6 Easy to Spot Signs Your Hamster is Unhappy

Your hamster’s happiness can shine through in multiple ways depending on your hamster’s personality and their interests. Some hamsters enjoy human attention and other hamsters find happiness in making burrows or through exercise.

White syrian hamster.

The biggest issue of why your hamster might be unhappy is that its cage is too small. Hamster cages like those by Critter Trail let you connect additional cages or add tubes to make a larger living space. The great thing about these is you don’t have to spend a lot of money all at once. You can simply add on as or when you see fit. Read more on cage size in this article.

Charlotte Silcock from Rodent Life asked over 130 hamster owners ‘what is the biggest sign that your hamster is unhappy?’ and this is the main 12 signs they came up with.

Your Hamster is Biting Their Cage

This is a huge sign your hamster is unhappy… If they’re constantly biting their cage or trying to escape it’s a sign that their cage is too small.

Unfortunately, some big pet companies will misinform customers on how large their hamster’s cage needs to be and will often sell cages that are too small for hamsters. This is why it’s so important to properly research how big a hamster cage should be before you buy a hamster.




They are lethargic

A lethargic hamster is often a sign of an unhappy hamster. If all they’re doing is sleeping, eating, drinking and sleeping again this is a sign that they are depressed.

Unless they’re old, it is not a good sign to see a hamster stuck in a loop of repetitive behaviors.

A happy hamster will be very energetic, wanting to explore their cage, use their wheel and will be moving around much more.

They Climb Their Cage

Is your hamster climbing the bars of their cage or hanging from the top? This is another sign that their cage is too small and needs to be upgraded. It is often a sign of a bored hamster too.

You can try to stop this behavior by upgrading their cage and adding more toys into their cage.

Solutions
The most common issues relating to odd behaviors that are not illness-related can be addressed by providing enrichment, a larger habitat, and stress relief.

Chew Toys

Larger Habitat

Stress Relief

Excessive Grooming

It’s perfectly normal for a hamster to groom themselves is it’s a way of your hamster to clean themselves. If they are excessively grooming then this can indicate a skin problem such as parasites, dry skin, unclean fur, mites or a form of an allergic reaction.

Pacing

Pacing up and down or back and forth along the cage is another sign of repetitive behaviors and is often caused by stress. If not treated, then this behavior can become more often and severe.

To treat this, you need to find out what’s causing your hamster stress. It could be loud noises, other household pets, small cages or something else such as a dirty environment.




Cage Aggression

Another huge sign of an unhappy hamster is that they will start to become aggressive.

If you’re putting your hand in their cage and they’re biting it or being aggressive towards you, this is never a good sign.

Related Reading:
Why Is My Hamster Shaking
Scared Hamster

How to Make Sure My Hamster is Happy

You can make sure your hamster is happy by providing them with the correct environment, affection, and entertainment. Charlotte Silcock has some great information on how you can improve your hamster’s happiness.

These are 5 ways you can make sure your hamster is healthy and happy.

Make Sure Their Cage is Big Enough

This is one of the largest problems pet hamsters face. You need to make sure your hamster cage is big enough as a small cage can cause a lot of stress which could lead to depression and your hamster become more open to illnesses.

Some signs your hamster’s cage is too small are:

  • Cage Climbing
  • Bar Biting
  • Trying to escape
  • Cage Aggression

If your hamster is climbing and biting the insides of the bar and trying to escape, then the likelihood is that the cage is too small for your hamster.

A small cage is common with domestic hamsters as companies such as pets4home will give out incorrect information about caring for hamsters and will often sell cages that are far too small.

Regular Cleaning

Making sure you spot clean your hamster cage often is important as a dirty cage will cause your hamster unneeded stress. However, you shouldn’t be full cleaning your hamster cage unless it needs a proper clean.

By fully cleaning your hamster cage you are moving their whole home inside out which can cause your hamster stress due to different smells and objects being moved. Imagine someone coming into your house and turning it upside.

By spot cleaning your hamster’s cage every couple of days you can make sure it remains clean for a longer time.

Robo Dwarf Hamster

Enough food and water

Making sure your hamster has enough food and water is extremely important. You should be checking their water supply and keeping their food bowl topped up with a constant supply of dried food.

Hamsters love fruit and vegetable but should be given to them in small amounts as it can contain a high amount of natural sugars and water.

Treats such as hard-boiled eggs can be given to them once a week, for more ideas and understand on what treats you can feed your hamster check out Rodent Life’s article on best treats that your hamster will love list.

Daily Affection

By spending time daily with your hamster and letting them explore outside of their cage can make sure they get enough exercise. Hamsters love to explore and will certainly affect their overall happiness.

Therefore, it’s important to dedicate some time to your hamster regular to let them run around inside a ball in a safe location outside their cage.

