Understanding Syrian Hamster Behavior – An Owner’s Guide

It can be great fun and very rewarding to own and look after a Syrian hamster, but in terms of treatment and cost, it can be a major burden and a long-term commitment. Syrian hamsters are small animals with a great deal of character. Their needs are very complicated and they can be easily injured.

Hamsters are nocturnal animals, meaning they sleep most of the day and become active at night and in the evening. This implies that for people who may be out during the day and at home during the evening, they can make good pets.

Male Syrian hamster behavior

Among the most common options for small pets is the Syrian hamster, also known as the golden hamster. Generally speaking, it is easy to tame, enjoyable to watch, and reasonably low-maintenance, making it a good beginner’s pet. These hamsters come from northern Syria and southern Turkey’s arid areas. Just as we do, hamsters use body language. They can show several feelings that include being happy, scared, threatened, curious, terrified, angry, and many other feelings. When conversing with others, they also use sign language to a limited degree.

That doesn’t say, with all that said, that they won’t use an auditory method of communication as well. To call their mothers, babies use ultrasonic sounds, females have mating calls to attract a mate, and a hamster will squeak when it feels threatened or aggressive. Many of these sounds are brief and often unrecognizable to the human ear. Learning all the behaviors of your Syrian hamster means that you will be able to understand it better, thus taking better of him. If you notice your hamster is upset, mad, or ill, you can change the way you care for it. Sometimes, when you put your hands in the cage, you may just need to create more confidence with your pet so that it doesn’t act aggressively or get afraid.

If the hamster is burrowing or digging its bedding it just means that the hamster is happy. The hamster is just playing around and by digging it is searching for snacks he buried earlier.

Hamsters in the wild are extremely good diggers and will develop deep underground burrows. Make sure that your hamster has a dense layer of bedding so it can dig and burrow endlessly.

If he is standing erect on its legs and watching you, it means that he is curious and is watching his surroundings, but still being calm. But when they’re standing with their dukes up on their hind legs, the hamster tells you it feels threatened and if you don’t back off, he might get aggressive.

They are looking for reassurance while it is grooming and feel very happy with all that’s going on. They feel comfortable and relaxed about their present condition as they are stretching their limbs. It’s a sign of fright if his ears are forward with his cheek pouches puffed up and his mouth open. Try to minimize the stress factors that brought on this action. It means that a hamster is insecure about the current situation and is likely to run and hide when it empties its cheek pouches quickly.

Another indication of insecurity and uncertainty is that as you approach it gets startled. In this case, he fells unaware of what’s going on at the moment. Also, if he is lying on his back with incisors showing, it’s a sign of a threatened hamster and he is scared. If you just got the hamster and you see him walking slowly and creeping around the cage, it just means that he is insecure around his surroundings. He is not yet comfortable with the cage and needs time to adjust to it. Try burying some snacks in the bedding to keep him active and get used to the habitat.

Also, if the hamster is new to the cage, when you approach him, he will freeze in place. When the hamster is afraid, he will most likely play dead by standing still or lying down. He will most likely shy away and hide from you. This means that he is stressed out with the new environment and will need to adjust to, for example, loud noises. If the hamster continues to be unresponsive, you need to make some extra measures.

If a hamster has a repeated routine and is doing the same things from day to day, it means that he is mentally ill. You can fix this by giving him toys to play and exercise, or giving him a larger cage. The most indecisive sign of a hamster is its squeak. He might be squeaking for no reason at all. But it can also squeak as a mating call, if he feels uncomfortable, or if he’s scared. This situation is the most difficult to figure out.

Most of the behaviors displayed by hamsters does not mean he is ill. Hamsters are very active when they are awake and always find things to entertain them. If you feel the hamster is not acting normally, you can always enrich their time with toys and exercise. Make sure your hamster has plenty of training room and has suitable things to play with, such as tiny boxes, tubes, and mazes. For exercise, a good quality running wheel may provide additional activities.

Once you can handle them with trust, you should enable your hamster to spend time out of their cage, but never leave your hamster unattended or overnight out of the cage.

As long as the hamster is properly maintained, he will not be bothered and his behavior will remain natural. If you notice something strange, don’t jump to the conclusion that he is unwell. Try interacting and exercising with him. If his behavior is seriously worrying you, consult with the local vet.

Aggressive behavior

Understanding Syrian Hamster Behavior – An Owner's Guide

Since they are solitary by nature, Syrian hamsters can never be housed together. If you bring two Syrians together, they’re going to fight eventually. It’s only fine to house them together when they’re either breastfeeding babies or when you’re planning on mating them.

Sometimes, almost without reason, hamsters may display worrying or aggressive behaviors. Acting this way is also not an indicator of the nature of the hamster – there is generally a very good explanation of why the animal behaves this way. If two grown male Syrian hamsters are kept together, they will show aggressive behavior.

