Hamsters are very active, often running around for no reason or to explore new territory if their cage is in an unfamiliar environment. Luckily, most of a hamster’s running around isn’t cause for alarm. But can they run around too much; could it potentially be too risky to their wellbeing?
A hamster will run around like crazy for lots of different reasons, especially if it’s stressed, looking for food, exercising, sick, exploring new territory, or in heat. Hamsters are very active and in many cases, running around is normal. However, observe them closely for possible health issues.
In the rest of this article, I will discuss a few topics related to this question, including illnesses, stress or anxiety, exercise, heat, and hunger.
I will also discuss the signs of stress in hamsters, how to prevent it, and why your pet runs away from you.
As I mentioned earlier, hamsters are active pets that move around frequently. Thus, their movement is not a matter of great concern. However, if they move and run around consistently for too long, they could be having issues that need addressing.
Some of the main reasons why the pets run around include:
Hamsters live comfortably within temperature ranges of 65 to 75 °F (18 to 23 °C). When the temperature rises beyond these limits, their bodies have difficulty regulating their temperatures. Therefore, they will run around trying to find a cold place to cool down.
You can help by moving their cage under a shade when it gets too hot. Therefore, if you live in an area with high temperatures like Florida or Hawaii, you need to be more observant.
Check out, How Long Can a Lost Hamster Survive?
Although hamsters rarely show illness symptoms, running around could sometimes be a sign of a health problem. They could also exhibit weight loss or lack of appetite. Elderly pets face higher risks of stroke.
Extreme temperatures also pose a stroke risk to hamsters. If your pet keeps running around frantically, it is advisable to observe them closely for symptoms such as dizziness or loss of balance. If you notice any unusual appearance, consult with your vet for advice and medical assistance.
Female hamsters become restless when they are in heat. It occurs every four days. If they have no mating partner, they behave strangely. You may see them bite the cage bars, get over-hyper or run around. Heat restlessness goes away soon, and you don’t need to worry in that case.
Hamsters get anxious when in a new environment like other pets do. They will tend to run around more frequently if you move their cage to a new environment as they try to explore their new surroundings.
A new environment can also trigger fear of predators. They may also become restless because they are tired of the confinement in their cage. And they want to get out. Also, the pets sometimes get depressed often during winter.
I recommend taking your pet out 15 to 20 minutes daily to reduce anxiety.
Exercise is very crucial to your pet. Running around may be due to a lack of exercise space. Exercising helps burn calories, and they like moving around after eating. Make sure you provide them with a wheel. It offers them a great exercise companion. Also, you can introduce them to an exercise ball.
I recommend the ZUKIBO Hamster Running Ball available from Amazon.com. It is transparent, and you can see your pet playing inside. Also, it has several ventilation holes to let in the fresh air.
Because they move around all the time, hamsters need food to replenish their lost energy. They may keep running around in search of food when they feel hungry. They will try to look around for any crumbs or leftover food.
You need to check their water and food dishes to ensure they are not empty.
Hamsters are prey animals, and they are adapted to hide their stress. Therefore it is not easy to tell whether they are stressed. However, if you know your pets’ normal behavior, you can tell in case of any changes.
The following are signs of a stressed hamster: hyperactivity, aggression, compulsiveness, shedding hair, unusual habits, repeated attempts to escape, muscle tremors and rigidity, and excessive sleeping. They will also make strange noises and salivate profusely.
There are several signs to tell if your hamster is stressed. They include:
- Hamsters keep chattering their teeth when they are irritated or stressed. It is advisable to give your pet some space if you see them continue doing this to keep them from biting you. Then try to identify the possible stress factor. Giving it space will help the pet to calm down.
- Hamsters usually hide when they go to sleep, but if they keep hiding endlessly, they could be stressed or scared. Also, they are likely to hide if you adopted them recently. The pets tend to hide before they adjust to their new environment. The adoption process is usually stressful to hamsters.
- A stressed hamster seems hyperactive, will run on the wheel, move around, keep trying to climb the cage, appear alert and nervous. These activities indicate that the pet is stressed.
- Your pet will consistently attempt to escape from its cage when stressed. It will keep trying to climb and bite the pen. If it has bars, they will try slipping through them. Also, they will try digging at the cage corners.
- If a hamster is stressed, it will suffer excessive salivation. Nervousness, anxiety, fear, and stress interfere with saliva production. Excessive salivation is a response to tension. It is a sign that your pet is stressed.
- Most animals show stress through repetitive and compulsive behaviors. Such behaviors include gnawing continuously, constantly scratching, or turning severely. Sometimes these behaviors cause self-mutilation making them vulnerable to infections.
- Chronic stress causes alterations to the fur of hamsters. If a hamster is very stressed, it may start losing hair, or the hair might look oilier. Some scratch themselves and pluck hair, creating bald spots.
