You are certainly not alone if you love being in the company of an adorable furry little hamster.
As a matter of fact, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, almost 887 out of the 10000 American households surveyed had hamsters as pets.
Apart from their small and easily manageable sizes, hamsters are loved for their wholesome companionship, beautiful nature, and their ability to form a unique and loving bond with their owner.
Hence, due to these great qualities, hamsters are the most common first pet for children across the globe, as it teaches them how to care for a living animal’s needs without getting overwhelmed.
However, although people try to get multiple pet hamsters to give their small rodents some companionship, at times, placing more than two pet hamsters in one cage is a poor idea.
How Many Hamsters Can Be in One Cage?
Hamsters are perhaps one of the most low-maintenance mammalian pets out there. They do not hold back from offering love and companionship to their owner.
In return, they require food and a comfortable environment to live in.
Although the unique needs of a hamster will vary according to its specific breed, they usually need a small cage that is well protected from extreme external stimuli, some bedding to sleep in and practice digging, and food and water.
Even though the owners thoroughly enjoy holding and kissing their pet hamsters, a hamster will also live a sufficiently fulfilling life if it is not showered with love and affection.
However, despite being one of the easiest to manage pets out there, the premature death of a pet hamster is extremely common.
Not many can live up to old age (in hamster years); instead, they usually die within a year.
One of the most common reasons for a pet hamster’s untimely death is when the tiny rodent is forced to live in an uncomfortable environment that constantly triggers its extremely sensitive nature.
Unfortunately, many pet owners have no idea that placing more than two pet hamsters in one cage can cause territorial issues, emotional stress, and extreme anxiety in their furry little pets.
Continue reading to learn more about why one should ideally just place one or two hamsters together in the same cage and what happens when more than two pet hamsters are forced to live together.
Moreover, the article sheds light on some common signs of emotional stress and anxiety that pet hamsters can display to indicate that they are not doing well living together.
Let’s get started!
Why Should You Ideally Just Place One or Two Hamsters Together in the Same Cage?
Whenever someone brings a new dog or cat into their household, they usually find their pet displays a mixture of nervousness and excitement.
Eventually, it does not take long for the new cat or dog to befriend and fall in love with your precious cat or dog.
However, unfortunately, this does not happen when a new hamster is introduced into the living space of your previous hamster. Even if the owner tries to give the hamsters some time to get along, they usually never do.
The main reason why your pet hamster will generally be happier and calmer on its own is that, unlike a dog or a cat, a hamster is an extremely solitary animal.
It prefers to live, feed, sleep, and dig on its own, both in captivity and in the wild. This quality also makes a hamster extremely territorial and possessive about its living space, bed, food, toys, etc.
Hence, when you put another hamster in the same cage as your previous one, you usually tend to disturb your precious pet’s comfort and peace by introducing an unwanted living being into its home.
When a hamster of the opposite gender is introduced, territorial instincts are sometimes overcome by sexual arousal.
However, as soon as the mating period is over, the initial attraction can go back to mutual aggression against one another.
Hence, it is often discouraged to group multiple different hamsters as this attempt will only lead to chaos, anxiety, stress, and frustration.
However, if you still want to get more hamsters, it is advised to keep only two hamsters in one cage simultaneously.
Although doing so will still trigger some territorial behavior in your first hamster, a hamster’s tiny little size still makes it possible for the two to learn to share the space of the cage without bothering one another.
Moreover, if you plan on getting a third or fourth hamster, investing in another hamster cage is best to avoid an unpleasant conflict.
What Happens When More than Two Pet Hamsters Are Forced to Live Together?
As explained above, hamsters are generally solitary and territorial animals. However, apart from these two characteristics, a hamster is also an extremely sensitive living being.
Any unexpected external stimuli, such as sudden movement, loud sound, change in temperature or lighting, or the presence of another animal, can immediately trigger extreme stress and anxiety in your small rodent friend.
Hence, when you surprise your hamster with another hamster, you trigger its sensitive instincts, which can lead to your hamster behaving in a strange and extremely distressed manner.
However, if you only introduce one more hamster into the same cage, the stress is also coupled with curiosity.
Since your first hamster still has the same space to move around and explore, the chances are that it may not react as violently.
Instead, both the hamsters might take some time to get used to each other’s presence and will eventually learn to co-exist without feeling anxious.
This is most commonly experienced when hamsters of different genders or two females are paired together; however, pairing two male hamsters is usually always a bad idea.
However, if you add a third or a fourth hamster to the same cage, no time or precautionary measure will help avoid the imminent territorial dispute and chaos.
It’s highly likely that your hamsters will start fighting for territorial supremacy, and this can lead to serious injury or even death.
Although a standard-sized hamster cage might be enough for two hamsters, it certainly does not have the space for three or four rodents.
This will mean that the new and unwelcomed rodents will have no choice but to move into the previous hamsters’ living space, use their bedding, feed from their bowls, and inspect their toys.
This intrusion will be enough for all three or four hamsters to display signs of extreme emotional stress and anxiety. Keep reading to learn what these signs are.
The Common Signs of Emotional Stress and Anxiety Your Pet Hamsters Will Display to Indicate Uncomfortable Living Conditions
- Since a hamster is an extremely sensitive animal, the arrival of the new hamsters might cause the previous ones to act completely still for a while.
- The intrusion might cause all the hamsters to stop moving as they begin to observe and take in the shock.
- In the wild, a hamster that feels threatened by an external stimulus or another hamster tends to flee in order to feel safe and secure.
- However, since the confinements of the cage will not make fleeing a possibility, the hamsters might begin to react in unnatural ways that indicate stress.
- For instance, it is possible for your previous or all the hamsters in the cage to start scurrying around in circles in a frail attempt to get away.
- Moreover, since hamsters tend to instinctively dig up holes when exposed to a threat, the caged hamsters may begin digging up the shallow bedding.
- Furthermore, the building anxiety can sometimes cause the pet hamsters to aggressively scratch their bodies till they start bleeding.
- If the hamsters cannot feel safe despite scurrying around in circles or digging up the bedding, they might attack each other.
- When this happens, extreme injuries and fatalities from the fight are common.
- Moreover, your pet hamsters might even begin urinating excessively to mark their beds and food bowls as part of their territory.
- Finally, if no attempt seems to reduce the stress, the hamsters may eventually freeze as they begin playing dead.
- If this happens, the owner usually has to intervene to help the hamster feel calm and safe again.
If you have had the opportunity to care for a pet hamster, you probably already know just how beautiful and wholesome their companionship can be.
However, while hamsters are happy to form emotional bonds with their human owners, they are generally solitary animals that can get extremely territorial and aggressive when placed in the same cage as other hamsters.
Hence, if you have multiple pet hamsters that you are not ready to give away, the best tip is to invest in multiple-story cages to allow them the space and seclusion they all need to live happy and healthy lives.
If you don’t have the space for multi-story cages, you can just get more than one cage and place your cells side by side. The hamsters will be able to see each other and won’t attack.
You may also like:
- How Much Does a Hamster Cage Cost
- Can Two Hamsters Live in the Same Cage
- Should I Cover My Hamster’s Cage During the Day
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