Hamsters are very popular and common house pets now. Taking care of a hamster can be a lot of work, but it can also be very fun.
Some people choose to buy hamsters just because they think they’re neat. Others will get them as pets for children to help to teach them about responsibility.
If you’re new to caring for hamsters, then some of the things that they do might surprise you. For example, you might notice that your pet hamster likes to eat its own poop.
This is certainly disgusting and it’s probably something that you wish the hamster would stop doing. Is it bad for the hamster to do this?
Keep reading to get information about why a hamster will eat its own poop. You’ll come to understand whether this is normal and what you can do to ensure that your hamster stays happy and healthy.
Eating Poop Is Normal for Hamsters
The first thing to know is that eating poop is actually quite normal for hamsters. They don’t do this because they’re stupid, either, because there is a purpose.
Hamsters have a hard time digesting some of the things that they eat. For example, when they eat vegetables, there might be portions of the nutrients that they can’t absorb.
Specifically, hamsters have a hard time digesting cellulose. A hamster’s body breaks down the cellulose once it travels to an area of its gut called the caecum.
This is located between the small intestine and the large intestine. It’s essentially a pouch that contains bacteria that can break cellulose down.
Hamsters then need to poop out the cellulose that they have broken down. The cellulose will be present in the hamster’s stool, and they will be able to absorb the nutrients fully this time when they eat the poop.
Is that incredibly gross? Most certainly, but that’s still the scientific answer to this question.
Hamsters eat their own poop because it’s how they absorb all of the nutrients in the foods that they eat. The hamsters will eat the soft stool that is created so that they will have the nutrients that they need to thrive.
You Shouldn’t Try to Stop Hamsters From Eating Poop
You know that hamsters are supposed to eat their own feces now. This doesn’t mean that you like seeing them do this, though.
Would it be okay to try to stop your hamsters from doing this? Can you just clean up the hamster poop really fast to keep them from eating it?
It isn’t a good idea to try to prevent hamsters from eating their own droppings. It’s simply something that they must do for nutritional purposes.
If a hamster doesn’t digest and then re-digest the food, then it won’t be able to get the B12 that it needs. Hamsters have no other way of getting B12, and this means that you’ll just have to accept that hamsters eat poop.
Try not to think of it as a really gross thing that hamsters will do. Just intellectualize it as a necessary part of the hamster’s digestive experience.
What About Keeping the Hamster’s Cage Clean?
Now that you understand that you can’t stop hamsters from eating feces, you might be wondering about how to keep the cage clean. If hamsters need to eat the poop, then would it be wrong to clean the cage up?
You need to clean the hamster cage or it’s going to get messy very fast. The good news is that hamster poop isn’t nearly as smelly as the droppings from other types of animals.
Typically, hamster droppings will be small and solid enough to easily pick up. The problem is that hamsters poop a whole lot and it can be hard to keep up with things.
If you neglect cleaning the hamster cage for several days, then you might have an overwhelming amount of poop to handle. This is why it’s easier to just clean the hamster cage a bit each morning.
Hamsters are usually very active at night and they’ll wind up pooping a lot. In the morning, the hamster is likely to be napping and it’ll be easier to go ahead and clean its cage.
You don’t have to touch the poop if it grosses you out either. Just buy some rubber gloves or some type of disposable gloves that you can wear.
Pick up the poop and throw it away while you wipe things down a bit. You’re also going to need to take the time to scoop out soiled bedding.
Replace the bedding with fresh bedding when necessary. You’ll need to fully replace the bedding once per week even when you scoop out the soiled bedding on a daily basis.
It’s also imperative to remember to clean the food bowls and water dishes. It isn’t unusual for hamster poop to get all over the place because of how much hamsters defecate.
If you neglect cleaning the dishes and bowls, then the hamster could wind up eating contaminated food. You’ll be able to help to protect your hamster by doing a good job of keeping its bowls and dishes clean.
This is just the type of stuff that you need to do on a daily basis. If you don’t do this, then the hamster habitat is going to get messy, and it might get smelly too.
On a monthly basis, you’re supposed to clean the hamster cage thoroughly. This is a deep-clean that will require you to remove the hamster from the habitat while you do what you need to do.
Place the hamster in a temporary habitat so that you can clean the cage really well. Take the time to clean the entire cage with lukewarm soapy water.
It’s also wise to wipe down all of the hamster’s toys and other things that it uses in the cage. Your goal is to remove any debris and just make sure that things are really nice for the hamster.
