6 Easy to Spot Signs Your Hamster is Unhappy

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Your hamster’s happiness can shine through in multiple ways depending on your hamster’s personality and interests.

Some hamsters enjoy human attention and other hamsters find happiness in making burrows or through exercise.

I asked over 130 hamster owners ‘what is the biggest sign that your hamster is unhappy?’ and these are the main unhappy hamster signs they came up with.

6 Easy to Spot Unhappy Hamster Signs

Here are some of the signs that your hamster is unhappy.

1. 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.

a hamster biting cage bar, why do hamsters chew their cage bar

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.

READ MORE: How to Know if Your Hamster is Dying

2. 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 its cage, use its wheel, and will be moving around much more.

3. They Climb Their Cage

Is your hamster climbing the bars of its 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.

a hamster trying to climb on cage, unhappy hamster signs

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

4. Excessive Grooming

It’s perfectly normal for a hamster to groom itself if it’s a way for your hamster to clean itself.

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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

READ MORE: Hamster Tips to Take Good Care of Your Pet

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.

Here is 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.

a hamster in a cage

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 fully 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.

CHECK: How to Take Care of Overgrown Hamster Teeth

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.

hamster eating dry fruit

Hamsters love fruit and vegetable but should be given to them in small amounts as they 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 understanding of what treats you can feed your hamster, check out our list of good treats for hamsters that your hammy will love.

Daily Affection

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 which will certainly affect their overall happiness.

a men making bond with hamster

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

Leaving a pet alone for an extended period of time can have serious consequences. If you’re planning to be away from home for a few days, it’s important to understand the needs of your hamster. Find out by reading ‘can I leave my hamster alone for 3 days‘ and make an informed decision.

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.

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

Check this video for awesome tips:

If you’re worried about your hamster’s health, check out our article on how to tell if your hamster is sick for helpful tips and advice. Don’t wait until it’s too late – take action now to keep your furry friend happy and healthy.


Is my hamster bored?

hamster taking nap in hand, do hamsters like to be held

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 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.

a cute and sad hamster, unhappy hamster signs

Have you spotted unhappy hamster signs on your pets? What did you do? Let us know in the comments below!

Alina Hartley
Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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