Dogs are pack animals and cats are more solitary, independent pets, but where do the smaller furry pets fall in that social spectrum? Like hamsters, for instance. Do they get lonely? Can hamsters live alone? Hamsters don’t get lonely because they’re solitary creatures, and yes, they should live alone.
Hamsters have no emotional need to spend time with others of their kind and will even fight if they are in crowded quarters with other hamsters. Even though they don’t have to worry about finding food as your pet, their instincts tell them other hamsters are a threat to their territory, thus causing fights.
If you’re interested in learning more about the nature of hamsters, including whether they can live with other animals and how to house them, you’ve come to the right place. Join us below as we discuss those topics and more.
Tips for Keeping Your Hamster Happy
You might think it’s cruel to keep a pet alone without a companion, but that’s not actually true in the case of hamsters. The natural follow-up question to ask is how you can house your hamster if they don’t even really need socialization with other hamsters. It’s a fair concern, but it’s not as hard as you’d.
Tips for Housing a Hamster:
- Make sure their habitat is big enough and upgrade it if it’s too small. They’re little critters, but hamsters dislike cramped quarters.
- Provide a dish of clean sand for your hamster to take sand baths and change it out when dirty, or offer it once a week if cage space is limited.
- Give your hamster enough time outside of the habitat. They appreciate a change of scenery and a chance to stretch their legs. Do not place them in an exercise ball for this.
- Provide fresh hay along with pellet food for more complete nutrition. A healthy hamster requires appropriate nutrition.
- If possible, get a tunnel network-style habitat for your hamster to roam and satisfy their natural burrowing instincts.
- Adding enough substrate to allow your hamster to burrow improves their welfare.
- Ensure that your hamster’s wheel is appropriately sized and spaced.
Should You Introduce Two Hamsters to Each Other?
Under no circumstances should you attempt to house two unfamiliar hamsters with each other. You also shouldn’t house them in close proximity to each other, as they will pick up each other’s scent and become stressed by the other’s presence.
In addition, you should not house female hamsters near males, as the males will begin fighting each other if the female is in season. Females are also very aggressive when they’re in season and can pose a serious risk to males introduced to them. You should not breed hamsters unless you’re knowledgeable about the process. Males should not be housed with each other, as they will mark their territory and fight strange hamsters that enter it.
Though dwarf hamsters that are part of the same litter sometimes coexist as they mature, there is no guarantee that they will tolerate each other all the time. In addition, even if they’re littermates, brothers and sisters will indiscriminately mate with each other.
Can Hamsters Live With Other Types of Animals?
It’s not recommended to house hamsters with other types of pets, even similarly diminutive ones like dwarf rabbits or guinea pigs. They might get along, and there are certainly exceptions to every rule, but the risk of fighting is simply too high. We do not recommend housing hamsters with any other type of small pet. It’s best to just use separate habitats for all your disparate small pets like hamsters. They should also not be housed in close proximity to each other, even when in separate enclosures.
Are Some Hamster Breeds More Social Than Others?
Yes, some hamster breeds are more tolerant of socialization than others. The Syrian hamster is notoriously ill-tempered toward other hamsters, and females in particular are very territorial. They are also larger than males and, therefore, can quickly get the upper hand in a confrontational situation.
If you’re looking for a pair of hamsters, dwarf species like the Winter White dwarf hamster and the Roborovski dwarf hamster are more up your alley. The important thing about having pairs of hamsters, dwarf species or not, is to maximize socialization as young as possible, ideally, this should be commenced just before they are weaned. Littermates have the highest possibility of compatibility on a long-term basis. If they don’t get along when they’re young, they likely never will and should be separated before fighting occurs. In addition, it is best to house them in same-sex colonies, as otherwise, they will mate indiscriminately.
Many people are under the impression that hamsters are cuddly and social towards their conspecifics, but they’re actually very solitary creatures that only seek out others to mate. It’s possible to house two dwarf hamsters together at times, but it takes careful breed selection and, more importantly, socialization at a very young age for any chance at success. Our recommendation is to save yourself the hassle of potential fighting and house them separately.
Do keep in mind that a hamster can definitely be cuddly and social towards you, and just because they prefer to not be in the company of other hamsters doesn’t mean they can’t form a long-lasting bond with you.
Featured Photo Credit: Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova, Shutterstock