Why does my hamster climb the bars of his cage? At first glance, this behavior can be frantic and funny. But if it persists then it can quickly become concerning for pet owners. Hamsters have a wide variety of behaviors, and can be very entertaining to watch. You may have seen your hamster climbing the walls of his cage, before falling or “back flipping” down, repeating this behavior for several minutes, or even up to an hour. But what does this mean? Is it something to worry about?
If you have a habit of laughing at, stroking or otherwise praising your hamster for his athletics, then he will soon learn that crawling the bars is a good way to get your attention. The best way to stop a hamster doing this is to cease reinforcing the behavior by ignoring your hamster when he is engaging in wall climbing, therefore not rewarding this behavior. He will soon find other ways to get your attention! This technique can be used to any animal, and is the best “punishment” you could use for any animal.
If your hamster lives with another hamster, then he may be climbing the walls as a means to escape. Syrian hamsters are solitary, and they are likely to fight when kept together. If you notice any signs of aggression between hamsters alongside the cage climbing behavior then you should try separating the hamsters to see if the behavior stops. If you own Russian dwarf hamsters, who live together, then adding more places for your hamsters to hide from each other should help reduce aggression.
Sometimes, a hamster may develop escape behaviors because they are in sight of our other pets. Hamsters are prey animals, and naturally want to escape the presence of predator animals. When confined to a cage, they cannot escape, and can feel trapped and endangered when your cat is in the same room.
On a biological level, the stress of being in close proximity to predators effects every organ in the body. When a hamster is stressed, their body will have elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and consistent high levels or cortisol in the blood causes extra stress on the internal organs and reduces the efficiency of the immune system, making your hamster more likely to get sick. Keeping your hamster enclosure well out of reach and sight of other house pets is a recommendation for this reason, even if you hamster is not actively behaving stressed.
A stereotypy is “the constant repetition of certain meaningless gestures or movements”. This explanation is the most likely if your hamster repeatedly climbs the walls.
Stereotyped behavior is popular in captive animals, and is caused by boredom. Zoos and Sanctuaries decrease and eliminate stereotyped behavior by using a comprehensive enrichment program where many different novel items are given to each animal every day to ensure they do not get bored. This approach works great for your hamster too!
There are lot of different ways to keep your hamster stimulated, from different textures to dig in (hamsters love to make tunnels!), to freezing or hanging novel food items, to toilet roll tubes, socks and other new bedding materials. It can be entertaining to you, as a pet owner, to make these and watch your hamster enjoy them, and even the youngest members of your family can help too.
Sometimes, stereotyped behavior can be so ingrained and self rewarding. It can be difficult to break the cycle of behavior, however hamsters are highly adaptable creatures and normally respond well to improvements in their habitat when it comes to reducing stereotyped behaviors, such as wall climbing and bar chewing.
The behavior in itself is not cause for concern, but is definitely an indicator of an underlying issue. Therefore, we should be identify the cause where possible. Some negative behaviors can trigger others, and in extreme cases lead to self mutilation. By addressing the causes early on, you can reduce and even reverse any negative effects this may have on your hamsters’ mental and physical well being.
In summary, if your hamster has started to crawl the walls and bars of his cage, don’t panic! It doesn’t take much time or effort to take steps towards improving your hamsters living conditions. Ensuring they have lots of toys to keep them mentally stimulated and spending more quality time with your pet! After a long way, you can hopefully stop any wall crawling behavior and have a happy and healthy hamster!
Have you managed to stop wall crawling behavior in it’s tracks? Let us know your success stories, or ask for advice in the comments!
Summer is coming. While you may enjoy the warm temperature during the months, your hamsters may not. Hamsters thrive best in temperatures between 69 and 72 F (20 – 25 in Celsius) and over-heating can be fatal for your hamster! It is vital we to be sure that their home’s temperature is well monitored. Since hamster bedding can help a lot in managing temperature, and having the right one may help our hamsters get over the heat!
Tip: You may wish to invest in a small thermometer to keep near the enclosure to monitor the internal temperature of the cage. Temperatures can rise quickly, and vary throughout the day, which can make your hamster unwell.
At the end of the day, your hamster relies on you to meet his or her needs as the temperatures outside starts to soar, so how do you prepare the best bedding for your hamster in the summer? In this article, Myspet will introduce some good and bad ways to organize your hamster’s home.
Let’s look at a typical hamster cage. In your hamsters cage there should be a bedding and a substrate. Substrate is what lines the bottom of the cage, and bedding is a (normally) softer texture that should help with absorbing smells.
