stronger hamster may attack and devour the weaker hamster in order to abolish the weak link and protect the remaining hamsters, even if there’s only one.
How to Avoid Hamster Cannibalism
Because hamster cannibalism is an unpleasant thing, there are things you can do to help prevent this from happening.
- House your hamsters separately – Especially if you have two Syrian hamsters, you should consider keeping your hamsters in separate cages to avoid territorial disputes.
- Keep an eye on new baby hamsters – After a mother hamster gives birth, monitor her and the pups for a while to ensure that all is well with the developing babies. They will be around her a lot as they rely on her milk to survive.
Do Hamsters Eat Each Other – Final Thoughts
Hamster cannibalism is unfortunate, but certain hamsters are wired for this behavior. If you take steps to reduce the likelihood, there is a greater chance that your hamsters will stick to a list of things they ought to eat, instead.