If your hamster has helped you fill the void in your heart by offering its unconditional and wholesome companionship, the least you can do is return the favor by making it feel comfortable and safe during its lifetime.
A hamster may not be as physically demanding or affectionate as a cat or a dog; however, it has its gentle quirks and gestures that communicate love and fondness towards its owner.
Apart from being loving pets, hamsters are also extremely sensitive animals that tend to react severely toward unfamiliar and potentially threatening external stimuli, especially when pregnant.
At times, a panicking pregnant hamster might start digging up its bedding, while at other times, it may start doing backflips.
However, as adorable as the sight of a hamster standing on its hind legs and performing backflips might be, the reality of this abnormal behavior is quite sad and should be alarming for the owner, especially people who keep pet hamsters in the USA.
Continue reading to learn more about the common behavioral characteristics and changes of a pregnant hamster, what could potentially cause it to perform a backflip, and what you can do to help make your hamster’s pregnancy safer and calmer for it.
A Pet Hamster’s Common Behavioral Characteristics
As mentioned above, hamsters are susceptible animals.
It doesn’t matter if a hamster lives in the wild or as a pet at your home, its natural instincts ensure that it remains fully aware of its surroundings at all times.
Although wild and captive hamsters are primarily the same animals, their reaction to their external surroundings can be quite different.
In the wild, a hamster lives a solitary life and usually never interacts with another hamster, apart from mating. They tend to be solitary creatures and don’t really like interacting with each other or other creatures.
Whenever a bigger hamster, a predatory animal, a passing human, or any sudden loud noise threatens or startles a hamster, it immediately reacts by running off and digging a hole in the ground to hide.
As soon as the wild hamster enters its hole, it can calm itself down, relax, and relieve its stress and anxiety.
However, unfortunately, a captive hamster does not have the luxury of following its primal instincts in the face of danger.
Instead, when your pet hamster is frightened by another larger pet, an unfamiliar person in the house, sudden bright light, or a large sound, its ability to run away and hide is restricted due to the confinements of its cage.
Without having the space or opportunity to make a run for it, a caged hamster begins to display either or all of the following behaviors:
- It will start scurrying around in circles in an attempt to run away
- Its natural instincts will trigger it to start digging the cage’s floor and its bedding
- Since both the attempts of digging up a hole or running away will be fruitless, the growing frustration and helplessness might cause the hamster to bite and itch its own body, aggressively
- If no coping mechanism helps the hamster calm down, it might react by either playing dead or displaying a phenomenon called ‘star gazing’
- When this happens, the hamster will stand on its hind legs, stare up at the ceiling of its cage, and fall backward, at times doing a backflip in the process
- Finally, if the threatening stimulus becomes too much to handle, the pet hamster might also die from a heart attack
Have a look: Can Hamsters Eat Honey Nut Cheerios? [10 Reasons]
How Does a Pet Hamster’s Behavior Change Once it is Pregnant?
When a human being or any other animal gets pregnant, a surge of different hormones, that too in high amounts, can cause the carrying mother’s mood and behavior to change completely.
As a result of these overwhelming and involuntary hormonal changes, a person who otherwise is cheerful and pleasant to talk to might be far more frustrated, slightly reserved, easily provoked, and emotional than usual.
Hence just like every other female human or animal, the hormonal changes in a pregnant female hamster also make it more emotionally fragile and sensitive to its surroundings than usual.
This completely natural emotional moodiness and violent behavior allows the hamster the strength it needs to fight off all possible threats and protect itself and the baby it is carrying.
As a result, she will be far more sensitive, more reserved and shyer than usual, will hide away more frequently, and might even display unusual aggression towards her owner.
Why is Your Pet Hamster doing Backflips During Her Pregnancy?
As aforementioned, a hamster doing a backflip may seem joyful and fun to a spectator; however, in reality, this unusual behavior is no less than an open cry for help.
Unfortunately, a wild pregnant hamster will have a better chance at coping with her behavioral and hormonal changes out in the wild than she might inside the confinements of a cage.
A wild pregnant hamster will not only be on high alert at all times, but the opportunity to dig and bury itself inside a well-hidden hole in the ground will help it feel safe, protected, and calm.
