Why Do Hamsters Store Food in Their Mouths?

Hamsters pack a lot of character into their wee rodent bodies. The sight of a hamster storing mini food reserves into his puffy cheeks might seem amusing and bizarre, but this is just classic food hoarding behavior. It's not at all unusual for hamsters to fill their cheek pouches with food.

Food Storage

If you're a little worried because your hamster fills his cheeks with all the food he sees, understand that this behavior is totally healthy and typical. Your hamster is simply storing food for later consumption. His cheeks are spacious and flexible, and they're basically designed for these purposes. He won't keep the food in his cheeks all day, either. He'll probably transfer it to a safe, tucked-away spot of his cage to eat later. Because of this, it is your duty to always extensively examine your pet's cage for any old pieces of food. Make sure your pet never eats any stale or spoiled items.

Wild Hamsters

Hamsters in the wild keep valuable sustenance in their cheeks to move it from point A to point B. Wild hammies seek out food and then diligently bring it back to their nesting areas afterward. The point of storing it in their cheeks is simple -- to make sure others can't see it. The seemingly oddball behavior isn't so odd after all. It essentially is survival of the fittest, and even hamsters who have comfortable indoor lives partake in it. It's in their blood.

Cheek Maintenance

Hamster cheeks are handy for maintaining food because of the lack of salivary glands. This lets the rodents keep their food supplies dry. However, abscesses can develop from food scraping the inside of the cheek pouch. Your pet might be suffering from an abscess if his cheeks protrude even when he doesn't appear to be hoarding food. Take your hamster to the veterinarian immediately if you're worried about infection or other possible ailments.

Amounts of Food

If you're impressed by the sheer portion of food your little fluffball can hold, the actual amounts might floor you. Syrian hamsters are capable of lugging around half their body size in food alone -- Yikes! If you thought your kitchen cabinets were out of control, you probably can't compete with your hamster in that realm.