Hoarding like a hamster

Hoarding means to store away provisions for later, more difficult times. There is one cute little animal that is an expert at this – the hamster. A hamster even has special pockets in its cheeks to transport food to its sleeping den, where it stockpiles its findings. But hamsters aren’t the only ones who hoard! This behaviour is also seen in other rodents and birds.

In the wild, animals stock up for difficult times as they never know when they will be able to find food again. That’s why they make provisions when the food supply is readily available. Because this behaviour is innate, wild hamsters aren’t the only ones who do this. Their cute cousins in our homes are also excellent hoarders. Not everything that ends up in a hamster’s mouth will be eaten right away. A large portion lands in its cheeks, which have bristles and allow them to store up to 18 grams of food. When full, these little animals can look quite chubby-cheeked! They carry their pickings into their storage chamber, which is usually the sleeping enclosure. Once in their den, they rub their paws against their cheeks to empty them. You shouldn’t take away your hamster’s stocks – just check once in a while to make sure their “goods” aren’t starting to rot.

Other small animals stockpile too. Mice, for example, usually store fresh food. This is not the preferred meal of these little rodents, so they put it away. Rabbits don’t carry away their food; they just save it for later. You will need to remove fresh food that is withering regularly. This also applies to guinea pigs. With fancy rats you should only offer as much roughage as they devour. Rats, by the way, don’t tend to hoard. But many other wild birds and mammals that feed on fruits and seeds do, including squirrels. If a squirrel finds a rich source of food it will collect this for times when treats such as nuts and seeds are no longer available. They will typically bury these tasty morsels in the ground or take them into their dwelling. Did you know that this behaviour is not only important for a bird or rodent’s ability to survive through the winter, but that nature benefits as well? By collecting seeds, animals help in the germination of new trees and plants due to the simple fact that not all of their “hideaways” will be emptied completely or even found again.

Call into your local store today to discuss your small animals personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts