Why is My Hamster so Aggressive? 

why is hamster so aggressive

Sometimes my hamster is so aggressive and it’s not always clear why. I decided to have a look what makes hamsters aggressive, whether this is normal behaviour and what to do about it. Let’s dive in.

Why is my hamster so aggressive?  Hamsters are not naturally aggressive. If your hamster is aggressive then it could one of three things:  

  • you are disrupting his natural sleep schedule and try to interact at the wrong times
  • your hamster is not tamed enough for him to be happy for you to handle him 
  • his living conditions are inadequate, and your hamster suffers from something called cage rage  

Why is my hamster so aggressive? 

If you have a tame hamster but you are trying to interact at the wrong times, you might get a nip every so often. Hamsters really don’t like to be woken up and unfortunately most hamsters sleep the larger part of the day. They also don’t like to be petted when eating. Find the right time to pet your hamster and you will see an improvement straight away.  

If your hamster is not tame, it will take some time before you can pet your hamster without being bitten. Remember that this ‘aggression’ is just fear. You will need to win your hamster over and make it understand that you are kind and caring, and the only way to do this is by spending time with your hamster. 

If your hamster has cage rage, then you need to change their living space right away before he hurts himself or dies. Cage rage is enormously stressful for your hamster, and it can both kill him by accident or because of stress related illness.  Most hamsters will settle once their environment is more suitable and they’ll go back to being a great loving pet.  

Are hamsters aggressive to humans? 

Hamsters are not normally aggressive animals. When they are not happy, they will bite as this is their only defense mechanism. And unbeknown to you, your hamster could actually be unhappy and show it by ‘being aggressive’. 

When your hamster is not tame: 

If you’ve never been able to handle or pet your hamster, then your hamster is not used to you, and you will need to spend time taming your hamster if you want to be able to pet him.  

Your hamster will need to get used to having you around and learn that you are no threat. You can only do this by spending time with your hamster every day several times. Below is more information on how to do this. 

Are your hamsters living conditions suitable? 

Many hamster cages are unsuitable for hamsters to live in. This is especially true for the fancy plastic cages with lots of plastic tubes sticking out, with little to no floor space.  

Hamsters are very active creatures and need floor space to run around and investigate. Too little space makes your hamster super stressed. Invest in a larger cage. Especially syrian hamsters are typically housed in a cage too small for them.  

It could also be that you have more than one hamster in a cage, or you have two cages next to each other. While dwarf hamsters are fine to be together in a cage with other dwarf hamsters as they aren’t very territorial, syrian hamsters are super territorial and will become stressed just by having a hamster in a cage next to them.  

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How do I know my hamster is tame? 

Your hamster is tame when you can pick him up without any problems and he’s happy to be petted. He might eat snacks out of your hand or cuddles up when you hold him.  

There are times when even the tamest hamster is unhappy to be picked up. At sleep time, hamsters are notoriously grumpy, and you can expect a nip when you wake your hamster up to be petted.  

Mealtimes are not a good time for petting either.  

Study your hamster’s behaviour and find out when he is happy to be picked up and when not.

How to tame your hamster? 

When you first bring your hamster home you need to give him some space to get used to the new living space, and the sounds and smells of your home. This process can take weeks and the idea is that you get used to each other in this time.  

Lots of talking and singing to your hamster in these first weeks means that your hamster gets used to having you around.  

Putting a cloth with your scent in his cage means he gets used to your smell and is less likely to be scared once you start being close to the cage often 

Once your hamster knows your voice and scent it’s time to put your hand in the cage and just leave it there for your hamster to investigate. Maybe put a treat on your hand to entice your hamster to come closer. 

The next step would be to stroke him over his back softly and see if he allows this.  

Once you have established a bond and your hamster knows you are no treat, you can try to pick up your hamster.  

Your hamster can seem aggressive because he bites you when you try to pick him up or even as soon as you put your hand in the cage. But it’s very likely your hamster is scared rather than aggressive. Hamsters need to be tamed before they become the cuddly pets we’ve come to love. 

If at any time your hamster doesn’t seem happy with the new step, go back one and give it some more time.  

Importantly stay consistent, interact with your hamster often and don’t ever make any sudden movements as this will scare your hamster for sure. 

Are hamsters dangerous to humans? 

