9 Reasons Why Hamsters Sometimes Eat Their Babies

by Hamster Care

Going to your hamster’s cage and seeing that they have eaten their young can be horrifying. Even though we can’t always grasp everything, there is always a cause in nature. Hamsters can be quite perceptive and tuned in to the health of their young, yet they can also act negatively in response to stress.

Then, what are the reasons why hamsters sometimes eat their babies? If you find yourself in this predicament, you might try to make sense of it by identifying the possible causes. The underlying cause may be influenced by stressors, the size of the litter, and specific odors that can make the mother act out. Let’s explore the possibilities for what might have happened.


A little about hamsters & their younglings

Like the majority of rodents, hamsters give birth very quickly. As little as 10 weeks old, hamsters can begin breeding. They are able to give birth to as few as three and as many as 20! The type of hamster and the mother’s egg output determine this.

Depending on the breed, a hamster’s pregnancy lasts between 16 and 22 days. Babies are born motionless, blind, and deaf. However, they are already sexually developed by 4 weeks. Thus, they don’t hang around for very long. The challenging aspect is getting through the first few weeks.

How to know your hamster is pregnant?

Every month, hamsters can become pregnant! If both sexes are present, a litter will undoubtedly result.

Here are some pregnancy symptoms in case you are unsure:

  • Growing abdomen
  • Slight personality change
  • Guarded body language
  • Unusually temperamental

Always keep males and females apart if you don’t want to raise a litter of puppies.

Understanding hamster motherhood

The majority of hamsters are excellent mothers by nature; it’s an innate skill. On the other hand, some women can be a little erratic when it comes to raising their children. While they are carrying or breastfeeding, they might not want to be hugged, stroked, or petted.

This behavior is typical and reasonable. You should always respect a woman’s limits until she feels at ease again.

You could take care of individual puppies on your own if you notice that the mother is rejecting them. You can try to get hamsters through the first few weeks of life as they mature so quickly. But if something is actually wrong, you could be powerless to stop a tragic passing.

There is undoubtedly a direct cause if you realized that your mother hamster tragically ate any or all of her young. This phenomenon can be brought on by hormones, interference, or anything else. But these are the key causes of this.


Why hamsters sometimes eat their babies?

  1. Your hamster lacks adequate food

A mother hamster who is nursing needs a balanced diet that will feed both her and her young. She requires a healthy diet to thrive because she is producing milk for many puppies. The mother may consume a pup to supplement any nutritional deficiencies in her diet.

During pregnancy and breast-feeding, mothers require much more protein in their diet.

You can feed your hamster lots of:

  • Boiled egg
  • Mealworm
  • Unseasoned chicken or beef

They also need lots of fruits and veggies like:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Dandelion greens
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Carrot tops

Additionally, adequate amounts of milk production depend on regular hydration. Make sure mom has access to plenty of clean water. Daily water changes are recommended.

  1. There is something wrong with a baby

In young hamsters, there may be hidden medical issues that we are not aware of. Mothers frequently reject their babies if they feel that something is amiss with them. However, on occasion, they might devour it to keep it separate from the rest of the litter.

The potential causes of the problems range widely, from illnesses to genetic flaws. Although mothers don’t always eat their children, they almost never take care of them. Animals have a natural tendency to only take care of those who will survive; this is how the survival of the fittest works.

  1. Mother feels overwhelmed with litter size

Hamsters can have up to 20 pups in a single litter, though this is unusual. That can be a really demanding situation. She might consume a few to help thin things out if the mother feels overburdened or unable to care for her children. Be aware that survival is the motivation behind this, not hostility or malice.

The mother is aware that she cannot make enough food to sustain all of them. Hamsters have a total of 12 nipples. If she ends up having too many, she might keep only those that she considers to be the healthiest and throw away the others for practical reasons.

  1. She’s trying to protect them

The mother may genuinely be attempting to save her puppies if she is extremely uneasy or feels endangered by her environment. She might respond in this way if she fears that her kids will be taken advantage of.

Although it’s less likely, this scenario is still conceivable. There might be a cat loitering nearby, a lot of commotion, or something else unpleasant that sets off their danger sensors. If so, they might consume the entire litter.

