Did your hamster ever jump out of your hands ? I know my Teddy did. I barely caught him in time. If you have a hamster, and you’ve picked him up, you know what I’m talking about.
So I’m going to talk about why hamsters jump, how high hamsters can jump, and how you can make sure they don’t hurt themselves by falling.
So why do hamsters jump ?
A jumping hamster might sound silly, but it’s for a reason. A hamster will jump just like any other animal when it want to break free, or get to something.
Most of the time when he jumps, it’s because the hamster is uncomfortable. His legs and paws are not meant to jump very high(unlike mice or rabbits). But your hammy will jump out of your hands if he’s had enough of your handling and wants to be put in his cage.
This can happen with any hamster, be it a tame or difficult one. More difficult hamsters will jump out of your hands more often.
Hamsters can jump out of your hands
For example Teddy (adult Syrian hamster) was more active when he was younger, so he was more fidgety. This got me to constantly keep having to move my hands, like a handwashing motion.
Sometimes, he’d have enough of me holding and playing with him, and jump out of my hands. The first time this happened I was lucky to be close to his cage. He fell on the cage, and I let him in. He was fine, nothing hurt or broken.
But I had to be careful. So whenever you handle a hamster, be close to his cage, or where you’ve decided his playpen is. If he’s a confirmed jumper, be extra sure to be close to the cage, or near a soft surface he can fall on, like the bed or a sofa.
A good way to distract the hamster in your hands is to give him a treat or piece of food. You can check this food list to find out which foods and treats are safe for hamsters, and which are not.
Hamsters will also jump out of your hands when they wanted to do something else and you interrupted them. Like maybe you picked your hamster up when he was eating, or while he was cleaning himself.
He’ll want to get back to whatever he was doing, fast.
Hamsters can also randomly jump in their cage
This is more common for more active hamsters, like the smaller Roborovski or Campbell hamsters or their other small brethren. Basically all hamsters aside from Syrians. Syrians do jump around their cage, but mostly when they’re very young.
This is because of the amazing energy small hamsters have, and how incredibly agile they are.
You can take care f this by providing your hamster with a good exercise wheel, according to his breed. He’ll burn off more energy that way and be less likely to jump for no reason.
Sometimes the jumping has no clear purpose or trigger. They weren’t trying to get somewhere, or reach something. No, they were scurrying somewhere and did a backflip on the way.
I’ve seen it with Teddy as well, and I can’t really explain why he randomly jumped. Sometimes he jumped onto the cage bars, and started scaling the cage. That has no clear purpose either, aside from expending excess energy.
Hamsters will fall, or jump from heights
Unfortunately hamsters are very poor judges of heights. Hamsters do not see very well, and can’t use anything else to judge distance. But they are curious creatures and want to inspect everything.
So if your cage has a taller level – like a multi-level cage – make sure that the hamster will not injure himself. This means that the height of the fall should not be more than 25 cm/10 inch. This is actually the average height a hamster can jump, and safely land from.
This selection of the best and safest hamster cages will make sure your hamster has a good place to live in.
For example my Teddy’s cage is a multi-level cage. The topmost level was a safe distance, however there was a slight gap that I had to mind, the two levels didn’t overlap completely.
Teddy did jump from the highest level all the way down. He didn’t end up on the first level, he actually landed on the ground floor.
He was fine, but I removed his second level soon after that. He didn’t jump often, but when he did he had no clear reason. He had a very easy to access ramp he used to get there in the first place, which he ignored when trying to get down.
Hamsters do not judge distances very well, since their eyes don’t help them much. So make sure you fall/jump proof your hammy’s cage.
Making sure your hamster doesn’t hurt himself if he jumps
There’s a few things you should consider, and I’ll get into each of them. It’s mostly the same across all hamster breeds, maybe some adjustments would need to be made according to the hamster’s size.
Give the hamster plenty of bedding to fall on
This is what will help him have an easier landing, much like a pile of hay. So that would mean covering every surface he could land on with bedding.
If you have a single level cage, then you’re set.
If you’ve got a multi-level cage, provide bedding for all levels, even if just a bit.
This roundup of great hamster bedding options will help you figure out which will work for you.
Overlapping levels in a cage
If you do get a multi-level cage for your hammy, make sure the levels overlap, mostly. For example my cage’s levels don’t overlap completely, and Teddy had to be very skilled to fall like he did.
When you’re online or at the pet store, make sure you check the cage as best you can.
To figure out the best kind of cage your hamster would need, as well as which of the 3 most common types would suit him, check out this article. You’ll find out cage sizes and options, as well as the pros and cons of each type.
Don’t give the hamster very tall toys
Now, the running wheel will have to be tall in order to be a proper size for him. But your hammy can’t get all the way on top of the wheel wince it will spin with him.
But digging towers are different, as well as hideout complexes. Try looking for something no taller than those 25 cm/10 inches we talked about earlier.
If your give the hamster no tall toys, he will have nowhere to fall from. This includes hammocks and mesh nets. These should not be more than 10 inches off the ground for your hammy. Especially for the dwarf hamsters out there.
Opt for wood-based toys
While the wheel will most probably not be metal, in order to be easy to spin and get a large enough one, the other toys should be wood. This is partly because hamsters chew on everything and wood is safe for them. And the other part is because wood lets the hamster have an easier landing than hard plastic or metal.
Cover the sides of the levels in the cage
If you’ve got a multi-level cage, but they don’t overlap that much, consider covering those sides with something like a fence that goes all the way up, or at least as nigh as the hamster’s full body.
A good option would be popsicle sticks. They’re safe for hamsters, and you can get them in most arts and crafts stores.
A good, non-toxic glue that the hamster will be able to hold the popsicles in place. Make sure that you only do this if the hamster can’t reach the place there you’ve glued the popsicles.
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A few precautions for jumping hamsters
When you’re handling your hammy, he might jump. So make sure you are very close to his cage, or something soft that he can land on. Like the bed or a sofa, or anything else soft.
If you’ve got a tank for your hamster, make sure it’s got tall enough sides. Giving the hamster 3-5 cm/1-2 inches of bedding will mean that you need some 25 cm/10 inch above the bedding.
This is the least, since some hamsters can jump higher than this.
They don’t jump often, but all it takes is once. Best would be to actually cover the top of the tank with a wire mesh. You can find those at some pet shops, or most hardware shops as well.
A hamster that’s about to jump will give warning signs. It’s up to you to notice them, and I’ll help you with a few. For example your hamster will start to move faster in your hands, and his nose and whiskers will twitch more. He’ll look left and right and start moving out of your hand.
That’s when you should definitely put him back in his cage. If you put him on the floor or somewhere not contained, he will run everywhere. Hamsters get restless easily, and it’s best to leave them in a well contained area when they’re like this, so they can run and play at will.
Do not scare the hamster, or handle him when there’s a lot of things going on around you. Make sure you’re in a calm, quiet place, with not many things flying or moving around. A scared hamster has incredibly fast reflexes, so he will jump without warning.
Another thing to remember is that hamsters are not calm animals. They won’t be as cuddly as a cat or guinea pig. A hamster will not stay in your hands for more than 2 couple of minutes(and he will never sit still), after which he’ll try to get away. He is restless and that’s his nature.
A word from Teddy
I hope you found what you were looking for, and know why us hamsters jump. We don’t do that often, but it’s usually for a reason. Although we can jump randomly too. Mostly we want to be left alone to roam our cages.
If you want to know more about us hammies, and what kind of cages we need, or how much water we need, check the articles below !