Hamster Behavior: Understanding Your Pet’s Actions and Body Language

Like all other animals hamsters have their own behavioral pattern. So how would you tell what they are feeling? Well, that’s easy “Communication”. But wait, hamsters don’t talk, so how would you know? Well, that’s easy. 

Because the hamsters will tell you themselves. Hard to believe right? But it is true. From scent messages to high-pitched sounds that humans generally can’t hear, these munchkins use various methods to communicate with you and other animals.

As a hamster parent, it’s crucial to understand their behaviors to have a strong bond and ensure they live a healthy and happy life. So, in this article, we’ll discuss the different behavioral traits of your pet!

Hamster Behavior: The Three Core Hamster Behavior

Hamster Behavior

Below we’ll discuss the three core behaviors to determine your hamster’s mood on a daily basis.

1. Normal Hamster Behavior

Hamsters in their course of life showcase some normal behavioral patterns. Here are some key aspects of hamsters’ behavior:

Nocturnal

Hamsters are nocturnal animals. This means they are most active at night and mostly sleep during the day. You should keep this in mind while planning the rodent’s daily routine. It would be best to provide them with a quiet and dark place to sleep during the day.

2. Territorial

Another aspect of their behavior is their possessiveness. Hamsters are territorial animals and can become aggressive towards other hamsters or even their owners if they feel threatened or their territory is invaded. Hence, it’s important to provide them with enough space and resources, such as food and water, to avoid conflicts.

Accordingly, there are other territorial behavioral aspects the hamster possesses, such as

Burrowing

Hamsters are natural burrowers. They really enjoy a nice day of digging and creating tunnels. You should Provide them with a deep layer of bedding and hiding places in their cage. This can help them satisfy their playful nature.

Normal Hamster Behavior

Chewing

Hamsters have constantly growing teeth. Which means they need to chew on objects to keep them trimmed. Giving them chew toys can help prevent dental problems. Of course, the chew toy must be made of safe material.

Social Behavior

Contrary to popular belief, not all hamsters are social animals. Some species of hamsters, such as Syrian hamsters, are solitary animals and prefer to live alone. There are others, such as dwarf hamsters, who want to live in pairs or small groups.

These Hamsters regularly groom themselves and others in their social group if they feel comfortable in their surroundings. You need to know more about your hamster’s social pattern. Otherwise, an in-cage fight may occur anytime.

Active and Playful

Hamsters are naturally active and playful. These animals spent most of their time running on wheels, playing with toys, and exploring their environment. This is a very normal behavior of them.

Hibernation     

In the wild, hamsters hibernate during the winter. Pet hamsters may still hibernate if their environment is too cold.

3. Happy Hamster Behavior

Happy Hamster

A happy hamster will display a range of behaviors that show they are content and comfortable in their environment. Here is a table showcasing that:

BehaviorDescription
Active and alert A happy hamster is active and alert
They explore their environment and move around their cage
They are curious and interested in their surroundings
PlayfulHappy hamsters enjoy playing with toys
They interact with their owners
They may engage in activities such as running on a wheel, climbing, and digging
Comfortable with handlingWhen they are happy, hamsters become comfortable with being handled          
They will not bite or nibble excessively
They may even enjoy being picked up and held by their owner
Hamsters often yawn and stretch when they feel comfortable in their environment
Good appetiteA happy hamster has a good appetite
It will eat regularly throughout the day
It may also show excitement when food is presented to it
Clean and groomedHamsters are naturally clean animals, and happy hamsters will groom themselves regularly
They will also keep their cage clean by using a designated area as a bathroom
Calm and relaxedHappy hamsters are generally calm and relaxed
They may even fall asleep in their owner’s hand or lap
Happy Hamster Behavior

Other Behaviour 

Apart from that your hamster may showcase some other behaviors. Here I will show you what they mean or if you should do something about it: 