When one violent hamster attempts to bite the underbelly of the other, encounters will intensify into a wrestling match. To drive the hostile hamster down, the subordinate hamster will rise up, open its mouth, puff up its cheeks and stretch its arms out. When the hamster doesn’t want any trouble, its paw may be held out, its tail flicked, and does not maintain eye contact with the dominant hamster. This action can be interpreted as a retreat. However, a wrestling match can break out if one hamster does not initially back down.

The wrestling match starts when one hamster stands up on his hind legs and attempts to bite the underbelly by lunging at the other. The two hamsters start rolling around in unison, trying to get the advantage. When one of the hamsters admits defeat, it will give up by lying on its back and freezing in this position. The wrestling match is generally over when this happens, but often, no hamster wants to give up that quickly. This is when they can intensify the wrestling into a fight.

A fight looks a lot like a wrestling match but takes on a more violent and physical tone. Biting can become even more extreme and can lead to severe injuries. More pronounced squeaking may also be present. In the end, a hamster will give up and escape from the fight. When the subordinate hamster runs away through a hamster tunnel and hides in another habitat compartment, the battle always ends.

If the hamster cage is not big enough for the hamster to run and hide, by chasing after it, the winning hamster can continue to fight. When it comes to this, it’s probably best to physically remove one of them to separate the hamsters.

Hamsters can and do bite in certain cases. However, it is uncommon for a hamster to actually be aggressive, and they generally only bite when they get frightened. The most important thing to remember when you are dealing with these hamsters is that they’re biting because they’re scared, not because they’re aggressive.

Tame hamsters are those who have been handled daily, so they’re used to people and are not easily frightened. Hamsters who have not been approached often, on the other hand, are typically not quite friendly, and if you attempt to pick them up, they sometimes bite.

It can bite out of fear if you grab your hamster without allowing it time to readjust to your presence. If you do not physically hold them correctly, hamsters can even nibble you, which can be very painful for them. Hamsters are nocturnal, and if you wake them up during the day, they will be quite disoriented and very agitated. If they are scared and afraid, when you try to pick them up, they are likely to bite you. When it’s awake in the early evening and night, it’s going to be a lot more active and will potentially be more comfortable playing with you.

Hamsters have very bad eyesight, and when they’re uncertain whether anything is edible or not, they are likely to experiment. If you stick food through the cage bars, then when you do the same with your finger, it will also believe it is a tasty treat and will bite you.

When it comes to biting hamsters, it’s important to be patient. You will need to gain the trust of your pet and do so gradually. Don’t be brought down by the fact that it may take a month or a few months to fully succeed in this. Gaining a hamster’s trust can vary from week to week. Spend time sitting near the cage and talk to your hamster. Remember, moving to a new cage and new environment is very stressful, so this period is also habituation to a new home.

After a week, try putting your hand on the cage. Place your hand next to the door or top of the cage, then extend it a little further each following day. Don’t try to touch the hamster, but if he becomes curious, let him explore your hand. When the hamster explores your hand, use that trust to slip him some treats and let it eat them from your hand. When your hamster starts eating treats relaxed, you can try to gently pet it. If your pet accepts treats and allows you to cuddle him, try lifting it. First, try to direct it so that it climbs into your arm, by placing the treats in it. 

Parental behavior

Understanding Syrian Hamster Behavior – An Owner's Guide

The Syrian female hamster has anatomical characteristics that are different from other species. They mature from 8-10 weeks of age and have an estrous period of 4 days. She frequently prefers to mate with an alpha male who, more often than any subordinate males present, will flank the mark (a scent-marking activity associated with aggression and competition).

Male offspring are at greater risk of permanent effects from maternal social stress than female offspring. It is always recommended to separate the male hamster from the mother and the babies. There are many cases in which the father eats the babies, but it sometimes happens with the mother as well.

In expectation of their babies’ birth, female hamsters will begin to build a nest. A female hamster is pregnant for only around three weeks and up to 20 babies will evidently appear in a hamster’s nest overnight.

If by nesting and consuming a little more food than average, a hamster has prepared for a regular birth, then it may be particularly shocking to see a hamster kill and eat its own offspring. But while the reason this happens could be a shortage of food, there are a few other explanations that a hamster will eat its babies.

For anyone, even a hamster, getting pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding, and caring for multiple babies is really exhausting. If a hamster is too stressed, its babies will be eaten. She may feel that caring for her young is more than she can do. The same goes for when the hamster is scared. This is especially true with young hamsters. This can be caused by the fear of other pets, loud noises, and many other things that will intimidate the hamster.

A hamster mother spends a lot of time grooming and caring for her youngsters. The fragrance left on each infant helps the mother to identify the babies. The mother could become confused and not know her own babies if a new smell, such as the scent of a human, is detected on the babies.

The shortage of food is the most apparent explanation of why a hamster eats its own babies. Every animal that is pregnant or breastfeeding needs more energy than it can normally need. Therefore, there is so much more food required. From the lack of food, the hamster may be starving and fear being unable to provide for its baby.

To prevent the mother from eating her babies, provide a quiet place for them. This can include keeping kids and other pets out of the space where your hamster lives, keeping the noise down in your house so that your hamster is not bothered, and maybe even covering the cage so that no potential threats or tension can be noticed.

