Jumping Hamsters – Why Hamsters Jump, And How High

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.

why hamsters jump (2)

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.

But all hamsters will jump away if there’s something bothering them. Like scaring the hamster, or holding him for too long, or too high.

As for jumping for food, hamsters rarely jump for or towards something. They rather climb, since their limbs are meant for running and climbing.

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.

(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.)

why hamsters jump

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 !

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These Are The 4 Best Hamsters For Beginners
These Are The 4 Best Hamsters For BeginnersHamsters are cute and small, and they seem to be great pets for children. You only have to feed them, clean their cages, and give them attention. They are great for teaching children responsibility or as a starter pet before you get them a dog or a car. There are 16 types of hamsters that we have discovered, and only a few of them are kept as pets.  That being said, not all these hamsters are suitable to be children’s pets. Some are more difficult to tame, some need more care, and others will bite. You want to pick a hamster that is easy to care for and that doesn’t bite. Make sure you do your research before you get a hamster to know exactly what to expect. For example, hamsters are nocturnal, which means that they are only active during the night, and they will probably wake up your child if the cage is in your child’s bedroom. You should also be aware of the fact that hamsters never bond with people as cats or dogs do. If you’ve done your research and are sure that you want to get a hamster, here’s a list of 4 hamsters that are best for beginners.  1. Syrian Hamster The Syrian hamster is also known as the golden hamster, and it is one of the most popular hamsters that people keep as pets. They make very good pets for beginners since they are easy to tame, fun to play with, and very low-maintenance. Syrian hamsters originate from dry areas of northern Syria and southern Turkey. Their fur is naturally colored golden brown and they have a lighter belly. Nowadays there are many different colors, patterns, and hair lengths of Syrian hamsters thanks to selective breeding.  The captive-breeding programs for Syrian hamsters have begun in the 1930s both for experiments and pet trade. Because they are losing their habitat in the wild, they are considered to be vulnerable. It’s very easy to take care of a Syrian hamster. You can find food made specifically for them in the pet store, and their housing won’t take up much of your space. Syrian hamster weighs around 5 ounces and is 5 to 9 inches long. It lives for 2 to 4 years.  You might have heard that Syrian hamsters have a reputation that they bite a lot. This is, however, mostly because people don’t know how to handle them. If you don’t squeeze or shake it while you’re holding it, the Syrian hamster will learn that it has nothing to be afraid of when it’s in your hand. This type of hamster likes to be alone and is very territorial. You should never have more than one Syrian hamster living together in a cage. If you keep 2 or more Syrian hamsters together in a cage, they will get really aggressive, and they sometimes even fight to the death. You should keep any other pets you might have in your household away from the hamster because they will likely hurt each other.  Syrian hamsters, like all hamsters, sleep during the day and are active during the night. They are generally quiet, but it would be best if you kept it away from your bedroom at night because it could wake you up.  If you are looking for a hamster to bond with, you will have to look for some other type of hamster, because Syrian hamsters never really bond with their owners. Some might come closer when they see you and sleep on your hands. Make sure you spend enough time with your hamster each day to keep it tame. The Syrian hamster will need as big of a cage as you can get. The smallest cage you can put your Syrian hamster into can be 1x2x1 feet. Make sure you put a lot of hamster toys in its cage and don’t forget to put an exercise wheel. It’s best that you get an exercise wheel that has a solid surface so you avoid any injuries. Place a sleeping hut in the corner of the cage, you can usually find these in the pet store. You will have to feed your Syrian hamster with nuts, grains, and seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Syrian hamsters are omnivores, so you can occasionally give them a hardboiled egg or some insects. You should talk to your vet to see what is the best diet for your hamster because it depends on the size and the age of your hamster. Make sure there’s always a bowl of food in the cage and throw away any food your hamster doesn’t eat after a day. There should also be a water bottle or a water bowl in the cage, and you should change the water each day.  Syrian hamsters rarely get sick, but there are a few diseases you should be on the lookout for. One such disease is a wet tail, a gastrointestinal infection that is caused by stress. This is the most common disease that affects Syrian hamsters. You will know that your hamster has a wet tail if you notice that it’s not eating, has diarrhea, and the area around its tail is wet. Make sure you take your hamster to the vet if you notice any of these symptoms.  2. Dwarf hamsters Dwarf hamsters are tiny hamsters that originate from the desert regions. Unlike larger hamsters, they are very social and are happiest when they are in groups. Unlike cats or dogs, they won’t bond with you, but they will recognize you and come close to the side of their cage if they see you. They weigh between 1 and 2 ounces and are around 2 inches long. You can expect them to live for 3 years.   Dwarf hamsters are also nocturnal, but they can sometimes adapt to their owner’s schedule. That being said, if you try to wake up the Dwarf hamster, it will probably bite you. Most hamsters wake up in the evening and are happy to hang out with people then. When they wake up, they will make noises during the night, so you shouldn’t keep them in your bedroom if you are a light sleeper.  This type of hamsters usually likes being held by people, however, if they feel uncomfortable, they will bite you. You should start handling them when they are young and always be careful and gentle. This way they will learn that they shouldn’t be afraid when you handle them. When you try holding your hamster, it’s best that you’re in a closed room and that there’s something soft underneath you. Hamsters are very quick and they can escape from your hands before you realize it. That’s why there should be something soft for them to land on, and the door should be closed so they can’t escape to the other room. If your hamster falls from even a couple of feet and hits the ground it could lead to some serious injuries.  Your Dwarf hamster should have a big cage because it needs a lot of room to play in. The smallest cage you can keep your Dwarf hamster is in 1x2x1 feet, but that is the bare minimum. If you have more than one hamster, you will have to get a bigger cage. Dwarf hamsters usually live in glass or plastic aquariums, or in wire cages. Wire cages provide better airflow, but they won’t protect your hamster from the draft. If you choose to get a wire cage, make sure that the distance between wires is narrow so that your hamster can’t escape. You should place at least a 1 to 2-inch layer of bedding, for example, chemical- and dye-free shredded paper or hardwood shavings. You will have to change the bedding once a week, and clean all surfaces with water and soap. Make sure you clean up any wet spots each day. You should never forget to place an exercise wheel in your hamster’s cage, as well as many toys. There should be a lot of mineral or wooden toys to chew on so that hamsters can take care of their teeth, and add a sleeping house to the cage. Your hamster should be fed once a day, and ask your veterinarian how much food you should give it. You can buy food blends that are made specifically for Dwarf hamsters. You can also feed your Dwarf hamster with a bit of nuts, seeds, oats, bananas, and carrots. Never feed your Dwarf hamster with avocados, almonds, and chocolate as they are very toxic. Dwarf hamsters are prone to many health issues, and make sure you have a veterinarian near you who treats Dwarf hamsters before you buy this type of hamster.  