Believe it or not, hamsters can actually form bonds with humans. But, they are very different from many other pets you may have, so it can be hard to tell whether or not that bond is forming.
As a hamster owner, I will share with you what I’ve learned about the signs of affection my hamster displays, and that shows that he is totally comfortable with me being around him. I’ve listed 11 behaviors and sounds Cooper makes when I’m around taking care of him.
In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the different signs that your hamster is bonding with you, in addition to some information about how you can work to form that bond.
- Do Hamsters Show Affection?
- 11 Signs (and Sounds) That Show That Your Hamster Loves You
- 3 Signs That a Hamster is Not Comfortable Or Afraid Of You
- What Can I Do For My Hamster To Love Me?
- How do hamsters play with humans?
- Do hamsters have a favorite person?
- Can hamsters bond with several people?
- Do hamsters like to be petted or handled?
Do Hamsters Show Affection?
All that many people know about hamsters is that they live in cages and are often the first pet for small children. Because they are so small, there are a lot of misconceptions about how hamsters relate to their owners and other humans, but hamsters can actually bond with and show affection to the people that they like. In fact, many breeds of hamsters really thrive when they get plenty of quality time and attention from their owners and may become sad or depressed if left alone for too long.
Now, this does not mean that your hamster will interact with humans the same way cats or dogs do. Hamsters learn who their owners are by learning their scent, and even after your hamster becomes bonded with you and starts to show affection to you, he may still become anxious and shy when other people are around. More often than not, hamsters will pick one or a couple of select people to trust and show affection toward.
The main reason that hamsters are so selective with who they show affection is that it takes them time to grow to trust people. They do not instinctively trust people, so you have to put in a lot of time to get your hamster to start showing affection to you.
Make sure that you do not force affection by grabbing onto your hamster. Instead, just hang out around your hamster’s cage and hold out your hand to him. Allow him to sniff you and explore. Eventually, he will learn your scent and start coming to you when you put your hand in. In the later section titled “What Can I Do For My Hamster To Love Me?” you will find some more tips on how to bond with your hamster.
Finally, remember that just like you like when your hamster shows affection to you, your hamster will like it if you show affection to him. Again, do not force the affection, but once your hamster is comfortable with you, you can start petting and hanging out with your hamster. Most breeds will thrive when they get that kind of regular interaction and attention, even if they live with other hamsters that they have also become friends with.
11 Signs (and Sounds) That Show That Your Hamster Loves You
1. Seeking Attention
A telltale sign that your hamster likes you is if he starts seeking out your attention instead of the other way around. In the beginning, you want to give your hamster time to get used to you, and he probably won’t come out to greet you any time you get near the cage, but when he starts to like you, he will likely approach you when you get close. Hamsters only seek out attention from those they like and trust.
2. Yawning and Stretching
You might think that your hamster yawning or stretching around you is a sign that he is bored of you, but that is actually not the case. Because hamsters are so small, they are pretty close to the bottom of the food chain, and they instinctively know that they have to be on alert for predators. This is why hamsters seem to very rarely relax unless sleeping in some sort of hideout or burrow. If your hamster is comfortable enough around you to yawn, stretch, and relax, it means he trusts you.
3. Likes To Show Off
One way that you can know that your hamster likes you is if he tends to show off when you come around. Now, this may sound confusing; how does a hamster show off? But you will likely notice that when you come close to the cage, your hamster will start playing with toys, running a little faster than usual on his exercise wheel, or showing you other things that make him happy. Your hamster is trying to show you how much they like you when they show off to you.
4. Not Avoiding You
When you first bring home a hamster, he will likely hide and run away any time that you enter the room or approach the cage. Once he stops doing so (even if it seems like he is not even acknowledging your presence), it is a good sign that your hamster is starting to really like you.
5. Hanging Out After You Offer Treats
Getting your hamster to trust you enough to accept a treat right from your hand is a good sign, but an even more obvious sign that your hamster is starting to actually like you rather than just tolerate you is if he continues to hang around after taking the treat from your hand. Try keeping your hand in the cage after giving your hamster a treat and see if he sticks around and eats beside your hand.
6. Seeming Tamer
Finally, if your hamster starts to seem friendlier whenever you are around, it is a good sign that he is starting to warm up to you. Often seeming tamer is one of the first ways that you will really be able to tell that your hamster is warming up to you. They may continue playing or doing normal activities when you come around, and they will not bite you or scratch at you when you reach your hand in.
Even when you handle your hamster and put him on your lap, you will notice that he will stop running away as he used to at the beginning, but will accept being moved from one hand to the other or will climb comfortably all over you instead of trying to escape.
