Home » Why Does My Hamster Fling Poop?
Why Does My Hamster Fling Poop?
Behavior

Why Does My Hamster Fling Poop?

(Last Updated On: February 2, 2022)

It might surprise you to know that it’s common for hamsters to fling poop. It’s not always normal, though, as it can signify a problem within your hamster’s environment.

Hamsters eat their soft, nutrient-rich cecotropes and throw the dry fecal matter they don’t want to eat. Hamsters fling their poop to spread their scent and mark territory. Also, boredom and stress are to blame for poop-throwing, as hamsters search for something to keep them relaxed or entertained.

Hamsters are clean animals, so they move their poop to one specific area by flinging it with their mouths. Providing your hamster with a litter tray or sand bath can make this behavior less frequent.

Why Is My Hamster Throwing Poop?

You may have noticed that as your hamster poops, it picks it up with its mouth and flings it away.

This behavior looks troublesome, but it’s normal for hamsters to eat their poop. They 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. So, they eat poop to consume the undigested nutrients. Normal poop doesn’t provide the same nutrition, so hamsters will discard the feces and eat the cecotropes.

However, this isn’t the only reason you’ll find your hamster throwing poop out of its cage. Hamsters also fling poop because of the following reasons:

Territory Marking

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 steal their territory.

Throwing poop around the cage spreads their scent and marks their domain, warning other animals away. As described by the Journal of Comparative Psychology, odor-elicited scent marking is common with mammals.

Similarly, if you have several hamsters in one cage, they will become aggressive and fling their feces around to mark their territory. This is a sign of dominance.

Hamsters are solitary creatures who fight to the death if they’re not housed alone. The only hamsters that are sometimes happy to coexist with each other are pure Campbell’s dwarf hamsters.

That being said, they must be purchased from an ethical breeder who can validify the quality of their genes. Due to the risks involved, it’s best to separate all hamsters to prevent fatal injuries.

Cleaning Cage

Hamsters don’t like to live in filth. While they like their cage to smell like them, they don’t like unsanitary conditions.

So, hamsters tend to 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
  • Sleeping
  • Peeing and pooping
  • Hiding

Even hamsters that don’t have enough bedding to burrow into will choose a corner of their cage to poop and urinate in. As a result, they’ll fling their poop into the toilet spot. Spot cleaning your hamster’s cage by removing poop every couple of days will keep your hamster content.

However, don’t be alarmed if your hamster keeps flinging its poop around. This isn’t anything to worry about.

why is my hamster throwing poop?

Boredom

Enrichment is vital for hamsters. Without it, they’re at risk of developing behaviors related to stress and anxiety.

Throwing poop is one way they show these emotions. While this behavior is largely unexplored and, therefore, a bit of a mystery, it’s never a bad idea to ensure your hamster has plenty of enrichment.

The best entertainment comes in the form of plenty of bedding. Hamsters need approximately 6 inches of bedding throughout their enclosure to satisfy their natural instincts. Many hamsters won’t start burrowing unless they have a section as deep as 10-12 inches.

Other forms of enrichment include:

  • A large exercise wheel measuring at least 28 cm in diameter
  • Sand bath
  • Wide tunnels (Syrian hamsters need a 7cm opening to fit through)
  • Wooden chews
  • Foraging toys
  • Multi-chamber
  • Hideouts large enough to comfortably fit hamsters

Providing these things and giving your 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 your hamster from flinging poop, as this behavior is one of their hard-wired instincts.

Some will throw feces more than others, while you may not see others do it at all. That being said, if you’re worried about it, you can minimize the amount your hamster handles its poop through one of the following ways:

Provide a Litter Tray

Hamsters like to pee and poop in a specific part of their cage. Unless hamsters are extremely stressed, hamsters won’t go to the toilet just anywhere.

That’s why providing a litter tray or sand bath can help encourage your hamster to poop in one area that’s easy to clean, minimizing the need to throw its poop around.

Frequently Spot Clean

We’ve mentioned how spot cleaning is an important element of hamster ownership. Hamsters don’t like full cage cleans because it takes their scent away and stresses them out.

However, it’s wise to remove soiled bedding and decaying poop every couple of days. Replace any soiled bedding you remove so that you don’t lose any substrate height.

Get a Bigger Cage

Providing enrichment and spot cleaning isn’t enough if your hamster’s cage isn’t big enough. Even though hamsters are small creatures, they’re very active and can run up to six miles each night.

That’s why they need an environment that offers plenty of space. Hamsters prefer to have unbroken floor space as opposed to multiple levels. This enables 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, but remember, bigger is always better.

Animal Welfare explains how a study showed that golden hamsters with a minimum ground floor area of 10,000 cm2 were happier than hamsters kept in smaller cages. Enriched hamsters are less likely to throw their poop around.

Choose a Barless Enclosure

Poop throwing can be problematic in barred cages because the droppings fall through the gaps and land on the floor. You may even feel like your hamster is throwing poop specifically at you.

By choosing a cage with four solid walls, such as a bin cage or acrylic or glass enclosure, the poop will remain in the cage, causing less of a problem.

While poop flinging seems unsanitary, it’s a normal behavior that isn’t as bad as you think. Ensure your hamster’s cage isn’t too soiled and that there’s plenty for it to do in terms of entertainment.