If you keep a hamster for a pet then I suppose you have witnessed some scary things, to say the least. From eating their babies to throwing their poop, hamsters can leave you speechless.
One other habit hamsters have is eating their poop. While this can be disturbing, it’s is quite normal for hamsters to eat their poop.
Medically referred to as coprophagy, poop-eating is a common habit among rodents and other animals that eat a mostly plant-based diet.
Before we look at the reasons why hamsters eat their poop, it’s important to note there are two types of hamster poop. The one you often find in their cage is the regular dry droppings. The one hamsters eat is the softer poop that occurs mainly at night.
So why do hamsters eat their poop?
Hamsters eat their poop to get more nutrients that could not be absorbed properly the first time after digestion. Vitamin B12, for example, is produced in the hamster’s small intestine but can only be absorbed into the body in the stomach. Your hamster will have to eat his poop to get this nutrient back.
Hamsters are also hindgut fermenters, which means they digest their food in the cecum, the part of the digestive tract between the small and large intestines (about the same location as the appendix in humans). This means after digestion only a small percentage of nutrients can be absorbed into the body.
Beneficial flora (bacteria and protozoa) living in the hamster’s digestive tract also help in digestion and produce by-products such as amino acids and water-soluble vitamins. These nutrients are important for a hamster’s health and survival.
Although some of the nutrients can be absorbed directly into the hamster’s body, other nutrients can only be available for absorption if the hamster consumes his poop.
But is it possible for a hamster to confuse between soft poop and dry droppings? No. The hamster can tell the difference and often consumes the soft poop directly from the anus.
When do hamsters eat their poop?
Hamsters often eat their poop at night or early morning hours, which explains why you’re less likely to see it happening. You’re also less likely to see your hamster’s soft poop because they often eat directly from the anus. The poop you see are the dry droppings and have no nutritional value to a hamster.
Do not be alarmed or interfere in case you witness your hamster eating his poop. It’s a normal thing and the hamster needs all the nutrients it can get to stay healthy and stress-free. Besides, stopping your hammy from eating his poop will likely lead to a lack of enough nutrients and more stress.
Can you prevent a hamster from eating poop?
Unfortunately not. The reason your hamster is eating poop is to get more nutrients absorbed into the body. They need to redigest the food to get all the nutrients such as vitamin B12, which is produced in the small intestines but is absorbed into the body in the stomach.
It’s understandable that watching your hammy eat his poop is not the most appealing of spectacles. However, you just have to understand that changing their diet will not help and it’s best to let your little friend do his thing to stay healthy and happy.
Why do hamsters throw their poop?
Hamsters throw their poop when bored, to mark their territory, and/or when cleaning their habitat. Hamsters often toss their poop out of their cages to keep it clean and depending on the reason behind the behavior, the habit can be short-lived or can go on for quite some time.
If the reason is to clean up his habitat, for instance, the behavior can be short-lived because once the area is clean then it means there is no more poop to throw. However, if the reason is boredom then each time the hamster is bored you can expect this to happen.
How to prevent a hamster from throwing poop
There are a few measures you can take to stop your hamster from throwing poop all over the place. Here are a few you can consider:
1. Keep the hamster’s cage clean
The most effective way to prevent a hamster from throwing poop is to keep the cage clean at all times. Get yourself a poop scooper and swoop in to clean the cage whenever your hamster relieves himself. Apart from getting rid of the behavior, the cage being clean will provide a conducive environment necessary to keep the hamster happy and stress-free.
2. Keep track of the hamster’s behavior
Understanding why your hamster loves to throw poop will help you determine the best way to stop it. Is it because the hamster is bored or stressed or is the hamster cage too small for him? Some hamsters, for example, will throw poop out of the cage when bored, and others because they feel the need to create more space for themselves due to the small size of the cage.
3. Increase the hamster’s cage size
As mentioned above, some hamsters try to create more room for themselves by throwing poop away. To prevent this from happening, ensure your hamster has a cage big enough for them to have enough room to play, rest, and sleep. A larger cage will also give the hamster enough room to relieve himself without dirtying the surrounding areas.
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It is perfectly normal for a hamster to eat poop. Apart from the hamsters, other rodents that eat their poop include mice, rabbits, and guinea pigs. The best thing you can do is ensure your pet gets the right food in appropriate amounts to stay strong, healthy, and happy.