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  • (gentle music)

  • How is it doing that?

  • Hamsters, like Soda Pop, can stuff up to 20% of their body weight into their cheeks.

  • For comparison, that's like the average person carrying around 30 extra pounds of food, or about 120 quarter pounders.

  • It would be a cool party trick, but not very comfortable or, let's face it, even possible.

  • That's where hamsters are different.

  • But they don't stuff their faces for parties, or even because they're hungry.

  • They do it to survive.

  • In the wild, yes, there are actually wild hamsters, they eat all kinds of food, leaves, shoots, veggies, and fruit.

  • (But) they don't consume right away, they store in those cheeks, which have pouches that extend half way down their body and expand like a balloon.

  • Thank goodness we don't have anything like that, because it would probably look a little strange.

  • But hamsters need to stuff their faces no matter how goofy it might look.

  • In fact, they have to eat around every two hours to function normally, but foraging for food this frequently would make them easy prey.

  • Instead, they collect food at night, and what they don't store, they snack on along the way.

  • So during the day they can hide from predators and munch on their hoard in safety.

  • And thanks to the pouches in their cheeks, that stockpile can get enormous.

  • Hamster burrows have been found with nearly 200 pounds of stored food.

  • These cheeks also come with special retractor muscles that help the hamster stuff itself to maximum capacity.

  • If you ever watch this in action, you may notice that it reorients the food after plopping it in its mouth.

  • What it's actually doing is angling the food so it easily slips to the back of the pouch as more comes in.

  • Once the food is well on its way, that's when the retractor muscles come into play.

  • When the pouch stretches, the muscles contract, which pushes the food toward the back, preventing it from clogging up.

  • Pretty impressive stuff.

  • But that's not as impressive as some of the other things hamsters can do with their cheeks.

  • For starters, some species will hide their babies inside these pouches to keep them safe.

  • There are reports that others can inflate their pouches with air and use it as a flotation device for swimming.

  • But don't try this at home.

  • Only certain wild species do this, and we don't want you to drown your poor hamster.

  • We'd rather have you sit and enjoy the incredible cuteness of Soda Pop.

  • Here's a fun fact.

  • Hamsters can run over five miles in a 24-hour period.

  • (gentle music)

(gentle music)

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