A hamster isn’t all that different from a mouse, or a rat, since all 3 are rodents. You might argue they can all live together, or at least get along during playtime.
As it happens, these 3 animals are in fact very similar. But it’s the key differences between them that mean they’re not as good a match. If you want a more detailed comparison between rats, mice, and hamsters, you should read this article here.
So can hamsters live with rats ?
No, hamsters can’t live with rats. A hamster is territorial, solitary, and will try to attack anything that crosses his path.
A rat is much larger, calmer, and very social, loves to live in groups. However it will bite back if the hamster attacks, and it won’t stop until the hammy is dead.
While both the rat and the hamster are good pets, hamsters simply can’t share their space with another. They only seek another soul when they’re ready to mate. Any other time would be a deathmatch.
We’ll cover the main characteristics of hamsters and rats in the rest of the article, so you will get a more thorough answer to your question.
But if rats being larger are a problem, what about mice ? Good question, let’s look into that.
Can hamsters live with mice ?
No, hamsters can’t live with mice either. The hamster is territorial, solitary, and likes to keep his food to himself.
A mouse is smaller than a Syrian hamster, but much faster, and agile, and will end up stealing the hamster’s food. If you keep just one mouse and just one hamster, the hamster will end up killing the mouse. The size helps there.
However if you’ve got at least two mice and a hamster, they will gang up on the hamster, turning the fight in favor of the mice.
It’s really not a good idea to combine hamsters with any other animal. At all. Even another hamster is a bad idea half the time, let alone a different animal.
Let’s see why hamster and mice can’t really get along, even if they’re closer in size than rats and hamsters.
About the hamster’s personality
A hamster is a very territorial, solitary animal. Even the hamster breeds that can live together in pairs – more on that here – can end up fighting to the death.
This is the reason I’d recommend keeping all hamsters separate, not just the Syrians or Chinese.
Hamsters like having their own space, their own food, and keeping away from other animals. A hamster will mark things as his own with his scent glands.
He will try to be the dominant one in any setting, and hamsters housed together can end up bullying one another.
You might argue that your two Dwarf hammies get along just great. They might, but because they were introduced as babies, and grew up together.
They grew up of the same size, species, and scent profile. They have the same type of reactions, and will know how to read one another properly.
A hamster will be jumpy and scared most of his youth, while he learns the new sights, smells, and sounds in your home. He’ll even get scared of you walking past his cage when he’s in his first few weeks. A scared hamster is unpredictable, and is very likely to nip.
There’s a lot more to hamsters than just what I said here. You should check out this article, on what it’s like to own a hamster and why they can be good pets (also a few cons of owning a hammy).
And this article here, to understand the difference between the two main types of hamsters, and thus the general disposition of hamsters.
About the rat’s personality
A rat is a very opportunistic animal, and a smart one at that. Of the 3 rodents we’re discussing today, the rat is the smartest. They’ve often been compared to dogs in terms of affection and comprehension of human intent.
That being said, rats make for good pets, it’s just that they need lots of handling or a buddy. They’re highly social animals, and they like playtime.
Actually rats bond with their owners much more than hamster or mice, and actually like it when their owners hold them.
When it comes to food, rats will eat almost anything. This means they will eat about equal proportions of meat, grains, veggies, and fresh fruit. They will steal the hamster’s food if they think it’s tastier, or it’s something they like.
Very important to note, rats tend to attack and view as food anything smaller than them. That includes the hamster, and the mouse too actually.
Back to the rat’s intelligence, they’re able to learn tricks and they get bored easily if not given enough stimulation. So they’ve got a big advantage over hamsters, and would be able to rick them if they wanted. A bored rat next to a skittish hamster does not sound good.
About the mouse’s personality
The mice are a bit harder to tame than the rat, since they’re so small and all over the place. They too are social animals, but they need to be in same-sex pairs, female if possible.
Male mice can get along, but it’s like with the Dwarf hammies. Only if they were kept together as babies, need a very big cage, and they still might fight.
Aside from that, mice have much of the same diet as rats. As in, they can and will eat nearly anything, and will steal bits of food whenever they can.
Mice are fairy skittish, and need a lot of patience from their owners when being handled. They don’t jump out of your hands as often as the hamster. But they still can.
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Differences in food for hamsters, rats, and mice
Food is something these 3 would argue over, and here’s why.
While mice, rats, and hamsters are omnivores, hamsters still tend to eat mostly grains and veggies. So giving them the same feed will leave the dietary needs of the other ones unmet.
And there will be food thefts, which can become a major problem. A rat stealing from a hamster can make do, although the hamster might fight back.
However a hamster can’t really steal from the rat’s food, since it’s made up of slightly different nutrients. So that leaves the hamster at a disadvantage. Also the fact that the rat will protect his food and bite the hamster is another concern.
You can’t keep separate food bowls for hamsters, mice, or rats. They won’t know which is which, and will pick out what they like from whichever bowl they find.
Hamsters hoard food in their nest, as do rats and mice. However if the hamster feels unsafe in his hideout – and he will, with another rodent – he’ll keep the food in his cheek pouches.
This leads to a host of health problems, since those pouches are not meant as permanent storage.
Cage size differences between the 3 rodent types
Hamsters need a minimum of of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This is the minimum for a lone, Syrian hamster.
A single, male mouse will need a cage of 10 x 12 inches/25 x 30 cm. The same size will work for a trio of female mice. Males need more space of their own, but the larger the space, the more territorial they become.
Rats, on the other hand, need a cage about 25 x 12.5 inches/ 63 x 31 cm for one single male rat.
The more rodents your have the bigger the space you’ll need, if you want to combine the hamster with either one of them.
However I do not recommend putting hamsters in with any other rodent, even if your got them both as babies. They’re very different animals, even if they’re kind of related.
Playtime and other habits that might conflict
While some things might annoy your hamster, like cleaning his cage, they might be okay for your rat or mouse.
Cage cleaning can be postponed for up to two weeks for hamsters, since they won’t smell at all, they only have the one pee corner. Rats and mice habitats become smellier faster, and need regular cleaning once per week at the latest.
Playtime is another problem that might come up. Hamsters don’t like being handled all that much, while mice and rats are more comfortable with their owners.
Hamsters, mice, and rats alike need lots of exercise to keep themselves occupied. However hamsters are much jumpier than the other two, and will become defensive very fast.
So to sum everything up, and give you a very clear answer:
Hamsters should be kept alone, not even with another hamster.
Keeping a hamster with a rat, or with a mouse might sound like a good idea since they might be similar. But the differences between them will lead to very uncomfortable pets.
A word from Teddy
I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know us hammies might look related to mice and rats, but we don’t really get along. Rats are too big, and mice too small.
And they’re both very social, while us hamsters like to be on our own. Nothing personal, it’s just us being hamsters, that’s all.
If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check the articles below to find out how to care for us properly.