- Usually, hamsters are silent animals but they make so much noise when they are stressed. They squeal or shriek when they are nervous. When they are in fear, they snort. Also, they grunt when they feel threatened.
- When extremely stressed or afraid, hamsters experience muscle tremors or tension. Sometimes the rigidity gets intense, causing their body to tremble.
- Sometimes stress brings about changes in the habitual behaviors of hamsters. If your pet is stressed, they might become fearful, sad, anxious, shy, or more aggressive than usual.
Therefore, it will be helpful to know your pet’s behavior, so you can notice changes early and take necessary action.
It is advisable to make sure your hamster is happy to help prevent stress. It needs entertainment, affection, and a good environment. Some of the ways you can ensure your hamster is happy and healthy include:
Take your pets out of the cage and spend time with them, and allow them to exercise regularly. It will be happy because it loves exploring.
Also, a dirty cage can cause unnecessary stress to your pet. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain the cleanliness of its cage. But, it is not advisable to fully clean it unless it is inevitable because it is like moving it inside out.
The new smell and rearranged objects can also be stressful. Spot-cleaning the cage after every few days will work well.
One of the main factors that stress hamsters is the lack of enough playing space. A big pen will give them sufficient space and make them happier.
Signs that your pet’s cage is small:
- Bar biting
- Cage climbing
- Trying to escape
Small cages are the most commonly available, and sellers deceive buyers about their size. You can buy VINTEX Large Hamster Cages from Amazon.com. It is large, easy to carry, and has a heightened fence to prevent pet waste from splashing out.
Hamsters are active and need a steady supply of food and water. It is advisable to regularly check their food and water trays to top up in time. Make sure you supply them with sufficient dry food.
Vets recommend feeding them small amounts of vegetables and fruits. They contain a high volume of water and natural sugar. Also, they recommend treats of hard-boiled eggs once every week.
Put the cage somewhere silent: a noisy environment can be stressful for your pet. To prevent them from becoming stressed out, you’ll need to put their pen far from other pets, such as dogs and cats.
Also, loud music and cars can be stressful, so quiet areas in rooms away from busy streets are preferable.
Hamsters are used to running naturally. If they are not eating or sleeping, they are running. They are amongst the most entertaining pets to have. According to Market Watch, hamsters demand in Los Angeles increased during the Covid 19 period.
Catching them can be very tricky sometimes. It can keep running away from you when you approach it because it is either scared or just having fun.
Your hamster can run away from you because they are startled or nervous, shy, have the memory of a bad experience, are frightened, or have poor eyesight. Also, it may run away from you because it is just having fun and wanting you to play along.
Let’s look at these reasons in more detail:
- Startled or nervous: Your pet could be having a hard time calming down after they were startled by something. Or something is still making it nervous. Another pet chasing it, a lot of movement or loud noises can also put your hamster in survival mode, making them run away from you.
- Bad experience: Ifyour pet recently suffered trauma, they will probably run away from you. Maybe you just bought it from a pet store, and you handled it improperly, like grabbing it and putting it in a box.
- Shy or young. A pet that is not familiar with handling, especially a young one, is more likely to be scared. They will run away when you try to approach them. Also, a young pet could need time to adjust to the new environment.
- Hamsters get easily frightened because they are fragile, small prey creatures. They have several environmental enemies. They fear attacks by predators. Therefore, anything can scare them, causing them to run away.
- Poor eyesight: Although your pets may know and trust you, you might still scare them because their vision is poor. They could only see something big and scary when you approached them. Hamsters are usually active at night more than daytime.
- They could just be having fun. Your pet may run away from you because it enjoys hiding out or exploring, and it doesn’t want to be interrupted.
If your pet is happy and having fun, they will be:
- Busy and alert
- Interested in everything they come across
- Pausing to nibble or sniff on things and eat treats or tuck them into the cheek
- Occasionally sit and wash their fur or think of where they will go next
- Will not incessantly wash their face or stay frozen
You can tell if your pet is not enjoying the moment when:
- They make abrupt movements.
- They constantly scurry.
- They are endlessly face washing.
- They roll on their back in a defensive mode,
Related Hamsters articles:
- Why Is My Hamster Itching?
- How To Get Your Hamster To Like You
- Why Is My Hamster Not Eating?
- Is Aquarium Sand Safe for Hamsters?
- Why Is My Hamster Losing Hair
It is typical for hamsters to run around, and you need not worry. Besides, your pet knows their body better, and they will stop running when they feel tired. However, it will help to watch the behavior of your pet closely.
You can identify emergencies and act in good time. If you notice any clues of health issues, consult with your vet for diagnosis and treatment. Vets recommend removing the wheel from the cage if the pet is sick until they recover.
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