You do need to be careful not to use certain cleaning products that could be harmful to hamsters. For example, you can’t use anything that contains ammonia since that could hurt your little furry friend.
Some people even just buy special hamster cage cleaning sprays that are known to be safe for hamsters. You can go this route or you can just be particular about the types of soap that you choose to use while cleaning.
Consider Giving Your Hamster a Sand Bath Area
If you want to help your hamster stay as hygienic as possible, then it’s a good idea to give it a sand bath area. Hamsters seem to really like rolling around in sand baths and it helps them to stay clean.
This is certainly going to work a lot differently than a normal bath would. The hamster winds up rolling around in the sand path and this causes grease and dirt to get removed from its fur.
Since hamsters don’t like water baths, it’s going to be a good idea to give them a sand bath area. It’s really simple to do this since you only need a container that is the right size as well as pet-safe sand.
The container needs to be easy enough for the hamster to get in and out. It also has to be large enough for the hamster to be able to roll around.
It isn’t completely necessary to give your hamster a sand bath area in its cage, but it will be a nice thing to include. Hamsters will stay significantly cleaner if they have access to a sand bath.
However, a hamster will still groom itself to stay fairly clean. It’s just that the hamster will be cleaner if you’re able to give it the sand bath area.
Hamsters Are Going to Poop a Lot
Some hamster owners wind up getting frustrated with how much hamsters poop. It’s normal to feel a little annoyed at the amount of poop when you aren’t used to taking care of hamsters.
You’ve learned how to keep the cage clean already, but you need to know that there isn’t really anything that you can do to make hamsters poop less. These little animals just poop a lot and they don’t necessarily have a lot of control over where they poop.
A hamster is just going to poop when it needs to poop. You could see a hamster running around and it’ll just suddenly poop.
Some animals have more control over their defecation process. Hamsters don’t, and this means that they will just poop when it’s time for them to go.
This can create some problems when it comes to handling your hamster. You might feel as if your hamster might poop on you if you aren’t careful.
Sadly, there isn’t a lot that you can do about this. You can limit the likelihood that your hamster will poop on you by reducing the time that you’re handling it.
Other than that, you just kind of have to accept that frequent defecation is a thing for hamsters. That’s just how hamsters are biologically, and you won’t be able to change that by feeding them different foods or adjusting the amount of food that you give the hamsters.
Litter Training Hamsters
There are some people who have had success litter training hamsters. It’s important to keep in mind that accidents will still happen, in all likelihood.
Hamsters like to try to be clean and it’ll be very easy to train them to pee in one litter box area of the cage. They usually won’t try to urinate in other spots because they don’t want to live in a dirty environment.
Getting a hamster to use the litter box for poop will be a bit trickier sometimes. You can just place the litter box and have the hamster sniff everything.
You can’t really force the hamster to use a litter box for pooping. It’ll just have to get used to the idea.
Some people have placed multiple litter boxes so that hamsters would eventually get the idea to start putting the poop in the litter boxes. You can keep trying and see if your hamster gets used to things or not.
If it doesn’t work out well, then you might have to just accept that your hamster is going to poop in random spots. Typically, it should be easy enough to get the hamster on board, though.
Hamsters eat their own feces because they have to. It isn’t something that hamsters do because they’re weird or because they’re trying to make you feel sick.
It’s necessary for them because they need to digest food and then re-digest it by eating the feces to get all of the nutrients out of their meals. There isn’t any way for you to stop hamsters from needing to do this.
Knowing that there isn’t anything wrong with your hamster should be enough to put your mind at ease. Hopefully, you’ll be able to ignore how gross the idea of eating poop is so that you can continue caring for your hamster properly.
Hamsters poop a lot and this can wind up being a problem for new hamster owners. You’re going to need to be vigilant about cleaning the hamster cage a bit each day or else you’ll get overwhelmed by hamster droppings.
It’s best to clean things up in the morning when your hamster is likely to be napping. You can also try to train your hamster to use a litter box so that the cage won’t be quite so messy.
If you’re able to follow the advice above, then you’ll have an easier time raising your hamster. It does require a lot of work, but it can be fun having a hamster to play with.
Treat your hamster well and you’ll likely wind up forming a close bond. These little pets have become great companions for many people, and you’re going to have a good time taking care of one.
If you’re thinking of getting a hamster, then you will want to be sure that you have enough time to dedicate to it. These little animals do require a fair bit of daily attention.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.