Hamsters are tiny pets that get scared and stressed pretty easily, so it’s normal to be worried about their happiness. Luckily, there are things to look out for if you want to know if your hamster is happy.
Here are seven signs of a happy hamster:
- They store food regularly.
- They have lots of energy (especially at night).
- They play with toys.
- They explore their cages.
- They aren’t afraid of you.
- They groom themselves regularly.
- They stretch and yawn a lot.
It’s important to know whether your hamster is happy or not so that you can help it if something is wrong.
How Do I Know if My Hamster Is Happy?
Keep reading to learn more about the signs of a happy hamster.
1. They Store Food Regularly
You may not think it because of how small they are, but hamsters have pouches in their cheeks where they can store their food. In the wild, hamsters would scavenge for food and use their cheeks to bring the food back to their nests. It shows a desire to survive and a willingness to go out and search for food.
So, when a hamster regularly does this in its cage, it’s a sign that it wants to survive and enjoys gathering food.
In most cases, you’ll likely notice your hamster gathering food from around the cage, stuffing it in its cheeks, and then bringing it back to where it sleeps; this is so that it can save the food for later without worrying about going hungry.
An Empty Bowl Doesn’t Always Need a Refill
Since hamsters scavenge for food (even in their cages) and hide it away, their food bowls will often be empty. You may see an empty bowl and assume your hamster is hungry and needs more food, but that may not be the case.
If you keep filling the bowl and are giving your hamster too much food, there’s a high chance it’ll keep hoarding the food but won’t eat it all. The collected food will eventually spoil if this keeps happening, which certainly isn’t good for your hamster’s health.
Also, there’s a chance your hamster will become overweight, which also isn’t good for its health. An overweight or obese hamster will be lethargic, meaning it won’t have as much energy as before.
You certainly don’t want that because hamsters need exercise and exploration to remain at their happiest.
Feed a Balanced Diet To Keep Your Hamster Happy
If you feed your hamster one type of food every day, they’ll likely get bored of it pretty quickly, and it may even make them unhappy. You should feed your hamster a healthy and varied diet to prevent this from happening.
The best diet for a hamster is a mixture of vegetables and hamster pellets. Once every few days, you can also give it some treats, like a boiled egg.
Once you’re feeding it a variety of foods throughout the week, your hamster should remain content and happy.
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2. They Have Lots of Energy (Especially at Night)
Since hamsters are nocturnal, it’s normal for them to have lots of energy at night. You may think it’s a bad sign, but rest assured, it’s a sign of a happy, healthy hamster!
When a hamster has lots of energy, it’s motivated to do stuff to burn all that energy. On the other hand, a sad hamster would be more likely to lay around an excessive amount of time.
If your hamster doesn’t have much energy at night and during the day, it may be a sign of unhappiness or even a health issue.
You should try to observe your hamster at night if you’re worried about its happiness and wellbeing. It can be hard to tell during the day because that’s prime hamster sleeping time, so watching it in its cage at night will give you an idea of how happy your hamster is.
Using an Exercise Wheel at Night Indicates Happiness
A hamster that constantly uses an exercise wheel is a sure sign that it’s happy. That’s because hamster wheels are fun activities to keep them entertained, so a sad hamster wouldn’t be bothered to use one.
Of course, it can be a slight inconvenience at night when you’re trying to sleep, and all you can hear is your hamster running around in its wheel.
However, it’s good to remember that your hamster is doing this because it’s healthy and happy with life at this moment!
Eating at Night Indicates Happiness, Too
As you now know, using an exercise wheel at night is a good sign and generally means that your hamster is healthy and happy. But it’s also normal and a good sign if your hamster eats at night.
Eating at night shows that your hamster is living a nocturnal lifestyle, which is how hamsters are supposed to live. So, if you notice that your hamster has a whole stash of food before you go to bed at night, but then it’s gone in the morning, you don’t need to be concerned.
And it’s not just eating and exercising at night that indicates happiness in a hamster; doing most things at night shows that your hamster is happy and content with life! This includes exploring, playing, and scavenging for food.
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3. They Play With Toys
A happy hamster is a hamster that wants to play with its toys. It’s a good idea to give your hamster plenty of toys because they can get bored easily in their cage, and boredom can lead to sadness later on.
If you notice that your hamster often plays with toys and carries them around, it’s a sign that it’s happy. Having the energy and willingness to play with toys shows that your hamster enjoys life and wants to make the most of the day!
Here are some toys you should consider getting for your hamster to keep it happy:
- Wood. Hamsters love to play with small pieces of wood. They like to chew on things, and wood is perfect for this. However, you should be careful with the wood you choose because some wood may be chemically treated. Chemically treated wood can make your hamster extremely ill, so always be sure to choose the wood that you know for sure is free from chemicals.
- Sand bath. Sand baths are a great way to keep a hamster clean, but they’re also a super fun activity. You can buy pet sand in most pet stores across the U.S., so it’s really easy to find. You can put the sand bath in your hamster’s cage to allow it to jump in as it pleases; this is a sure way to keep it happy!
