If you’ve got a hammy you want to make sure he has the best life. So, sometimes you wonder if your hamster is bored, and how you can keep your hamster friend entertained. I know I had these thoughts for my Teddy (Syrian male hammy) and here’s what I found out.
So do hamsters get bored ?
No, not really. Hamsters don’t see the passing of time the same way as we humans do. Aside from their instincts (survive, reproduce, find food, etc.) hamsters don’t have grand goals that could suffer from being kept in a cage.
That being said, hamsters can become stressed or sad if their cage/habitat is terrible. Too small, dirty, no toys, no hideout, too many sounds and people trying to get to them, being handled too much, etc.
We’ll cover those too. But first let’s take a look at the usual life of a hamster, and see that it’s not terribly different from the one ha has in your home. There are a few key differences, yes, but they’re all in his benefit.
A look at a hamster’s usual life and daily routine
The sound of his food being put in his cage while he is sleeping will wake him up, and he’ll be a grumpy little furball. Best to wait until he’s up.
After finding his food and pouching most of it your hammy will move back into his nest, where he’ll hide all of his food. Yes, hamsters have an amazing stash of food in their nests, and they will hoard everything.
Once he’s done with his food he’ll spend most of his time running around his cage. He’ll end up on his wheel for most of the night. Actually he can run for up to 9 km/5.5 miles in a whole night ! That’s a lot of running around, and it’s no wonder he’s dozing off in the morning.
Every once in a while, he’ll stop running around and just… check. Sit up, eyes wide open, ears strained, trying to hear if there’s any danger around. He’ll look like he’s freezing, but in truth he’s just hearing things out. It’s what kept him alive in the wild, after all.
This is his usual routine, and it’s what will keep him busy. He’s got a ridiculous amount of energy, and need to burn it all. Unless he’s got a very bare cage, he can’t get bored.
This isn’t very different from his usual routine in the wild, although there is the element of adrenaline that’s missing. Let me explain,
What your hamster would do in the wild
In the wild, the essential activities would be the same ones I described above. Except the hamster can be found and eaten by a predator at any moment. So that means the hammy is always on edge, always hearing things out, always running away.
That makes for a very skittish and shy animal – if you were ever wondering why he’s like that.
In the wild toys would have no purpose. The running around and dodging predators would be ‘fun’ enough. In your home there’s nothing to hunt him, hence why he needs toys to keep him busy.
Finally, in the wild the hammy would try to find a mate too. He’d patrol his territory, and if he met a female in heat he’d try his luck.
What can make your hamster bored
As you’ve seen, your hamster has a whole lot of things to do. This means that you won’t really be up to see him do most of these things, since he’s awake when you’re sleeping.
But if you were to ever stay up all night and just observe him, you’d see all the things I described above.
He can get bored though, only if you’ve given him an especially bare and small cage. Let’s see what that means.
The minimum cage size for a single hamster is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. Every hamster will like a larger cage better, so if you can get a big cage you should do that.
Aside from the minimum bedding on the cage floor, there is also the absolute need for a hideout. Your hamster will make himself a nest anyway in the most hidden corner he an find. But a hideout will provide definite shelter, and he’ll be thankful for it.
A food bowl and water bottle are mandatory as well, and they’re easy to find.
An exercise wheel is mandatory as well, simply because running is half of everything a hamster does. He spends most of his life running, so not getting him that would be like someone never letting you out of your house.
These are the bare minimum, but there are toys to take into consideration. Some you can DYI, some are store bought. Look around and see which you like best. You can save up money and still keep you hammy happy with cardboard tubes (from paper towels and toilet paper rolls). Teddy has a grand time with those cardboard rolls, and he uses them as chew toys too.
Any other distractions you can provide your hamster – like time outside his cage in an exercise ball – will be welcome too. A large cage will also mean lots of space for him to run around in, explore, and have a whole bunch of toys.
Finally, keeping your hamster in a dirty cage will lower his general disposition, since no one likes that. A hamster’s cage needs a full cleaning once per week. A dirty cage can lead to several health issues, which is never something you want.
(If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.)
Do you need to get your hamster a friend so he’s not bored ?
Alright, let’s say you’ve got a hamster, and he’s got a very big cage, with every toy ever and everything he could ever want.
But you think he’s possibly bored, and wouldn’t he maybe need a friend ?
To be fair, that’s a question many hamster owners have at first. However hamsters do not need a buddy. That sounds terrible, but bear with me. Hamsters can be social, sometimes, under certain circumstances. But for the most part they will fight to the death with other hamsters.
In the wild the hamster is not a very cuddly animal. Sure, Dwarf types can live together if they absolutely have to, but they end up fighting over food and space in the nest.
They end up on their own, and the Syrians are definitely to be kept alone.
And very important – if you’ve got a hamster already, and he’s past the 3 month mark, then introducing him to any other hamster will most likely not go well.
Hamsters need to grow up together in a very large cage, with lots of food and toys and space, order to get along. Introducing a new hamster out of the blue ends in pain.
A word from Teddy
I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hamsters may look like we’re bored every now and then, but we’re very different from you humans. We don’t do the same things or have the same thoughts.
If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life.