Like all pets, hamsters have their way of talking to each other and their pet owners like you. We know that it can be confusing for first-time hamster enthusiasts to understand the verbal and the different behavior of hamsters.
In this article, we intend to make it easier for you to know whether your pet hamster is happy or not, whether it is asking food from you or not, and among other body language behaviors.
Observing the Behavior of Your Hamster
A hamster communicates for different reasons. It could be saying hello to a friend, it could be saying to another hamster to back-off, and it could also be a way to flirt to find a boyfriend or a girlfriend to mate with.
Since hamsters do not use words, they mainly use body language and some squeaks to say something to one another and you, as well. These non-verbal languages send-off some chemical messages by utilizing their scent glands and then display different types of a non-verbal cue.
For example, if a female Syrian hamster is looking for a boyfriend, she would show her willingness to mate through vaginal marking. Hamsters have a very impressive sense of smell and they use their scent glands very often to communicate.
Like us, they also use body language to display various emotions like feeling angry, happy, threatened, curious, among others. Hamsters may even use sign language to a small extent while talking to each other.
But their way of communication is not only limited to non-verbal languages but they also use an auditory way of communication. A baby hamster uses ultrasonic sounds to call for its mom. And if you wonder why do hamsters squeak, there are many reasons why a hamster emits such kind of a sound.
Why Do Hamsters Squeak?
Do you get amused every time you hear your hamster squeak? It is not always a good sign, though. A hamster squeaks if it is hungry, annoyed or it just needs something else.
If it is just an occasional squeak, you do not have to worry about it. But if it gets persistent, then it should not be ignored.
- If you have two or more hamsters living in a single hamster cage, then continuous squeaks from them mean that they are not getting along well. It is their way of telling you that they prefer not to live with each other.
- Being happy is another reason why you hear your hamster squeaks. If you give it some treats, it will squeak as a sign of thanks. While playing together, they also squeak. If they are resting in their fave spots, they squeak, too. In other words, think of it as their way of saying-“ woohoo!”.
- Back-off or else… is also another reason why your hamster squeaks. Your hamster may squeak if you try to pick it up but it is not in the mood. Or, if it has a new cage and it is adjusting to its new home.
Why Do Hamsters Run on Wheels?
Ever wonder why almost all hamster cage has wheels? But the question is “is it really essential?” The answer is yes, the hamster needs wheels. It may seem like an unnatural behavior to run on wheels but it is not.
It boils down to the natural behavior of hamsters if they are not in ‘captivity’. Did you know that in the wild, they run an average of 10 km every night to look for food?
The hamster wheels that you place in the cage is used to cover the km that it runs in the wild. Despite having a small space to move around, your hamster can release all the energy by using the hamster wheels.
Running is part of their natural instinct and there is no better way to fulfill its need than the wheels.
The Different Behavior of Hamsters
1. Slinking Behavior
If you see your hamster slinking in its cage, it does not mean that it is guilty of doing something nasty. Slinking behavior is an indication of pain.
When a hamster is in pain, it hunches its back and moves slower than usual. If you see your hamster behaving this way, be sure to handle it with gentleness as the animal may nip you due to the pain it is feeling.
Ever wonder why your hamster is chewing all the time? Don’t worry, it is nothing to be concerned about. It is your pet’s way of filing and grinding its front teeth which are growing constantly.
3. Waving Its Hands
Hamsters are naturally curious about their surroundings. If there is something new to them, they stand up on their hind legs and then wave their hands a bit as if saying hello to you. Sorry, but it is not what you think it is. Hamsters do not have good eyesight, they mainly rely on their sense of touch, taste, and smell to familiarize and explore themselves in their surroundings.
4. Burrowing Behavior of Hamsters
Your hamster will burrow while it is asleep, hiding food or retrieving the hidden food. These three activities are always done by hamsters.
5. If It Does Not Want to Get-Up
If you observe that your pet hamster is lethargic, then it is likely that it is feeling under the weather. Take it to the Vet for a medical check-up because hamsters will only begin to show signs of sickness until they are very ill.
Perhaps you’ve already heard your hamster hissed but you do not know what it means. A hissing sound means that it is afraid of something or it is also a sign of aggression. So, if you hear a hissing sound, be wary and do not touch it because it might bite you.
Aside from hissing, another indication that your pet is frightened is when it flashes its teeth and then lies down motionless.
Sometimes you will see your hamster not moving at all for a few minutes with its ears fully erect. It may look amusing to watch but it only signifies that something caught its attention and it is observing it wholeheartedly.
8. Begging Stance
Do not be fooled if you see your pet in a begging position. It may look charming and docile but it is not. This type of body language is a watchful stance that can turn to aggression. So, if you see it as if it is begging for food, stay away from it immediately.
9. Active at Night-Time
If you notice your hamster running around like crazy at night time, no worries. Hamsters are nocturnal creatures that run 3 to 4 hours every night.
10. Having a Spa Day
Do you notice that your hamster is grooming itself? It is an indication that it is feeling relaxed and totally at peace. It is like spending a day in the spa and does not want to be interrupted in the middle of a massage session. Leave it alone and allow it to indulge in its me-time.
However, if it grooms itself too much, then there might be something in there like parasites.
There are two kinds of hamster sniff: a continuous sniff and a deep, loud kind of sniff. A continuous sniff means that it is curious about its environment.
On the other hand, the deep loud sniff also means curiosity but in a much deeper way. For instance, you gave it a new toy but it does not know how to navigate through it. Deep sniff is its way of saying that-‘I am trying to figure out something new’.
12. Cheek Stuffing
Perhaps you’ve seen cute videos of hamsters filling their cheeks with food. This is a normal behavior of hamsters.
They use cheek pouches to transfer food and bedding materials to their hiding places.
13. Repeated Behaviors
If it acts strangely like doing repetitive behavior, then your hamster is bored. Examples are incessant chewing on just about anything including its cage. It is your pet’s way of telling you it wants new sets of toys or maybe a bigger hamster cage.
This means that they are establishing who is the alpha or the dominant figure among them. Back-off and let them establish their hierarchy.
It is interesting to own a pet hamster. It has its unique way of communicating with you and with its fellow hamsters. The important thing is for a new pet hamster owner to understand the meaning behind the behavior of hamsters for your safety. Something may be amusing for you may mean the other way for the animal which could only lead to nipping.
By figuring out the language of your pet, it will be easier for you to provide it with its needs. This is a healthy pet and owner relationship that could help prolong the life of your hamster pet.