When we think of rodents, we imagine rats and mice scurrying around, their long scaly tails trailing behind them. Hamsters, on the other hand, are rodents, but their tails are short, soft, and stubby.
Most animals rely on their long tails for balance, but a hamster’s tail is too short to provide any support. Most hamsters tails measure a mere ½ an inch in length, with the exception of a Chinese hamster, whose tail is as long as its body.
So, just what do hamsters use their tails for?
Do hamsters have tails?
Yes! Like most rodents, hamsters do indeed have tails. However, unlike many rodents, hamsters don’t rely on their tails for balance when climbing.
What do hamsters use their tails for?
Have you ever noticed that most animals have a functional tail? When happy or sad, these can be wagged or whipped, and they frequently help with balance and climbing.
A hamster’s tail, on the other hand, is short and difficult to see. Although there are no definitive answers as to why this is the case, here are some of our top theories on what a hamster’s tail might be used for:
- Hamsters (like rabbits), are burrowers by nature and live underground. They don’t need a long tail to help them balance because they don’t need to scale trees. Instead, they scoop up earth and dirt with their tiny paws. As a result, a small tail is preferable because these inconspicuous stumps do not get in the way of the task at hand.
- Although hamsters prefer to live on the ground, they will occasionally have to navigate difficult terrain. This is where their tails can provide additional stability.
- A hamster’s tail is situated in front of the bottom. Some might suggest that the reason for this is to protect this sensitive area – especially when burrowing.
- Just like other animals, hamsters do in fact use their tails in order to communicate. Female hamsters will raise their tails to indicate to a male hamster that they are interested in mating.
Hamsters tail length by breed
When most people think of hamster tails, they envision them as pink and hairless. In fact, it is frequently compared to a grain of rice. Did you know, however, that not all hamster breeds have the same size tail? We’ll look at the tail lengths of some of the most popular pet hamsters here.
- Syrian hamsters – The Syrian hamster is the largest breed, reaching a length of seven inches. Despite their size, the tail of a Syrian hamster is only half an inch long, which is more than 6 times shorter than its actual body. And it’s not uncommon for the little nubs of a long-haired Syrian hamster to be completely hidden.
- Dwarf Russian hamsters – This popular breed, also known as Campbells, is small in comparison to its Syrian cousins. Their tails are proportionally the same size as a Syrian, measuring approximately a quarter of an inch in length. Their tails may be easier to spot because their fur is often shorter and colored according to their markings.
- Winter White hamsters – The Winter White dwarf is similar to the Russian dwarf in coloration, habit, and tail size.
- Roborovski dwarf hamsters – The smallest of all pet hamsters, measuring only 2 inches in length. What they lack in stature, they make up for in speed, so if you’re quick, you might just spot their tiny tails, which grow to be about 18 inches long.
- Chinese hamsters – A Chinese hamster differs from other hamster species in that its tail can be almost as long as its body. If you’ve ever seen a Chinese hamster, you’ll notice that their features are more akin to those of a mouse or gerbil.
Do hamsters tails continue to grow?
Your hamster’s tail will continue to grow with them as they mature from infant to adult. However, one common misconception about all rodents is that they can shed their tails.
Unlike reptiles and amphibians, which can displace part of their tail to defend themselves, hamsters have only one tail for the rest of their lives. As a result, if your hamsters’ tails become injured, you must immediately take them to the veterinarian.
Hamster tail problems
Just like humans, hamsters can be accident-prone, so it is important that we try to prevent them from getting into trouble. One of the most common tail injuries occurs when your pet is placed inside its exercise ball. When twisting around the top, you should take extra precautions to keep your hamster safe.
Aside from accidents, the most common hamster illness is wet tail, a potentially fatal disease. This bacterial infection can be difficult to detect at first, but look for signs of diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, failure to groom, sunken eyes, and hunched posture. If not treated promptly, it can be fatal.
Although we don’t get to enjoy watching them wag, a hamster’s tail is still an important part of their body. It protects their behinds, aids in burrowing and balance, and aids communication with the opposite sex. And, let’s be honest, they’re super cute.
If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!
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