Skip to Content

Hamster Behavior

Understanding Hamster Behavior

The hamster is an adorable, cuddly animal that millions of people own but before you run out to purchase one yourself, learn all you can about diet, housing, and medical issues, as well as hamster behavior.  The reason is that the hamster talks with actions so by understanding these actions, you would have a much better idea of what your hamster wants or needs.

  • The first hamster behavior is gnawing, which is something this animal does often.  In fact, of all actions, this is by far the most common.  In most cases, the gnawing is nothing more than the hamster trying to file down the teeth.  If not filed down, eating would be difficult, if not possible.  This is why you want to purchase a wire or specially designed plastic cage since our hamster will gnaw on everything.
  • Another common hamster behavior is stretching.  A hamster will often stretch and while it might see the action should mean something, it usually just means the animal is comfortable and satisfied.  In fact, after a series of stretches, most hamsters will find a place to curl up to fall asleep.
  • Your hamsters may also stand up on its hind legs and then stare intently at something.  Keep in mind that this particular animal has very poor eyesight so when this happens it means something of interest has caught its attention and out of curiosity, the hamster wants to get a better look.
  • Another hamster behavior commonly seen is the rubbing of the belly on a water or food dish, the side of the cage, a toy, or something else.  In this case, the action serves a specific role of a special scent being released from glands as a way of marking turf.
  • If you see your hamster suddenly lie down, it means that something or someone has scared it.  Sometimes, the hamster will lie down where it stands while other times it will run to the nearest hiding place.
  • One particular hamster behavior that no one enjoys is fighting but when you have more than one of these animals housed together, this happens.  Remember, hamsters are territorial animals and therefore, they will work hard to establish a pecking order.  The only solution is to house hamsters differently, which could be separating those that fight most often or keeping males and females apart.
  • If you hear an odd clicking sound coming from your hamster, do not worry in that this is just a sign of happiness and even endearment.  On the other hand, if the hamster behavior involves a higher pitch squeak it means the hamster is unhappy about something, perhaps irritated or just wanting some TLC.  Another noise a hamster makes, although it is rare, is a loud scream.  In this case, the sound lets you know that the animal is overly afraid.
  • Hamster behavior while pregnant is completely different.  Generally, the sow, or female hamster will become aggressive, especially toward a boar, or male hamster.  You will also see the sow creating a nest where she will give birth, the sow will have a greater appetite but even a stronger need for water, and she may begin to hard food.

Related Resources: