An all-corn diet can quite literally turn a female hamster into a cannibal. A new study found that the European hamster, which once used to feast on a varied diet of grains, roots, and insects, is not doing so well on a diet limited to industrially grown corn. Indeed, the study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, notes that the hamster species is "on the verge of extinction in Western Europe."
The all-maize regimen has turned the burrowing critters into "deranged cannibals" that eat their own offspring, the AFP reports. Scientists in northeastern France stumbled on the discovery while studying whether diet affects hamsters' ability to reproduce in the wild. They fed a set of hamsters wheat or corn-based diets, each mixed with worms and clover.