They can lose hair and get skin lesions from rubbing on something in its cage or because it was attacked by another hamster. Make sure you take your hamster to the vet as soon as you notice any skin injuries because they can get infected quickly. Dwarf hamsters are known to be prone to diabetes. You can prevent this if you don’t let your hamster eat a lot of sugar and make sure it gets a lot of exercise. Check your hamster’s teeth every once in a while. Unlike human teeth, hamster teeth never stop growing, and if your Dwarf hamster doesn’t have anything to chew on, its teeth will become overgrown. This will make it hard for your hamster to eat, and the vet will have to trim its teeth.  3. Robovski Hamsters Robovski hamsters are the smallest and fastest hamsters. When they grow up they are as big as an adult’s thumb, which is about 2 to 3 inches. They originated from China, Mongolia, and Russia.  Wire cages are the easiest to clean up, but since Robovski hamsters are so small, it’s hard to find a wire cage that won’t let them escape. It’s best to get an aquarium that is 24 inches by 12 inches and minimally 12 inches high for two hamsters. If you choose to have more than 2 hamsters, you will have to provide 12 by 6 inches of space for each new hamster. 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They weigh between 1 and 2 ounces and live for 2 to 3 years.  Chinese hamsters make good pets and they don’t mind when you handle them if you’ve done it since they were young. Always sit when handling your hamster because it could get injured if it falls.  You can choose to only have one Chinese hamster, or keep them in same-sex groups. That being said, there’s a big chance that they will be aggressive and territorial if they live in groups. It would be good if you can get hamsters from the same litter that will grow up together and gets used to each other. Make sure you keep your Chinese hamster away from any other pets you have because it’s so small and it could get easily injured.  They will also need 1x2x1 feet cages, and you should layer 1 to 2 inches of bedding, for example, aspen shavings or some other paper-based products. Make sure you add toys, an exercise wheel, and a sleeping hut to their cage.  You can find food for your Chinese hamster in the pet store, and make sure that it’s supplemented with vitamins and minerals. You can put food for the whole day in the bowl and place the bowl in the cage. Chinese hamsters like eating small portions throughout the day.  You can also supplement the commercial food with some seeds, nuts, and fresh fruit and vegetables, but make sure that the supplemental food makes only 10% of your hamster’s diet.  Chinese hamsters are prone to respiratory issues. You will be able to tell that something’s going on with your hamster if you notice it wheezing, sneezing and that it has nasal discharge.  They can also suffer from the wet tail. If you notice that your hamster doesn’t want to eat, that it has diarrhea, or that the area around its tale is wet, take it to the vet immediately.    [...] Read more...
Why Do Hamsters Scratch Themselves ? About Your Hammy’s Fur
Why Do Hamsters Scratch Themselves ? About Your Hammy’s FurIs your hamster scratching himself ? Or is he just grooming himself and it just looks odd ? Scratching is part of every animal’s life. We humans scratch too, sometimes without a serious medical reason. So let’s see why hamsters scratch themselves, and how you can help if there is a problem. Table of Contents ToggleSo why do hamsters scratch themselves ?A little scratching is normalHamsters can get skin conditions tooDon’t confuse scratching with groomingA word from Teddy So why do hamsters scratch themselves ? For the most part hamsters scratch themselves because something is itching them. Much like us humans, actually. Sometimes it’s a skin condition like a rash, or possibly a parasite like a flea and their bites itch. Other times it’s not something clear, like when your nose itches for no apparent reason. And finally, hamsters scratch themselves as part of their grooming ritual. Sometimes they feel there’s something in their fur, and scratching is the only real way to get it out. Unless the hamster is repeatedly scratching the exact same spot over several days, losing fur in that spot, developing a rash, or even drawing blood by scratching, there is nothing to worry about. A little scratching is normal Hammies do get itchy noses, or paws, or ears from time to time. They’re not always easy to explain, like a flea bit them. Sometimes things just itch, for no good reason. So, they scratch. You’ve probably had an itchy nose or ear or leg for no real reason.  This is true for hamsters as well, actually for all animals. Skin is sensitive across all species, and something as silly as a speck of dust settling on your skin can make it itch. Hamsters can get skin conditions too One reason to worry is if the hamster has developed a skin condition. This means fur coming off in patches in that area, a red patch, a scab, there can be lots of things. Let’s go through them. Ringworm is actually a fungal infection, and it can become itchy. The fur will fall off in a round patch, and that patch of skin will be dry, flaky, with a series of tiny red dots marking the edge of the patch. It’s highly contagious, and can be transmitted from the hamster to you, so use disposable gloves. Ringowm can be treated, it’s just that the hamster needs to be quarantined while he is under treatment. You should check the rest of the house for signs of an infection on the other pets or family members. Given that Ringworm is contagious, and the hamster never leaves his cage, it’s clear that the fungus somehow got to him. It if got to him someone or something already had it. You will need to find the carrier and the infected ones and treat them as well. Another possible problem is skin rashes. Sometimes the fur falls off, sometimes not. But the skin will be noticeably red, it might be dry and flaky. Scratching it might draw some blood. This can be treated, but sometimes it’s not clear what caused the rash so the treatment can be a hit or miss. Often rashes just go away on their own, without ever letting you know what the cause was. Sometimes it could be new bedding your hamster hates, it could be a treatment that the hamster reacts poorly to. Or, another possibility could be mites. Mites are tiny, tiny creatures that come to inhabit your hamster’s skin. They cling to the hamster’s hairs, and burrow inside of them. Some mites burrow inside the skin as well. This leads to some very terrible looking skin, and a very distressed hamster. However mites are definitely contagious, so it’s the same story as with Ringworm. If you hamster was just sitting there, never our of his cage, then something that already had mites somehow found its way to the hamster’s cage. It could be the cat, if he’s an outdoor/indoor cat, or maybe your shirt if you’ve handled an infected animal and the mites got onto you. it could be anything or anyone. You’re just going to have to check every part of the house. There is treatment, but do not get anything online or over the counter. Only let the vet treat your hamster, since some treatments can burn the hamster’s skin and you must be very careful. (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.) Don’t confuse scratching with grooming Hamsters also do a lot of grooming. They’re very clean animals, and like to keep it that way. This means grooming when they wake up, before they eat, after they eat, after you handle them, after they get off their exercise wheel, after they’ve walked around for a few minutes, and sometimes just before bed too. Part of grooming is scratching. Not continuously, but a scratch here, another one there. Sometimes they might nibble on whatever they find on their nails after they’ve scratched. While it sounds gross, it’s their way of cleaning out their nails too. They pull at their fur, they comb through it with their paws a lot, and that too can look like scratching. If you’ve got a Syrian hamster, you will often see him nibbling at his hips. It’s a weird sight, but that’s actually where his scent glands are (black dots). They need a bit of cleaning too, and he spends extra time there when he is grooming. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies scratch from time to time too, it’s just not very different from why you humans scratch. 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. [...] Read more...