- Small stones. Small stones are great fun for hamsters, and they also act as weights. Stones barely weigh anything for humans, but they’re super heavy for hamsters. They enjoy lifting and moving stones, and it also keeps them fit.
- Climbing toys. Hamsters love to climb, so putting a climbing toy in its cage is an excellent way to keep it happy. There are so many to choose from, but an example of a fun climbing toy is the Tfwadmx Wooden Hamster Playground Platform (available on Amazon.com). This toy is great if you’re based within the U.S., as it’s available from the U.S. site.
- Tunnels. Hamsters like tunnels, so it’s a great idea to put one in the cage. It’ll give it an extra activity to do, so it’s likely to keep your hamster entertained and, most importantly, happy!
Check out, How Long Can You Leave a Hamster Alone?
4. They Explore Their Cages
A hamster that explores is happy. Exploring indicates energy, which shows that your hamster is thriving and happy. Even though cages are small for the most part, a happy hamster will always find a way to explore its surroundings.
Here are some of the ways a hamster will explore the cage when it’s content:
- Climbing. If your hamster climbs its cage regularly, it’s a sign that it’s happy. However, climbing can also indicate that your hamster is scared and trying to escape. Hamsters also like to climb their cages if they want to get out and explore outside, which is generally a good thing, but it can turn into a bad thing if they get increasingly bored of being in the cage. Giving it toys will keep it from wanting to escape the cage constantly.
- Playing in tunnels. If you’ve put tunnels in your hamster’s cage, it’ll likely want to explore them regularly. If it does this, it’s a sign that it’s happy. You may also notice your hamster staying in the tunnel for hours at a time; this is also normal. Some hamsters like to rest and sleep in their tunnels because it makes them feel safe. Since hamsters sleep on average 12-14 hours a day, it’s normal for them to sleep for hours in the tunnel.
- Digging. Hamsters like to dig in the wild, so it’s good to give them this opportunity in their cages. If you notice your hamster often explores around the bedding and digs a lot, it’s a sign that it’s having fun!
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5. They Aren’t Afraid of You
As the Humane Society of the United States mentions on its page about hamsters, they can get startled easily, so you should always handle yours with care. In the beginning, it’ll likely be scared of you and won’t want to be near you because it won’t have any trust.
If your hamster runs toward you when you come to the cage and seems excited, it means that it’s comfortable with you and excited to be around you.
Additionally, it’s a sign that your hamster is happy if it willingly jumps on your hand without any difficulty or aversion.
If you’re worried that your hamster is afraid of you, there are things you can do to make it trust you more:
- Always be gentle. Anytime you need to handle your hamster, make sure you do it gently. Your hamster may feel like it’s in danger if you’re too quick or rough.
- Avoid sticking your hand in the cage unnecessarily. Hamsters are highly territorial, so they may not like it if you constantly stick your hand in their spaces. It can also make them feel like they’re in danger, so always avoid doing this if you want your hamster to remain happy.
- Give it treats. If your hamster sees you giving it treats, it’ll eventually trust you more. However, always ensure you’re gently placing the treats in the cage so that you don’t startle it!
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6. They Groom Themselves Regularly
When a hamster is happy, it’ll groom itself regularly; this is because hamsters like to groom themselves when they feel comfortable and at ease. A hamster that’s unhappy or on edge won’t be bothered with grooming.
Grooming also indicates your hamster cares about how it smells and its overall well-being. It’s also a good sign if your hamster grooms itself in front of you. Not only does this mean it’s comfortable with its surroundings, but it also means that it’s comfortable with you.
If your hamster is unhappy, it may not groom itself as much as it should, which can cause it to get pretty dirty and ill. So, if you notice your hamster isn’t grooming itself regularly, it may
be because it’s sad or stressed. Giving it a sand bath can help with excess dirt without grooming.
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7. They Stretch and Yawn a Lot
A relaxed hamster will often stretch, which is a great sign. It means your hamster is at ease and feels comfortable. Even though it’s a good sign for your hamster to be energetic and play, relaxing now and then is also a sign of happiness.
Your hamster may have had a long day and is feeling tired and burned out, so stretching is a way to help it unwind and feel comfortable.
Not only is stretching a good sign, but yawning is also a sign of a happy hamster! Of course, yawning can mean many things (mainly that your hamster is tired), but a tired hamster indicates that it has had a long, fulfilling day.
Although yawning can be a sign of happiness, you should be aware that it can also be a sign that your hamster is uncomfortable or stressed; this may not be the case, but you should look out for other signs of stress just in case.
Related Hamsters articles:
- How Long Should a Hamster Be in a Ball?
- What Size Wheel for Syrian Hamster
- How Much Should I Feed My Hamster
- Why Is My Hamster Bleeding From Its Bottom?
- How To Train Your Hamster To Cuddle
There are many ways to tell whether your hamster is happy or not, and there are many ways to ensure your hamster remains happy. The most important things to remember are:
- A happy hamster will play, explore, and scavenge for food.
- If your hamster isn’t afraid of you, it’s a sign of happiness.
- Stretching and yawning indicate that your hamster is relaxed and happy, but yawning can sometimes indicate distress.
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