As in the wild, hamsters spend a decent amount of their time to dig around their environments, and build nest. In our human environment, it is their bedding that help replicate their natural environment. The closer to their natural environment, the better and happier they live.. Not to mention that wise bedding also help manage the heat and the smell.
Hamsters are most active in the evening and at night time, and will therefore should be sleeping through the hottest parts of the day. It is important that you chose a bedding that helps him or her keep cool, and provide a suitable hamster home throughout the summer.
These bedding options should NEVER be used for hamsters. They are small and sharp, and can cause injury and splinters to your hamster. They can also react to the urine of hamsters, giving off toxic fumes. Wood shavings are often very dusty, and you hamster can inhale these small particles and develop respiratory problems. Avoid these bedding materials this summer for your hamster!
It is important to make your hamsters home a safe environment, and the fluffy, synthetic nesting material sold at most pet shops does just not fit the bill. It is not digestible and can cause serious problems for your hamster if eaten, and the fibers can easily get wrapped around tiny feet causing injury.
Although Cat Litter is a great way to absorb the smell, it can be very dangerous to your hamster. Cat litter contains chemicals and cannot be digested by your hamster if they accidentally eat some. It can even get stuck into your hamster’s fur, which can be painful and difficult to remove. Cat Litter is not a viable option for your hamster, so if you have already purchased some, give it to a friend with a cat!
No matter what bedding you chose, you should clean out any dirty bedding every week, and do a total change of bedding every month. Some bedding is more absorbent than others, and some hamsters will chose one type over the other. It really is down to your budget and personal choice as to which bedding you choose as summer bedding for your hamster home!
Aspen is essentially hard wood chips. They do not retain any heat, and therefore is perfect for those days when the temperature feels like it won’t stop rising.
Aspen bedding is widely considered the best bedding, no matter what the weather. It is important that you purchase from the pet store, as the hamster bedding is dust free and will not cause respiratory problems, and nor should it contain any invasive mites which may harm your hamster.
Paper bedding can be both home made or shop bought. If you decide to make your hamsters summer bedding at home, then chose paper which does not contain any ink or coating. These option can both be toxic to your hamster. You can feel the paper to see if it has any coating, as it will feel shiny, and don’t use paper containing inks! It is best to buy from a pet shop, or use plain tissue paper torn into small pieces if you are making it at home.
You can shred the paper into strips by hand, or use an electronic shredder. The main disadvantage to using paper is that it does not disguise any unwanted smells, so must be changed more regularly than other bedding choices.
Sand is a great bedding for your hamster this summer. It will stay cooler than the surrounding environment, and your hamster can dig to reach cooler spots in the sand. Make sure the sand is several inches deep in places and is a child safe sand which does not contain any added chemicals or cleaners.
If you have a Syrian hamster, then sand is your pets natural environment! He will love burying around in it and it looks great too! Sand is also very easy to spot clean, and absorbs smells well. Have sand all over the cage, or kept in dishes!
Hay is a natural and aesthetically pleasing bedding that your hamster will love. It should always be purchased from a pet store, and not be collected from the garden. This may contain mites which can harm your hamster.
Do not confuse hay with straw! Straw is much sharper and can harm your pet if he tries to put the straw into his cheek pouch.
Hay is soft and comfortable, but will allow adequate ventilation for your hamster this summer.
You can also help your hamster cool down with very little effort. Consider the following options this summer, your hamster will feel much more comfortable in the heat!
Ceramic does not heat up as easily as other materials and equipment in your hamsters cage. They can offer respite from the heat for your small pet.
Giving your hamster frozen fruits and vegetables this summer will not only help him cool down, but will make his food much more interesting too!
Using an ice-cube tray, cut small portions of your hamsters favorite treats and half fill the tray. Top up with clean water and then put into the freezer over night. Do not feed too many with other treats, or your hamster may get fat!
Small USB fans are ideal for your hamster! However, your hamster should have the opportunity to escape the air flow if possible. An over-windy house can make them sick.
Point the fan on one corner of the enclosure. Your hamster will decide when he needs a little bit of a breeze to cool down!
What ever you do, keep in mind that your hamster relies on you totally for a happy and healthy life. If the temperature is too cold, your hamster may fall into a hibernation like state, and too hot and they can fall sick with heat stress which can be fatal.
Keep a keen eye on your hamster this summer and you should both be able to enjoy the sunshine! If you do have other tips for keeping your hamster cool, or have discovered a great hamster bedding for the summer, let us know in the comment below or join our Facebook group today!