When I first got my Teddy I didn’t know how much attention he’d need from me. Or if he’d need any at all. I only knew hamsters can be left by themselves in their cages and be fine, but do hammies really need your attention ?
So do hamsters need attention from their owners ?
YES, much less than other pets but yes. Hamsters are solitary by nature, but they still enjoy human company, and can grow to be attached to their owners.
This means you need to handle and play with the hamster very often, to form this bond.
But your hammy will not be lonely if you don’t pay him too much attention. Hamsters are solitary by nature, and do not miss company necessarily. This means that they can live on their own, and not miss the owner too much.
However a hamster not handled regularly will need a lot more space and activities, to consume all of his energy. He’s basically an untamed hamster in this case.
But let’s get into detail with this, and see how and when to give your hamster attention.
It depends on your hamster’s personality
Some hamsters are more cuddly, some are more aloof. In general Syrian hamsters are easier to tame, and thus will be a bit more affectionate than other hamster types.
But this is only because the Syrians are much larger than the other hammies, and thus can be handled easier.
However there are hamsters and hamsters. For example my Teddy – adult Syrian male – is not the cuddliest of hamsters. He’s not completely aloof, but he is always on the go, doing something, too busy to stay in my hands and relax a little.
To be honest he was not what I imagined when I said I wanted a hammy, but he’s got a whole personality of his own. He may not be cuddly, but he makes a lot of funny faces, and would be a really good circus acrobat.
Maybe your hammy is like my Teddy, or maybe he’s a very mellow hamster. A family friend of ours had a hammy, his name was Oscar, and he was the tamest thing ever. He let anyone touch him, and would come up to the cage bars if he heard you, asking for a bit of attention.
There’s hamsters and hamsters, and you won’t really know what kind of hamster you’re getting when he is a baby. But it’s important to realize that your pet is his own creature, and won’t always be what you imagined.
You can, however, do your best to try and tame your hamster. Just don’t be surprised by the outcome, and love him anyway.
Hamsters are always very curious and active
Your hamster need your attention, even if it’s not for reasons as sentimental as a puppy. True, hamsters do need attention, but they do not crave it as much as dogs.
Hamsters can’t be emotionally handicapped (since they’re loners by default) like a puppy starving for affection, but still you should give your hamster plenty of love and attention.
Still, your hamster will be curious. About everything. Including what you’ve got in that bag you’re rustling next to his cage, or 2 rooms away.
So even for something as small as this, hamsters do need your attention so they know what you’re doing, and they can investigate in peace. Just bring the bag close to the cage and let him sniff what you’ve got there. Chances are he won’t be interested.
For example my Teddy goes nuts when I’m doing something next to his cage, but the second I let him get a sniff of what I’m doing (often just heating something in the microwave) he loses all interest and walks away. Sometimes I think I have a cat.
So, sometimes your hamster’s curiosity might be mistaken for asking for affection. Hamsters aren’t aloof like fish, or spiders or reptiles, but they’re not nearly as cuddly as dogs, cats, or parrots.
How to keep your hamster friend happy
You can keep your hamster friend happy, and give him a lot of attention and love. There’s a few ways you can do that, and I’ll tell you right here.
Play with the hamster
The first and most obvious thing to do is to play with your hamster. This will create and deepen the bond between the two of you. Also, you’re giving your hamster plenty of attention by constantly handling him, and letting him get your scent.
For example my Teddy’s fave playtime is a toilet paper square, dangled in front of him and he tries to climb onto it half the time. He just loves chasing that bit of paper around his cage every time he notices it.
Even if you don’t want to take the hamster out of his cage, you can still talk to him and touch him in the cage. This helps him get closer to you, because hamsters need plenty of stimulation.
Give the hammy plenty of toys and ways to exercise
This is the next best thing after playing with your hamster. Sometimes, like when you’re sleeping and your hamster is awake, your hammy needs things to do.
So giving the hamster chew toys and a running wheel is going to give him something to do.
As said before in this article hamsters sometimes are just very curious, and sometimes that can be mistaken for asking for attention.
If your hammy has not much to do in his cage, then he’ll grow bored and want to explore the outside. And if the outside means you, making coffee next to him, then he will absolutely need to know what’s in that cup.
So a good option is getting your hamster some toys – here’s a link for some DYI and store bought toy ideas for your hamster, so he never gets bored.
And here is an article on running wheels for hamsters, so you know what to look for when you get one for your hamster. Or, if the one you’ve already got is good enough. There’s wheel size requirements, depending on your hamster’s breed.
Get your hamster the right sized everything
From food bowl to water bottle to hideout and cage, everything needs to be the right size for your hammy.
A very small cage will make your hamster nervous and anxious, and he will be all over the cage bars. It will look like he’s asking for your attention, but once you do handle him he will not be friendly or sit still. He will be happy he is out, and can explore, but you’re not letting him.
So for this reason (and many others) getting your hamster a large enough cage is one of the most important things to do to keep him comfortable and happy. Hamsters are very small, but they need quite a bit of space.
You can read more about hamster cages – size, types, and how to clean them – right here, so you can take care of your hamster friend as best you can. Remember, if you’ve got Dwarf hammies and they’re at least two, you’re going to need a bigger cage.
As for the hideout your hamster will spend most of his time in, it’s important that you get your hammy a wooden one. He will chew on everything in his cage, even the hideout, so it’s best to get him one that’s safe for his teeth. You can see more about hamster hideouts and the bedding hamsters usually need right here.
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Hamsters do not get lonely
You might think that hamsters can get lonely, all by themselves in those cages. Well, hamsters are okay to be left alone, after all they’re loners by nature.
In the wild hamsters live alone, and only meet other hamsters to mate. Or, the occasional trespasser in their territory who they will fight.
There are some hamster breeds that can live together – more on that here. But even those hamsters need to be introduced as babies, and be of the same litter, in order to get a long. Even so, sometimes it just doesn’t work.
So if you’ve got an adult Syrian hammy, and you’re feeling bad because you feel like you’re not paying him enough attention, do not get him a friend. He will fight anyone new that you put into his cage, even a baby hamster.
Syrians and Chinese hamsters are especially territorial, and will get into an actual, legit deathmatch with another hamster in their cage.
Hamsters are not puppies, and won’t do well in a group. Some Dwarf types are okay being raised with a sibling of theirs, but even there they can get on each other’s nerves and develop stress-related illnesses.
A word from Teddy
I hope you know more about us hammies now, and know that we do in fact need your attention. Maybe not as much as other pets, and we won’t jump on you to lick your face to show affection. But we love you in our own way, and we do like your company !
So if you want to know more about us hamsters, feel free to check out the articles below. You’l find more info on what kind of food we need, how much water we can drink, and even why we play with our poop.