8 Signs Your Hamster Is Bored (& What To Do About It)

Signs Your Hamster Is Bored

If you’ve noticed a change in your hamster’s behavior or demeanor, there could be a number of causes to look into. One of these possible causes is boredom – hamsters require both mental and physical stimulation and can become discontent if lacking these. Fortunately, this problem is easily solved with a few simple changes. 

How can you tell if your hamster is bored, and what can you do to alleviate boredom? A bored hamster will usually display a change in behavior, such as lethargy, erratic behaviors, excessive grooming, attempting escape, or aggression. You can alleviate boredom in your hamster by making sure you have a cage that is large enough, adding toys and chewable structures, adding tunnels and wheels, and increasing the time you spend with him outside of the cage. 

Read on for eight clear signs that your hamster is suffering from boredom and how you can change that.

Sign #1 Your Hamster Is Bored: Lethargy

All pet hamster species are nocturnal, so lethargy during the day should not be considered unusual, so long as this is not a significant deviance from your hamster’s typical daytime behavior.

Hamsters are usually quite active at night, however, and if your hamster spends most of his days and nights sleeping or lying around, there is a good chance he is bored. 

Sign #2 Your Hamster Is Bored: Chewing On Cage Bars

If your hamster spends an abnormal amount of time chewing on the bars of her cage, she likely wants out. Your hamster should not be desperate to get out of her cage if she has ample space and toys to stimulate her physically and mentally. If you find your hamster regularly chewing on the bars of her cage, she is probably bored. 

Sign #3 Your Hamster Is Bored: Erratic Or Hyperactive Behavior

Lethargy is not the only change in disposition that may reflect boredom – on the opposite end of the spectrum, your bored hamster may exhibit erratic behavior and a hyperactive disposition. What might this look like?

While all healthy hamsters should be expected to run around their cages on a regular basis, erratic behavior may include an abnormal amount of running or spinning in circles, pacing back and forth in the cage, or jumping up and down. If you find your hamster suddenly displaying significantly hyperactive behavior, you might assume he is bored. 

Sign #4 Your Hamster Is Bored: Climbing The Cage

As with chewing on the bars, a hamster who is consistently climbing his cage and hanging from the top is probably trying to get out. If this is the case, he doesn’t have enough to keep him occupied inside of his cage. You can assume a hamster is bored with his enclosure if he is spending most of his time trying to climb out of it.

Sign #5 Your Hamster Is Bored: Overeating

Like humans, a hamster may be tempted to overeat if he is bored. After all, when there is nothing else to do, having a snack does offer some form of entertainment and mental stimulation. A hamster who overeats will likely become obese, which will cause an even bigger decrease in activity.

If your hamster is overeating out of boredom, you will want to make some changes both for his mental health and his physical health.

Sign #6 Your Hamster Is Bored: Excessive Grooming

Grooming is a normal part of healthy hamster behavior – within reason. One possible reason that a hamster may excessively groom herself is boredom. Just like dogs who are bored, hamsters can begin exhibiting obsessive behavior like this when lacking stimulation. 

Sign #7 Your Hamster Is Bored: Aggressive Behavior

A bored hamster is a discontented hamster, and discontent can lead to aggression in some cases. If your normally friendly or receptive hamster has recently started to lash out aggressively when you reach for him in his cage, there could be a few different causes. One of these possible causes is boredom. 

Sign #8 Your Hamster Is Bored: Excessive Digging

Hamsters are burrowing animals and are happiest when they can express this by digging here and there in their cages. However, excessive digging is a sign that your hamster is desperate to escape.

This might look like a hamster who has reached the cage bottom and is still aggressively digging at the structure itself, trying to create an opening to escape. 

What Can You Do To Help A Bored Hamster?

No one wants an unhappy hamster, and fortunately, there are several tweaks that you can make to your hamster’s routine and environment to alleviate boredom for your furry friend. This might be as simple as providing a few extra toys or changing the way that you feed your hamster. It may also be as complicated (or expensive) as providing a larger cage.

Upgrade Your Hamster’s Cage To Alleviate Boredom

The importance of an appropriately-sized hamster cage cannot be overstated. Recommendations have changed over the years and will vary depending on the source. Most organizations, like the Humane Society of the United States, recommend a minimum of 24”x12” of floor space.

The RSPCA, on the other hand, simply recommends the cage be “as large as possible”. You really can’t go too large here, but you definitely can go too small.

Unfortunately, many hamster cages sold in pet stores are too small for our pets. You will likely find a larger selection online, or you can build your own cage if you’re handy. 

Hamster Boredom Solution: Scatter Their Feed

The wild hamsters of the world are foragers, and pet hamsters have not lost this instinct. If your hamster is bored, and particularly if he is overeating, try scattering or hiding his feed in his cage.

He will be forced to “forage” then – providing both physical activity and mental stimulation. It will also meet his needs when it comes to instinct and natural behavior.

Entertain Your Hamster With Chew Toys

Hamsters love to chew. The incisors of a hamster continue growing (like our fingernails) and in order to keep them trim, he needs to have the ability to regularly chew and grind them down.

You can purchase chew toys online or in the pet store, or you can make your own using common household materials. Be as creative as you want – common materials include popsicle sticks, toilet paper or paper towel tubes, shredded paper, or cardboard boxes. Just make sure anything you use is non-toxic.

Hamster Boredom Solution: Multi-Level Housing

Chances are if you do not have multiple floors in your cage, you’ve got wasted space. Hamsters are climbers, so adding additional platforms and ramps (easily homemade) is an inexpensive and effective way of adding more space to your hamster’s habitat. 

Help Your Hamster Overcome Boredom With A Exercise Wheel

It is said that hamsters can run up to 5.5 miles per night on their exercise wheels – these devices allow hamsters to meet their physical needs while staying safely in a cage. If you’ve got a hamster, you have to have an exercise wheel (and one that is an appropriate size at that).

There are many types of exercise wheels on the market. The ones that can be mounted directly to the wall of the cage (like this one from Amazon) eliminate the need to take away precious floor space, which is a benefit no matter how large your cage is.

Hamster Boredom Solution: Tunnels

Many store-bought cages are designed so that hamster tunnels can be added to them. Tunnels allow hamsters to climb, move around, and hide when they otherwise wouldn’t be able to, without the need for more floor space.

Tunnels can be purchased in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and you can create as complex a tunnel system as you’d like. Just make sure that you purchase tunnels that are large enough for your hamster to easily turn around in.

Help Your Hamster Avoid Boredom By Letting Them Out Of Their Cage

One way to alleviate boredom and encourage bonding with you is to allow your hamster plenty of time outside of the cage. Keep in mind that hamsters are very fast (and obviously, small) so safety will need to be your top priority.

Take your hamster into a room where he cannot escape from you, and there is no chance that another (larger) pet can hurt him. You might also purchase a critter “playpen” designed specifically for hamsters.

This is helpful if you would like to spend some supervised time with your hamster outdoors. Ideally, if your hamster is spending enough time outside of the cage, he will be nice and tired when you put him back into his home.

Meeting Your Hamster’s Needs To Help Them Avoid Boredom

Hamsters are quite low-maintenance when compared to other pets, but care still must be taken to meet both their physical and mental needs.

Like any animal, hamsters can get bored and become unhappy. When this happens, it is our job to provide for them in a way that will keep them occupied and content. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can alleviate boredom in your hamster, and most of them are quite simple.

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