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Scared Hamster? How and Why Your Hamster May Be Scared of You

Hamsters are one of the best small pocket pets for families. If you have a new hamster or your current hamster has changed their behavior to make you feel that they may be scared, the behavior needs to be addressed.

The first step is to educate yourself on how hamsters become scared and why they become scared in the first place. So you are on the right track by being here and reading this article. Dr. Jess explains more below…

close up woman hands holding a pocket pet with pink fingernails

What is a Hamster?

A hamster is a small rodent that is commonly seen as a pocket pet here in the U.S.  Hamsters are covered in a soft fur, with large eyes, round bodies, and short stumpy tails.  

They are quite active and can make great pets as long as you know how to properly care for them and all of their needs.

Hamster Basics:

Hamsters are small mammals.  Their coats are soft and come in many different coat colors and color patterns.  There are many different types and breeds of hamster.  

A common hamster is about 4-10 inches long, with some breeds shorter than that average and some breeds longer than that average.  

Adult hamsters can weigh anywhere from half an ounce to over 10 ounces, depending on age and breed of hamster. 

Hamsters are nocturnal, meaning that they typically sleep during the day and are active at night.  Therefore, if you or a family member is a light sleeper or has issues sleeping at night, it is not suggested to house your hamster in that same room, as they will be active during the night

A hamster’s teeth are continually growing.  Therefore as a reliable pet owner, you need to provide your pet hamster with materials to help them keep their tooth length at bay.

Hamsters are omnivores, eating both plant material and animal materials. 

In captivity, hamsters typically have a diet that consists of items such as hamster pellets, hay, grains and nuts, and fruits and vegetables, to name a few foods. 

No matter what you and your veterinarian decide is the best diet for your hamster, make sure that it is balanced for your hamsters lifestyle.

Hamsters have a cute personality.  Some are outgoing and friendly with others,while other hamsters like to live a life of solitude.  

Hamsters like to burrow and tunnel, so having some sort of tunnel system is fun for many captive, caged hamsters.

Can Hamsters Get Scared?

Yes, any animal, hamsters included, have feelings and thoughts and can get scared

Sometimes this scared feeling makes sense to us, and other times, your hamster may act quite scared or afraid that makes absolutely no sense to us.

How To Tell If You Have A Scared Hamster:

There are some behaviors that you may notice from your hamster that may warrant that they may be scared of you, another being, or something in their surroundings.

1. Hiding: 

Many times, a hamster that hides, hides for a reason. 

Maybe they are angry, maybe they feel pain, or maybe they are scared. 

If you notice your hamster has started to hide more often or during certain circumstances (maybe during feeding times), then they may be scared or frightened of something in their current small little life situation in their cage.

2. Biting: 

If your pet hamster has started the habit of biting, there is likely a reason for it. 

Not only does biting hurt, but it is a bad habit for your pet to start.  Many animals, hamsters included, will “attack” when they feel threatened. 

For a little hamster, one of their best ways to defend themselves from predators is using their mighty continuously-growing teeth.  So they tend to bite anything that they see as a threat.  This may mean you. 

Remember that hamsters do not have the best eyesight.  So, if you “sneak” up on them or come at them from above where they do not know that you are near or about to touch them or nearby, then their natural instinct, once scared, is to fight, AKA bite at the intruder. 

Some hamsters will bite to get attention too or to tell you to leave them alone.

3. Acting Skittish: 

Like many other animal species, hamsters can be quite skittish when they are suddenly frightened or scared. 

I am easily scared when someone sneaks up on me I either scream or flinch, arms flailing – my natural instinct. 

If your hamster runs away or avoids being near you – they may be scared of something that you are doing.

4. Not Eating: 

When a hamster is not eating, then there is a problem somewhere. 

Either they do not feel well, they physically can not eat, or they are mentally not interested in eating.

If your hamster is not eating, or is not eating as much as they use to, contact your local veterinarian for next steps on what to do. 

More than likely, your vet will want for you to bring in your pet to examine them and figure out if the decrease in food consumption is medical or not.

veterinarian doctor writing a prescription

How To Help Your Hamster Become Less Afraid of You:

There are some ways to help your hamster work through being so scared of you or their surroundings. 

The first thing to do is to check with you vet to make sure that there are no medical issues occuring that would create these scared hamster behavior.

Give them time to adjust to new surroundings. 

That’s right!  Sometimes you just need to give your pet more time to adjust to new surroundings, whether it is a new environment like a cage, toy, or playground, to a new owner or home entirely. 

Some hamsters take a short amount of time to get adjusted to new pieces of their life, while other hamsters need a lot more time, days to weeks, to adjust to their new normal. 

Go slow and give your pet time to adjust to anything new to them – whether you think it is a big deal or not.  

Do not go towards them quickly. 

Hamsters do not have the best eyesight.  So if you come up to them quickly and they do not know that you are right beside them, you are likely to scare them. 

Come up to them slowly, make slow movements and soft noises, so you are most likely letting your presence be known to them.

Quite Down. 

That’s right!  Some hamsters will be less happy about loud noises than others. 

If your hamster is acting scared or is hiding, turn down the volume of your music or television a bit and see if that helps your hamster feel more comfortable.

What’s that scent? 

Just like noises, some hamsters will have an affinity for certain smells and others will be extremely sensitive to all scents in general. 

If a certain scent is unpleasant to your hamster, they may show behaviors of being upset, afraid, or scared.

Summary:

Hamsters can make great family pets. However, just like other animals, they can become scared of you and other things in their environment.

The first step to getting them to become less scared is figuring out what is making them frightened. Once you’ve figured out why they are scared, then you can focus on how to help them become more brave!

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