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Do Hamsters Really Eat Their Babies?

My best friend had hamsters most of her childhood and some of my favorite memories were watching those suckers play!

Until the day I watched in horror as the momma hamster ate one of her babies – I was scarred for life and never entered that hamster room again.

As I got older and became more active in animal rescue I wanted to be able to answer that infamous question “why do hamsters eat their babies” – I found out the answer and wanted to share it so you can be more prepared if you see it happen!

This also resulted in me learning that my friends hamster probably ate her babies because she was in a rather small cage. It was the 70’s – we were not as “animal aware” as we are now – but I remember the cage sitting on her night stand and all I can say is I would be unhappy in that small of a space too!

If you are looking to adopt some hamsters – make sure you are prepared for this and the chance that one of your hamsters may someday be pregnant. Below is everything you need to know to keep your hamsters safe – happy – and healthy after momma gives birth!

Reasons Hamsters Eat Their Babies!

One may think that the reason a hamster may eat its young is because they are hungry, but the reality is there are several reasons they might do this.

  1. Lack of food may be a reason, so make sure you always have fresh food and water on hand for the nursing mom. It is a lot of work taking care of babies so you may be surprised how much food they really eat and not having enough can result in them eating a baby to help the others survive.
  2. When a hamster becomes scared and thinks her and her babies may be in danger which can result in them killing and eating their young. So keep the family in a quite place, avoid lots of noise and distractions – and yes, keep the cell phone pics to a minimum!
  3. When the scent of one of their babies is “different” it can result in the mom eating it as well. Mommy hamsters rely on the known scent of their children and when a human or another animal touches them and changes that scent – the mom may reject or kill it.
  4. If the mom feels overwhelmed with the care of her brood she may kill and eat some of them to make the litter size more manageable.
  5. If the space they are in is too small that can make a hamster a bit scared or nervous! She may think she does not have enough space to care for her family and kill of some to have more room for the other.
  6. Sick offspring is another reason it might be eaten. If the mom senses the baby is ill and may have a hard time growing up healthy they will kill and eat it to keep them from

Will A Hamster Get Sick From Eating Their Babies?

In most cases, no – the mom will not get sick so you should not worry about that!

Should I Remove Dead Babies?

If you see a dead baby in nest – you should remove it immediately! But use CAUTION to not touch any of the other babies with your hands – leaving your scent on another baby could mean a death sentence for that one too.

Use tongs – or chopsticks – whatever you can to remove the dead baby.

Can I Save The Babies?

Sadly, you cannot always save them – but there are things you can do to try and prevent a hamster from eating its babies. Below are some methods that some have had success with that you can try – and please, if you have had or do have success with any of these please let us know!

  • Make sure your hamster has plenty of food! Remember, nursing babies is hard work – and keeping your hamster well fed is important.
  • Monitor the babies frequently – but do not touch or move them. Moving or touching them may cause stress on the mom so that is a big no no. But check on them often to make sure momma is taking good care of them.
  • Keep them in a quiet environment. It is important to give them a space that is quiet and has as little stress as possible. Get them situated in the quietest part of the house to allow them to feel safe.

Final Thoughts

Hope this has given you some insight into what can happen if a momma or poppa hamster is not feeling safe, secure and well fed! If you have seen this happen with your own hamster – please share your story in the comments so we can read more first-hand experiences.

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2 thoughts on “Do Hamsters Really Eat Their Babies?”

  1. I left the mother alone and in a quiet room and would just come in to check on her and slowly she began eating her babies. I’m worried tho because after eating them all she seemed a bit irritated and was constantly scratching and her hair started to fall of but I wasn’t sure of what to do so I assumed changing her bedding and disinfecting her cage was the best thing and asked my husband to help bathe her with baby shampoo to see if we can soothe her a bit. She seems a bit better but we shall see. I’ve goggles so much during the whole process and everything I found was to leave her alone and let nature take place while she ate her babies. But now I’m worried for her, do you know why she might have gotten sick?

    Reply
    • Hi Mary, It could be many things – but it could also just be a natural reaction, like a belly ache. Just because they eat their babies does not mean it is without some side effects! Just keep a close eye on her and if she seems to get worse definitely talk to your vet. Wishing her the best! Jill

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