It’s common for hamsters to fling poop. However, it’s not always normal or healthy because it can signify a problem in the hamster’s living environment.
Hamsters eat their soft, nutrient-rich cecotropes and throw away the dry fecal matter they don’t eat.
Hamsters fling their poop to spread their scent and mark territory. Also, boredom and stress can be responsible for poop-throwing, as hamsters search for something to occupy them.
Hamsters are clean animals, so they move their poop to one area by flinging it with their mouths. Providing a hamster with a litter tray or sand bath can reduce the frequency of this behavior.
Why Is My Hamster Throwing Poop?
You may have noticed that when a hamster poops, it picks it up with its mouth and flings it away.
Hamsters don’t eat the small, dry feces you commonly see but the soft poop known as cecotropes. According to The Journal of Nutrition, hamsters are hindgut fermenters.
They eat poop to benefit from undigested nutrients from eating their poop (coprophagy). Normal poop doesn’t provide the same nutrition, so hamsters will discard the feces and eat the cecotropes.
However, Hamsters also fling poop for the following reasons:
Pet hamsters don’t realize they’re protected from other animals in captivity. As far as they’re concerned, another hamster or predator could swoop in at any moment and take their territory.
Throwing poop around the cage spreads scent and marks the domain, warning other animals to stay away. According to the Journal of Comparative Psychology, odor-elicited scent marking is common among mammals.
Similarly, if you have several hamsters in one cage, which isn’t recommended with most species, they’ll become aggressive and fling their feces around to mark their territory.
Most hamsters are solitary creatures who may fight to the death if they’re not housed alone.
The only hamsters that are sometimes happy to coexist are Campbell’s dwarf hamsters. They must be purchased from an ethical breeder who can validate their genetics.
Due to the risks involved, separating all hamsters is recommended to prevent fatal injuries.
While hamsters like their cage to smell like them, they dislike dirty and unsanitary conditions.
Hamsters keep their poop in one specific spot. When they have enough space to dig underground tunnels, they create multiple chambers for different purposes, such as:
- Storing food.
- Peeing and pooping.
Even hamsters who lack bedding to burrow into will choose a corner of their cage to poop and urinate.
As a result, they’ll fling their poop into the toilet spot. Spot-cleaning a hamster’s cage by removing poop every couple of days will keep the hamster content.
Don’t be alarmed if the hamster keeps flinging its poop around.
Without enrichment, hamsters are at risk of developing behaviors related to stress and anxiety. While this behavior is largely unexplored, ensuring the hamster has enrichment is advised.
Hamsters need 6+ inches of bedding in their enclosure to satisfy their instincts. Some hamsters won’t start burrowing unless they have a section as deep as 10-12 inches.
Other forms of enrichment for hamsters include the following:
- A large exercise wheel that measures at least 28 cm in diameter.
- Sand bath (hamsters don’t bathe in water).
- Wide tunnels (Syrian hamsters need a 7 cm opening to fit through).
- Wooden chews.
- Foraging toys.
- Multiple chambers.
- Hideouts that comfortably accommodate hamsters.
Giving the hamster more to do may distract it from its poop-throwing tendencies.
How To Stop Hamsters from Throwing Their Poop
You can’t always stop a hamster from flinging poop because it’s an engrained behavior.
Some hamsters will throw their feces more than others, but you may not see others do it. That said, you can minimize the amount a hamster handles its poop with the following changes:
Hamsters pee and poop in a specific part of their cage. Unless hamsters are extremely stressed, they won’t go to the toilet just anywhere.
That’s why providing a litter tray or sand bath can encourage a hamster to poop in one area that’s easy to clean, minimizing the need to throw its poop around.
We’ve discussed how spot cleaning is an important part of pet ownership. Hamsters dislike full cage cleans because it takes their scent away and stresses them out.
However, removing soiled bedding and decaying poop every few days is highly recommended. Replace the soiled bedding you remove so the substrate retains its depth.
Providing enrichment and spot cleaning isn’t sufficient if the hamster’s cage isn’t large enough.
Although hamsters are small creatures, they’re active and can run up to 6 miles a night. That’s why they need an environment that offers lots of space.
Hamsters prefer to have unbroken floor space rather than multiple levels, enabling them to dig complex underground burrows and forage for food across the width of the cage.
When it comes to the optimum cage size, aim for at least 620 square inches of unbroken floor space.
Animal Welfare explains that golden hamsters with a minimum ground floor area of 10,000 cm2 were significantly happier than hamsters kept in smaller cages.
Poop throwing can be problematic in barred cages because the droppings go through the gaps and land on the floor. You may even feel like the hamster is throwing poop at you.
By choosing a cage with 4 solid walls, like a bin cage or an acrylic or glass enclosure, the poop will remain in the cage, causing fewer problems.
While poop flinging seems unsanitary, it’s normal behavior that isn’t as bad as you think. Ensure the hamster’s cage isn’t overly soiled, and there’s ample entertainment.