Understanding Your Hamsters Body Language


One of the great appeals of keeping hamsters is that their behavior and antics are absolutely fascinating to watch. While each hamster has its own individual personality and character there are some very commonly seen behaviors that give us some insight into how our cute little furry friends might be feeling. Here are just a few of the emotions that your hamster may be feeling and the behavior that you may see to indicate it.


Interested and inquisitive

Hamsters will sometimes lick you or other objects and this means that they are interested in the smell and want to find out whether you (or the object) not only smells nice but is edible? It would be nice to think that they are being affectionate when they lick you, but a more realistic likelihood is simply that they think you might be a snack or they are just enjoying the salty taste. Hopefully, they will quickly discover that you are not edible after a lick or two and don’t have to escalate the inquiry to having a nibble just to be sure.


Contented and having pride in their personal hygiene

Hamsters are very meticulous creatures and by nature very clean individuals with a strong sense of personal pride. As they have such lovely coats it’s only right and proper that they keep them very smart and tidy. Hamsters will groom themselves, and in social hamsters each other, frequently and one of the most adorable hamsters’ behaviors to watch is when they lick their front paws and wipe themselves around the face and ears.


Alert and ready for action

However often you see this behavior you will never tire of it when your hamster stands upright on its hind legs, perfectly still and surveys the surroundings because it has heard an unusual sound or sensed an unknown smell. It is sensing for danger and preparing to fight or flee. I find this particularly amusing in dwarf hamsters who, even when stood upright, still only amount to about 2 ½ inches tall, hardly a hugely impressive watchtower!


Bored, frustrated or simply avoiding the dentist!

Roborovski hamster gnawing is a natural behavior in hamsters and is necessary to keep their teeth at the proper length, and they will gnaw on all sorts of things including the bars of their cage, wood or just about anything. So in general gnawing is nothing to worry about, if it does seem excessive particularly on metal cage bars then just make sure that you are providing plenty of alternative objects that can be gnawed and some interesting hamster toys.




If you see your Syrian hamster rubbing its hips or sliding itself along the floor, or other objects, then it is almost certainly feeling the need to mark the area as its territory with its scent glands, which are located over the hips. It will do this more often after a cage cleanout or when transferred to new housing. It seems a little unnecessary since most Syrian hamsters aren’t about to have anyone invade their territory as they live alone, but perhaps nobody told them that!


Amorous and romantic

If your female Syrian hamster stands still with head forward and raises her tail when being stroked then she is probably in heat and feeling romantic. She would be receptive to a bit of male “company” at this time which unless you are a hamster breeder, sadly she is not going to get and will have to remain unrequited.



We all know that hamsters rarely bite, which is one of the things that makes them so popular as pets, but in certain circumstances they can be frightened, feel under threat and respond by delivering a short sharp bite or in the case of a Syrian a more prolonged hanging on type bite sometimes. To avoid these hamsters should always be handled gently, slowly and avoid any sudden movements or shocks.


Happy, exuberant and energetic!

At certain times hamsters are full of energy, particularly Dwarf Russian hamsters and at these times they can get pretty lively and they will climb on objects and either forward Summersault or backflip themselves off them. They often seem to enjoy it so much they go straight back for another go!


Insecure and fearing hard times ahead

Hamsters will always pack their cheek pouches with some food and then go off to store it for later; it is what they are best known for. Sometimes though they seem to feel the need to fill the pouches with enough food to feed a small country at these times they may for some reason be feeling a bit insecure and uncertain. So check first that they haven’t got things stuck in there and then give them a little more love and affection.

That is just a brief insight into some of the feelings that your hamster may be having, I’m sure you could come up with lots more, just keep your soul attached to your hamster’s.