Place their cage in a quiet location

Loud noisy environments can cause additional stress on your hamster. They should be out of reach and away from other pets such as a cat or a dog.

Noises such as loud cars or music can create a stressful environment for your hamster that can lead to them becoming unhappy.

Little Dwarf Hamster Type

Related Questions:

Is my hamster bored? A bored hamster will be very lethargic and sleep more than usual. They may start biting their cage or climbing up the bars, this is also a sign of stress.

How to relieve hamster stress? By making sure their cage is big enough, has enough toys, a clean cage that isn’t in a loud environment, and by giving them regular attention will help relieve stress.

Is my hamster cage too small?If your hamster keeps trying to escape, climbs the bars inside of their cage, and is showing aggressive signs such as biting, then their cage may be too small.

Related Reading:
Are Hedgehogs Related to Porcupines?
What Is the Largest Rabbit?

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39 thoughts on “6 Easy to Spot Signs Your Hamster is Unhappy”

  1. My friend has had a hamster for about a week now, but he sleeps in his tunnel a lot, only occasionally coming down to eat and drink or burrow. Is this behavior normal and if not how can it be resolved?

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  2. Hi. I have had my hamster for around 4 days now and the first few days he was very active, but now he doesn’t move around as much. I’m concerned and worried. Is this a sign of stress? If so, how can I help him.

    Reply
  3. the day i got my robe hamster she escaped , and i had to catch her quite roughly as i didnt want her to get hurt , she seemed to be ok and can over to me but is now nipping me a bit , she has been taking all her bedding out of her house and sleeping under wheel , any advice ?

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  4. Hi we have only had our hamster for a day and he has already started to climb the bars hanging from the top and keeps repeating the same circuit around his cage I. Worried the cage is too small and he is stressed or is this just him settling in we have no other pets and he’s in my kids room

    Reply
    • I’d give him/her a few more days to settle in and if the behaviours continue, it’s likely your hamster’s cage is too small. But judging from the date of your post, you’re probably way past this by now!! How’d it turn out anyway? Did you figure out if there was an issue with the cage?

      Reply
    • I just got two hamsters! Haha . and I have them in separate cages. I made them bin cages. A clear bin from big lots. Pretty deep. Ive created different levels. And at least 6 inches of paper bedding. They r burrowers . they even make their own bathroom ! Lots of chew toys for boredum. And I scatter the seed mixture all around the cage so they can forage 🙂 hope this helps . they r so fun to Watch. Oh! And u can build stuff out of cardboard. So many things u can do .

      Reply
  5. I have a young dwarf hamster and I can’t tell if she’s eating or drinking, I just got her and I’m wondering if this is normal

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  6. I just got a new hamster and its moving the bedding from the corners of its cage, its also climbing up the the side of its tank. (the tank is very big) is it just exploring or is it some thing else.

    Reply
    • If the hamster is new to his or her home, it’s normal for them to move bedding around. There just trying to make there self comfy. If there climbing up the side of the tank, there just a bit confused in where they are. Nothing to worry about though, there just exploring!

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    • Mine is doing that as well and i have a tank to i think he might just be getting used to the cage or if he keeps doing it, it may be a sign of stress. Also is he is moving the bedding in his mouth he is not eating it he is making his bed by moving it all to the corner. I hope that helps!

      Reply
  7. My hamster never seems to go on his wheel and I’ve had him for about almost a month now. And I’m worried he is always bored. I’m sure the wheel is the right size for a Syrian hamster.

    Reply
    • Play with him outside his cage more with nice healthy treats to encourage play ,get a wheel on a stand for outside the cage , play time on that wheel outside with treats may get him loving his wheel in his cage Syrians love huge wheels 😀

      Reply
  8. Hi my hamster used to climb on the bars of his cage but when I got him a new one he stopped. Is this a good or bad sign? Also are tiny tales cages good for dwarf hamsters? Thanks! Bye!

    Reply
    • Tiny Tales Cages are TERRIBLE FOR DWARFS. They are wayyy too small for any type of hamster and the minimum square inches for a hamster is 450.

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      • I have a tiny tails cage and is the pink princess One my daughter’s father got her one for Christmas and he also got her a long hair big hamster I do believe that the cage is very small for him although my kids are in love with him I bought a hamster ball till like at least get him out of the cage so that he could not be so stressed in that little cage and I bought him a big wheel for him To run in I left them in the ball for like an hour and a half now he’s like super tired and wants to sleep is that normal

      • Ok, I’m trying to reply to sam so I’m just gonna put it here, YOU SHOULD NEVER EVER PUT YOUR HAMSTER IN A HAMSTER BALL FOR MORE THAN 30 MINUTES HE CAN DIE!!!! Hamster balls don’t have enough holes to breathe and there is no way for them to eat or drink when they’re inside!! I recommend NEVER USING A HAMSTER BALL. They might seem like they enjoy it, but they DO NOT. Just put him in a closed space to walk around please don’t use the hamster ball again I feel bad for your hamster!