On the contrary, since a captive hamster will have nowhere to hide or dig a hole for itself, the hormonal and behavioral changes caused by its pregnancy will only frustrate her more than usual.
A captive pregnant hamster will abnormally run around its cage and dig up its bedding more often than a hamster that is not carrying a child.
Moreover, the growing overwhelming sense of unwanted exposure might cause the pregnant hamster to severely injure and hurt her body, as she will bite and scratch herself more aggressively and far more frequently.
If the owner takes no notice of these apparent signs of depression, frustration, unhappiness, and discomfort, the state of the pregnant hamster’s mental and physical health will only worsen.
Eventually, with no place to hide to feel safe and protected, the captive pregnant hamster might either start playing dead to every other external stimulus or will start doing backflips.
At times, the lack of proper attention or intervention can cause the hamster to do backflips on repeat till it eventually no longer has any more strength left to stand up and fall backward.
When this happens, the pregnant hamster might either hyperventilate and pass out or might even die due to cardiac arrest.
Read: Can I Put My Hamster Cage on the Floor? [10 Reasons]
What Can You Do to Help Make Your Pet Hamster Feel Safe and Cale During its Pregnancy?
If you are someone who loves and adores their pet hamster, know that simply refilling its food and water bowl is not enough.
Instead, true commitment toward your pet’s happiness requires that you pay close attention to its common and abnormal behavior to know when an intervention is necessary.
You don’t need to be concerned about your pet hamster getting pregnant if she is either spayed or lives by herself.
However, if your hamster has mated with another hamster either at the vet or inside the cage, it is important to keep an eye out for a potential pregnancy.
Generally, a hamster’s gestation period is between twenty to twenty-two days; however, you might not notice a fuller and rounder belly until the final ten days.
Even if you cannot notice any apparent changes in her physique, her behavioral changes will be hard to miss.
Hence, if you notice that your female hamster is hiding away more frequently than usual or is slightly more aggressive towards you, the best advice is to visit a vet who can confirm her pregnancy.
If the vet confirms your pet hamster’s pregnancy, you need to take some care measures immediately to help it feel safe and calm to prevent her from getting frustrated and doing any backflips.
Some of these necessary care measures are as follows:
- If your pregnant hamster shares her cage with another hamster, you need to isolate her immediately by investing in and setting up another cage.
- Since hamsters are solitary animals, they demand personal space far more aggressively during their pregnancy.
- If possible, get your pregnant hamster a larger and more spacious cage that allows her the chance to walk around and benefit from some healthy physical activity.
- Add more bedding in the pregnant hamster’s cage so that she can dig up and hide inside it if she feels necessary.
- You can also introduce a deep sand pit into her box that will also allow her the chance to hide inside a hole and feel safe.
- If you cannot add more bedding or a sand pit, simply place a box or hollow container in the cage with some warm blankets.
- This will allow the pregnant hamster to rest in a relatively less exposed location, which will help her remain calm and happy during her pregnancy.
- Moreover, refill her water bowl with fresh water more frequently, as dehydration can also frustrate and upset a pregnant hamster.
- Also, remember to provide the pregnant hamster with healthier foods that are high in nutrition, which will help promote better hormonal balance and a happier mood.
- Furthermore, if you still notice your pregnant pet hamster doing a backflip at any point, make sure to discuss the situation with a qualified vet.
- If you take your hamster to the vet, they may be able to give your hamster something that can calm them down. What’s more, the vet may also be able to give you tips to help you keep your hamster happy and healthy.
If your pregnant hamster is doing repetitive backflips, you need to be alarmed, as this is a sign of the rodent being extremely stressed, anxious, and unhappy.
The best tip is to provide your pregnant hamster some isolation, thicker and softer bedding, and healthier food options to help regulate her hormones and keep her happy.
Read more about hamsters:
- Can I put a heating pad under my hamster’s cage?
- Can Hamsters Survive in The Cold?
- Can Hamsters See In the Dark?
- Can Hamsters Have a Heart Attack?
- How to Change Hamster Sleep Cycle
- Why Do Hamsters Run on Wheels?
- Why Do Some Hamsters Have Red Eyes?
- Why Does My Hamster Keep Scratching?
- How to Put a Hamster to Sleep
- Why Is My Hamster Fat All of a Sudden?
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