How to Tell if your Hamster is Happy: Signs that your hamster is not Happy

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Can hamsters get depressed? Yes, but a depressed hamster doesn’t show depression or sadness in the same way it shows anger and boredom. But the most common cause of their depression is not meeting their needs like a safe environment and the right food. You’ll notice a depressed one if they refuse to eat, skulk and curl at the corners of the cage, or barely move.

However, a lack of happiness doesn’t always equate to depression. An unhappy hamster will not be scared to show you that they are unsatisfied. But what are the signs that your hamster is not happy? This article will answer the question of how to tell if your hamster is happy.

In this article, I will answer the question “is my hamster unhappy?” or “how to know if your hamster is happy?”.

SIGNS THAT YOUR HAMSTER IS NOT HAPPY – HAMSTER DEPRESSION SYMPTOMS

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I know many owners ask the same question, like how to tell if your hamster is happy or how do i know if my hamster is happy? Common problems owners have is that it’s hard to know if their hamster is happy or feels content with his living arrangements. If only they can provide you with feedback or show how much they appreciate your little efforts, life will so much be more comfortable for you and them. 

Aggressively Attacking and Biting You/Cage Aggression

Cage aggression is a huge sign of an unhappy hamster. Try putting your hand in their cage, and if you think they will bite or just be aggressive with you, this is not a good sign of a healthy or happy hamster. Unsatisfied hamsters are more reactive than usual and will bite whoever or whatever approaches them.

When you approach and see your hamster showing its teeth, moving its ears backwards and forward, or emitting grunts, it’s preparing for an attack, you might want to pull your hands first. When this happens, do what’s usual. Let your hamster remain calm for a couple of minutes and come back when they are feeling a bit better, perhaps with a treat.

ALSO READ: How to tame a hamster

Chewing the Cage

Hamsters are very quiet household pets, but having them chewing on cage bars can be incredibly annoying. Aside from cage biting is a telltale sign that something is wrong; it’s terrible for their teeth and nose, especially for the young ones. The metal is most likely covered in toxic paint while the small spaces between bars are too narrow for their nose causing bald spots. 

More like nail-biting in humans, bar-biting means they feel uneasy or anxious. They could be stressed or feeling really depressed. These are signs that your hamster is not happy or maybe you are facing an upset hamster. To prevent them from doing this, read our article, on how to stop your hamster from bar biting.

However, stopping your hamster from doing doesn’t solve the problem. It’s important to ask yourself, what else can I do to make my hamster’s living situation better? 

COMPILATION OF BAD HAMSTER CAGES TO AVOID
this bar biting is very dangerous

Lethargic/Inactive/Lazy

Hamsters love to stay busy around the cage, but if they sleep too much and ignore their food and even treats can’t cheer them up, it’s a red flag that they are not happy or probably sick especially if they are not older than 2.5 years old. Hamsters that don’t have the appetite or motivation to eat can lead to dehydration, which can be very bad for their health. 

If you notice that your hamster doesn’t play around as usual like burrowing, chewing, digging, hoarding, and more, this is alarming.

Always on their Sandbox

Like cats, hamsters enjoy grooming or cleaning their fur, but if you notice your hamster spending more time than usual in their sandbox, it might be a sign that they have mites or skin problems.

Hair loss is also common but takes note that it can be seasonal or happen for older hamsters. Flakiness, redness, lesions on the skin, or scratching more than usual is not very good; these are signs that your hamster is sick, we advise you to see a vet soon.

They Always try to Escape

Hamsters are escape artists from time to time, but if you notice this happening every day, it’s a big sign that your hamster is feeling unsatisfied or bored. The cage is most likely too small, or they feel really bored because of the lack of toys or are most likely not getting enough time in the playpen. Female Syrians are the best escape artists if you have this breed, it’s recommended that you get an even bigger cage. 

A hostile environment is a common stressor for the hamster. When hamsters feel aggressed, they likely prepare their way out. They will look really angry with their forward-facing ears and puffy cheeks. If something is bothering or scaring them away, they will try to escape. 

HOW TO TELL IF YOUR HAMSTER IS HAPPY

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Just like we humans, hamsters can experience happiness, optimism, sadness, and depression. If you notice your hamster shift in mood, from a gloomy demeanour to a rosier approach daily, remember that this is normal.

Here are signs to help you tell if your hamster is happy:

Happy to take Treats from your hand without attacking You

Hamsters have poor eyesight, you need to rely on their sense of smell and hearing to gain their trust. A happy hamster recognizes your voice and scent and tends to get excited when your approach. When a hamster takes the treats on your hand without attacking you, then it’s a good sign that they are very comfortable with you and the surroundings. 

