Running in circles has been seen in hamsters for as long as domestication has started. There are many reasons a hamster will run in circles, some are quite normal, and others can be more serious.
In this article, I will answer the question “why is my hamster running in circles”. You will learn the reasons and when you have to be concerned or see a vet. But before that, we should first talk about how is your hamster running in a circle to find out if it’s serious or not.
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WHAT DOES THE RUNNING LOOK LIKE
Hamsters move a lot and love to run. I understand that some people especially first-time hamster owners get nervous when their hamsters start doing something odd.
Hamsters are also full of extra energy since they eat a lot. A domesticated hamster that lives in a small cage usually has too much extra energy without enough space and toys to take it out on. As a result, a hamster will pace out, run to and from, and run around the cage to get themselves tired.
Running around the block
If your hamster is running around the cage, such as running from the sleeping area to the food area, to the sandbath, and to the toy area, then back. This should look like when you go for a run around the block.
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If a hamster is running more like pacing around. For example, your hamster will run toward the water bottle and then run back to its original spot. Or the hamster will walk towards something and then run back.
One thing I could compare it to is when some people are on the phone and they start pacing around or how people at airports or bus stations or hospitals pace around.
Running in a perfect circle
A perfect circle is basically when a hamster runs in one motion as if it’s trying to catch its behind. This is a more serious problem that definitely requires help from professionals There is a handful of reasons for this to happen; ear infection or a neurological problem. Regardless, you have to contact the vet as soon as possible.
REASONS WHY IS MY HAMSTER RUNNING IN CIRCLES
Now that you can have some ideas about why your hamster is running in circles, let’s discuss what causes these and what home remedies you can apply – most importantly when to seek professional help.
When your hamster is pacing around – it could be in a fast motion or a bit slower – this is usually a sign of stress. Perhaps you changed the bedding recently or moved things around the cage.
A tiny cage is also a massive cause of stress for a hamster. Another cause of stress on hamsters is when there are not enough chew toys to trim down their teeth into. When a hamster hasn’t been outside the cage also leads to stress.
What you can do
Make sure you house your pet in a big and spacious cage with lots of toys. The floor size of the cage should at least be 450 sq or 100x50x50 cm (39x20x20 inches unbroken and bigger if you have a Syrian hamster (120x70x70 cm (47×27.5×27.5 in)).
There should be plenty of chew toys for your hamster since their teeth grow continuously. around 3-4 chew toys are great. Not only does this make your hamster happy but also keeps them busy and it’s a way to channel out their stress.
It is recommended that your hamster spend at least 10-minutes out of the cage daily (not more than 20-minutes unless you already tamed them and there’s trust built. You can build a nice playpen for your hamster to spend while out of the cage. You don’t need to put bedding, simply add some toys and mazes.
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Too much energy
Even though you provide a huge cage for your hamster, it’s not always enough. Compared to their natural living quarters (the wilderness), the amount of space simply cannot be replicated.
DISCLAIMER: We are NOT veterinarians. Please contact a licensed professional for medical assistance for your pet hamster
An infection usually stems from filthy bedding and sand. The dirt and bacteria built on them enter your hamster’s ear. When hamsters eat is infected it causes pressure resulting in your hamster being off-balance and most likely to experience pain.
For this situation, a hamster will need an antibiotic however, it must be prescribed and administered by a vet to get the proper amount. The vet will advise if you could give your hamster an antibiotic as a continued treatment.
An untreated ear infection can lead to more serious health problems. One, your hamster will be prone to falling and obviously will be in pain. Second, this infection could also cause brain damage and can be life-threatening.
To avoid ear infections, make sure to freeze the bedding and the sand bath before using them. In this way, you can kill any bugs that are living on them.
You should also change your hamster’s sand every other day or as often as needed. While for the bedding, spot cleaning (removing poop pile) should be done 1-2 times a week. And deep cleaning of the cage (changing most parts of the bedding) should be done once every 5 or 6 weeks (doing this too often can stress your pet).
Neurological issues in hamsters are often caused by unethical breeding. Hamsters from pet stores or hamster mills are more exposed to this health problem. This is because the breeders don’t take into consideration the biological relationship between hamsters before breeding them together.
ALSO READ: Lists of Ethical Hamster Breeders by location
Not only “running in circles” is common in hamsters with neurological dysfunction. Stargazing is another common one. It’s when a hamster stares upwards without stopping which results in them falling on their backs. A hamster will then get up and do it over and over again.
Seizure is another usual symptom a hamster with neurological issues suffers from. Which will then lead to epilepsy.
You will need help from a vet to properly diagnose if your hamster is suffering from this disorder. Unfortunately, there are not many things you can do if your hamster is diagnosed with this. Some people will put their hamsters down to ease them from any pain and suffering.
Hamsters are territorial, solitary, and love to be independent. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need your help. Hamsters are also not great at asking for your attention or help, however, they rely heavily on you to notice if something is wrong.
A hamster running in circles doesn’t always lead to a serious problem, especially if the issue is addressed as soon as possible before it gets worse.
I hope that you found the answer to “why is my hamster running in circles” in this article. If you have other experience with a reason a hamster experiences this but I failed to mention it, leave us a comment below.