Hamsters are tiny, delicate creatures. Therefore, it can be concerning if they suddenly become so jumpy, especially when being held—you don’t want them to fall out of your hands! So if you’re worried about your hamster jumping and hurting itself, it’s worth finding out why it’s so jumpy all of a sudden.
Your hamster is so jumpy all of a sudden, likely because of the following reasons:
- It’s not tame.
- Your hamster doesn’t like being held.
- It feels uncomfortable.
- Your hamster is feeling scared or stressed.
- Your hamster is new to its environment.
- It wants to urinate, eat, sleep, or groom.
Now that you know a few reasons why your hamster is jumpy, this article will explore each reason and offer ways to avoid stress, fear, and injury in your hamster. Keep reading.
Is your hamster jumpy?
If your hamster suddenly gets jumpy, there are several reasons for such behavior. It could be due to its personality, struggles to adapt to its environment, etc. The following discusses the reasons your hamster is jumpy.
If you’ve only just brought your hamster home, there’s a high likelihood that it hasn’t been tamed. On top of that, your hamster will need time and space to adjust to its new surroundings.
Entering a new environment and a new cage means new sights and smells. Transition is always stressful for a hamster, even one you’ve had for years.
To help your new hamster settle in, give it time and space the first few days. Don’t interact with it or go near its cage, except for regular feeding and check-ins.
If you live in a particularly cold area, like Denver, ensure your home is warm enough for your hamster.
Hamsters are prey animals, meaning their first instinct when sensing discomfort is to escape at any cost. Unfortunately, the hamster’s flight instinct means it will dive to the floor to feel safe again, even if the floor is several feet away.
Long handling sessions can cause enough stress and fear in a hamster that it will jump from your hands. While most hamsters are calm and don’t mind being held, they aren’t very social creatures in general and are better off as observational pets.
Limiting the amount of time you spend handling your hamster will help keep its stress levels down and also make it more comfortable when you occasionally handle it.
Hamsters that haven’t been handled often are most prone to jumping as they are more likely to experience fear and stress in an unfamiliar situation. The solution to this behavior is to tame your hamster! Follow the steps below to tame your hamster:
- Sit next to the hamster’s cage and speak to it. Do this in the first week. It will help your hamster get used to your smell and your voice. Don’t touch it yet.
- Entice your hamster to the cage door with treats. You can do this two weeks after bringing your hamster home. Eventually, your hamster will come to associate you with something positive and will learn to trust the sight of your hand.
- Pet your hamster, but don’t try to pick it up. This step will normalize the light pressure of your fingers and help your hamster become familiar with the sensation. Do this in week 3.
- Scoop your hands under the hamster and hold it near the cage. Stay near the cage to prevent falling accidents in case the hamster gets nervous and tries to jump, or you are forced to put it down if it bites quickly.
Suppose your hamster isn’t comfortable being held by Week 4. Repeat the steps of weeks 1, 2, and 3 until your hamster is comfortable being held. Remember, taming a hamster takes patience and time!
Some breeds of hamsters are friendlier than others. In America, the Syrian hamster leaves the shelf of every pet store because of its calm temperament. Syrian hamsters are easier to tame and less likely to grow so nervous that they jump out of an owner’s hand.
Other hamster breeds, such as the dwarf hamster, are more high-energy. They’re jumpy and excitable and are more often injured as a result. Dwarf hamsters can jump farther than Syrians and are more physically fragile, only compounding the problem.
Choosing a Syrian over a dwarf or Chinese hamster might benefit you if you would rather not deal with a jumpy hamster.
Sometimes hamsters jump from hands because they want something. This could be as simple as having spotted a treat on the table. Because hamsters have poor vision, they’re likely to risk the jump if it means getting to the nearby treat. Unfortunately, they’re also likely to miss their mark and injure themselves in the process.
Hamsters also tend to jump because they need to attend to their physical needs. It could be that you interrupted the hamster’s grooming or eating when you picked it up. Or maybe your hamster is just thirsty!
Imagine what it’s like to be a tiny hamster that’s lifted several feet into the air, far away from the safety and familiarity of its cage. Being picked up can be stressful for a hamster, even a tamed one.
But if your hamster has been tamed but hasn’t shown any signs of stress when handled in the past, it could be that your hamster is stressed for a different reason and doesn’t feel like being held as a result.
Symptoms of stress in a hamster include:
- Aggressiveness: A hamster will suddenly start biting or showing its teeth when stressed out. Suppose your hamster shows these symptoms, avoid picking it up and give it some space to calm down and feel safe again.
- Persistent attempts to escape: A stressed or frightened hamster will insist on escaping perceived danger or discomfort. If your hamster is wildly wiggling to get free, it could mean that it’s stressed.
- Excessive salivation: Fear and stress can cause a hamster to drool excessively. This symptom usually triggers as a response to body tension.
- Hair loss: A hamster suffering from stress will start to scratch incessantly, leading to a loss of fur and pink bald spots. The hamster’s fur would also start to appear oilier.
- Hamster noises: While hamsters are generally silent creatures, they still have the ability to release noises when stressed. A stressed hamster will grunt or snort, and when extremely anxious, squeak or squeal!
