The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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As of 2020, almost 67% of American households are homes to pets, and most Americans own more than just one.
Hamsters are considered popular pets because they’re cute, easy to clean, and generally low-maintenance compared to other pets. This is why they also make great pets for kids and children with special needs.
But these peaceful creatures can sometimes go out of control, to the point that they disturb family members with their squeaking and hurt each other.
So if you keep on asking yourself: why are my hamsters fighting all of a sudden? You’ve come to the right place because we’ll explain all the possible reasons and solutions to restore peace to your little hamsters’ kingdom.
Hamsters are small exotic pets that appeal to everyone, especially children because they’re pretty cute and easy to look after.
They belong to the family of rodents, and the most popular ones are Syrian or golden hamsters and dwarf hamsters.
These animals are naturally solitary and don’t need the kind of attention that a dog or a cat needs to stay in great shape. This is why they’ve become extremely popular among families and avid animal lovers as friendly pets.
Keeping a hamster as a pet comes with a list of pros and cons.
- Hamsters are among the easiest pets to look after.
- There’s a wide variety of hamsters, which gives you several options to pick the pet you prefer.
- They’re inexpensive to own and care for, unlike other pets.
- There are lots of diet options available because they’re omnivores, so you can feed them commercial food or prepare a healthy diet of seeds, nuts, cooked meat, and greens to keep your hamsters healthy.
- Because of their size, a child or a person with some dexterity problems can easily carry a hamster.
- Hamsters are naturally very clean animals that like to keep their cage spotlessly clean. They usually use one corner of the cage as a toilet corner but are unlikely to cause a mess in any other corner.
- Because they always clean themselves and their surroundings, hamsters rarely produce a bad smell.
- They don’t require litter box training or any special preparation.
- Animals like hamsters can teach kids many exciting things, and they like to keep food in their cheek pouches, so they’re interesting to watch.
- They make great companions for people who like to stay up at night because they’re nocturnal animals.
- Hamsters require minimal space, so they’re perfect for smaller apartments, dorm rooms, and kids’ bedrooms.
- Even when they’re not handled, hamsters are entertaining to watch because they make funny faces all the time.
- Hamsters have bad eyesight, and they depend on their sense of hearing to detect danger. This is why they are more prone to biting than other pets.
- A hamster has a very painful bite.
- Hamsters are more active by night, and they will spend most of the day asleep unless you disturb them.
- Hamsters are prone to bacteria and viruses, which cause cramps and diarrhea if transferred to humans.
- Hamsters are short-lived and will only stay alive for a couple of years or three.
Hamsters communicate and interact by using body language to display their emotions. And if you own hamsters, you need to understand the meaning of their actions and how they react to different factors.
It’s pretty common for hamsters to fight and wrestle. These behaviors are usually harmless, but sometimes they escalate to something serious, like a fatal fight.
In some cases, what looks like a fight to you is simply the hamster’s way of socializing. For example, hamsters use the head-on approach to sniff other hamsters and stick their noses up to the other hamster’s muzzles.
They smell the scent that’s located on the face and helps hamsters identify each other.
The hamsters can also circle each other, where one hamster pushes his head under the other hamster’s belly. This attitude has nothing to do with fights, and it’s merely an act of getting to know each other.
However, if one hamster keeps on circling the other one, this can easily turn into a fight between both hamsters.
Here are some reasons why hamsters fight.
- Some species of hamsters are better not kept together. Syrian or golden hamsters, which happen to be the most common types of pet hamsters, belong to this category.
Syrian hamsters are territorial and can get aggressive if they feel threatened. This is why it’s crucial to keep every member alone in a separate cage to avoid fights.
- Some dwarf hamsters also prefer to live on their own, although these animals don’t mind living in groups or pairs. However, due to individual differences between species members, some of them might prefer to be solitary.
- Hamsters can engage in fights after mating, where the female hamster usually attacks the male.
This is why the male has to be removed from the cage right after mating to avoid fatal wrestling, which might cost the male his life.
- Keeping hamsters of different genders in the same cage usually leads to fights, even in the species that don’t mind being sociable. Therefore, it’s always recommended to keep hamsters of the same gender in the same cage or to keep hamsters in separate cages starting from the age between 6 and 8 weeks old.
- Hamsters might engage in fights because they weren’t socialized early on. Although compared to other pets, hamsters don’t need much training; they need some sort of socialization that makes them tolerant of their own species.
- In some cases, hamsters can show aggression because you’re not handling them properly.
For example, if you prefer one hamster over the other, give it more care or more food, this might evoke feelings of aggression.