10 Differences Between Syrian And Dwarf Hamsters
10 Differences Between Syrian And Dwarf HamstersIf you’re looking to get a hamster and want to figure out which type is for you, read on. I have a Syrian male, his name is Teddy, and I think he’s the cutest furball ever. You might think the same about your hammy when you get yours. But let’s see what the main differences are between the Syrian hamster, and the Dwarf types. There’s more than one kind of hamster, and I’ll walk you through the differences. Table of Contents ToggleSo what is the main difference between Syrian and Dwarf hamsters ?A brief rundown on all hamster types available in pet storesSyrian hamsterRoborovski DwarfCampbell DwarfChinese DwarfSiberian/Djungarian/Winter White DwarfSyrian hamsters are the largestDwarf types are hyper and faster than SyriansSyrian hamsters need bigger cagesThe minimum wheel size is smaller for Dwarf hamstersDwarf hamsters are harder to tameDwarf hamsters can be kept in same-sex pairsSyrian hamsters come in more color patternsThere are different illnesses the 2 types are prone toSome feeding exceptions are necessary for Dwarf typesEasier to find a Syrian hamster’s genderBefore you get any kind of hamsterA word from Teddy So what is the main difference between Syrian and Dwarf hamsters ? The main and most obvious differences between Syrian and Dwarf types are the size, and whether they are solitary. Syrian hamsters are much larger than the Dwarf types. Syrian hamsters ca grow up to 8 inches/20 cm in length, and are much bulkier than Dwarf types. Dwarf hamsters are about 2 inches/5 cm in size, with the Chinese Dwarf reaching a maximum of 10 cm/4 inches. Keeping hamsters together is alright for Dwarf types, except for the Chinese. The Chinese dwarf, along with the Syrian, is solitary and must be kept alone. If not, they will fight to the death for the cage. Alright, those are the main differences, and the most obvious ones. There’s a few more, let me give you a quick list of what’s left: There is a difference in temperament The cage size is different The minimum wheel size is different Syrians are the easiest to tame There are wildly different color options and markings Some are prone to a disease, some to other illnesses You can’t feed them quite the same, there are a few differences You can tell the gender of a Syrian easier Some of these might be important to you, maybe they’re not. But you have to be aware of them when you’re picking out what kind of hamster you want. Hamsters are hamsters, and they will generally behave the same. But there are some differences between the 2 main types – Syrian or Dwarf – which can give you a slightly different pet. So let’s talk a bit about what kind of hamsters there are available for you to choose, and which ones they are. A brief rundown on all hamster types available in pet stores There’s 2 main types of hamster available. There is the Syrian hamster, which is the largest and most common hamster you will find. And there are the Dwarf types, 4 usually available in pet stores, and they’re all much smaller and look very different from a Syrian. All Dwarf types hail from Northern Asia, albeit from different regions, like Siberia, Mongolia, China, Russia. I’ve grouped together the Dwarf types for the purpose of this article. But I will tell you a bit about each type available below. Syrian hamster The most common kind of hamster kept as a pet. They’re the ones you usually think of when you think of hamsters. These hamsters come from Syria, and southern Turkey, and they’re the largest kind of hamster. Usually they’re orange/golden, and there are variations that have come through breeding. Like all black, white, spotted, and so on. My Teddy is a golden Syrian hammy, and when I got him I thought I was getting a very special kind of hamster. I thought I got the most unique, cutest hamster, that will stand out from all the rest. Turns out golden variations are the most common, but he’s still what I wanted. You can find the Syrian hamster in short hair and long hair, of which the males have the longest. They can live 2-3 years. Roborovski Dwarf These are one of the most common Dwarf types, and the absolute smallest. There’s no real point in trying to hold them, since they’re so small and wriggly. You’ll also find their names shortened to Robo often. They’re grow up only to about 2 inches/5 cm, and will escape through most cage bars. Actually for dwarf types it’s better to get a glass tank. That way you’re sure they can’t go anywhere. Campbell Dwarf Another very common type of Dwarf hamster, the Campbell dwarf is just as small as the Robo, and is very easy to scare. Again, this kind of dwarf doesn’t really like being touched and will not sit still. A glass tank is the best options for this kind of dwarf as well. Chinese Dwarf This is a larger Dwarf type, growing up to 10 cm/4 inches long. Chinese dwarves aren’t very social, and unlike other Dwarf types do no like being kept with other hamsters. Even if they were raised together in the same litter, they will still fight to the death. The male Chinese Dwarf also has a scent gland on its abdomen, which isn’t present on other hamster types. Siberian/Djungarian/Winter White Dwarf The rarest kind of Dwarf hamster, it’s almost completely white. It’s just as small as the other 2 Russian Dwarves (Robo and Campbell), and this one actually is easier to tame than other Dwarf types. Still, he is hyper and need to run and climb a lot, since there’s so much energy in such a small creature. Now let’s get into the clear differences between the larger, Syrian hamster, and the cute Dwaf types. Syrian hamsters are the largest Syrian hamsters can grow much longer and larger than Dwarf types. Syrians can get up to 8 inches/20 cm long, and are much more elongated than the Dwarf types. The Dwarves reach a maximum of 2 inches/5 cm, with only the Chinese Dwarf managing 4 inches/10 cm. The Dwarves are more stout, and they kind of look like they have no neck at first. Their fur is much fluffier and longer compared to the Syrian’s. This means that there are large differences between cage and wheel sizes for these 2 types of hamsters. But I’ll get into that in a couple of paragraphs. Dwarf types are hyper and faster than Syrians The smaller they are, the faster and more agile they are. Syrians do run a lot, and jump, and need a whole lot of exercising and space. But Dwarf types take the cake here. They need the most exercise, and are actually kind of hard to actually touch. They keep moving, there is always something going on and they need to investigate. You’d think that given their size the Dwarf types would be slower, but they actually seem to move faster than the Syrian. This is only because they’re so small, but both types can run between 3-6 miles per hour. That’s 5-10 km per hour ! Syrians will stop and stare into the distance every now and then, but not as much as the Dwarves. Those tiny creatures take breaks from their running wheel often, and they’re always very short. If you want to know more about hamsters and their running routine, along with how much exercise they need, you should check out this helpful article here. Syrian hamsters need bigger cages Given their larger size, Syrian hamsters need a much larger cage. A large enough cage for a Syrian hamster is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. While Dwarf hamsters can do with about half that size, it’s recommended that you give them a large enough space as well. Always go for a bigger cage if you have the space and budget for this. A cramped up hamster is a nippy, irritated hamster, and you risk your hammies fighting eachother just because they don’t have enough space. This roundup of the best hamster cages touches on hamster type, cage safety, and escape-proof rating as well. Remember that for Dwarf hamsters, if you’ve got 2, their cage will need to be as large as a lone Syrian’s ! And if you have just one Chinese Dwarf, better get him a Syrian sized cage, just to be sure that he has enough space since he is larger than other Dwarf types. If you want to know more about hamster cages, and choosing the best kind for your hamster here is a helpful and clear article on the 3 main kinds of hamster cages. But in short, Dwarf hamsters do better in glass tanks since they have no chance of getting stuck between the cage bars. The minimum wheel size is smaller for Dwarf hamsters Again, the Syrian hamster will need a much larger wheel size than Dwarves. 