How to Understand your Hamster’s Body Language
Hamsters make excellent pets – they’re fun, cute, and relatively easy to care for. Their cuddly credentials have made them popular pets all over the world. Hamsters bring a lot of joy to a lot of people, but how can we tell our hamster is happy too, or not? Like all animals, hamsters have the ability to communicate with one another and with their owners. They use body language much like we do and can display a range of emotions that include being happy, afraid, threatened, curious, startled, angry and many other emotions.
Stretching and yawning: yawning is often a sign your hamster is feeling comfortable and relaxed, rather than being very sleepy. If your hamster stretches as he yawns, this is even more proof that he is a very relaxed hamster.
Freezing: this involves your hamster staying in one position, sometimes for a few minutes. Its ears are straight up and he is completely stiff to the touch. There are lots of potential reasons for hamsters to stop moving temporarily: they can freeze both out of fear and surprise, or they can pause their movement so that they can listen more carefully to something that they’re unsure about.
Sitting up on back legs, ears forward: something has captured his attention. Your hamster is standing on its hind legs to see and hear better.
Grooming: hamsters spend a large amount of their time grooming themselves. When a hamster grooms itself, washing its feet, hands and fur, it means that he is feeling secure and happy.
Chewing: if your hamster keeps biting the bars of its cage, then there may be some things that you need to do to improve your pet’s life. Gnawing on the bars of the cage can indicate one of a number of things, including boredom, a lack of space, or overgrown teeth.
Biting: hamsters can bite when they’re scared, when they’re stressed, or when they’re confused. if your hamster bites you, then there’s almost certainly a reason for it. Maybe your hamster is in pain, or simply uncertain how to react to you. Never get angry at your hamster but try to understand the reason behind his behavior.
Ears folded back, eyes half closed: your hamster has just woken up and is still sleepy. It is best not to take out your hamster out of its cage until it has woken up fully.
Running: hamsters are born to run. In their natural habitat they can run up to 5 miles per night! It’s therefore important that hamsters kept as pets have the opportunity to run, usually provided by a wheel. Hyperactivity and repetitive behavior, on the other hand, can also be a sign of stress. A stressed hamster will move constantly, run on his wheels quickly, try and climb his cage and appears more nervous and alert than usual.
All hamsters will have their own personalities. Spend time watching your hamster and get to know his personality and mannerisms. As you get to know your pet, you’ll be able to recognize when they are their usual selves, and when they are not. Observing your hamster’s body language is a great way to be more “in tune” with the needs of your pet, which can be crucial to their health and well being. Visit our extensive hamster guide at the bottom of this page for more information about hamster and tips on how to keep them healthy and happy.
Sources: Omlet hamster guide, Hamsters as Pets, Caring Pets, Pet Central
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