No hamsters are not dangerous to humans, however there are some diseases which can be passed on from your hamster to you. Normally through a bite.  

Two main things they can pass to humans are salmonella and lymphocytic choriomeningitis. In theory they can also pass on rabies. 

Salmonella is a bacteria which can give intense bouts of sickness and can be dangerous to humans with underlying health problems.  

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis is a virus which gives flu like symptoms and can also be dangerous to humans with underlying health problems.  

Why are hamsters so vicious? 

Hamsters are not actually vicious, however the one way in which they communicate fear is through biting.  So if your hamster is acting ‘vicious’ it’s likely you are doing something wrong and are scaring your hamster somehow.

Do hamsters attach to humans? 

Yes, hamsters can get very attached to their humans, especially when they spend a lot of time together. Handling and petting your hamster several times a day, at times when your hamster is relaxed and willing to be petted, will help build a bond.  

You will find that your hamster will cuddle up in your hand and fall asleep or make cute noises when being petted.

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Is it OK if a hamster bites you? 

No, it’s not ok when your hamster bites you and you should not encourage it either. If a hamster bites this normally means they are scared. It could be that you have cornered your hamster, have not tamed it properly, tried to pet it when he’s eating or sleeping or that you moved too suddenly. 

Luckily hamsters are small and it’s unlikely you will be severely hurt, but a natural reaction is to jolt your hand away, which could hurt your hamster. A hamster bite will hurt a kids hand more than an adult’s hand as well and you don’t want a child to become scared of a hamster.  

And lastly, hamsters can pass on disease especially when blood is drawn. While the chance is small, it’s important to move slowly around your hamster and to make sure your hamster has time to get used to you.  

What happens if a hamster bites you? 

Normally not much happens when a hamster bites you. It will often be a little nip which can be painful, especially for kids, but is normally not too bad. It’s important to find out why your hamster bit you. Was it because you frightened your hamster or is your hamster showing more signs of aggression even when you just look at his cage? An occasional bite can be expected, but if you get bites every other day, then there are issues which need to be addressed.  

What should you do if your hamster bites you?    

If your hamster bit you and there’s blood, then you will need to wash your hands with soap to clean the cut. After that you can put some anti septic on the cut. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get infected.  

If your hamster bit you and there is no blood, then don’t worry about it. Just wash your hands as normal after petting your hammie. Find out why your hamster bit you though so you can avoid the same situation in future, as they normally only bite when they are scared.  

Is it okay to be bitten by a hamster? 

You don’t have to worry too much about becoming ill from a hamster bite. Hamsters will bite every so often, which is normally down to you. Hamsters are prey animals and in nature they need to be always on high alert. This makes them a more nervous kind of pet who will bite when scared or disturbed. So, while it’s not okay to be bitten by a hamster, the only way to avoid it is by being calm around him and giving him time to get used to you. 

Are pregnant hamsters aggressive? 

Pregnant hamsters become more territorial when pregnant and this can show in aggressive behavior towards other hamsters. Hamsters don’t view humans the same way as other hamsters and are therefore not normally territorially aggressive when we are around. A pregnant hamster will be nesting, and it’s important to keep disturbance to a minimum and to leave the nest alone when cleaning the cage.  

Is it normal for hamsters to be aggressive? 

No, it’s not normal for a hamster to be aggressive. If your hamster bites you every so often, then your hamster is probably just scared at that moment and shows you by biting. However, if your hamster bites often, then it’s very important to find out where the aggression comes from. Stress is a big killer for hamsters and aggression is a clear sign of stress. 

What does it mean if your hamster is aggressive? 

If your hamster is aggressive, then it means he isn’t happy and probably emotionally stressed. Stress is a big problem for hamster as it can lead to many illnesses. As they are prone to stress – in nature they are constantly under attack- you need to reduce stressful situations as much as possible.  

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How do you make sure your hamster doesn’t get stressed out? 

Hamsters are prone to stress so it’s important that you keep this in mind and that you know how to look after your hammie in the best possible way.  

