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Hate to ask.. but cannibal hamster? *will try being least graphic*

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#1 Mink


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Posted 16 April 2012 - 12:14 PM

Sorry, but I need to talk this out somewhere.
Okay, I know hamsters are Omnivores. But... yikes.

For those who don't know, I adopted 2 RC Dwarf Hamsters from a irresponsible owner a bit over a year ago.
She got them from Petco months before she got bored with them. I do not think they're actually related but were (supposedly) together since very young. She actually had 4 RC dwarf hamsters in a tiny habitrail cage.

I brought them home, gave them a 30 gallon breeder tank with 2 wheels, etc. They once-in-a-while (once or twice a month?) would have a pushing-shoving-squeeking tiff. Never anywhere close to blood being drawn, and was usually over who was going to occupy what toy at the moment.. they'd push, shove, squeak, and the loser (usually Trixie the smaller one) would give up and walk away. They otherwise lived happily, for over a year.

So I injured my back and was / am on some meds that knock me out cold for most of the day. I didn't pay much attention to my hamsters for a few days, I was very out of it. I felt guilty about not having the awake-ness to take them out to play. I felt I could at least top off their food and water often.
A couple days ago, we complained and got my meds changed. When I was back with the world, I noticed Pixie running around and excitedly decided to (gingerly) take them out for overdue playtime.

Well, Pixie came running up to me, but no sign of Trixie. Ok.. she must be sleeping real deep somewhere, proded the usually sleeping spots to no avail. Ok..??? I then realized I really couldn't recall when I last saw Trixie durring my heavy-meds. I started to fret she somehow escaped or passed away. I began taking things out of the cage, and between one toy and the back wall I found what could barely be recognized as Trixie. I was shocked, actually trembling. Apparently Pixie had been having a snack (despite having plenty of regular food). She's the only suspect. Didn't sleep much that night but no nightmares yet, thankfully.

Trixie was my fiance's favorite (she was very awesome T_T) so right away... he says Pixie must have murdered Trixie. He claims they must have had such a fight, but I really don't remember any tiffs recently. I think maybe Trixie passed away.. but how?? I don't know, have no way of knowing. I can't even recall her acting sick, and have no way of telling when she might have passed away precisely. I can't look at Pixie without wincing. If she did harm Trixie, I would be very upset.. I'm beside myself now when its a mystery. If Pixie didn't attack Trixie, only scavenged after.. Its still icky but would make Pixie less.. demonized, evil?

To make matters worse, every time I walk past their cage, Pixie is like begging for attention. Trying to climb up the side left-to-right and all that. She seems to be more desperate, she somehow climbed to the roof of her puzzle-playhouse and was trying to stand up on it (which she's never done before). Its so weird. If Trixie had passed away, I would say Pixie could be lonely.. but if she killed her, I dunno. They did kinda pal around, even sometimes shared a wheel when there's two, I don't think they hated each other...

T_T Its just a terrible situation.

Edited by Mink, 16 April 2012 - 12:19 PM.

#2 Lucas


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Posted 16 April 2012 - 12:18 PM

As terrible as it sounds, this can be a common situation. It doesn't mean your hamster killed it's cage mate, perhaps she died naturally or due to another problem. But instinct will drive a hamster to act on cannibalism to rid of the corpse, to hide it from predators.
Of course it is possible there was a fight, you will never know for sure.

There's a high risk of this with multiple hamsters. Any little fight can cause a problem, and in the end, can lead to death sometimes.

#3 Genevie


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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:44 PM

Jordyn's right, but I just want to add that if Pixie did kill Trixie, it doesn't necessarily make her a bad/evil hammy. Hamsters brains work pretty differently to our own, it's not as if she would have had a malicious motive or even a dislike for Trixie. She would just be acting on instinct of some sort. Since there was never any blood drawn before, I would imagine it's unlikely that she would have killed her anyway. But even if she did, she's still the sweet hammy you know and love :)

#4 Christmas_hamster


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Posted 16 April 2012 - 09:39 PM

I also would like to add that Trixie could have been ill and you might not have noticed, hamsters are prey animals and so hide their illness well to avoid looking like an easy target. The cannibalism as mentioned is their way to avoid attracting predators. I've never had any of my hamster's resorting to this but I think it's because they body wasn't left in the cage long enough for them to feel the need too. Other rodents can and do practice it as well it just seems to happen more so with hamsters.

Pixie isn't evil, even if a fight was the cause of death. She's living all alone now and doesn't have her buddy to keep her busy. Nature isn't always pretty and whether we like it or not animals do have instincts.

#5 Taxonomist


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Posted 17 April 2012 - 04:10 AM

I agree with what others have said, and there's nothing I can say on that front that hasn't already been said.

However, I just want to add that I can sympathize with your discomfort about Trixie. Sometimes it's hard to separate your emotions about a hamster from your logic. I know it isn't nearly the same magnitude, but when Popcorn first bit me, it was kind of emotionally upsetting for me. I knew logically that it didn't mean anything--hamsters bite all the time, for many reasons. But it still upset me, because I wondered if she hated me or something.

Others who have posted are 100% correct that even if there was a fight, Trixie isn't objectively "evil." But I can understand why you might feel that way. It must be a really hard place to be in. I'm very sorry you're dealing with this, and I hope that you and Trixie can pull through okay.

#6 Mink


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Posted 17 April 2012 - 11:49 AM

Thanks all, I know I knew some of these things but just was very helpful to hear it. ^_^ I once had a rabbit that had babies but produced no milk, so she tried to get rid of the babies. We saved ones we could, and attempted to hand-raise them but were unsucessful. I was upset about her attacking the babies, but did get over it in time and had her for 7 years.

I really need the confidence to believe in Pixie, I just don't want to think she caused Trixie's death, and it could be my fault for having them live together.
They seemed happy, but I don't want to pretend, be like biased or blind to the truth just to make myself feel better about it.
I would think that there would be quite a lot of bloodshed if they had a fight to the death... the cage looked normal.
Its all just very disheartening, surreal, and I miss Trixie terribly on the top of it all.

Its mostly my fiance' saying Pixie is evil, he's holding a grudge against her. >_< He always doted on Trixie more, since he didn't like Pixie being the dominant one and bossing Trixie around.

I know what you mean, Taxonomist. One time I was present when one of my rats was passing away.. and when I tried to stroke her for comfort, she bit me.
It was emotionally upsetting, but I talked it out with other rat experts - they pointed out she was probably not thinking clearly, if at all, for various reasons and in time I felt better.