How to stop hamsters from fighting?
Some hamster breeds, like golden hamsters, are more prone to fighting than other breeds, like Siberian dwarf hammies, and littermates, or siblings, are more likely to get along well together than hamsters who are introduced to each other as adults. Even then, some fighting can occur if hamsters are stressed, have limited space or vastly different temperaments. Failure to stop fighting hammies can result in injury or even death.
You can observe your hamsters communicating and interacting with one another by the way they use their body language to display an emotion. As a pet hamster owner, it’s important to observe these interactions to know when all is well in the cage or when you might need to mediate a conflict. The following list below includes a few of these hamster behaviors that are often harmless but can sometimes escalate into something serious like a fight.
Playfighting vs Actual fighting: Know the difference
Hamsters will wrestle when a more aggressive hamster tries to bite at the belly of another. Through a practice known as “appeasement,” the other hamster may appear to disregard the aggressor and thus indicate its surrender before a wrestling match breaks out. However, if it does not back down, that is when the hamsters might engage each other.
When hamsters wrestle, you will often see them rolling around together in an attempt to overpower one another. Eventually, a hamster may lay on its back in a show of defeat. When this happens, the wrestling match typically ends. Sometimes, though, neither hamster wants to give up and that is when things turn into a real fight.
Fighting is, as you likely figure, more aggressive and potentially harmful than wrestling. When nobody admits defeat in a wrestling match, you will see and hear things coming from the cage that indicate a fight, such as more intense biting and louder squeaking. If left to their own devices, a hamster fight will end when one hamster flees from the fight altogether.
The fastest and most efficient way to stop fighting between hamsters is to physically separate them. Use caution when you do this by wearing gloves to ensure you don’t get bitten or scratched. Move one hamster into a separate cage or tank and give the dueling duo a “cooling off” period of at least a day before you reintroduce them again.
Clean the cage
Sometimes hamsters are territorial, which can lead to fighting. While you have feuding hamsters sequestered, clean the main cage they share and replace bedding. Add new toys, like exercise wheels or tunnels, to give your hamsters something to keep them occupied and expend their energy. Place food in dual locations and add an extra water bottle to reduce the potential of fighting for rations.
Upsize living quarters
Sometimes hamsters fight because they’re living in quarters that are too small to accommodate individual space and territory. Consider moving your hammies into a larger cage, one that can be partitioned off into two individual quadrants if they quarrel on a regular basis. Your hamsters will still have companionship without the physical contact.
Hamster fighting can become aggressive, especially if one hamster is much more dominant than the other. If fighting is ongoing or one hamster shows sign of injury, seek veterinary attention and permanently physically separate your hammies. Don’t put another new hammie in with a known aggressor. If you continue to house your hamsters in close proximity, opt for plastic or glass cages rather than ones with open bars, as this too can lead to squabbling.
Future hamster pairings
Hamsters of the same gender, particularly female littermates, often have the best chances for peaceful cohabitation. Make sure you know the gender of mature hamsters before pairing them off — consult a vet if you need to. Accidentally housing opposite-gender hamsters together can result in unintentional breeding, even between siblings.
If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!
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