Cage Rage in Hamsters

Cage rage in hamsters

Some hamster behavior is just strange and weird and doesn’t seem very natural to a hamster. Like biting the cage continually, running around the cage like a madman, climbing the sides of the cage or being particularly hostile. This is known as hamster cage rage and here is everything you need to know about it.


What is cage rage in hamsters? Cage rage is very common in hamsters and means your hamster is emotionally suffering because their living space is too small or unsuitable. This doesn’t mean your hamster will stay aggressive. When given the right cage with enough space and entertainment, your hamsters behavior is likely to change for the better. Don’t write off your hamster yet for being aggressive. Just create a better living space and give your hamster time to calm down. However, if your hamster has been left with cage rage for too long, there is a chance your hamster will not go back to their normal self. So, make sure you act as soon as your hamster displays symptoms of stress or cage rage.  

What is cage rage in hamsters? 

Why does my hamster have cage rage? 

Where hasmters are small pets, many cages on the market are small too. And while the cage looked large enough when the hamster was brought home, the little pet has grown and now the cage is not that large at all. On top of that many cages which are being promoted as great hamster cages are not suitable at all.  

In the wild, hamsters run up to five and a half miles a day (nine kilometers). This shows that hasmters are very active and move over a very large area. In a cage, this area is very small and if you choose a cage without much ground space, your hamster gets the equivalent of our cabin fever. Just having a hamster wheel is not enough either. Your hamster needs floor space as well.  

If your hamster needs to crawl through plastic tubes which are often too tight, to be able to get to different parts of the cage, then your hamster is likely to get fed up as well.  

Your hamster needs space and stimulation to stay healthy and well. Emotional distress happens when these important elements are missing in your hammies life.  

What are the signs of cage rage in hamsters? 

Your hamster will display extreme signs of aggression inside his cage as well as outside. It can be very difficult to live with a hamster with cage rage as it is distressing to see your hammie displaying weird behavior. Some of these behaviors might be: 

  • Biting of cage bars for hours 
  • Running around the cage like mad 
  • Biting, squealing and spitting  
  • Defending the door of the cage 
  • Lunging at you 
  • Throwing poop at you 
  • Peeing everywhere to constantly mark their territory 
  • Destroying all toys, bedding and everything else in the cage 

The above behaviors are a clear sign that your hammie might suffers from cage rage. If you spot any of the behaviors above in your hammie, make sure you act straight away. Don’t wait until your hamster gets severe cage rage. 

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Which hamster breeds are at most risk of cage rage? 

The syrian hamster is the largest hamster breed and the most territorial. They are most likely to be housed in a cage too small for its size. When the hamster is brought home the cage seems enormous, but once the hamster is an adult, chances are that your hamster has outgrown its home. This means they will be at larger risk of hamster cage rage compared to the other smaller hamster breeds. The bigger the cage the better, but make sure it is at least 55 x 30 x 20 cm.  

What do I do if my hamster has a cage rage? 

Cage rage is a very serious condition in which hasmters are extremely stressed. If no changes are made, it can easily lead to death. This could be by your hamster hurting himself or by becoming ill due to the high level of stress.  

Luckily, cage rage in hasmters is curable. However, you will need to invest in a new – larger- living space for your hamster. While this might seem like an odd solution, it’s simply that your hamster is stressed out by the small cage its being kept in and is slowly losing his mind. 

What do I do if my hamster has severe cage rage? 

Some hasmters get so wound up that you can’t go anywhere near their cage, not even to put food in or to change the cage. They will attack you before you even get near their cage in which case, they have a great chance of injuring themselves.  

They are also on the brink of severe illness and action needs to be taken at once. If you don’t have the possibility to buy a larger cage, create a temporary area where your hamster can be housed until you have a larger cage. Make sure it’s safe, large, clean and has stimulating toys inside. You also want to make sure your hamster can’t escape. 

What is the difference between cage rage and cage aggression? 

While both are the same, people sometimes distinguish between rage and aggression in the sense that hamster cage rage is always and hamster cage aggression is at certain times, for example when territorial towards other hamsters.  

Both can be resolved easily if you want to, by providing a large clean stimulating individual living space for your hamster away from other hamsters. 

Does cage rage stop as soon as I put my hamster in a larger cage? 

Unfortunately, your hamster has been working himself up over some time. And he will need some time to get back to his normal self as well.  

Just move your hamster to his new environment and leave him to acclimatize. Keep an eye on his behavior and hopefully he will settle after a couple of days. Once he isn’t territorial anymore and doesn’t want to attack you as soon as you come near, you can slowly work on getting used to each other again.

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What are bad cages for hamsters? 

There are many cages on the market in great colors with tubes everywhere and a hamster wheel installed as standard. 

However, these cages are not actually cages, they are plastic boxes which are completely unsuitable for any animal to live in. As a matter of fact, these cages shouldn’t be sold at all. The plastic is colored, it makes a sweaty living environment, the tubes are often too tight and there is hardly any floor space for your hamster to run around.  

These cages will make your hamster unhappy and stressed as there is no fresh air and no real space to move around. 

Cages with bars and two floors are great cages but many hamsters live in a cage which is too small for their size, which is often the case with syrians, or they are living with too many in a cage.  

What kind of cage should I buy my hamster? 

Your hamster needs a cage large enough to roam around freely.  It should ideally have two floors and a lot of floor space. Metal cages are good as long as the bars don’t provide a danger to get their neck stuck. Add a nesting home with a large opening and a large hamster wheel for exercise. 

Stay away from plastic cages or any cages without much floor space.  

How much space does my hamster need in his cage 

A hamster cage can never be large enough, so the bigger a cage you can provide the better, but make sure the size is at least 55 x 30 x 20 cm.  