7. Pops His Nose Out Of The Box When You Call Him
This is quite an endearing sight when your hamster sticks his nose out of his box or burrow when he hears your voice or if you have a special way of calling him. You will have better results if you call him when he is still inside his box but not sleeping yet, like early in the morning or late at night. A hamster that is comfortable with you might not come out of his box completely, but you should see his little nose poking out of his box or burrow whenever he hears you calling him, trying to investigate what is going on.
It can be helpful to understand what the different sounds that your hamster makes mean so that you can be on the lookout for sounds that indicate a bond or attachment being formed. Let’s take a look at some of the main sounds that your hamster might make if he is warming up to you.
Squeaking may be the only sound on this list that you are familiar with, and that is because it is one of the most common noises that hamsters make. There is a wide variety of different reasons why your hamster might squeak. In general, it is a sign that your hamster is feeling happy.
You might notice your hamster squeaking when you feed him, when he is running on a wheel, or when he is playing with a new toy. However, squeaking can also be a sign that your hamster is hungry or feeling irritated, so make sure you pay attention to context clues to figure out what kind of squeak it is.
Another common hamster sound that you may be less familiar with (or just unaware of what exactly it is) is clicking. Clicking is often commonly referred to as bruxing and it is a sound that hamsters make when they rub their teeth together to make a clicking sound. This sound can be compared to a cat’s purr and is pretty much always a sign that your hamster is happy and content with whatever is happening.
Yes, just like a bird, you may notice that your hamster is chirping. Just like squeaking, hamsters chirp for a variety of different reasons, so it is important to pay attention to context clues. More often than not, if your hamster is chirping, it is because he is feeling happy or excited, but it can also be a sign that he is feeling angry or even afraid.
This final sound, cooing, is a very rare sound, so you do not need to feel concerned if you have never noticed your hamster cooing. Cooing is a soft, quiet sound (almost like vibrating) that hamsters can sometimes make. If your hamster does decide to coo, it is a really good sign that he is feeling happy and content and maybe really forming a tight bond with you.
3 Signs That a Hamster is Not Comfortable Or Afraid Of You
First, let’s talk about some sounds that your hamster might make if he is not comfortable around you or even afraid of you. If your hamster feels threatened by you or angry at you, you may notice that he starts to hiss at you. This is completely normal after you bring home a new hamster. If he keeps hissing, you should make sure that the cage is adequate and that you are providing him with proper levels of care and attention.
2. Scratching and Biting
However, there are other signs that your hamster might not be comfortable around you or is afraid of you besides sound. One pretty clear sign is if your hamster bites or scratches at you when you put your hand near or in the cage. Now, this does not mean light or playful nibbling on your fingers, but actually aggressively biting or scratching at your hand whenever you reach near the enclosure.
3. Constantly hiding
Hamsters are pretty skittish creatures, and they tend to like to spend time in hideouts and burrows, so that alone is not a sign that your hamster is not comfortable with you. However, if you notice that whenever you approach the enclosure, your hamster goes from out and playing to hiding in a hideout or burrow, it could be a sign that your hamster is not comfortable with you yet.
What Can I Do For My Hamster To Love Me?
It makes complete sense if you are not sure right off the bat how to bond with a hamster. They are very different from many other common pets that you might get. But the good news is that there are things that you can do to help increase that bond that is being built between you and your hamster.
1. Be a Good Provider
First, you want to make sure that all of your hamster’s needs are being met, or else he will not be in the state of mind to really form the bond. Make sure he has toys and a wheel for exercise, enough space to hide out and burrow, and plenty of food and water. You also should likely give your hamster time to adjust to his new space and enclosure before starting the process of forming a bond with your new furry friend.
2. Spend Quality Bonding Time With Your Hamster
Once you are sure that all of your hamster’s needs are met, you can move on to starting to try and build a bond. You want to start by getting your hamster used to your scent and presence. Do not force him to come near you or be held by you, but consistently put your hand out and allow him to sniff and get used to you.
3. Reward Your Hamster’s Friendly Behavior With Treats
If your hamster is a more shy animal, you can also use things like treats and bits of food to help entice him over to your hand. Make sure that whatever treats you get/use are completely safe for hamsters. Once he has gotten used to your smell and presence, you can move on to more intense things like holding and petting.
How do hamsters play with humans?
There are a few different ways that you can spend quality time playing with your hamster. You can use treats or toys to initiate games and other interactions, but the easiest is just taking your hamster out of his enclosure and letting him explore an enclosed space. He will likely climb all over you and explore.
Do hamsters have a favorite person?
Yes, in general hamsters do have a favorite person. This is usually the person that feeds them and hangs out around them the most.
Can hamsters bond with several people?
Yes, it is possible for hamsters to bond with several people, but it is important that each person trying to build a bond with the hamster spends one on one time with him.
Do hamsters like to be petted or handled?
Many hamsters thrive when they get consistent attention, but how much your hamster likes to be petted and held really depends on the specific hamster