Wild hamsters bring food to their hiding place, where they can eat it safely and undisturbed. Some of it is stored in underground burrows. So, when food is scarce, they will have a supply - just like we humans do.
The domesticated hamsters still exhibit that natural behaviour. In the corners of their cage they often build up 'secret' burrows. To get the food there, they put it in their cheek pouches.
What is a cheek pouch of your hamster anyway?
Your hamster's two cheek pouches are stretchable skin pouches that run from the jaw to the shoulder of the animal on both sides. They do not contain salivary glands: so the content always comes out nice and dry.
Some hamsters instinctively try to put everything in their cheek pouches. Therefore, watch out with:
- Too big chunks of food: they may end up in the pockets diagonally, and your hamster will hardly be able to get them out.
- Sharp twigs, straws or pointed grains: these can damage the inside of the cheek pouches, therefore infecting them.
- Sticky food, such as chewing gum and chocolate (not recommended for your animal anyway), or peanut butter: that could stick to the dry inside of the cheek pouch. Such inappropriate nutrition can also clog cheek pouches.
What to do in case of ...
The following health problems? It is best to contact your vet first. You can also follow these tips, but always with the doctor's knowledge:
- An impacted cheek pouch: often the pouch is twisted. Try to twist it back, by pushing into it very carefully.
- A clogged cheek pouch: You notice this problem when a cheek pouch seems a bit fuller than normal and is always full, while you feel that the pouch does not contain any hard pieces. Push out the food very carefully. Is this not working and is the bag full for days? Then leave the problem entirely to the vet. Also make sure that your hamster can only collect suitable food.