7 inches/18 cm are the minimum for an exercise wheel for a Syrian hamster. While 5 inches/13 cm are enough for a Dwarf, but that’s only the minimum. All hamsters go for a larger wheel if given the option. So like with the cage, get your hamster a large wheel. The largest you can find, even if it might seem like too much for a small hamster. They are all more comfortable in a larger wheel. If you want to know more about how to get a good exercise wheel for your hamster, you should read this article. You’ll find out what to look out for when picking your hammy’s wheel, along with a clear example. And if you’re looking for a roundup of the best hamster wheels, according to their breed, there it is. Dwarf hamsters are harder to tame This is only true because of how hyperactive and restless Dwarf types are. That, and the fact that they have a shorter memory than Syrian hamsters. In order to tame a hamster, you need to play with it, touch it, talk to it, make yourself available to it. There are days when you can’t, and Dwarf hamsters forget things and people and interactions fast. A Syrian will remember his owner even a week later, and will allow you to kind of touch him. A Dwarf will need you to talk to him daily, and touch and play with him. Dwarf hamsters do not sit still, and need to run around and play and jump and dig and do everything at one, all day. Syrians are a bit more mellow, and will give your more opportunities to touch him, so you can tame him easier. Then again, there are hamsters that simply can’t be tamed, and are very hard to handle. If you’ve got a biting hamster, or he’s very scared of you, you need to be extra careful. Dwarf hamsters can be kept in same-sex pairs This is true for Campbell, Robo, and Siberian hamsters. If they were raised together with litter mates of the same sex, they can be kept together in the same cage. Again, if you’ve got more than one hamster, double or triple the cage size. Keeping your Dwarf hammies together will only work if they are from the same litter, or were introduced when they were still babies and became ‘siblings’.  If you’ve got an adult Dwarf, and want to introduce a baby dwarf, even if they’re of the same kind, it will not work. Neither will two separate adults. You can only do this with baby hamsters.And only if those babies were raised together. If not, they will act like Syrian and Chinese hamsters. That means they will be very territorial and fight anything and anyone that comes into their cage, male or female. It’s never a good idea to keep a Syrian or Chinese hamster with another hamster, of any kind. They are only solitary, and will be very aggressive. They won’t miss the company, don’t worry. You’re hurting them more by bringing them a cage mate than you’re helping. (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.) Syrian hamsters come in more color patterns Syrians have a wider range of color patterns. Originally they were golden/orange, with some white on their bellies and chins, and a bit of grey on their ears. But natural variations were possible, and breeders took advantage of that. So you can get almost any kind of color choice for your Syrian hamster. They can be golden like mine, they can be all in one color, they can be spotted, or maybe have a white sock, even a ringed hamster is possible. Somehow, a long-haired variation was made possible through selective breeding, and you can now find the same range of colors, now with long hair. Dwarf types have some variations as well, but they mostly have the same colors as the original hamsters they were bred from. Winter Whites are mostly white all over. Chinese hamsters are sandy brown on their back, with a dark stripe running down their back, and a white belly. The Robos have a color scheme much like the Chinese, with sandy brown on the back and white on the bellies, but they are much smaller and don’t have a stripe down their back. Finally Campbell’s are darker than the other types, with a more grey-brown color scheme on their backs, and just a bit of white on their bellies. They look like they went through a pile of ash most of the time. There are different illnesses the 2 types are prone to All hamsters can develop a number of diseased and illnesses. But in general, the Dwarf types develop diabetes much easier than the Syrian. This is because of their small size, and because they can’t process too well the sugars on some foods. Which is why there are certain food exceptions for Dwarf hamsters, that Syrians can eat, but Dwarves should stay away from, or eat very little. The Syrian, on the other hand, has higher chances of getting a disease called wet-tail. This can happen mostly when they hamster is young and was just weaned from its mother. It’s mostly stress-based. But if it’s caught in its early stages (less than 24h) it can be treated. Otherwise it is fatal. Hamsters do not get sick often, and aren’t sickly animals. But they don’t have a human’s stamina, so they will wilt fast if not given medical care as soon as you notice there is a problem. Some feeding exceptions are necessary for Dwarf types As mentioned before, Dwarf hamsters can’t process very sweet food. That can mean even simple things like a piece of carrot can be a bit too sweet for them. So that means that fruits, and carrots, and sweet potato should be give sparingly, and in very small quantities to your Dwarf hamster. Syrians on the other hand don’t have many restrictions. Yes, there are foods that are unsafe for any hamster, but Syrians are a bit easier to feed. You can see a helpful list of safe and unsafe foods for hammies here, along with some treats that hamsters can safely nibble on. Easier to find a Syrian hamster’s gender Finding your hamster’s gender can be a hassle. But if you’ve got Dwarf hamsters that you want to keep together, this is crucial. Otherwise you’re going to get yourself a whole new litter in about 3 weeks. For more info on exactly how to figure out your hamster’s gender, you need to check this out. You’ll find alternatives for hard to handle hamsters as well. But a Syrian hamster will be easier to figure out because they are larger, even as babies. And the fur on Syrians is shorter and not as ruffled and all over the place as a Dwarf’s. Not to mention that trying to hold a baby Dwarf is nearly impossible. Before you get any kind of hamster A hamster will change your life, just like any other pet. But there are a few things you should think about. Like whether you’ll be able to properly care for him, from food to cage to attention and health. Will you have the time