  1. Mother is stressed out

A mother hamster may eat her young if she is under stress and hormones. It’s possible that she doesn’t feel secure or at ease in her surroundings. She may devour her offspring as a coping mechanism if she is anxious or upset.

It would be great if you always kept their cage in a serene area where there is little chance of disturbance from outside sources. She is very new to all of this, and each hamster needs to live in a stress-free environment free of triggers in order to be healthy.

  1. Scent changed

Never attempt to handle a baby animal immediately away. Baby odors are particularly noticeable to mothers. Rejection or worse can result from premature handling. Although you might not know it, animals are quite interested in various pollutants.

It is dangerous to handle the infants before they are at least three weeks old. If you touch the infant, the mother can reject it and consume it. She might cease taking care of the entire litter, or worse. Keep visitors, other family members, and young children at a distance until you’re ready.

  1. First-time mother woes

Not every animal possesses a maternal instinct. Some are left out, while others are confused about how to mother. Your hamster might not know how to handle all of the changes their body is undergoing if they are very young and inexperienced.

They might not fully grasp it when they have their litter. It is possible for a mother to devour her offspring due to inexperience or a lack of maternal instincts.

  1. Accidental killing

It’s possible that your hamster wasn’t initially planning to murder the baby. While nursing, mother hamsters may suffocate their young. While manipulating the puppies in their jaws, they may unintentionally hurt or kill them.

They might eat their infant if they accidentally killed it in order to thoroughly get rid of it. The stress reaction, hormone imbalance, or intuitiveness are unrelated to this explanation. It was merely inadvertent, therefore the mother is, in a sense, cleaning up the mess.

  1. Maybe it wasn’t mom

It might not have been the mother at all if you are housing numerous females together or leaving the father in the cage. As a sign of dominance, some hamsters will consume the young of rivals. Dads are also accountable.

Until the puppies are a little bit bigger, mothers must be completely alone in a cage with their pups. They need to socialize, so you won’t have to keep them apart for very long. However, the first few weeks are a very delicate period.

How to prevent this behavior?

Sometimes, the sad truth is that nature will take its course and there won’t be much you can do to change it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take every precaution to prevent this from happening again (or happen in the first place).

The following are things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t handle the babies until the mother finishes weaning. If you touch the babies before the mother welcomes the idea, you could cause her to reject her young. You should never interfere until the babies are at least 3-4 weeks old.
  • Make sure mom is getting well-balanced nutrition. She’s feeding a whole litter – she needs to replenish her own body. If her body is lacking somewhere, it could cause unwanted behaviors as a result. Ensure the right balance of pellets, fruits, veggies, and fresh water are available at all times.
  • Monitor her behavior very closely. You might be able to see visible clues that tell you something isn’t right with mom. Or, you might notice that she’s singling out a pup. It’s best to intervene in that situation – with the advice of your primary veterinarian.
  • Make sure the cage is clean and habitable. It might not be the easiest thing to do – keeping the cage clean while mom is with her babies. But you have to make sure they aren’t living in filth. Mothers are pretty good about keeping their whelping space sanitary, but the whole cage needs it, too.
  • Separate the mother from all other hamsters. It can cause a lot of conflicts when you house a mother and her pups with other hamsters. This leaves lots of room for stress, agitation, and fighting, as the mom might feel threatened – which can cause these types of behaviors.
  • Don’t let small children handle mom and babies early on. If you have children, they will probably be over the moon at the adorable cage additions. But you shouldn’t let children handle the babies unsupervised. It would be best if you also waited to let kids touch the babies until they develop hair and can move around freely on their own.
  • Give the mom nesting materials and a safe space to wean her babies. A few days before the mother is due, start giving her materials to build her own nest. She will feel safe here, creating her own tailored area to raise her young.

Sometimes, these things are inevitable. But taking precautions and staying prepared is the ticket to a successful litter.


Animals react to having offspring in different ways instinctually, despite the fact that it could break your heart. Whatever the cause, it could be difficult to comprehend why your hamster ate their kid. Although it appears vicious and cruel, it isn’t.

The best thing you can do is contribute to creating a private, secure, and safe environment for mom. Give her a ton of food and liquids. Otherwise, keep in mind to refrain from interfering during the first few weeks. I hope you can find a solution to stop this from happening again.

If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!

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By HamsterCareTip.Com

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