Feeding hamsters nothing but corn turns them into cannibals

Forget surviving off a silo of corn if the apocalypse ever rolls around — if a recent study is any indication, the eventual lack of proper nutrients may drive you into the arms of crazed cannibalism. Such is the fate of some unfortunate hamsters in France eating mass quantities of corn, that itself being due to monoculture on the industrial level. When there's nothing but corn for as far as the eye can see, what else do the hamsters have to feed on? Their young.

The hamster cannibalism is being observed in northeastern France, where monoculture has left the region's wild hamster population with endless fields of corn. Because the corn cannot provide adequate levels of certain nutrients, particularly vitamin B3, the hamsters are starving even though they can eat their fill.

Female wild hamsters brought into a lab setting for study were observed storing their newborn pups with their corn until dinner time, at which point the hamsters ate both the corn and the pups. Only about 5-percent of the pups born to corn-fed mothers survived to the stage of being weaned.

The hamsters also exhibited disturbed behavior, including pacing in circles and, when the researchers were around, pounding and climbing on their feeders in apparent begging behavior for proper food. Their blood was notably thicker, their tongues dark and swollen, and more. When given B3 supplements, though, the cannibalism and behaviors disappeared.

SOURCE: The Guardian