Whiskers are long hair that hamsters have on their face. They are thicker than normal hair and are not only crucial for a hamster’s personality but have loads of essential functions as well.
Hamsters can lose their whiskers over time because of diseases, stress, low-quality food, and poor hygiene. Fortunately, their whiskers can grow back within two or three months. However, the time frame that you can expect the hamster’s whiskers to grow back depends on its internal health and the kind of hamster it is.
Generally, expect the whiskers to grow back within a few months. It might take longer if your hamster is suffering from some terminal illness.
Do Hamster’s Whiskers Grow Back?
If your hamster’s whiskers fall out, don’t worry- they will grow again in a few months. Whiskers are crucial for a hamster’s survival. In the wild, hamsters would use their whiskers to keep themselves safe. Since hamsters are born blind, their whiskers help them navigate the world around them.
Hamsters are fully blind in the daytime, so they primarily rely on their whiskers and senses to help them around. They can dimly see at night, but if you switch the lights on, they will become blind again.
Since whiskers are so vital for hamsters, it is a blessing that they can grow back again. Without whiskers, hamsters would have a tough time in the wild and at home.
Why Whiskers Are Important for Hamsters
Whiskers help hamsters detect their surroundings. Sensors on the hamster’s whiskers help it find its way around a burrow or cage. Their whiskers give them an idea of the shape and size of the object in front of them. Moreover, hamsters use their whiskers to detect danger as well.
You might think of whiskers as ordinary hair, but they are very different. From the inside, whiskers contain several nerve endings. Their outer part contains sensors. This makes them stronger and more useful than normal hair or fur found on the hamster’s body.
A hamster’s whiskers link back to its nervous system and muscles. Hence, they are part of its sensory organs that give direct messages to the hamster’s brain and warn them if anything suspicious lies in its surroundings.
1. Navigation Purposes
If you have ever closely noticed your hamster, you will find that its whiskers are always moving. This is because a hamster’s whiskers help it find where food is located and if any danger lies ahead. In the wild, whiskers help hamsters find where the burrow is located.
When a hamster enters the burrow, it is met with complete darkness. During this time, the hamster uses its whiskers to get around and survive since it cannot see much because of its weak eyesight.
Whiskers are made in such a way that they can feel airflow. This is important as they help the hamster detect obstacles and walls. Hamsters use their whiskers as navigation tools. Moreover, they allow them to find their cage, exercise wheel, and bedding without running straight into a wall.
2. Picking Up Scents
Even though hamsters are born with an excellent sense of smell, their whiskers help pick up different scents.
They use their nose and whiskers to sniff around, recognize their owners, and judge if there are any predators nearby.
Moreover, hamsters use their whiskers to smell the presence of each other. Have you ever wondered how one of your hamsters recognizes the other one, even though there are so many hamsters in the wild?
This is because each hamster has a unique smell that is used to recognize one hamster from the other.
In the wild, hamsters feed themselves by following the scent of food through their whiskers. This scent then helps them find their way back to their burrows.
Since hamsters are blind, they cannot recognize their owners by looking at them. Instead, they use their sense of smell to pick up who is petting them. No wonder hamster owners are told not to change their handwash or moisturizers too often, as the change of scent can confuse their hamsters.
3. Detecting the Outside World
Hamsters have weak eyesight, so they rely on their other senses to get through life. Their whiskers play an important role in filling the gap that their eyesight leaves.
Hamsters in the wild usually stay awake at night and rest throughout the day. However, when there is a disturbance, noise, or a change in ambiance, their sleep cycle will change, and you might find them awake in the morning.
During the daytime, hamsters use their whiskers to detect their environment. Their whiskers contain sensory receptors that help them find the food in their cage. If a hamster loses its whiskers, it will not be able to navigate its surroundings, and it will not feel at ease in any kind of environment.
You might not know this, but whiskers help a hamster maintain its balance. They are long and strong and ensure that a hamster will not fall over.
If your hamster loses its whiskers, you might find that its balance is partially or fully affected. Take care of your hamster during this time and get rid of all obstacles in its cage till its whiskers grow back.