There are certain things which really stress hammies out so make sure of the following: 

  • No sudden movements 
  • Letting your hamster get used to you 
  • No other hamster next to your hamster cage 
  • No other pets sniffing around the cage 
  • Not loud and sudden sounds 
  • No moving of the cage constantly 
  • Leaving your hamster to sleep rather than waking it when you want to pet it 
  • Keeping the temperature constant and comfortable 
  • Giving a large clean spacious living space 
  • Letting your hamster out of the cage often 
  • Giving healthy food and snacks 
  • Giving a big hamster wheel and enough toys 
  • Wood to chew on 
  • Hay to nest and nibble 
  • Clean water 

How do you calm an aggressive hamster? 

It’s very important to stay calm yourself even when your hamster keeps biting you or when he won’t even let you near his cage without attacking you. Remember that it’s not his fault, rather it’s the only way to show his pain. So being calm will help. Using a soothing voice might help too. But the very best thing to do is to buy a new large cage with a large nest area which has a large opening, lots of floor space, a second floor and has a big hamster wheel. Always be calm, don’t grab your hammie or worse, react back in anger.  

Remember that he’s not in a good emotional place when showing aggressive behavior. By making changes to his environment and by giving your hamster some time and space, your hamster can settle and become a happy hamster again.  

How do I make my aggressive hamster happy? 

Aggressive hamsters are stressed and unhappy and there are some things you need to do to make your hamster happy again: 

  • Make sure his living space is large enough with lots of ground space and has two levels 
  • Make sure your hamster is entertained with toys  
  • Buy a big hamster wheel 
  • Make sure your hamster is let out of his cage at least every other day, preferably daily 
  • Make sure there are no external stresses like other pets, loud noises or sudden movements around the cage 
  • Make sure your hamster has time to get used to you, your scent and your voice.  
  • Wash your hands before you pet your hamster so there are no scary smells on them 

How do I stop my hamster from being aggressive in his cage? 

If your hamster is aggressive in his cage this will normally show by: 

  • Biting his cage 
  • Running around frantically 
  • Being territorial around the cage and particularly the cage door 
  • Throwing poop out of the cage 
  • Spitting at you 
  • Lunging at you in attempt to bite you 

If your hamster shows any of these signs, especially when this is new behavior, then your hamster has outgrown his cage and needs to be rehomed into a larger cage.  

How to find a good hamster cage

There are many online and offline places to buy good hamster cages. Find some great examples in our review page on hamster cages.

How do you get hamsters to stop biting? 

If your hamster bites, then make sure you take time for your hamster.  Give treats on your hand and play with your hamster. Let him walk on your arm and don’t make sudden movements or grab your hamster.  

Go through the list on how to tame a hamster and work through the steps until you have bonded with your hamster, and he is happy to be handled and petted.  

How do you tame an aggressive hamster?  

Hamsters are not aggressive by nature and if you find your hamster aggressive then it means you haven’t bonded well.  Take time for your hamster to get to know you and remember that your hamster is likely scared rather than aggressive. Get your hamster used to your smell and voice. Give lots of treats and give your hamster space to come to you. You can do this by placing the cage on the floor and sitting next to it, while you wait for your hamster to come out. Or by placing your hand in the cage without trying to pet your hammy. Treats might do the trick as well, just make sure they are healthy.  

What is the fastest way to tame a hamster? 

There is no fast way to tame a hamster, however the more time you spend with your hamster, the quicker the process goes. Initially spend a lot of time in the same room as your hamster and continuously talk to your hamster. It doesn’t matter what about, anything will do. The aim is for your hamster to get to know your voice. 

Sit next to the cage while you talk. Early on place a cloth you have rubbed on your skin in the cage and change it every couple of days. This means your hamster can get used to your scent. 

Once you have established this, let your hamster out once or even twice a day. Give healthy treats and have a nice time with your hamster. This way you can speed up the process. However, if your hammie shows any signs of distress, take a step back and slow the process down. This is a long-term game as you are building a bond with your pet, not a race. 

How long does it take for a hamster to trust you?  

Expect the taming process to take about four weeks, sometimes longer depending on how much time you can spend with your hamster. 

Find out more about how to make sure your hamster trusts you here. 

Conclusion on why your hamster is so aggressive: 

Find out when your hamster is behaving aggressively. Is it every so often or is it now dangerous to come near his cage? 

Has your hamster always been aggressive or has his behavior changed lately? 

Find out if your need to tame your hamster, if you need to leave it alone at times or whether your hamster has cage rage.  

Then follow the steps to improve your hamster’s life and wellbeing. 

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