- Compulsive behavior: A stressed-out hamster will exhibit compulsive behavior, such as constantly gnawing on cage bars, excessive scratching and grooming, and other repetitive behaviors. In extreme cases of stress, a hamster will even gnaw its own limbs and bite itself. And sadly, self-biting can lead to absences and infections.
- Tremors: When hamsters are stressed-out or afraid, their muscles become tense. Depending on the stress level, the hamster will start shaking from the tension.
It’s crucial that you find out the cause of your hamster’s distress to prevent it from falling ill.
Did you change your hamster’s cleaning routine? Maybe you got your hamster a new cage, dish, or hide box, and it doesn’t recognize them—new smells can trigger stress.
Are there children or other pets in the house? Maybe you wake your hamster up or let a stranger hold your hamster.
Determine what’s bothering your hamster and do what it takes to calm it down.
If your hamster is showing any of the symptoms in the list above, you may wonder how you can help it calm down. Here are some ways to keep your hamster stress-free, healthy, and happy!
Provide your hamster with a healthy diet, a clean cage, and enough toys and furniture to keep them mentally and physically stimulated! Also, make sure the cage is the right size! All recommendations are available on Amazon.com:
- Vintex Large Hamster Cage: A large cage with hamster toys and a wooden finish that is safe to chew. There are plenty of toys in the cage to keep a hamster happy and busy and, as a result, keep its stress levels down.
- Aivituvin Hamster Cage: This beautiful plastic outdoor enclosure comes with a stand and a storage shelf. The cage has climbing ramps for exercise and exploration, allowing hamsters to de-stress through exercise and play.
- Mcage Multi-Level Twin Tower Habitat: A large hamster cage covered in tubes and hide boxes. It is the ultimate funhouse for high-energy hamsters!
- Mcage 5 Floor Twin Tower Habitat: A wired cage with a hide box, a water bottle, a food dish, many running tubes, and an exercise wheel to keep your hamster entertained and engaged. Its deep pan base also detaches for easy cleaning.
- PawHut Wooden Hamster Cage: A beautiful three-floor wooden cage complete with climbing ladders and hide boxes for your hamster to explore.
Make sure your hamster has enough to do in its environment. It’ll help it stay intellectually stimulated. Give it something to interact with, such as chew toys, hide boxes, and exercise wheels. Below are some products from Amazon.com you might like:
- LUBALU Wooden Enrichment Foraging Toy: Designed to keep your hamster mentally stimulated. The toy is an interactive puzzle box. When you put treats inside it, your hamster will have to solve the puzzle to reach them!
- ZALALOVA Hamster Chew Toys: A collection of activities for a hamster to stimulate it both mentally and physically. It comes complete with a seesaw, a swing, a swinging chew toy that your hamster can climb, and a hide box. All items are chewable and non-toxic.
- Kathson Small Animal Hideout: An adorable little playhouse designed to keep your hamster busy.
- DOZZOPET Wooden Enrichment Foraging Toy: Another puzzle box that you can store treats inside to keep your hamster entertained. This pack, in particular, has two puzzle boxes for the price of one!
- Skylety Fun Hamster Toys: This colorful and cute furniture set will keep your hamster busy. It comes with a playhouse, a seesaw, and a small bridge.
It could also be that your hamster is jumping because you’re holding it wrong. Squeezing your hamster too tightly or even grabbing it by the nape of the neck could make it uncomfortable and trigger its urge to jump or even bite you to get free.
Learning to hold your hamster correctly will make you both a lot happier!
Here’s how to hold your hamster properly:
- Wash your hands. When picking it up, your hamster may be upset or distressed if you smell like your cat or dog!
- Slide your hand into the hamster’s cage slowly. Leave your hand there for a few seconds without moving it. This way, your hamster becomes accustomed to it and doesn’t perceive it as a threat.
- Lay your hand palm up and wait for the hamster to crawl onto it. You can use treats to make this part easier!
- Cup your hand and gently lift your hamster out of the cage. Do this once it’s on your palm. Your hamster should be completely comfortable being cupped gently rather than squeezed or roughly grabbed.
It’s fine if your hamster is reluctant to crawl on your hands. With some weeks of taming, time, and patience (and a little bribing with treats), it will eventually trust you enough to do so.
You can do this by sitting in an empty tub with your hamster while it’s in its cage. Open the door and let your hamster out. The hamster will explore while becoming accustomed to being around you.
This trick is ideal because the hamster can’t fall or escape, and cleaning up any droppings or sprinkles of urine will be easy.
One way to gain your hamster’s trust is to place tissues with your scent on them in your hamster’s cage. Doing so will help your furry friend get used to your smell and develop trust in you. Eventually, your hamster will trust you and be comfortable around you!
You may like the following Hamster articles:
- 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
- How To Make Your Hamster Happy
Your hamster is jumpy, likely due to stress or a lack of handling. Prevent a jumpy hamster by taming it and keeping it healthy and happy.
No matter where you live in the States, be it Chicago or Boston, you’ll want to give your hamster the best environment. The best environment is clean, fun, and comfortable!
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