If you own a hamster, there might be many occasions where you would see your pet showing behaviors that seem unusual for him. It is important to read these signs carefully because it could mean that your pet is stressed or frightened or just not feeling well. The following are the very common types of stress signals that hamsters frequently show:
How to know if your hamster is stressed?
There are many reasons why a hamster may stop using his litter box. To be on the safe side, you should first take him to the vet to have an exam done. If everything checks out fine, then you should consider alternatives as to why your hamster might not want to use his litter box.
One possible reason is so obvious it’s often overlooked: your hamster may refuse to use his litter box because he’s stressed. Stress can show up in many forms, and not so surprisingly one of these forms is the refusal to go into a dirty place.
Not using food bowl and water bottle
If you notice that your hamster isn’t eating his food or drinking from his water bottle, this is a strong sign that something is wrong.
The first thing to do when your hamster doesn’t eat his food is to check the freshness of it. Food spoils faster than we humans often realize, so you may want to consider changing the food in your hamster’s bowl.
If there is no reason for the unfreshness of the food, then you may need to closely look at your hamster’s situation. Make sure that he has everything he needs, including his wheel and toys. Even though they may not seem important, these are essentials in a hamster’s life.
Consistently refuses to eat
When your hamster is stressed, one of the first things to go is his appetite. He just won’t feel like eating even if you give him a well-balanced diet and a selection of different types of food.
If you notice that your hamster’s appetite has been decreasing rapidly, make sure to take him for a check-up, just to be on the safe side.
Hiding in bedding material for a long time
If your hamster has been hiding in his bedding material for more than a day, this is not normal behavior. Hamsters go in and out of their nesting area all day long. If he’s spending much longer periods of time inside his nesting material, there is no doubt that he’s feeling stressed.
This doesn’t mean that if he stays in his bedding for a short time it’s ok! If you notice that your hamster has been hiding too much, it may be time to move him into a bigger cage or to another room. He may feel threatened by the size of his cage or by the other occupants in the room.
Rolling into a ball
When hamsters are stressed, they tend to roll up into a circle. This is their natural defense mechanism because it makes them look bigger than they really are and can prevent them from getting hurt!
If your hamster does this, don’t try to separate him from his ball because he may get very cranky and bite you. You should just sit close by and wait until your hamster feels safe again and uncurls.
When a hamster is stressed, the first thing that goes is his body language. He will not show any emotion and he will also stop moving. His tail may be stiff and his ears may be down as well.
This is a signal for you to take your hamster into a quiet room and then just sit there with him until he feels safe again! If your hamster is shaking, the best thing to do is to stay calm!
If your hamster suddenly starts to squeak, he’s probably feeling very anxious and may even be trying to bite you! This is the only time that a hamster will make noises so listen closely!
What you can do is scoop him up, put him in a calm room, sit with him for a while and then leave him to calm down on his own. When a hamster is squeaking, he’s in a very bad place mentally!
Chewing through cage bars
When a hamster feels threatened, disturbed, or anxious, it may chew its way out of the cage!
This sounds strange but when you consider that a hamster may feel stressed out enough to chew off his own legs, it becomes clear that a cage can become too small for them!
If you see your hamster chewing on the bars of his cage, consider moving him into a bigger space. This doesn’t mean he has to live in a mansion, just a little more space will do!
Biting through bars
When a hamster starts biting the bars of his cage, he’s trying to escape! If you see your hamster doing this it’s likely that something is making him stressed so take action before it’s too late!
Once again, give your hamster some space and see if it makes a difference. Sometimes all he may need is for you to not look at him when you’re in his room.
Gnawing on wood
It’s normal for a hamster to chew on the bars of his cage but it’s not ok for him to start gnawing through wooden objects!
If your hamster chews through wood, he may be trying to make his way out of the room or even the cage. This is not normal behavior!
If you see your hamster chewing on wood, take him for a check-up right away to make sure there’s nothing wrong with him. And remember, if in doubt, take your furry friend to the vet because you never know when a hamster gets stressed!
Stressed hamsters could become very aggressive or might look sick because of diarrhea or heavy breathing.
If you see your pet showing unusual behavior, try to locate the cause and remove it accordingly. Do not punish your pet because he might just be feeling worried about something you are doing in his environment. If any kind of stress persists, take your pet to the vet.