Hamsters are tiny, loveable creatures, and they have different characteristics depending on their breed. Like any animal, hamsters also have differences according to their gender: male or female. When choosing a pet, it’s essential to know how the different genders behave and if they need special attention.
Male and female hamsters differ in their physical anatomy and reproductive organs. Male and female hamsters have different physical features such as fur length and thickness, weight, and length—female hamsters are larger than males. Female hamsters are more aggressive and active than male hamsters.
Differences in temperament, behavior, and odor can help you tell between a male and a female hamster; knowing that information can help you choose the right pet for you. Male and female hamsters have distinct needs, so you need to know how to care for them properly. Aside from physical differences, there’s a lot to learn about the difference between male and female hamsters.
The Difference in the Hamsters’ Sizes
Male and female hamsters differ in size. Female hamsters are larger than male hamsters and are usually about an inch or two (2.54 or 5.08 cm) longer than their male counterparts.
Female hamsters also weigh more than male hamsters. The average weight for adult male hamsters is about three to five ounces (85 to 141 g), while female hamsters usually weigh between four and six ounces (113 and 170 g).
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The Difference in the Hamsters’ Anatomy
Underneath all the fur, female and male hamsters have different anatomy to help you identify them.
Female Hamster Anatomy
One of the key identifiers of a female hamster is the presence of nipples. Female hamsters have nipples that enable them to nurse their young pups. Female hamsters will have six nipples along the side of their stomach. Male hamsters will not have any nipples.
Hamster’s genitalia will also be one of the critical identifiers between male and female hamsters. You can determine a hamster’s gender by looking at the space between its genitalia and anus.
Female hamsters will have a vaginal opening and a small space between their vaginal opening and their excretion hole. This space can be so small that it looks like one whole organ in females.
Male Hamster Anatomy
Male hamsters have more significant and more prominent scent glands than female hamsters. These scent glands are located on the side of a hamster’s abdomen in Syrian hamster breeds. In dwarf hamster breeds, the scent glands are on the hamster’s stomach.
Male hamsters will have a larger space between their penile opening and excretion hole. The size of this space will help you determine if your hamster is male or female. The distance between these two organs will be much more prominent in males.
Male hamsters also have testicles that stick out from their body instead of the female vagina, which is an opening. However, some adult males can retract their testicles, making them hard to see. Focus on the space between the hamster’s anus and genitals to determine your hamster’s gender accurately.
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The Difference in the Hamster’s Behavior
A hamster’s behavior will tell you a lot about the breed of the animal, but it can also reveal insights into the hamster’s gender. Male and female hamsters behave differently and have various aggression levels.
Female Hamster Behavior
Both male and female hamsters tend to be aggressive, mainly depending on the breed. Syrian hamsters are often very aggressive and cannot be housed together in the same cage. Other hamster breeds, like dwarf hamsters, are more docile, and you can keep them together as long as they are the same gender.
Both genders of hamsters can be territorial and exhibit aggressive behaviors. However, male hamsters are more mellow and laid back. It would be best if you didn’t put adult male and female hamsters in a cage together because they will fight each other. Most hamsters will fight until one dies, so it’s best to keep them separate to avoid an accident.
Female hamsters, regardless of breed, have more aggressive temperaments and are more territorial than males. It’s more complicated for owners to handle female hamsters, and if you have a family with young children, you might want to consider adopting a male hamster for this reason.
Male Hamster Behavior
In nature, many male animals are more dominant and aggressive than their female counterparts. However, the opposite is true for male hamsters. While female hamsters are more aggressive regardless of breed, male hamsters have calmer demeanors and are much friendlier. Many male hamsters will let you handle them without incident.
They aren’t as territorial about their space, meaning that you will be more likely to enter their cage and play with them without worrying about being bitten. Because of this, male hamsters also take less time to adjust to being handled by a human, making them great pets for people who don’t have the time or patience to train a new animal.
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The Difference in the Hamster’s Activity
Like hamsters have different behavioral tendencies according to their gender, they also like various activities based on their gender.
Common Female Hamster Activity
Because female hamsters tend to be more aggressive, they are generally more active than males, and they love exercise and activity. Female hamsters will most likely busy themselves by:
- Running around their cage
- Exercising on their wheel
- Storing food
- Climbing on objects
- Roaming around in a hamster ball, etc.
Female hamsters enjoy playing, and they love engaging in play that involves activity. They will enjoy it when their owners play with them and engage them in games or toys.
Common Male Hamster Activity
Male hamsters, on the other hand, prefer slower-paced and leisurely activities. While female hamsters enjoy rigorous play and exercise, male hamsters will enjoy cuddling with their owners. You likely won’t find a male hamster busying himself with unnecessary movement.
Male hamsters naturally make great cuddle partners, and the more you handle your hamster, the more it will get used to your scent and being in your hands. When hamsters are comfortable with you, they will be more relaxed when you handle them and more prone to want to stay in your hands or lap.
Even though male hamsters love to cuddle, it doesn’t mean they don’t like to exercise. In fact, hamsters owners should be careful with the amount of time they spend cuddling with their hamster so that it doesn’t become obese.
