Hamster, as any other animal is not able to tell you what does he mean or how does he feel about something. As Hamsters don’t speak English ( or any other human language ) we have to rely on their body language to understand them better.
The best way to understand your hammy is to interact with him on a daily basis, to get to know him. Bear in mind that every hamster ( same as humans) has its own personality. Some of them are capable to show a wide range of emotions/behaviors but some others will express just a few.
Although all hamsters can be quite different in character there are some behavioral patterns that can be noticed in the majority of them. Do you know why your, otherwise very calm hamster starts to show aggressiveness?
Have you noticed that your hammy is chewing on the cage bars? Does this worry you? If it doesn’t worry you, it should … Have you ever seen your hamster rubs its hips on some toy?
Your hamster is a great climber, he climbs all over the cage very often. Sorry to disappoint you but this habit is rather alarming then sign of your hamster’s capability.
If you would like to find out more about hamsters behaviors and the way how do they show their emotions keep reading our article.
Table of Contents
How To Tell If My Hamster Is Happy?
How does content and happy hamster look like? He is curious, sniffing around, digs and gladly accepts the food from you. He looks very relaxed, often very busy doing something, ears are up as he is always listening sounds from his environment. If he squeaks maybe he tries to attract your attention and show how excited he is.
Is one of the pretty normal things one happy hamster usually does. The interesting fact is that they can dig up to 30 inches ( wild hamsters, as domestic ones don’t have enough bedding /substrate do go that deep) creating long corridors and bunch of underground rooms ( for food, for bathroom purpose) Naturally, hamsters like to burrow and to spend a lot of time underground.
The happy and healthy hamster will always chew on something. He needs to chew in order to keep his teeth short. If you want to find out more about your hamster’s teeth and how to keep them well you can read our article ”How Can I Keep My Hamster’s Teeth Short and Healthy?”
Hard food, chewing toys, wooden sticks are perfect for chewing but if your hamster chews on bars on its wire cage then this is not regular behavior and requires your reaction. As this is not something that happy hamster would do, I will explain the reasons for chewing the bars later on.
Every healthy and happy hamster will keep the food in its pouches. Pouches ( cheeks) are like grocery bags as help hamsters in the wild to keep a bunch of food and transport it from the place where it has been collected to the safeness of the hamster’s burrow.
But if your hammy is feeling insecure he might want to keep the food in its pouches constantly which may cause health issues.
If you have more then one hamster, maybe the one which is constantly holding the food in its pouches in the bullied one, maybe the other hamsters not allow him to get to the food.
You should check the reason why is he holding the food as it is not good to do that. If you would like to know more about hamster’s cheek pouches do read our article related to this topic ”All about Hamster’s Cheek Pouches”.
Another quite normal thing that every happy and healthy hamster does is Scent marking or Odor marking. All hamsters have scent glands ( Dwarfs have one and Syrians have two scent glands) which help them to mark the territory. Maybe you have seen your hamster rubbing its hips on some toy. The message is clear, in case he could speak, he would say “This is mine”.
Another thing when it comes to odor and hamsters. Every happy and healthy female hamster goes into heat every 4 days ( if she is at least 4-6 weeks old).
During that period which lasts for 12 hours, she is receptive to male’s attention and ready to breed. While in heat, females have a special scent that should attract males at long distances ( in the wild). Some of the hamster owners find that odor repulsive but others say it is no big deal.
If you notice that your hamster performs its grooming routine in front of you, that’s just great. This is a sign of big trust. Hamsters feel vulnerable while grooming so if your furry pal does that in front of you means that he totally trusts you.
In case you see your hammy eats when you around or even fall asleep, means he is very comfortable and secure with you in his vicinity. If he starts licking you or nibbles you gently ( which are grooming actions) you can be sure that the two of you are best buddies.
Some of the hamsters enjoy being held and rubbered but some others simply don’t like it. No matter how hard you try, how gentle you are, your hamster might not want to be in your arms.
