Do Hamsters Have Feelings?
Many years ago, Charles Darwin stated that what differentiates species are variations in degree and not kind. Scientific studies support theories that animals can have emotionally rich lives. It is also stated that animals like dogs and cats, as well as baboons, iguanas, elephants, whales, donkeys, and otters have shown evidence of having emotions.
Hamsters are cute, tiny creatures that are usually easy to take care of. Sometimes, it can be hard to resist the urge to fondle them. You may be surprised when it suddenly bites you for no apparent reason! You may start seeing your pet as a little monster and feel that your pet hates you. However, this is rarely the case. Maybe your hamster is just in a bad mood.
Unlike humans, animals don’t have verbal ways of communicating their feelings. Often, their behaviors serve as signals to how they feel. It is therefore essential for pet owners to recognize and acknowledge these behaviors.
By doing so, you can correctly address the factors and issues which may be causing adverse reactions and emotions.
Like us, hamsters also have good and bad moods. They also experience normal emotions such as anger, joy, sadness, affection, anxiety, fear, and grief. And they can communicate these feelings to their owners and other animals through non-verbal cues.
It may include the use of chemical scents they send off through their scent glands, or through different body language to express how they feel.
Hamster Behaviors and What It Means
When hamsters burrow through their beddings, it means they are just happily playing around or maybe looking for a hidden treat.
2. Staring with Erect Ears
The little furballs may seem a little silly when they do this, but it shows curiosity with what’s going on around them.
It usually signifies contentment and self-reassurance.
4. Stretching Limbs
This behavior is quite common amongst mammals and generally signals a pleasant and relaxed feeling towards their situation and surroundings.
5. Puffed cheek pouches with ears forward and mouth open
It is a habitual behavior that signifies fear or anxiety towards a condition or threat.
6. Quick emptying of cheek pouches
It means that the hamster is insecure and about to flee from the situation.
7. Standing on hind legs with dukes up
A body language that expresses feelings of being threatened and may also be a sign of possible aggression.
8. Narrowed eyes with ears pointed backward
It is a clue that your hamster is suspicious and thinks that you might be up to something.
9. Lying on back with front incisors showing
It can be another behavior showing fear and submission to another hamster.
10. Freezes in place
A funny reaction of trying to avoid an impending danger by playing dead.
11. Chattering own teeth
It means the hamster is afraid but about to fight back.
Hamsters usually do this when anxious about something or someone.
13. When hamsters squeak
Squeaking may signal fear, discomfort, aggression, or is merely calling for a mate.
14. Being unresponsive
A diminished or lessened response may indicate injury or illness.
15. Nipping on you or another hamster
It is typical behavior of a hamster that is both frightened and defensive.
16. Consistently repeated behaviors
It may signal a cognitive problem which usually results from living in a small or crowded cage.
Hamsters exhibit various behaviors which prove that hamsters do experience a myriad of emotions. Scientists have studied that hamster behavior and emotional state has a direct effect on their outlook about life.
Pretty advanced for a rodent, but it can be explained more easily by saying that a hamster with a sunny or pleasant frame of mind is optimistic. On the other hand, gloomy hamsters have a more negative view of the world.
Ways to Keep Your Hamsters Happy
After understanding the different hamster behaviors and their meaning, it becomes easier to identify situations which require special attention. In addition, negative responses may signal an underlying problem which in some ways may be prevented.
On the other hand, positive behaviors may do even better when reinforced. Pet owners naturally want their little ones to be healthy and happy at all times. And as they say, healthy hamsters are the happy hamsters.
Below are some tips and guidelines which can help keep your beloved hamsters happy.
1. Creating a Happy and Comfortable Living Condition
Providing their basic needs. All creatures need to have their basic needs met to survive and thrive in their environment. These are necessities required to sustain life. Hamsters need to have these needs met to be happy and healthy.
It means providing for them adequate amounts of clean water for drinking, and healthy hamster food.
There is also the need to provide adequate sunlight and ventilation. You can do this by putting hamster’s cage in a location that contains fresh air and just a little amount of the sunlight.
You also need to put them somewhere where there is a constant temperature. Ideally, it should be between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything higher or lower than the ideal temperature can be detrimental to their health.
2. Providing Your Hamsters With Large Enough Enclosures
Domesticated hamsters spend almost their entire lives in cages. That is where they do all of their daily activities. Small and crowded cages are uncomfortable and unhealthy. Moreover, hamsters who live in uncomfortable dwellings are often weak, inactive, and unhappy.
Hamster cages need to be spacious and large enough so that the hamsters can freely explore, run, and play around. These activities and exercises are necessary to keep hamsters happy and healthy. Hamster’s living place should not be smaller than 2 square feet. The size can be larger depending on the number of hamsters who live in it.
3. Make Sure to Provide All Sorts of Amusement
Like us humans, hamsters can also feel boredom. To avoid this, they need an exciting environment. Since burrowing is their favorite hobby, you need to provide wood shavings as flooring and make sure it is thick enough so that they can burrow.
Aside from the underlying water bottle and food basin, your hamsters will be a lot happier if you can also provide some toys and running wheel. Make sure that these are also cleaned regularly to avoid accumulation of dirt and bacteria.
4. Put the Hamster Cage in a Silent Room
Hamsters, just like us and all other animals, need a home where they can be at peace, without anxiety or constant threat and danger. Avoid putting them in a noisy place which may cause stress and confusion. Keep them in an area where dogs and cats cannot reach. Make it a priority to find a safe and quiet place for your pets.
5. Spend Time With Them
Spending time with your hamsters allow them to recognize your voice, your sound, and your smell. It fosters familiarity and a bond between hamster and owner. Although some hamsters are solitary by nature, most of them enjoy being handled by their owners or people they have learned to trust.
So just make sure to be gentle when treating them. Hamsters are small creatures. They are fragile and can be easily injured.
Based on research and people’s experiences through interaction with hamsters, these little creatures have feelings just like us. They may be tiny creatures, but they have emotions of joy and sadness, fear and anger, and many of these are results of environmental factors. Thus, they are living beings with real feelings.
And as pet owners, it is our responsibility to keep these emotions as happy and confident as possible. Perhaps keeping them happy is a little more complicated than what some people might think. However, you can accomplish it with just enough love, patience and effort.
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