to play with and tame your hamster ? Hamsters are mostly nocturnal and will come out when you’re ready for bed, so take into account your lifestyle, sleeping pattern, and how much time you can dedicate for the animal. Do you have the budget for it ? Hamsters aren’t very expensive. They’re actually cheap, aside from the initial expenses. Actually you can check this cost of buying a hamster article, to get an estimate on how expensive or cheap it is to own a hamster. Can you accommodate a hamster in your home ? His cage will take up some space, and he will need a certain temperature to be comfortable. Hamsters also scare easily, and do things that will look and sound odd. Do you have a cat in your home ? A hamster and a cat are pretty much the worst idea ever, since they’re very different animals. You might want to read the 15 essential steps on taking care of your hamster before you get one, in the first place. A word from Teddy I hope you’re clear on the differences between us hammies now. I know my Dwarf cousins can be confusing, and look the same for someone who’s never met them before. But they’re all a personality of their own, and they can make you just as happy as one of my kind. If you want t know more about us hammies, you can check out the articles below. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Change Color ? (And Other Fur Facts)
Do Hamsters Change Color ? (And Other Fur Facts)Hamsters come in so many furs and colors and patterns it’s hard to remember which is which sometimes. And other times, they turn around and surprise you and change their fur ! Nothing as dramatic as going from blonde to redhead, but sometimes some hamsters might change their color. Table of Contents ToggleDo hamsters change color ?Very young hamsters will change their fur as they become adultsSome hamsters change their fur in winterVery old hamsters lose fur and go a bit grayOther hamster fur factsThere are versions of Syrian hamsters with long furLong fur can get very mattedHamster fur can grow back in most casesHamster fur should never get wet, don’t bathe your hamster ! Do hamsters change color ? Some hamsters can change color, either because they are very young and coming into their adult fur, or because they are getting very old and turning a bit gray, or because they’re a type of hamster that turns white when the cold season hits. Aside from the Winter White hamsters, no color change is dramatic but it’s a fun thing to observe in your hamster.  Hamsters come in so many fur colors, to begin with, it’s interesting to see how their fur can change as they age or the seasons change. Let’s start with the most common reason their fur can change.  Very young hamsters will change their fur as they become adults When hamsters are born, they are hairless. Then they get their initial fur growth, and it’s usually something very light, very fluffy, and very close to what their adult color will be. But as they reach maturity (about 3 months) their fur color will develop more. Some colors will be brighter, and some extra hairs will grow in, especially agouti hairs (with black at the end of each hair). For example when I first got my Teddy, he was maybe a little over a month old. So tiny ! He was a golden Syrian hamster, so he already had a light orange/gold on his back, with grey ears, and white markings on his face and feet. But as he grew a little more, I noticed he had a bit of a spot on his forehead, like a gray smudge. At first, I thought he got dirty somewhere, somehow.  But nope, turns out he actually had some agouti hairs growing all over him, and a very pale grey mark on his forehead. So as an adult my teddy was orange, with agouti hairs, mostly on his back, and a grey mark on his forehead. He was might lighter looking as a tiny little 1 month old boy.  Some hamsters change their fur in winter Some hamsters can change their fur when winter comes. This change is triggered by a shift in temperatures, but especially by a shift in daylight. The only hamsters to do this are the Winter White dwarf hamster, otherwise known as Siberian dwarf, or Djungarian dwarf.  In the wild this happens all the time. But when we’re talking about pet Winer Whites, this rarely happens, because of artificial lighting, and the even temperature inside our homes. You can induce this change, but it means only subjecting your hamster to natural daylight and nothing more. I imagine this is easier to do in the countryside due to much less light pollution.   Very old hamsters lose fur and go a bit gray Another reason for hamsters to change their fur is when they get very, very old. Like humans, old hamsters get slower, and turn gray, and start to lose their fur. Well not exactly the same, but they get silver spots. The most common places for silver or white fur in an old hamster are around the ears and neck, as far as I’ve seen. These changes seem to be more noticeable in Syrian hamsters than dwarfs. Most hamsters have a short lifespan, around 2-3 years. The hamsters I’ve had, 2 died of old age and one is still around but also growing old. When Teddy died, he was almost 2 years old. His fur was thinning on his neck and back, and his ears were drooping a little, and he suddenly had these white tufts around his ears. He started looking alike a grumpy old man, balding but with a lot of hair around his ears.  When Eggwhite died, he was also almost 2 years old, but he was a creamy white so I couldn’t notice a change in color. But I did notice his fur getting thinner, his eyelids drooping a little, and he also developed some tufts around his ears like Teddy did before he passed away.  Both Teddy and Eggwhite were Syrian hamsters. My third hamster is a Winter White, called Rocket, but she’s never changed her fur in the 2 years we’ve had her. She can (theoretically) live up to 4 years, and so far we haven’t seen any signs of old age on her, such as white hairs, droopy ears or eyes, or even getting slower. The fur on her paws is a little thinner, but that’s the only thing.  Other hamster fur facts Here are some other interesting hamster fur facts, since these little guys are far more fun than they appear. Their fur comes in many colors and patterns, but that’s not where it stops.  There are versions of Syrian hamsters with long fur When scientists captured Syrian hamsters for their labs, they also bred them to be more docile and this also led to them expressing different fur patterns. In time the hamsters wound up with breeders, who tried to see if there could be long haired hamsters. And eventually they succeeded, long-haired Syrian hamsters are here and they look absolutely funny. The long hair can sometimes be long and flowy, other times it can be a mix of long and short with just a few tufts sticking out, and in some cases it’s long fur all over the hamster.  These long-haired hamsters sound fun, and they may seem a bit more cuddly than the others, but their temperament is the same. They don’t really enjoy being picked up, but you can try. Their fur requires a lot of extra care though, since it can easily get matted. Hamsters are very clean creatures, and they clean themselves several times a day. But they weren’t ‘programmed’ for long fur, so they can’t clean it as well as short fur. Sometimes they need help, which brings us to the next point.  Long fur can get very matted This is mostly the case for long-haired Syrian hamsters, but in theory it could happen to any hamster. When the fur becomes too long, the hamster has trouble keeping it clean and detangled. In these cases you can either help the hamster by brushing out the mats, or cutting the knots out. Both are quite difficult, and your hamster’s temperament will dictate how to handle this.  