Hamster Cheeks and Why they Stuff them

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Ever wondered about hamster cheeks? Do their cheeks store food? Why do they stuff their cheeks full in the way that they do? Well the first time you see a hamster stuff its cheeks it is, admittedly, rather amusing! They shovel it in and their cheeks become fatter. But what’s even funnier is they way they ‘unload’ them at lightening speed! My Benji would ’empty’ his pouch into a stash near his bed and then slowly start nibbling when he was actually ready to eat it!

Hamster Cheeks

Hamster cheeks are actually pouches that can be used for storage – they work a bit like inflating a balloon. These large pockets stretch all the way back to a hamster’s shoulders. All of my hamsters have stored food in their cheeks. Try it with a line of fruit and nut mix when you fetch him out of the cage – you will notice it disappearing into his cheeks quite rapidly! He’s not eating it fast, he is storing it for later! They also like to store seeds in there such as sunflower seeds.

Hamster Cheeks

Why do Hamsters store food in their cheeks?

Hamsters come from desert environments where food can be scarce and so hamsters need the ability to store it for later. Also, hamsters need to eat every two hours, and so storing food in those pouches means that they have a constant food supply as long as there is something stored ready. If you’re wondering how much food they can store in those cheeks, a hamster can actually hold about 20% of its body weight in food in those cheeks.

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Also check out our full section on hamster care which is written to help you to keep your hamster happy!

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