Try placing a treat in your hand and slowly in the cage. Make sure you wash your hands first to remove possible food smells from your last meal. With your hand in the cell, stay put, and let your hamster come to you, don’t wiggle your fingers, and don’t chase them around. If your hamster is ready, it will engage; otherwise, if not, leave it be for the time being. Those are the signs a hamster is happy.

TIP: Here are the best and healthiest hamster treat

Excited when you come near the cage or time for playout of the cage

A happy hamster loves to run around, play well, stretch and yawn, and groom themselves while out with you. When they hear you approaching or coming near the cage, they will get excited and go and welcome you while waiting for you in the door cage. 

Hamsters are solitary by nature, but they do enjoy human company. Yes, it may take time for a hamster to get comfortable and bond with you, but once they get used to stroking your hamster’s fur, they will need all the attention they can get.  

They hoard food and make cosy beds

Whenever a normal and happy hamster finds some food, it will hide it in its amazingly elastic cheeks and carry it on the cosy beds they’ve been digging in all day. These little rodents just love exploring, burrowing, and making comfortable beds here and there.

ALSO READ: How to choose the right dry mix for your hamster

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR HAMSTER IS UNHAPPY

How to Tell if your Hamster is Happy - Signs that your hamster is not Happy

There are plenty of things you can do to quickly cheer your hamster up. Here are our tips to make your hamster happy:

Upgrade the Cage

We know you are tired to hear that a hamster needs a bigger cage. But many problems with hamsters behaving aggressively or not interacting enough all the escaping from the cage root from a smaller cage or not having enough space.

Well, how big, exactly? There’s already the recommended size for a hamster cage; however, there are hamsters who just want more space, for example, a female Syrian. Replicating the area that a hamster is used to in the wild is a challenge but not impossible.

Apart from buying or creating a suitable cage, you can always make it bigger if you have space. The bigger, the better. The required space is 10x50x50 cm (4000cm2) or 39x20x20 in (450sq2 – 620 sq2).

Get more toys

Again, we’ve mentioned this many times, but it does do the trick. Even if you already have a wheel, add a saucer, buy different dry mixes, introduce new tasty treats, cook some meals, and add more chew toys.

Adding more toys keeps your hamster happy and entertain. It also allows them to burn extra energy and have an easier time falling asleep. A hamster with lots of different fun toys will also stop them from trying to escape the cage due to boredom.

Deep bedding

Many hamster owners, especially the first-timer, are almost always unaware that deep bedding is highly essential. Hamsters love to burrow and dig all day and night, providing deep bedding will make your hamster happy, busy, and satisfied.

Out time at the Playpen

This is what worked most of the time (at least for us). When we already have provided the biggest cage, we can give to our hamster, buy the best chew toys and feed them the healthiest and yummiest food and treat, but still once in a while, our hamster show aggression or obvious sign of boredom, a playpen is the answer – here’s a guide on how to buy the right hamster playpen.

Let your hamster play outside the cage at least once a day for 15 minutes. This cheers them up (and burns extra energy they have) real quick! 

Read our article about how to keep your hamster happy for more tips!

FINAL THOUGHTS

Hamsters have different personalities. The only way to know if your hamster is cuddly, jolly, or outgoing is to spend time with your hamster and get to know his personality and mannerisms. As you get familiar with your pet, you’ll be able to recognize when they are in their unusual behaviour. 

Observing signs of a happy hamster or a sad one is a great way to be more in tune with the necessities of your little friend. Like any other pet, they use a combination of sounds and body language to communicate with pet owners and fellow creatures, make sure to know what makes your hamster tick and not take them for granted and spend a lot of time with them.

I hope that you found the answer to the question “how to tell if a hamster is happy” in this article. If you have other tips to be included here, leave us a comment below.

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Signs of an unhappy hamster may include excessive sleep, loss of appetite, repetitive behaviors (like bar chewing), and uncharacteristic aggression. Changes in grooming habits or droppings may also suggest stress or health issues. via @thehamstercareblog

2 thoughts on “How to Tell if your Hamster is Happy: Signs that your hamster is not Happy”

  1. If hamsters are nocturnal, I would be asleep when this little guy is active. He sleeps all day.

    Reply
    • To be more specific, hamsters are crepuscular – which means they are most active during the twilight time or more likely awake and active during dusk or dawn. However, it is not unheard that hamsters do adapt in a specific sleeping pattern (like any mammal), be it at night or during the day and most likely stick in that pattern. This is not so common but definitely not unusual. Many female hamsters especially in the wild are diurnal – which means active during the day.

      Reply

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