So let’s start with the first one, trying to brush out the matted fur. If you’ve ever had knots in your own hair you know how difficult they can be, and how painful it is to comb them out. You have to start at the ends, and very slowly work your way up. Your hamster will obviously not want to sit still for half an hour until you get all the knots.  This will be slow, and you will have to let the furball sit as he wants to keep him calm. Try to grab his attention with a small treat, and attempt to comb out some knots at his backside, starting from the edges. He might flinch, or he might not care; not all hamsters are the same. This won’t last long, and you may only have a couple of minutes to work on his fur.  That’s okay, let him be and try again in an hour or two. Don’t try to do this all in one day. It’s really not easy.  The second option, perhaps easier, is to simply cut off the knots you can’t brush out. Your hamster will get some uneven fur but this takes less time. Again, do this on the hammy’s own terms. If he wants to go away let him go away. If he squirms, put him down and try again later. Always use something to distract him.  You need a pair of very sharp hair cutting scissors. Hopefully the knots are towards the end of the fur. If there are any knots close to the body or directly against the skin leave them alone. The risk of hurting your hamster by accident is too high.  Like combing out knots, this can take a while too. Maybe your hamster doesn’t mind the sound of scissors, maybe he gets frightened. There is no safe way to keep him in place, without injury or extreme distress for both of you. Best to just go very slow, and use a good pair of scissors. Hamster fur can grow back in most cases Sometimes a hamster will lose some of its fur, and sometimes that fur can grow back. Not always, such as very old hamsters who lose their fur due to old age. Or hamsters with a genetic condition that prevents them from growing fur in the first place. The fur on these hamsters sadly won’t ever grow.  But if your hammy lost a patch of fur because of a skin condition, an irritation, ringworm, or just because he scratched himself too much, there is good news ! The fur can grow back, as soon as the skin condition is treated and healed ! In case of excessing scratching, it’s usually due to an irritant, like a rash, or the hammy got bit by something and it’s now itching. Once that is gone and the hamster doesn’t have a reason to keep scratching, the fur will grow back.  Hamster fur should never get wet, don’t bathe your hamster ! Hamsters have very delicate fur, especially the fluff right next to the skin. It’s meant to insulate the hamster and keep it both warm and cool, depending on the weather. Hammies are exceptionally good at keeping themselves clean, they lick and nibble at their fur constantly so it is always clean. Kind of like a cat cleans itself, except this one isn’t meowing.  There is no real reason to give a hamster a bath to clean it, unless it somehow got something on it that the hamster can’t or shouldn’t clean by itself, like car grease or ketchup.  If you do get your hamster’s fur wet, know that washing it with any sort of soap will disturb the natural oils on its skin. Not only that but these animals are so frail, they need to be dried immediately after getting wet since they can’t easily handle it. Where hamsters come from water (rain) is rare, so they haven’t adapted their fur to be water-proof.  So, it’s best to never put your hamster in a situation where it could get its fur wet. And never handle your hamster with dirty hands. The hammy will clean itself after you play with it even if you’ve just washed your hands, imagine how icky it’d feel if you picked it up with Cheetos dust on your fingers.  [...] Read more...
Are European Hamsters Endangered? What About The Other Ones?
Are European Hamsters Endangered? What About The Other Ones?Wondering if your pet’s wild siblings are endangered ? Hamsters in the wild lead a difficult life, and not all of them survive. Let’s see whether each hamster species is endangered or not, starting with the largest one, the European hamster. If you’ve never heard of European hamsters before, don’t worry this is because they are not domesticated, but we will discuss this in more detail in this article. I want to discuss in this article about all hamster species out there since some of them might be considered endangered but they are too common as pets to disappear. Table of Contents ToggleAre European hamsters endangered ?Are Syrian hamsters endangered ?Are Dwarf hamsters endangered ?Are Chinese hamsters endangered ?Do hamsters reproduce fast ?Conclusion Are European hamsters endangered ? European hamsters are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Their natural habitat is seriously threatened by expanding agriculture, systematic hunting by farmers (hamsters are considered a crop pest), and also hunted for their fur.  These are fairly large hamsters – as large as an adult guinea pig – so they are easy to spot when out and about. Normally European hamsters hide in their burrows during the daytime, but they make occasional trips for food.  The European hamster’s natural habitat ranges from Central and Eastern Europe to Russia to Central Asia. They live in mostly grassy areas, the occasional meadow, and generally wherever there is fertile soil that will grow the seeds and grains these hamsters rely on. The expansion of farmland, and farmers trying to protect their crops, has led to a sharp decline in hamster numbers in the wild. Wondering if you could find one in a pet shop ? Unfortunately, this isn’t possible. European hamsters have been known for over a century, and attempts to tame them have been made. There are captive European hamsters, in laboratories for various studies, but none of these hamsters have shown less aggression or a more docile disposition, even a few generations into their captivity.  So in short, these hamsters cannot be tamed, and won’t be present in a pet shop.  Are Syrian hamsters endangered ? Wild Syrian hamsters are also a threatened species, classified as Endangered by IUCN. Their natural habitat is far smaller than the European hamster’s; it ranges from southern Turkey to northern Syria. Agriculture, farmers and the violence in northern Syria have led to dwindling numbers of Syrian hamsters.  Despite this, captive (i.e. pet) Syrian hamsters are not endangered. These are the most common and popular hamsters you will find in pet shops, and their numbers are no cause for concern.  This is a very interesting turn of fate, and here’s why. The vast, vast majority of Syrian hamsters you see today, either already in homes or in pet shops, are the descendants of a single female and her litter of pups. She and her pups were captured back in 1930 in Aleppo, Syria, in the hops of studying them.  The hamsters adapted well to captivity, bred, and several pairs of these hamsters were then sent all over the world to be on exhibition at zoos, and studied in other labs. In 1937 the hamsters eventually would up with private breeders, and that is when they started to become very popular as pets.  As time went on and selective breeding was applied, the Syrian hamsters became more docile, showed different coat patterns, and became less aggressive. A wild Syrian hamster is not nearly as tame as one you get from a pet shop or breeder.  