  9. Hi my hamster was climbing on the bars of his cage but I got him a knew cage and he stopped. Is this a good or bad sign? Also are tiny tales hamster cages good cages? Thanks! Bye!

    Reply
    • Tiny tails cages are usually way too small for hamsters, despite their claim that they are suitable. Make sure your hamster cage has the bare minimum of 450 square inches of floor space and you will have a happier hamster 🙂

      Reply
    • Hello! If your hamster has stopped climbing the bars of his cage it means that he is more content with his new environment!
      I would not recommend tiny tales hamster cages because they way too small for a happy, healthy hamster- wheather it be big or small.
      Remember, the BARE MINIMUM for a hamster cage is 450 square inches, so if you’re on a budget, I would recommend a bin cage(just make sure you put a mesh lid on top)
      If you’re set on a wire cage, I would recommend the NEO Stilta cage from Zoomalia. (or you can always use a 30+ gallon aquariam)
      Good Luck!

      Reply
    • Tiny tales cages are so bad please don’t t get them I recommend getting a IKEA detolf or a large bin I also refined Victoria Rachel’s videos on hamsters. Hope your hamster is doing well best of luck 🙂

      Reply
  10. My female syrian hamster is trying to escape a 30 gallon tank she moves everything from the corners and is chewing on the glue from each corner trying to escape she has everything she needs but insists on wanting to escape. I have another hamster he’s a male and he is perfectly fine. Please help!

    Reply
    • I have a female syrian who has chewed threw 3 bin cages. I finally bought a 40 gallon fish tank. She would also move stuff around to reach the top to chew. I wonder if you need a 40 gallon breeder tank instead?

      Reply
  11. I just got my hamster and she is brand new. She is sleeping a lot now. I cant she her though, so I’m never sure if she is in the cage. I come stomping in and she still doesn’t wake up. I don’t want to look for her and make her mad though. Any advice?

    Reply
    • what type of bedding r u using when i got my hamster we had lavender scented bedding and she did the same exact thing. i gave the cage a full clean with vinegar and water and gave her new bedding and she got so much better in the next week to come

      Reply
  12. I’d recommend giving your hamster some stuff to burrow in my hamster has about 7-8 inches in height of stuff to burrow in and it slopes down to about 2-3 inches in height at about half the cage, my cage is 48 inches by 24 inches btw around the same floor space as yours. You didnt mention anything to burrow in so that’s why I recommend this if you do already have at least 6inches in height of stuff to burrow in at some part of your cage I’d say idk what to do honestly.

    Reply
  13. I’d recommend giving your hamster some stuff to burrow in my hamster has about 7-8 inches in height of stuff to burrow in and it slopes down to about 2-3 inches in height at about half the cage, my cage is 48 inches by 24 inches btw around the same floor space as yours. You didnt mention anything to burrow in so that’s why I recommend this if you do already have at least 6inches in height of stuff to burrow in at some part of your cage I’d say idk what to do honestly.

    Reply
  14. Can anyone help me?
    I have had my hamster for a week now and he seemed fine in the beginning but since last night he has started to bite his cage a lot, but the thing is that I know my cage is big enough it’s 80 by 50 cm and I have provided him with chew toys a wheel as well as a platform where he sleeps. I just don’t know what’s going on, he also climbs his cage however it looks like he enjoys it. And he sleeps for about 14 hours, and I often have to wake him up with a piece of carrot because he sleeps so much, does anyone have advice for me?

    Reply
    • Hi Sabrina! I also have a sleepy hamster. It also sleeps for more than 12 hrs!! It gets very active by midnight until 6 in the morning waking up a couple of times during the day to eat. I try to stimulate her by putting edible seeds into a folded tissue roll. She seems to enjoy that a lot and her wheel!! Good luck.

      Reply
    • Hi Sabrina,
      Each week you could rearrange the set up of the cage, put in new tunnels and things to chew. You could switch around the toys you have every couple of weeks. You tube has lots of videos that will give you ideas on cage set up . Also take your hamster out. Choose a small room where she can’t escape or get lost . Put down a few toys and let her explore. I hope this is helpful

      Reply
    • Hi Sabrina,
      Each week you could rearrange the set up of the cage, put in new tunnels and things to chew. You could switch around the toys you have every couple of weeks. You tube has lots of videos that will give you ideas on cage set up . Also take your hamster out. Choose a small room where she can’t escape or get lost . Put down a few toys and let her explore. I hope this is helpful

      Reply
      • Hi my hamster had a very small cage but now I got him a big one, and he started to not climb on the bars anymore. Is this a good sign? Also are tiny tales hamster cages good cages? Thanks!

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