The most obvious precaution to take is to provide the hamster with plenty of food, during and after pregnancy. Make sure that you offer a high-quality hamster diet with plenty of protein as soon as you know that your hamster is pregnant. Also, make sure it always has clean water.

You may want to split the hamsters if your pregnant hamster lives with another. This would make the babies safer and prevent any adult battle. If you find that you have a male and a female hamster living together, this will probably eliminate any pregnancy in the future.

But, if both male and female hamsters are cared for properly, both of them will show high parental behavior. The male hamster will also contribute to building a nest, caring, grooming the young. Male hamsters will even pick up and carry the babies more often than the female.

Even though the female hamster is more likely to eat the babies, male hamsters will injure them more. When trying to lie down, the male will accidentally lay down on the babies, almost suffocating them.

 Social behavior of a hamster 

Understanding Syrian Hamster Behavior – An Owner's Guide

Hamsters are normally solitary creatures and may be aggressive to other animals, often leading to significant injury or even death. In particular, Syrian hamsters are not inherently sociable and they are best kept on their own.

The Syrian Hamster lives alone in the wild and is intensely territorial, threatening any intruders or other hamsters that it might face while traveling. In separate burrows, Syrian hamsters live a distance away from some other burrow of another hamster.

Hamsters create unique odors that they use to communicate, so avoid housing unknown hamsters and hamster cages next to each other, as they can find this disturbing and can start fighting.

In the house, they can also find the presence and scent of other animals stressful, especially animals such as cats and dogs that would usually eat small animals such as hamsters. Never let other pets rest on or interact with the hamster’s cage.

By using their body language to exhibit emotion, you should observe your hamsters communicating and engaging with each other. As a pet hamster owner, understanding when all is well in the cage or when you may need to resolve a dispute is crucial.

These hamsters are one of the most solitary species in the wild. As pets, they should always be alone in a cage. Young hamsters often tolerate cage companions for a little while. But there’s a fair chance they’ll become violent when they age, even battling to the death.

Hamsters will stick their noses up to each other’s muzzles when they face each other head-to-head. Through smelling their scented gland that is located in that region of their face, they would be able to tell who the other is. Several things may then take place once their identity is established.

If one hamster recognizes the other like a dominant hamster, he will point its ears up, lean backward in fear, turn, and leave. The female could do a walk where she arches her back and then goes into the lordosis position, if the encounter is between a male and a female, showing she is ready to mate.

For two hamsters, circling is another way to find out who each other is. To scent its glands, one hamster will put its head up under the other hamster’s belly, then another will take its turn to smell the other. This hamster action may often look a little aggressive if there is an over-eager hamster involved. Often, it can escalate into wrestling in this case.

Syrian hamsters are generally friendly, and many owners say that they are a good choice of pet since they can develop a very close bond with their owners. They are the biggest and one of the most common pet hamsters, partially because their size makes it easier to handle them. These hamsters are slower than any of their smaller counterparts.

Another factor adding to their popularity is that this hamster breed should be kept on its own, as for fun and excitement, it focuses more heavily on its owner. Because they do not have a hamster friend to play with, during the hours you are both awake, it will be more open to forming relationships with the owners.

Hamsters may not interact with a variety of people like many other pets do. Instead, hamsters are most happy sharing time with one, often two, owners. A hamster will learn to recognize the owner’s smell and might be scared of anyone he doesn’t know.

Hamsters are reasonably independent and can amuse themselves for long periods, provided that their housing is sufficiently enriched with toys, bedding, burrowing, and climbing opportunities. Also, the hamster should undergo regular handling and contact to be comfortable and well-adjusted.

Some hamsters are cuddlier, while others are more independent. Syrian hamsters are usually easier to tame, so they will be a little more affectionate than other types of hamsters. But this is only because the Syrians are much bigger than the other hamsters, which makes it easier to treat them.

You should pet your hamster’s body or their head very softly to express your affection when they’re either in their cage or in your hands. Hamsters often seem to prefer to sleep on their owners once the trust point has been achieved.

When they’re active, you can also speak to them with a quiet and soft voice (the talking approach also works when you’re trying to develop trust in your hamster). So, it’s important to be around them and connect with them daily to create a deeper relationship between you and your hamster.

Even though hamsters show affection to their owners, they will not be so affectionate and lovable to other hamsters.

One shouldn’t be too affectionate with the hamster. Remember that in the wild, hamsters live alone. It’s their natural instinct to play, explore, and eat on their own. They should have plenty of time by themselves, and they will find any kind of entertainment.

Some owners tend to think that hamsters get lonely and want to touch them all the time. When you’re developing a relationship with a hamster, you should maintain a routine that your hamster will follow. Don’t pick it out of the cage anytime you wish.

The hamster will not appreciate it if you pick him up constantly and it can become aggressive if he is not left alone. Especially during the daytime, when it is sleeping. Set up a routine so your hamster knows when he will play with you and it will not get stressed out.