Should hamsters live alone or be kept in pairs? Do you ever worry that your hamsters get lonely if you leave them by themselves? Do you wonder whether another hamster – or more time around people – will make your hamster happier and stop them from getting lonely? In this article, we find out all about hamster loneliness and whether you should worry about your hamster living alone.
Do hamsters get lonely?
The simple answer to this question is no; hamsters do not get lonely.
Although they’re now often kept as pets, hamsters were originally desert animals. In the desert, resources such as food and water are limited, so hamsters have evolved to protect their territory and sources from other hamsters.
Should hamsters live alone or be kept in pairs?
Because they’re so territorial, it’s generally best to only keep one hamster per cage.
Adding more than one hamster to the same enclosure could lead to some really nasty fighting. Possibly even to the death! This is especially true of Syrian hamsters.
Dwarf hamsters are more sociable than Syrian hamsters, but you still have to be careful. If you do decide to keep a pair of dwarf hamsters then it’s important to introduce them to their cage at the same time and when they are very young.
Adding one hamster after the other will lead to fighting, as the first hamster will attempt to defend its territory from the second hamster.
If you have two hamsters living happily together and one of them dies then don’t add a new second hamster. They will almost certainly start fighting!
Adding two hamsters to exactly the same cage
If you do decide to keep two hamsters together in the same cage then you should follow these steps to help them live happily together:
- Introduce both hamsters to a new home – not a home that one of the hamsters has ever lived in before
- Choose a large cage – there are lots available. Two food dishes, two water bottles, two hamster wheels, two sleeping areas, etc.
- Go through the introduction process when they are young – don’t add fully grown hamsters to the same cage!
- Put one hamster in a small cage and place that small cage inside the larger cage
- Let the other hamster loose in the large cage
- Allow the hamsters to get used to each other over the course of several days. They will often sniff each other through the bars of the small cage containing one hamster
- Swap the hamsters around each day so that they take turns in the tiny cage and loose in the big cage
- Wait at least one week and then – so long as the hamsters aren’t being aggressive towards each other – remove the small cage so that both hamsters are loose in the big cage
- Watch the hamsters closely and put one of them back in the small cage if there are any signs of aggression
- Repeat steps 3 to 8 until both hamsters are loose in the main cage and not showing any signs of aggression
- If the hamsters are still aggressive after following the above process several times then you need to accept that the introduction has failed. Buy a second cage and always keep the two hamsters apart. Unfortunately, these two just don’t get along!
Should I play with my hamster?
The cage should be big enough for both hamsters to have plenty of space – and add two of everything to the cage. Although this article may make it sound like hamsters are aggressive animals, this is how they behave around other hamsters, not around humans.
Hamster is much friendlier around people than it is around other hamsters, so it’s fine to play with your pet. Just make sure to get a hamster used to interacting with you first and consider wearing thick gloves until he/she learn not to bite.
READ MORE: Owning Multiple Hamsters