Have you seen the video BBC One’s series, Pets – Wild at Heart, put out last week?
It’s only a couple of minutes long and shows a hamster stuffing his cheeks. You might ask what’s so special about that, but wait until you see the video! The hamster is being scanned with an X-ray machine, so you can watch the pouches being filled as it’s putting as much food into his mouth as he can manage.
It turns out those pockets actually extend up to its back hips, solving the mystery of how hamsters store so much food in their cheeks.
About Hamster Cheeks
A hamster’s cheek pouches are located on both sides of the mouth, forming two separate “bags” extending back to the rear hips. Cheek pouches not only give the hamster a way to collect food quickly but as temporary storage and a means to transport their hoarded food to a better place. When full, the pouches can make the hamsters’ heads double, or even triple in size. Whoa!
Especially in the wild, this method of food-collecting gives the animal a measure of protection. They can gather their supplies fast, and then take them to safety in a sheltered area.
Some female species of hamsters have even been known to hide their young in their cheek pouches to carry them away to safety when they fear danger. Other species fill their pouches with air to help them float while swimming.
Isn’t this amazing? I hope you have enjoyed learning how hamsters store so much food in their cheeks as much as I enjoyed doing the research.
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