Hamster Body Language

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As we do not speak the Hamster Dialect and they do not speak the Human Tongues, we must learn how to read their body expressions to better understand them. To the surprise of many, hamsters are actually very expressive. Although some wouldn’t agree, the little fluffs are very intelligent and they know how to communicate through their bodies, their movements, their habits and their expressions. Unlike an angry housewife or an intoxicated man, hamsters are very easy to comprehend. If you pay attention to what they do and they way they move, you can easily figure out what they’re trying to communicate. 

Some of the behaviours that hamsters have, along with what they’re trying to communicate include:

Perked up ears – This usually means the hamster is curious or watchful.

Stretching – This means that the hamster is relaxed and comfortable in its environment.

Sniffing around – This is relevant to hamsters that are becoming friendly with new companions or familiarizing with new additions to their cages. They sniff to inspect.

Grooming itself – A hamster that is visibly grooming its fur is a hamster that feels good with the world around it. It is important to stop and evaluate how harsh or how delicate the hamster is grooming itself, as hamsters that groom harshly can be in the midst of a skin condition or other fur related problems. Grooming should be a calm, peaceful activity.

Frantic food hiding – Hamsters hide their food in their cheeks often. However, if your hamster is hiding its food in a frantic way, it means that it is feeling insecure around you. It thinks you will take away its food. Try not to touch his burrowed food too much and feed it in less quantities and more frequencies.

Suddenly freezing – If your hamster abruptly stops whatever its doing and it freezes, it means that something startled it. If your hamster freezes constantly and repeatedly, it means that its feeling stressed.

Squeaking – This is one of the habits that depends on your hamster’s personality. Squeaking could be meaningless, but it could also be a cue for aggression and defensive mode. Be watchful of other cues to properly determine what your hamster is trying to communicate.

Standing – A hamster that is standing is watchful and defensive. Hamsters usually stand to show dominance and assert their space. Do not approach them when they stand, as they are trying to be left alone.

Yawning – Now this one is a doozy. It could mean that your hamster is getting ready for bed, but it could also mean it is showing aggression. Watch for other behavioural cues to determine what your hamster is trying to communicate. 

Burrowing – A hamster that burrows in his bedding is a happy hamster. Tossing around and making tunnels is a positive sign of good behaviour. 

Teeth Chattering – A hamster that chatters its teeth could be trying to communicate hunger, but they could also be showing signs of aggression. Hamsters are quiet creatures, and when they make any sound at all, it’s usually not a positive sign. 

Excessive hiding – Hamsters that don’t like to be seen and often hide from the owner are scared of something. They are afraid of being held or there is something in their overall environment that they do not feel comfortable with. Try to figure out what the stressor is so that you remove it and help it feel more at ease.

Uncalled for aggression – Hamsters that are aggressive when unprovoked are bored. This is a strong indication for behavioural issues due to poor stimulation and lack of exercise.

Laziness – Hamsters that are lazy are bored hamsters. It could also mean your hamster is feeling down or something is wrong. Be watchful of other cues to determine what your hamster is going through.

Unresponsiveness and indifference – If your hamster seems indifferent or unresponsive about you or its environment, this is an indication for illness and health issues. Contact your vet if your hamster is presenting this behaviour. 

It is crucial for pet owners to understand that different hamster breeds behave differently. Some breeds are more aggressive than others, and some have unique traits that are exclusive to their breeds or breeds alike. Some of these general behaviours can be executed by all hamsters the same, as they don’t go deep into their breeds but they portray common hamster habits. Most hamsters with behavioral issues can be treated with physical tools and not with medicines or substances. Providing your pet with a large habitat full of accessories, tunnels, ladders, exercises and toys gives them the stress relief that they need. Boredom breaker treats for them to nibble on can also improve their cranky habits and keep their attitudes in check. It is important to know what your hamster is saying to you and be attentive to their needs so that their life is improved by your proper care.

If you want to know more about different things you can do to improve your hamster’s well being, you may be interested in our piece about:

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