If one considers the gentle look that hamsters have, one may conclude that hamsters can never hurt each other. It seems the looks of hamsters are just a mere feign of gentleness since they sometimes eat each other. But why do these gentle-looking creatures become so aggressive to the point of eating each other?
Hamsters will eat each other if their diets alter their nature or if other hamsters appear to reduce their chance of survival greatly. A few breeds of hamsters that are territorial in nature don’t even require diets to alter their nature before they eat each other.
The non-territorial breeds of hamsters outnumber the territorial breeds, making it fair to generalize the statement that hamsters won’t eat each other unless their diets or mates force them to do so. Anyone who wishes to understand why hamsters eat each other must consider a variety of things. In this article, we shall talk about everything that readers need to know concerning this topic, so we advise you to read on.
Do Hamsters Cannibalize?
Under normal conditions, most breeds of hamsters don’t cannibalize. However, a number of things can force even the friendliest breeds of hamsters to become ferocious cannibals. Almost all the dwarf breeds of hamsters have a very low tendency of cannibalizing. In contrast, Syrian hamsters and Chinese hamsters have a high tendency of cannibalizing if they live in groups.
Why Do Hamsters Eat Each Other?
Hamsters eat each other only when there are genuine reasons. Some of those reasons are even meant to protect hamsters from going into extinction. You will find all the major reasons why hamsters eat each other as you read on. Perhaps, you might not be able to condemn hamsters after you understand why they eat each other. And of course, you will discover some things you can do to stop hamsters from eating each other if you own a few of them as pets.
Individual hamsters have a strong instinct for survival, and therefore they may see the need to eat their own kinds just to survive. In the wild, hamsters can spread about to find their own food, water, and shelter, so they will likely not kill each other in the wild.
However, domestic hamsters can only share the resources that their owner provides for them. If the resources aren’t enough, they may eat their fellows to reduce the pressure on the little resources available. Hamsters might have developed this nature to ensure the continued existence of their species in tough times.
Some breeds of hamsters are very territorial. Syrian hamsters, for instance, display different territorial behaviors. Cannibalism is one of the territorial behaviors that Syrian hamsters and other territorial breeds can display. Even if there are abundant resources for all the hamsters to share, hamsters that are territorial in nature will still eat each other. A strange hamster’s mere appearance is enough reason for cannibalism to occur among breeds of hamsters that are territorial in nature.
Hamsters are a bit vulnerable to cage rage, a psychological disorder that animals in the cage sometimes suffer from. When a hamster suffers from cage rage, it becomes very aggressive towards other hamsters and humans. Such aggression can lead to cannibalism. Hamsters that live in an inconducive cage are more vulnerable to cage rage than the ones that live in a conducive cage. A hamster that suffers from cage rage will not only attack other hamsters, but it will also be restless even when it stays all by itself.
The diets of hamsters can alter their behaviors. For instance, hamsters that feed on a monotonous diet of corn will develop aggressive behavior and eat each other. Hamsters in the wild are more likely to become cannibals now that they no longer have a variety of grains to consume.
Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Own Babies?
Deficiency in diet
The diets that hamsters consume can alter their nature to some extent. When hamsters feed on diets that lack Vitamin B3, they eat their own babies. For instance, hamsters that feed on corn will eat their own babies since corn lacks Vitamin B3.
Hamsters go through a lot of stress while giving birth and nursing their babies. While hamsters can cope with the stress of parturition and nursing, they may not be able to cope with the additional stress that a harsh environment imposes on them. Some environmental factors that can stress hamsters include loud noises, excessive heat, and disturbance from other animals or man.
To protect the living babies
If a hamster gives birth to many babies in the wild, and one of them dies, predators can use the smell of the dead baby to locate the living ones since they are at the same place. To prevent this from happening, a hamster will eat her dead baby. Domestic hamsters also eat their dead babies despite how humans already protect them from predators.
Change in scent
Hamsters rely on scents to identify their babies. Hamsters will leave scents on their babies while they take care of them, making it easy to recognize their babies. However, if human touches one of the babies, the baby’s scient will change, so the mother will perceive such a baby as an outsider. The hamster will end up eating the supposed outsider.
A hamster will try her best to take care of the entire brood, but if she realizes that the resources like food and space aren’t enough, she can kill some of her babies. Hamsters won’t just kill her babies at random. Instead, she will watch out for weak ones and eat them so that the strong ones can survive with the little resources available. In case the mother is starving, and no food is available, she can eat all her babies to gain energy.
Threat from a male hamster
Male hamsters are not as caring as female hamsters. All they care about is how to get the female’s attention. A male hamster usually bothers the innocent babies while attempting to get the attention of their mother, forcing the female hamster to hide the babies from the male hamster. If there are not good hideouts around, the female hamster can hide some of her babies in her cheek pouch until the babies suffocate.
Why Do Female Hamsters Attack Male Hamsters?
Females hamsters can attack male hamsters for two major reasons. The first reason is to show her unreadiness for mating. Usually, a female hamster will be ready for mating every four days, so if any male hamster attempts to mate with her before she is ready, she will attack such a male hamster.
Another reason why a female hamster sometimes attacks a male is to exert her aggressive behavior. Female hamsters are generally more aggressive than male hamsters, which is why they sometimes do their best to dominate males when they come in contact for non-mating purposes.
Is It OK to Have Two Hamsters in the Same Cage?
Yes, you can keep two hamsters in the same cage, but you must design the cage in such a way that the two hamsters won’t have to share too many things. Food bowl, water bowl, and other necessary things must be available in more than one quantity so that the hamsters won’t have things to fight over.
More importantly, you should consider the breeds of hamsters that you want to keep together. While some breeds of hamsters can live together in harmony, a few breeds can never live together without fighting one another.
What breeds are best to combine together?
You can combine two Roborovskis in the same cage. Roborovskis can live happily in pairs or in a small group both in the wild and in the cage. Kindly note that it’s best to keep same-sex Roborovski hamsters together, and not of different sex. Also, you need to pair the hamsters at a very young age so that they will become comfortable with each other as they grow up.
Dwarf winter white Russian hamsters can also live together in harmony. They need to grow up together in order to get along with their cage mate. Dwarf winter white Russian hamsters can reproduce very rapidly, so try to keep same-sex together.
Campbell’s dwarf Russian hamsters are also friendly to their breeds, which means you can combine two of them in the same cage. Just make sure you do so while they are still very young.
While it’s okay to combine the breeds of hamsters above in the same cage, you still need to observe the hamsters for a few days to ensure they tolerate each other well. In case one hamster oppresses the other, you should remove the oppressed one from the cage and pair it up with another hamster of the same breed and sex.