One of the hamsters might feel that he or she is dominant over the other, while the other will be jealous and start to fight.
- Hamsters usually engage in power display matches. In this case, the less dominant hamster will try to push the attacker by extending its arms out without making eye contact in order to surrender.
However, if the hamster doesn’t back down, a wrestle will break, where one hamster will stand on its hind legs to attack the underbelly of the other hamster. One hamster is victorious when the other chooses to sleep on its back and freeze.
It’s important not to let power displays last because the bullied hamster doesn’t get a chance to eat, drink, or rest enough because it fears being injured.
This is why you should remove the aggressive hamster from the cage and take care of the bullied or wounded one to make sure that there’s nothing wrong with them.
If you notice any injuries, you should ask the vet for help.
- Hamsters get aggressive because of a lack of food. If you’re not putting enough food for everyone, they’ll start fighting with each other because they’re hungry.
- Some female hamsters practice cannibalism with their young babies. They usually put their kids in their mouths out of fear, usually keeping them in the pouch.
But in extremely stressful situations, the mother will eat her children.
- Hamsters can scratch themselves to the point that their bodies get bloody. This usually happens because of mites and other parasites that affect their health.
They can also get aggressive when they’re that sick.
It’s quite easy to avoid a fight between hamsters in the first place.
For example, you can avoid putting them into a shared living space, and this means that there will be no chance of fighting with another hamster.
Even if you choose to place your hamsters together, you can make sure that you’re not keeping members of the opposite genders in the same cage.
But what if you want to keep your hamsters in a big cage where they can all live happily? Here are some solutions that you can try.
- Before putting two hamsters together in the same cage, put them in separate cages side by side. This will allow them to smell each other without either of them feeling intimidated.
- Give your hamsters a chance to get to know each other. Then, if they get along well, place them in a neutral cage that’s big enough to fit them both.
If the cage smells like either of the hamsters, one of them won’t feel comfortable.
- Try to introduce hamsters to others while they’re still young. Hamsters are more tolerant when they’re socialized at a young age.
- Keep an eye on your hamsters while they’re playing. If you see that one of them is getting too aggressive, remove the dominant hamster from the group.
- Keep the aggressive hamster in a new cage that is close to the original one. This will help reduce its stress levels and smooth out the transition.
- Once the hamsters have been separated, avoid putting them together in the same cage, no matter what the reason is.
- Always make sure that there’s enough room for all members of the group to play and grow. Dwarf hamsters are generally tolerant but can become aggressive if the cage is too small.
- Make sure that there are no blind corners in the cage so your hamsters don’t trap each other. In addition, the cage should be set up so that all members feel safe and comfortable.
- Keep a separate accessory set for every hamster. For example, every hamster should have its own bed, wheel, swing, water bottle, and food dish.
- The food dish should be big enough to fit a single hamster, and there should also be a unique bed for each one.
- Make sure that both hamsters follow the same daily routine. Show the hamsters equal amounts of care, play, and grooming to ensure that none of them feels that they’re dominant over the others.
- If you take the hamsters out, handle them both together before returning them to the cage.
- For future pairings, sisters from the same litter usually make the best cage mates. If you’re getting mature hamsters, pay a visit to the vet and know the gender of adult hamsters before putting them together in one cage.
- Make sure to remove the young litter from the cage as soon as they can eat and drink on their own. This will protect them from the mother if she tries to swallow them out of fear.
- Give hamsters time to adjust to every change in the cage. For example, changing the bedding or any of the accessories can make the hamsters uncomfortable if they’re not given time to adjust.
- Aggressive fights usually involve a lot of squeaking and biting that can lead to serious and even fatal injuries. Eventually, one of the hamsters will run away to announce that it’s defeated.
But you need to have a big cage that allows the loser to hide. Otherwise, the attacking hamster will keep on chasing the other one. If you notice this, then you should separate the two hamsters.
- Depending on the frequency and severity of fights, you can either give the hamsters temporary timeout or decide to place them into separate living spaces.
If your hamsters keep on fighting, then you need to keep them in separate cages.
Hamsters are cute pets, and people love them because they’re cheap and easy to take care of.
However, hamsters are known to engage in frequent fights. Some of the fights are mere power display matches, where one hamster wants to show who’s in charge.
However, in some cases, the fighting can escalate, leading to severe or even fatal injuries.
This is mainly because hamsters are territorial. Even the ones that don’t mind socializing with other hamsters can frequently get irritated by their presence.
If you see your hamsters fighting all the time, it’s a good idea to separate them, either temporarily or permanently.