Hamster Body Language


Understanding and responding appropriately to your hamster’s body language will help you be more sensitive to the moods of your pet and will also help you have a more enjoyable friendship with him.  Recognizing certain signs in body language can also aid in the taming process of your hamster.  You do not want to continue handling or playing with your hamster if he is showing signs of stress or fear. Body language can also help you understand if there is an issue between hamsters housed in the same cage or aquarium.  If you can recognize the signs, you can prevent serious injury or death to the weaker, less dominant  hamster.

One way you can tell if your pet is nervous or fearful is if he begins to wash his face.  This is a sign that your hamster is stressed and is trying to perform a habitual activity in order to calm himself.  (Think of it as the hamster equivalent of playing with your hair.)

Some hamsters will urinate or defecate when frightened or when they feel threatened.  This can cause some disgust when the hamster is being held by the owner!  If your hamster gets this frightened, return him to his housing area immediately (but gently) and speak softly to him to try to calm him down.

Your hamster may also flatten himself close to the ground or cage floor or attempt to run away.  This often happens when first trying to tame your hamster and your pet is not used to being held.  It can also happen when you wake your hamster up in order to play.  He can and will try to make it more difficult for you to pick him up by becoming as close to the ground (or cage floor) as possible.  If this happens, do not attempt to pick him up or to hold him – this is not a good time.  If you continue to try to pick him up, you risk stressing him further, and stress is not good for the health of a hamster.  Instead, offer him a treat and speak softly.  Try again later, when he is not as upset.

Biting is an obvious sign that this is not a good time to play with your hamster.  Again, this often happens when you are first trying to tame him, but it can happen at anytime.  As a side note, if a normally docile hamster begins to consistently bite and be aggressive, you should look for signs of illness or pregnancy – this could be indicative that things are not right with your pet.  If it is just an occasional incident, chalk it up to your pet having a bad day.

Hamsters are not usually very social animals, and even hamsters from the same litter will fight, often with lots of squeaks and noise.  It is important to look for signs of extreme mistreatment in hamster groups because hamsters can and do severely injure each other sometimes, even to the point of death.  If you notice a hamster that cowers in one spot while the others are feeding and playing, this might be a sign that he is the submissive member of the group.  Check the hamster for injuries.  If it continues, you should remove the less dominant hamster for his own safety.  The others might be unwilling to let him eat.

In conclusion, observing your hamster’s body language is a great way to be more “in tune” with the needs of your pet, and can be crucial to their health and wellbeing.

48 Comments on "Hamster Body Language"

  1. georgia | 24/04/2010 at 9:26 am |

    my hamster is laying flat on the cage floor but still breathing is that a sign of death?

  2. my hamster has athsma and has stopped breathing what shall i do ??

  3. my hamster are really angry wat can i do

  4. I am seriously thinking about getting a hamster, preferably a syrian one. I am thirteen, my younger sister is ten, but she wouldnt play with the hamster much. I would be mostly in charge of looking after him/her, but this would not be my first experience of a small pet, ive had many guinea pigs and a few fish. Would you please tell me what the most suitable kind of cage is, whether you think I’m old enough to look after a hamster properly, and which gender you think would be most appropriate. we would only get one hamster at a time, so breeding wont be possible. thanks so much for your time, i really love this site, it has sooooooo much valuable information. thanks again! xx 🙂

  5. Really sorry, me again one more thing, we don’t have any other pets like a cat or dog that could harm the hamster, and we have next door neighboors who would care for the hamster if we went on holiday. They are an elderly couple and their children are now living away from home.

    sorry, i ramble too much,
    thanx a million! xxx 🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. thanks alot for the info i really will use the info

  7. My friend bought me a hamster 4 christmas! I love her, and you’re site has so much wonderful info! Thank you!

  8. I love your site so much! Thanks to you my hamsters are happy and healthy!

  9. i have a new syrian hamster named summer . she is so cute and adorable and i love her to bits . i cant seem to be able to tame her though ? any tips ??? x

  10. Kornelija | 14/08/2011 at 4:41 pm |

    my hamster is happy and healthy i love him he’s so cute and funny sometimes! 😀

  11. ive got an hamster its not very happy …i think it needsto settle

  12. hmmmmmmmmmmmm………………………………

  13. the florence cooper | 19/10/2012 at 2:35 am |

    my hamster is kind but he bites strangers and he sleeps all the time and hes a long hair teddy bare hamster

  14. hi why dose my hamster squeek at me when i try to pick him up i got him as an xmas pressie ………

  15. My hamster is a norma winter winter white and she’s almost 2 years old..

    Recently her male partner died and also her only baby. Its been 2 weeks since they died and she seems discouraged. She always gives out noises which never occurred before her partner death. Her appetite also decreased. What should I do to encourage her back to her normal behaviour?

  16. These profile pics are creepy LOL!!

  17. what if they wash their whole body a lot?

  18. anonymous | 27/07/2015 at 12:06 pm |

    lila, i reccomend a syrian hamster

  19. Ive just got a new pet hamster called pebbles and I have loads of questions:

    1. Can they have meadow hay. I have no idea what he does with it and he seems to like it very much

    2. Why does he bite the bars it’s so stressful when trying to sleep

    3. Can hamsters stress eat?

    4. I’m too scared to hold him. He so cute I just want to hold him but I haven’t tamed hin and it hard and it won’t work I just what him so I can relax and have him with me but I know that It takes time so can I have any tips on how to tame him please.

    As you can see in a beginner. Lol

  20. Claudia | 31/07/2015 at 9:25 pm |

    My hamster has fell and is lying on I s back making a face. I think it has hurt itself. I really need some advice and HELP. please!