In the wild hamsters roam for miles and being in a small cage can be hard for them. Hamster wheels provide a great way of exercise and a way to get rid of their energy. However, just a hamster wheel is not enough. A large cage gives them the option to move around freely and sniff and investigate as they would in the wild. They will have enough space to hide food away and to nest as they please.  

How do I know if my hamster is angry? 

If your hamster is trying to bite you when you come near his cage or when he’s spitting at you, you can be sure he’s not happy, however while it seems he’s angry, he’s really suffering emotionally.  You will need to take stock and change his living situation to make it better for him so he can be happy and relaxed. Which is something all pets should be.  

How do you tell if your hamster is stressed 

Hamsters get stressed easily and they will show you they are stressed by changed behavior, like: 

  • Sleeping a lot 
  • Being lethargic 
  • Biting you or his cage 
  • Excessive grooming and licking the same spot over and over 
  • Pacing up and down his cage 
  • Not eating 
  • Hiding 
  • Not interested in playing 
  • Not wanting to be held 
  • Being aggressive 

While you might not have expected hamsters to get stressed, this stress can actually lead to depression, which can have serious health consequences for your hammie.  

What do you do with an aggressive hamster? 

You will need to find out why your hamster is acting aggressive. It this new behavior or has your hamster always been aggressive. Is it towards you or towards other hamsters? And is it all the time or at certain situations? Your hamster is either scared and your interaction needs to be adjusted or your hamster is extremely stressed and emotionally suffering and has become aggressive, in which case you will need to review their living situation. Remember that hamsters are not actually aggressive creatures, nor are they trained to be aggressive. They react to their environment.  

Cage rage hamster death 

If your hamster were to get a bad episode of cage rage, there is a chance your hammie will hurt himself badly. Racing around the cage and destroying everything can lead to injury, and where he’ll be super aggressive and hard to handle, it will be near impossible to treat your hamster for any injuries. On top of that, the extreme stress can lead to disease, which can be quickly detrimental to your little pet friend. Stress induced illnesses like heart disease and strokes are real for hamsters and they might die suddenly because of it.  

Why is my hamster running around like crazy 

If your hamster is bored, or doesn’t have a proper good quality hamster wheel, your hamster might start running around his cage like crazy.  

  • Check the hamster wheel to see how well it turns and if it’s damaged anywhere.  
  • Make sure your hamster is a large cage, so he has space to run and rummage.  
  • Provide great good quality hamster toys 
  • Let your hamster out of his cage often to give space to walk or run around.  

Why is my hamster climbing the bars of his cage 

There are several reasons why hamsters climb the bars of their cage and it’s not always because of cage rage. It could also be because your hamster is bored and needs a more stimulating environment to live in. There are many toys suitable for hamsters you can buy. You can also make sure your hamster gets lots of time outside of the cage, to roam around the room and investigate his surroundings.  

Weird hamster behavior 

Hamsters can display some weird behavior: 

  • Climbing the bars in their cage 
  • Peeing everywhere 
  • Throwing poop 
  • Biting their cage bars 

Just to name a view. In nature, hasmters are very active and travel large distances in a short period of time. When in captivity, hamsters have a small area to live in and to thrive, they need all the space they can get. On top of that they need to be provided with stimulation and an option to exercise. So, invest in good quality hamster toys as well as a hamster wheel. Bar biting could be due to the fact that hamster’s teeth will continue to grow their entire life and in nature they would gnaw enough to keep the length of their teeth in check. As a pet, they might bite the bars on their cage, to keep their teeth the desired length. However, excessive bar biting will damage their teeth and will lead to serious issues. So, keep an eye out for this.  

Do Syrian hamsters get cage rage? 

Syrian hamsters are more prone to cage rage than other hamster breeds because they are a larger hamster breed and need much more space. They are also more territorial than the other hamster breeds. When a syrian hamster suffers from cage rage, they will be peeing everywhere, continuously to mark their territory.  

Many cages are too small for syrians and this can cause your hammie to become extremely stressed which in turn can lead to cage rage.  

If your syrian hamster is showing any signs of cage rage or stress, change his living space and upgrade to a larger cage immediately. Keep it simple and buy one which is large, has two floors and lots or floor space. Don’t buy plastic cages with lots of tubes as these are extremely unsuitable and uncomfortable for any hamster but especially for a syrian due to its larger size.  

Do dwarf hasmters get cage rage? 

Dwarf hasmters can get cage rage, though its much less likely compared to a syrian. This is because dwarf hamsters are smaller in size. However, dwarf hamsters are extremely active and will therefore need enough space in their cage. Floorspace is always more important than crawling space. Plastic cages are always unsuitable, even for small hasmters as they like floor space rather than tunnel space. Dwarf hamsters might not always get all the cage rage signs other hamster breeds might have, but that doesn’t mean that dwarf hamsters don’t suffer when placed in a small or unsuitable cage. The stress might show in different ways like excessive grooming for example, to the point of going bald in places.  

Conclusion:  What is cage rage in hamsters? 

Cage rage happens when hamsters get too stressed because they live in an unsuitable environment, which is often a cage which is too small.  

Signs of cage rage are aggression, excessive bar biting, running around the cage aimlessly, marking their territory continuously, among other things.  

Hamsters can stay in the state of rage if left in this stage for too long. 

It’s important to immediately make their living conditions better. A clean, large cage with exercise options and toys for stimulation. 

Hopefully this will bring back your lovely hamster once more.  

Always look out for signs of stress in your hamster and make sure hamster pet owners you know also understand and recognize cage rage in their hamster early on.  

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