My very first hamster was a Syrian hamster, his name was Teddy. He had a golden coat, was very active, liked to jump but didn’t really like digging, and was always munching on something. He died of old age at nearly 2 years old.  I then had another Syrian hamster, this one named Eggwhite since he was all-white. He was far tamer than Teddy, and had more patience with being picked up. He still wriggled out of my hands after 2-3 minutes, but that’s far longer than Teddy ever managed. Eggwhite died of old age as well when he was almost two.  Are Dwarf hamsters endangered ? Dwarf hamsters are classified as Least Concern by IUCN, as their habitat is not endangered. These Dwarf hamsters are actually three species: the Roborovski, the Campbell’s, and the winter white (or Siberian).   All three hamsters are also found in pet shops are extremely easy to confuse for one another. I’ve made an entire article on how to tell them apart.  The habitat of all three hamster species overlaps for the most part, taking up Central Asia, Mongolia, Southeastern Russia. Despite this, these hamsters do not generally cross paths. Their habitat is less populated by humans, since it’s not a very hospitable area so there is very little threat to the hamsters (aside from their natural predators).  My third hamster, after Teddy and Eggwhite, is currently alive and well. Her name is Rocket and she is a Siberian hamster, with light grey fur on her back, white fluffy paws, and a thin dark stripe on her back too. She’s very fast, never sits still, and doesn’t like being picked up at all. She climbs all over her cage and her toys, runs a lot in her wheel, and loves to dig in her substrate.   Are Chinese hamsters endangered ? The Chinese hamster is not evaluated by the IUCN, so there is no information on whether this hamster is threatened or not. But my personal guess is that since its habitat is mostly in the desert without much fertile land (Mongolia and northern China) it’s in the same situation as the dwarf hamsters – doing very well.  Chinese hamsters are rarely kept as pets outside of Asia, since both males and females are very aggressive when kept in any sort of captivity. Females are a little tamer, but even so, they are not common pets. If you want to learn more about Chinese hamsters you can read my article about what a Chinese hamster is and breed info+care tips. Do hamsters reproduce fast ? Hamsters mature very quickly and are able to sexually reproduce by 4 weeks of age. The usual gestation period is 18-22 days, and the litter can be as large as 10 pups, with some hamsters birthing up to 18.  Females can fall pregnant in the same day as giving birth, so, in theory you could get hamsters to reproduce several times a year and their numbers would quickly multiply. This is not safe for the mother, nor the pups, but it is possible.  Despite this potential for such large numbers, wild hamsters are fairly easy prey for their natural predators, many pups die when still young, and food is scarce. This ensures that their numbers don’t grow too large, but their habitat is also getting smaller.  Where farms are set up, the hamsters will find plenty of food. But they will also be hunted by farmers trying to protect their crops, and their cats patrolling the area.  In short, hamsters do reproduce very fast (can be 6 litters per year) but this does not guarantee their survival in the wild. It’s just the way things are. Also, the mother is guided by instinct, If they feel they don’t have enough resources or space to raise the babies properly, they might even kill their own babies. I know it’s sad but this behavior is common for many animals, not only for hamsters. Here is an entire article I wrote on this topic. A hamster mother will even attack the father if they come close to their babies, so a female hamster has quite a difficult and lonely life when it comes to raising their little babies. Conclusion Sometimes you might be thinking we shouldn’t keep hamsters as pets, but the truth is for some of them a pet life is better than wildlife, at least for the endangered ones. I know I sometimes looked at Eggwhite, my tamest Syrian hamster, and tried to imagine him foraging for food then an owl swooping in to try and grab him. If you want to learn more about hamsters’ life in the wild, I have an article about what hamsters eat in the wild and how their diet differs from the ones that we have as pets. This is something that happens regularly in the wild, but at home ? I was so glad he was safe, had plenty of food, and a nice cage and toys to keep himself entertained. I hope this article helped you understand the actual situation with the hamsters in the wild and your hamster friend is doing well at home. [...] Read more...
All About A Hamster’s Ears – Common Problems And Hearing
All About A Hamster’s Ears – Common Problems And HearingHamster ears are some of the cutest ears. My Teddy has his folded when he wakes up, and he’s always listening for some thing or another. But we need to know everything about our hamsters’ ears, hearing, and ear problems if we want to give them a happy life. So read on here to find out more, starting with the basics. Table of Contents ToggleDo hamsters have good hearing ?How wild hamsters use their hearing to surviveYour hammy will learn every sound in the houseYour hamster’s ears can change colors as they ageFolded hamster earsHamsters can develop several ear problemsEar infectionEar tumorEar mitesEar wax and/or dischargeLoss of fur around earsA word from Teddy Do hamsters have good hearing ? Yes, hamsters have very good hearing. Hearing is actually one of the main ways hamsters navigate their habitat, and avoid predators. Hamsters rely on smell to ‘see’ their environment (smells, pheromones), and on hearing to listen for potential predators or other sounds of danger. That being said, a hamster won’t react to sudden sounds as badly as sudden movements. A sudden movement will scare the hamster, while a sudden noise will be investigated and learned. How wild hamsters use their hearing to survive In the wild hamsters are hunted by almost every creature possible. As such, they’ve had to develop very good survival skills. Hamsters sleep for much of the day, when most of their predators are out and hunting. Once evening sets in, hammies wake up, and perk their ears up. Listening for a fox’s paws, a swooping owl, a slithering snake, anything that could be dangerous. If he hears nothing out of the ordinary, he’ll come out. Once he’s out of his labyrinth of tunnels and burrows, the hammy will start foraging for food, and will cover lots his territory. He’ll literally stop to check every few minutes, to make sure there’s nothing chasing him, or to smell for another food source. Hearing is the hamster’s first line of defense, since he can hear before he can smell a predator. Even a very quiet and sneaky cat won’t be able to fool a hamster too easily. This trait has been passed down to your pet hamster too. He’ll be very curious about sounds and will have the instinct to listen for absolutely anything odd. Your hammy will learn every sound in the house A pet hamster is still very much like a wild hamster. Aside from variations in the colors, pet hamsters have largely the same personalities they had as wild hamsters. Granted, hammies haven’t been pets for more than a century now. You can find out more about how hammies came to be pets, and where they (all) come from, right here. For example my Teddy (a Syrian male, golden) used to stop and listen for everything when he was young. Seriously, he’d stop every few minutes and learn each new sound. We have an air freshener that goes off on auto, that was mind-blowing for him. Or when it rained the first few times, and he had to figure out if it’s water dropping from the sky or something terrifying. Over time he calmed down and learned every sound in the house, and those usually around the house as well. Our neighbors, a door closing somewhere, someone speaking outside, a dog barking, and so on. As they age, hamsters become more accustomed to all the sounds and smells of their home. This makes them more comfortable, but it depends on your hamster’s personality just how soon he’ll stop panicking. My Teddy took almost a year to relax, and not stare at me when I open the fridge. Your hamster’s ears can change colors as they age Depending on which type of hamster you have, your hammy’s ears might change colors a bit. The ears, but the fur as well. First off, here’s how to find out which kind of hamster you have. Then, if you’ve got a Syrian hamster know that the ears might turn a dark grey as the hamster turns into an adult. For example my Teddy is a golden Syrian hamster, the soft/blended variety. So no stark lines or patches of color. When he was a baby he was all cream, and had a bit of white on his belly and paws. Once he started coming close to the 3 month mark (when hamsters become adults) he started getting all of his markings. Which included darker, grey ears, and a few grey markings on his forehead, and shoulders. And the tips of most of the hairs turned dark grey, like he’s a bit smoky. So it could be that your Syrian might develop grey ears too, or a darker color all over his fur if he’s got the gene. This can apply to all hamster breeds, since they only become adults around the 3 month mark. This is where they reach their ‘final form’, so to speak, and won’t change very much. Only when they become old, will there be any other changes. For example my Teddy is a year and a half at the time I’m writing this article. His snout’s got a bit whiter, and the fluff around his ears got whiter as well. He’s not very old yet, but he’s getting there. Hamster’s don’t live long, Syrians can reach a maximum of 3 years, the same way us humans reach past 100 years. Folded hamster ears Ears are an important part of your hamster’s body language. Knowing what your hamster’s ears are saying is about as important as knowing what a dog’s ears are saying. So for example hammies can have their ears folded, in several situations. If he just woke up, his ears will be folded, and you will notice he moves slowly, eyes half open, fur a bit ruffled. No one looks great in the morning. It could be that your hamster’s folded ears mean fear, when he’s also shying away from you or another hamster, and making himself appear to be very small (curling in on himself). This fear can be dangerous, depending on the hamster. Some hamsters flee, some fight. Those who fight get their folded ears mistaken for a sign of aggression. Your hammy could also suddenly perk his ears up, even stand up, to better figure out what’s happening. If there’s an odd sound, he’ll listen for it. He can get the most intense face when he’s focused, I swear. Generally a hamster’s ears are up, but relaxed. They don’t move as much as a dog or cat’s ears, but they’re still very much mobile and can pick up a lot of sound. (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.) Hamsters can develop several ear problems Since hearing is an important part of a hamster’s defense, his ears are usually clean. The hammy is a very clean animal, in fact, and he can clean his own ears just fine. He has to, in order to be able to use them properly. But sometimes, infections happen, or a parasite, or even an injury. Make sure you isolate the sick hamster from the other hamsters, since most of these conditions are contagious. Whatever the case, sometimes you will have to help your little friend. Here’s why and how. Ear infection An ear infection can come about in many ways, even if the cage is clean. You can tell your hamster has an infected ear by the fact that it’s possibly become red, swollen, hot to the touch, and your hamster might be scratching at it. He might carry his head to the side/tilted, and you might actually see some discharge. If you think this is the case, don’t panic. An ear infection is bad, but treatable. It does require you to reach a veterinarian, though. The best vet to ask for help is an ”exotic” vet, since they have experience with rodents. The vet will prescribe a round of antibiotics for your hammy. He might keep your friend for a couple of days, or he might give you the medicine to administer at home. It depends on the vet and how bad the infection is. Ear tumor Ear tumors can grow in older hamsters, and will require surgery. The tumors usually grow very fast, and will send you to the vet a few times in the same week. If you think your hamster’s got a suspicious growth, keep an eye on it for the next 48 hours. Take pictures of it every few hours, to compare the growth. Know that tumors can be both under and on the skin, so you might have to pick up the hammy and feel him. I’ve heard of hamsters getting tumors removed and survived, but this isn’t something that happens every day. Still, I found at least one example of a Dwarf type that needed a surgery for an ear tumor, and survived. I’ll link you to the vet’s site, and be warned that there’s a few pictures from before and after the surgery. No worries, the hamster is safe and he made a full recovery. Many thanks to the veterinarian for showing us that it’s possible to help the hamster. Ear mites This can be tricky to tell with black hamsters, or those with very dark ears. Ear mites are a type of tiny parasites That settle in the hamster’s ears, and they’re black. They look like tiny black dots moving in and around your hamster’s ears. Your hamster is probably scratching himself furiously. The mites can extend to the hamster’s face and paws, even some parts of his fur. Bring the hamster to the vet immediately, so he can give your friend the proper treatment. The treatment can extend over a few weeks, but your hamster will be fine. Ear wax and/or discharge Excessive ear wax can be caused by a possible infection, or can lead to one. Hamsters usually don’t have a lot of ear wax, so if your friend suddenly has a build-up, it should be checked. A discharge from the ears can also be a sign of an infection, one that’s actually ruptured. This is a case you should bring your hamster to the veterinarian for a treatment. Loss of fur around ears Fur loss can be caused by excessive scratching, and if your hamster’s got an infection or mites, his ear will itch. Excessive scratching can lead to more than just ear loss, it can develop an even worse problem. So make sure you speak to your vet, to possibly get a treatment for your hamster. Another reason for fur loss, but not necessarily around the ear, can be ringworm. Which is a fungal infection that gives the hamster bald spots, with dry itchy skin. This too can be treats by a veterinarian. A word from Teddy I hope you found out how to take care of our ears here. I know us hammies look like the most adorable creatures, but we do get sick sometimes, and we need your help. If you want to know more about us hamsters, be sure to check the articles below, so you get all the info you need to help us have a great life with you. [...] Read more...