  21. Claudia | 31/07/2015 at 9:29 pm |

    To Vicky, I have a hamster so I have experienced what you have. I will give u answers. Answer for question 2: ur hamster is trying to get attention. I have this all the time with my hamster. I don’t think you should keep it in your room as it will make LOTS of noise. Try playing with it. Don’t be scared to pick it up! .but give it at least 3 days to settle in. Number 3: I don’t think so.

  22. My hamster is so weak and he WON’t eat anything I need help now…
    Or he WILL die and I love him so much.

  23. My syrian hamster is so skinny. I can feel his bone when i touched him. I gave him plenty of food and it seems that he only stuffed the food in his cheeks. Everytime i take him out of his cage,his cheek is stuffed. I’m wondering if he eats the food or not. He is also not active. He likes to sleep in his house all day long. What should i do so that he can get his ideal weight back? I got the hamster about a month ago.

  24. Hi, I got a Syrian hamster today, I was wondering what’s the best environment for him.
    Should I pack his cage with toys or switch them out for different ones from time to time? Thanks, Emma

  25. The first hamsters are afraid of me because I bought them from the pet shop but their children are not afraid . And when my hamster Cookie had babies , there was a bully even though she was one of the smallest ones she used to bite and mostly scare her siblings . But I sold most of them away

  26. I have hamster I named her princess

  27. She is so calm and my sister has one too her name is Mrs. Chubs

  28. Dont leave your hamsters too long they will not be tamed .
    Love dotty
    My hamster

  29. I have a hamster and I was wondering how big a cage to get.Also should it be glass or wire?

  30. jingledburpp | 12/03/2016 at 1:44 am |

    Hi I am a mum and my son begged me for aged for a hamster and he promised to look after it and do all the cleaning off the cage and food and mostly important play with it.
    But when we first got it, it bite me. Its very common for a hamster to bite when its scared, nervous and of course protecting its self. He was so scared of the hamster he wouldn’t go near it. I looked after it and loved it lots.

  31. Wow amazing, who would of thought our little friends could give so much away through their body language! 🙂

  32. natusdragoneel | 18/05/2016 at 9:28 pm |

    TK i think maybe you could try finding another male hamster and reintroduce her to him i don’t know if it will help i mean i know about lizards(like leopard gecko’s a little about green anoles )but im sort of new to hamsters im only looking up info for my brother. i hope this helps??

  33. natusdragoneel | 18/05/2016 at 9:36 pm |

    Faira i think i can answer 1 of your questions i think why your hamster is not active because it not getting enough exorcize try hiding carrot’s or his fav treat around the cage and another thing how much are you feeding him?

  34. natusdragoneel | 18/05/2016 at 9:38 pm |

    and if any one needs to ask me something you can find me on Google my Google name is natusdragoneel with a pic of 3 white wolves

  35. natusdragoneel | 18/05/2016 at 9:40 pm |

    Stacey and Georgia

  36. thats really helpful because now i know what my hamsters maybe feeling and that means i can interact with her a bit more than usual

  37. oh my gosh stacey and georgia i just heard you say go to the vets this instance what the hem is going on is a animal dead or what

  38. TheMaybeGettingAHamsterKidFromTheUSA | 01/03/2017 at 10:52 pm |

    Soooooo…. I have about $200… It almost seems like too little o-o

  39. My hamster maybe pregnant, and she keeps on biting on the bars of her cage this could be bad for the babys, as bar biting means she could be stressed out, we have given her more things to at the moment, does anyone have any suggestions to stop her from biting the bars of her cage, without moving cage, if we have to we will.
    From Devon x

  40. Me again Sorry, but also what type of bedding is good for a pregnant hamster?

  41. Devonmaccaroni11223354 u should give her some wooden toys to chew on, instead of on the bars, you can get them at pet smart, hope that works

  42. my pet hamster was getting sick she lived for a little more than 2 years my sister fellalseep with a closed cage and when she woke up it was gone some how it was open and the hamster was gone. my sister had her ac on too .

  43. I have had 4 hamsters in my life i got my first 2 when i was 9 and then a month later i got 1 more (2 dwarfs and 1 robo) they have all got past 2 years old so for there breads it is very good and 1 of my dwarfs are still alive and i have also got another hamster a few days ago and anyone who is wondering on getting a hamster definitely buy one i wouldn’t recommend wired cages due to there eyes can fall out if they hurt them. also when i was really little i had a syrian. don’t be scared to pick them up even if they bite if they do gently blow into there eyes. P.S nice website

  44. Alexancha | 14/04/2018 at 8:17 pm |

    I have 2 hamsters and I’m commenting on my friends iPad Lol!!!

  45. Alexancha | 14/04/2018 at 8:19 pm |

    My friend litterly commented on my iPad!!!

  46. If you are trying to tame your hamster, wear thick gloves if they bite a lot. Only get them out at night, when they are more likely to be awake and not stressed. Only handle your hamster once a day while trying to tame them. Also, don’t handle your hamster right after you get him/her. Give them 3-6 days to get used to their new home. Moving is stressful, even for animals. I am 13 years old, and currently have a calico hamster named Onyx. We had to wait for a week for her to be ready to be handled. One other thing you could do is check out books from the library about how to treat your hamster. We got some of those books, and they really helped.

  47. What do I do if my hamster is curled up in a ball?
    Needs Help

  48. BTW I have robo dwarf hamster and. . . . . . what I do if it doesn’t like me?
    just got it four days ago
    Needs More Help- MemeMaster

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