Be sure to give your hamster enough exercise so that it stays healthy. If your hamster doesn’t like using a wheel, you can put it in a hamster ball so that it can safely explore your home while getting its exercise.
Hamster wheels are sold online and in pet stores all across the USA. Petsmart and Petco are popular pet supply stores with locations in various states from California to New York. Visit your local pet supply store to find the perfect hamster wheel for you and your pet.
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The Difference in the Hamster’s Odor
Female hamsters often emit a more pungent and foul odor than male hamsters because of their reproductive organs. Female hamsters go into heat every four days when their bodies are primed to mate.
While the female hamsters are in heat, they release an odor that lets the male hamsters know they are ready to mate. This odor is intense and often smells musty to humans.
You can differentiate between a male and a female hamster by the scents they emit. If you notice a persistent body odor or musk smell, you’re probably dealing with a female hamster.
The Difference in the Hamster’s Fur
You can identify a male or female hamster by its fur. Male hamsters generally have much more hair than females, so their coats are fuller and thicker. Hamsters typically require relatively little maintenance on their fur, but some male hamsters’ coats can grow long and unruly and require a small amount of grooming.
If you don’t have the time to groom your hamster’s coat, you should consider purchasing a female hamster. A female hamster’s fur is lighter and shorter than a male hamster’s and will require very little maintenance.
Hamster’s coats often thin out over time as they reach the senior stage in their life. This thinning is more significant in male hamsters, and their hair loss is more prominent.
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General Overview of the Difference Between Male and Female Hamsters
Let’s sum up the key differences between male and female hamsters one last time in this convenient, easy-to-read chart.
|Male Hamsters||Female Hamsters|
|Have testicles||Have a vagina|
|Larger anogenital space||Significantly smaller anogenital space|
|Doesn’t have nipples||Has nipples|
|Has larger scent glands||Has smaller and less prominent scent glands|
|Have longer and thicker fur coats||Have shorter fur coats|
|Requires more regular grooming||Requires minimal grooming|
|Average length for a male adult is between 6-8 inches (15.24-20.32 cm)||Average length for a female adult is between 7-8 inches (17.78-20.32 cm)|
|Average weight for a male adult is between 3-5 ounces (85-141 g)||Average weight for a female adult is between 4-6 ounces (113 and 170 g)|
|Doesn’t have a noticeable odor||Often emits a foul odor due to being in heat|
|Generally has a more docile temperament||Has a more aggressive temperament|
|Not incredibly territorial||Very territorial|
|Enjoys slower-paced activities||Incredibly active|
|Easy to handle||Requires patience and practice when handling|
|Loves to cuddle||Prefers activity, but can cuddle if they are handled frequently|
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Determining Your Hamster’s Gender
Like most animals, male and female hamsters differ in their anatomy, and it’s one of the easiest ways to tell them apart. You need to handle your hamster with care when determining its gender.
Follow these proper steps to ensure you manage your hamster correctly so that it stays calm and comfortable and you can determine its gender.
1. Observe Your Hamster When It’s Fully Awake
You never want to observe your hamster’s anatomy while it’s sleeping or nervous. Wait until your hamster is calm to look at its genitalia. If you don’t, you could scare your hamster or get bitten while it tries to defend itself.
Then, hold your hamster from behind and support its back with your hand. Covering your hamster’s back with your hand will help it feel more comfortable and supported.
2. Talk to Your Hamster With a Smooth, Calming Voice
Just like humans, animals can detect fear or concern in your voice, so try to remain calm throughout the entire process. Hopefully, your voice is familiar to your pet, and it will help soothe any nerves your hamster might be experiencing.
If you’re bringing home a new hamster, talking to it frequently will help it get acquainted with the sound of your voice.
3. Hold Your Hamster Upright
Hold your hamster upright instead of turning the hamster entirely on its back. Your hamster will likely feel calmer being held upright instead of on its back.
You’ll also be able to determine the gender more accurately by holding the hamster upright. Male hamsters can retract their testicles, so keeping them upright will aid in having a male hamster’s testicles come out rather than retract.
Hamsters tend to squirm when laid on their back because it is a vulnerable position. Hamsters bite to protect themselves or when they are nervous or feel threatened. To avoid being bitten, keep your hamster up straight and keep talking to it in a calm voice while you examine it.
4. Keep an Eye on Your Hamster’s Behavior
Keep an eye on your hamster’s behavior while you observe it. Continue to speak calmly so that your hamster doesn’t bite you or try to escape. You may want to offer your hamster treats during this process to relax or temporarily distract it.
Male and female hamsters are incredibly similar, but they have a few differences. Unlike most animals, female hamsters are bigger than male hamsters and possess more dominant qualities. They are generally more aggressive and territorial than male hamsters, so you’re more likely to be bitten when entering their cage if they aren’t comfortable with you handling them yet.
Female hamsters take longer to get used to being handled than male hamsters. Male hamsters are friendlier and more docile than female hamsters and will enjoy cuddle sessions with their owner. Male hamsters aren’t as active as females and enjoy slow-paced activities.
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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