Don’t take it personally, most probably it has nothing to do with you. Like I have said at the beginning, different hamsters have different personalities and there is nothing to be done about it.
How To Tell If You Hamster is Nervous, Stressed, Angry, Scared?
There are certain occasions your hamster will show its other side. This is also quite normal. To be able to help your little friend it is important to learn to read the signs he sendss you.
Chewing Cage Bars
Let’s return to chewing. We have said that chewing on different things is normal behavior for every hamster. In case you noticed that your pet is chewing on the bars of a wire cage, he shows you that he doesn’t have enough space( remember that one hamster needs a cage which has at least 450 square inches ).
Never mix bar chewing with normal chewing and act immediately as prolonged bar chewing can seriously damage your pet’s teeth. The best you can do is to move your little buddy to a bigger cage either wire cage again or big glass aquarium.
Monkey Barring Hamster
is an activity of climbing all over the cage. If you don’t know that hamsters are not good climbers you can find the situation even cute but it is rather sad and potentially dangerous.
Hamster which is climbing all over its cage is trying to find any crack, hole, anything that he could escape through. So bottom line – your pet is eager to escape and therefore very nervous and stressed. Usually, lack of space is the problem so again upgrade its enclosure is the best thing you can do.
Hamsters are simply not meant to climb. They can climb but as they are not good at that, they have a problem with coming down so might happen that they fall from the top of the cage and end up injured badly. Their bones are really fragile.
Hamster that feels stressed might be using its hamster’s wheel without break and also as a nest. That means that he is constantly running on its wheel which is not really normal. Also could be an indication that the cage is too small.
If you notice your hamster is in almost lying position with ears back and its body flat means that he is pretty scared. Maybe there is no place where he can hide so maybe you can provide some hideout and hamster’s house so he can feel more secure and comfortable.
If you notice warning signs such as hissing, screaming or teeth barring you should back off, leave your pet alone. He is either scared or angry and he sends you a message “Don’t come closer, otherwise, I will have to bite you”.
Another worrying sign is squeaking. This might mean that something is wrong or your hammy is upset for some reason.
If your presence is scary to your hamster, he will run away from you every time you try to approach. He may try to bite you. Another sign of a very distressed hamster is rapid breathing.
Freezing (standing still ) Hamster
Although it doesn’t seem like normal behavior, in reality, it is. You may notice your hamster freezes, which means literally not moving at all. Maybe he has just heard something so now he is trying to detect the source of that sound. The freezing position is focusing position but also indicates that your hamster feels frightened and try to detect the enemy.
Hamsters are very territorial creatures. If you have more then one in the cage than you might have been of a witness of their arguing and fights.
It is important to distinguish almost ”innocent” quarrel in which they try to establish social order and struggle for a piece of territory and serious fights which aim is to hurt one another ( they will try to bite each other, going after eyes, ears, genitalia.
If you are witness to this second situation you should interfere in order to prevent serious injury or possibly death. It is crucial to move them to a bigger enclosure, add some toys, extra wheels, other food bowls and water bottles to prevent fighting over resources in the future.
Eventually, maybe this doesn’t help as some hamsters simply will never get along so the final solution might be to separate them for good
How to Tell If Your Hamster is Sick?
If your pet doesn’t feel very well his behaviour may change.
Your pet, otherwise very calm, shows signs of aggression and he is eager to bite. This could indicate that your pet is sick and in pain. For example if you try to touch him and he tries to bite you then maybe that body part your planned to touch hurts him.
If you notice your hamster doesn’t have energy as usual or show signs of fatigue, could indicate that your hammy suffers from some infection.
On the other hand, if your furry pal is frenetically energetic, this behavior may warn you that your friend is under great pressure and stress.
I hope you will able to read the signs your hamster is sending you better. Some signs will make you happy, some others might worry you or make you scared.