5. Indicate Mood
Have you noticed that your hamster is fussier than usual or not as happy as it used to be? All you have to do is look at its whiskers- if they are relaxed, your hamster is content, and it is an excellent time to play with it.
However, it is scared or nervous if its whiskers are pointed backward. Similarly, when a hamster’s whiskers are pointed forward, it means that it is angry, and you need to keep your distance.
Of course, without whiskers, you will have difficulty determining your hamster’s feelings.
What Causes Hamsters to Lose Their Whiskers?
So far, we have established that whiskers are extremely important for hamsters and a huge part of their senses. If your hamster loses its whiskers and you can’t figure out why, you must take it to the vet immediately.
Here are some reasons why a hamster may lose its whiskers:
1. You Cut them Off
Some believe that if a hamster’s whiskers grow too long, they should be cut off. However, this is a terrible idea.
Even though whiskers grow back, you cannot cut them off thinking that your hamster will grow stronger, shinier whiskers. While this works for human hair, it is not the same for hamsters. Whiskers are essential for a hamster to live its life.
If you cut off your hamster’s whiskers, it might get hurt, lose its senses, and live life in fear for a few months or till its whiskers grow back.
Sometimes, your hamster may lose its whiskers because they are shedding, and you might not be able to figure out the specific reason behind this phenomenon. Just like humans lose their hair, a hamster’s body also operates naturally to get rid of dead hair.
In this case, you do not have to worry about shedding. However, if your hamster loses its hair within the span of a couple of days, it could be because it is suffering from a medical condition, and you need to take it to the vet, where some tests can be run, and medications can be given.
Friction can be painful and harmful to hamsters. Since hamsters have weak eyesight, they often rub themselves against the wall of their cage, especially during the day. The constant rubbing can increase friction, making its whiskers weak.
Another reason that can cause your hamster to lose its whiskers is dry sliding on the play wheel inside its cage- this might damage the whiskers because of constant friction. Friction can also cause its whiskers to bend unnaturally.
If this happens, your hamster might lose its whiskers- a process that is physically painful in this case.
Trimming your hamster’s whiskers might be a traumatic event that your furry little friend does not need. You only need to trim its whiskers when they are overgrown, damaged, or creating discomfort for the hamster.
Sometimes, whiskers grow so long that they cause friction, leading to abnormal bending, which irritates their eyes and nose. Trimming its whiskers slightly will help make the hamster more comfortable if this happens.
You might not notice this at first glance, but whiskers have loads of muscle tissue connected to the brain. Hence, any unnecessary damage to the whiskers can affect the hamster deeply.
Do not trim the whiskers without any reason, and make sure never to pluck them out. This can be extremely painful and may also cause bleeding.
Sometimes, hamsters can lose their whiskers because of allergy issues. Some hamsters are more sensitive and need to be taken care of closely. Dermatitis can cause them to lose their whiskers and direct exposure to pollen, mites, and dust.
Pet hamsters can develop an allergy to certain kinds of food, especially if they are overly sensitive. Do not confuse hamster allergies with human allergies- when hamsters get allergic, they suffer from diarrhea and itchiness in their nose and ears.
If the hamster develops some allergy, it will take a long time to recover, and during this time, it might lose its whiskers. Allergies are difficult to diagnose on time, but once you find out what is causing your hamster to have allergic reactions, you can quickly confront the problem and begin the treatment process.
Even though hamsters’ whiskers grow back, they are a crucial part of their personality as they help them get through basic, everyday tasks. Hence, do not intentionally cut off or trim your hamster’s whiskers.
If they fall off naturally, consult a vet so that you can figure out whether your hamster is dealing with some illness or allergy. After the cause is diagnosed and the treatment begins, give your hamster a couple of months. Depending on the severity of the problem, its whiskers will grow back within a few months.
You may also like:
- When do Pet Hamsters Usually Wake Up When Living in captivity
- What Temperature is Too Cold for Hamsters
- What Kind of Toys do Hamsters Like
- Do Hamsters Store Food in Their Cheeks
- Do Hamsters and Bunnies Get Along
- Do Hamsters Stink Up Your Room
My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more