BehaviorMeaningPossible Causes/Actions
Watching with erect earsCurious and calmNormal behavior
StretchingRelaxed and feeling goodNormal behavior
Ears forward, cheeks puffed, mouth openFrightened and stressedRemove stressors, Try to provide toys
Emptying cheek pouches quicklyInsecure and likely to flee/hideProvide a safe and secure environment
Standing on hind legs with dukes upThreatened and may become aggressiveBackoff and give space
Startled when approachedInsecure and unsure of surroundingsMove slowly and calmly
Ears laid back with narrowed eyesSuspicious and sense something is wrongObserve and remove potential stressors
Lying on back with incisors showingFrightened and threatenedLeave alone and give space
Creeping slowly along cage sidesUnsure of surroundings or trying to orient themselvesTry to give it a natural environment
Freezing in placePlaying dead to avoid danger or threatTry not to approach too much. Bond gradually. 
Chattering teethFearful and ready for aggressionBack off and give space
Shy and always hidingStressed by loud noises, aggression, or over-eager childrenProvide a quiet and secure environment
UnresponsiveMay have illness or injuryObserve and assess the situation, seek veterinary care as needed
Lazy or lethargicMay be sick or under the weatherObserve and assess the situation, seek veterinary care as needed
Biting/nippingFrightened and defensiveBuild trust and respect with the hamster
Hamsters fightingDisplaying dominance or defending territorySeparate and provide individual housing or reintroduce slowly
Repeating behaviorMay indicate mental distressProvide larger cage and enrichment toys, seek veterinary care as needed
ShakingMay be cold, stressed, old, trying to dry off, or have an illnessAssess the situation and provide appropriate care or support

Signs of A Stressed Hamster

Hamsters are sensitive animals. And so, changes to their environment or routine can cause them stress. Some common factors are improper housing, lack of exercise, insufficient diet, loneliness, illness, and excessive noise or light.

A stressed hamster becomes weak day by day and eventually falls to their grave. Here are some signs or behaviors they exhibit when they are stressed:

Signs of A Stressed Hamster

Aggressive Conduct

Stressed hamsters are more likely to act aggressively. Therefore, it is essential to offer them space. Avoid touching them with your fingertips. They have a tendency to bite when agitated.

Hair Loss/Fur Changes

Hamsters that are under stress may overgroom or yank out their fur. If you observe bald spots or thinning hair, your pet is undoubtedly agitated. In addition, tension may lead their fur to grow sparser, oilier, or messy.

Digging

Digging excessively or not at all, rolling, rubbing, licking, or running in circles constitute all indicators of an agitated hamster.

Hamster Behavior

Cage Biting

Hamsters can occasionally bite their enclosure. If your companion does this once per week, there is no cause for alarm. However, doing so daily is an indication of difficulty.

High-Energy Conduct

Hamsters under stress may exhibit hyperactivity and restlessness. When they are anxious, they frequently repeat the same circuit around their cage. On occasion, they spend extended periods of time on their exercise apparatus.

Vocalizing

Typically, hamsters are very silent. However, they may produce greater disturbances than usual when stressed. When they do so, they attempt to convey that they are anxious, frightened, or distressed.

Hamster Behavior Before Dying

Hamster Behavior Before Dying

Hamster ranks among the animals that have the least lifespan. That is to say, some behavior might warn you that your pet buddy is dying:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced activity levels
  • Huddling in one spot
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decreased responsiveness
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • A hunched posture
If you’re interested in learning more about hamster behavior, you might find our articles on panda bear hamster care and German hamster care helpful. Our article on panda bear hamster care provides valuable information on how to properly care for and meet the specific needs of this adorable hamster breed. Meanwhile, our article on German hamster care offers insights into the unique requirements of German hamsters and how to create a suitable environment for their well-being. These articles will help you ensure that your hamster receives the proper care and attention it needs.

Conclusion

Your hamster’s behavior depends on many factors. But in general, Hamsters are a great pet to have. If you know clearly how they function and which act they display, you can give this little rodent a happy and healthy life.

By paying attention to their body language, vocalizations, and other subtle signs, you can tell when your hamster is content or stressed. If your hamster is stressed, you can take appropriate action. And if you are unsure which hamster behavior means what, consult with your vet. He will tell you what you should do. Remember, a happy pet is a healthy pet.

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