If you too own a hamster, you’ve probably wondered if your hamster can actually think and if so, how smart it is.
You can learn everything about your hamster’s ability to think in this article. Finally, you get three tips against boredom in hamsters as icing on the cake!
It’s best not to beat around the bush any longer, but to get straight to the point.
Can hamsters think?
Surely you already know what the answer to this question will be…
Of course your hamster is able to think!
Of course, we are all no hamsters ourselves and therefore can not say exactly how the thinking processes in a hamster brain run. However, it is safe to say that your hamster can think!
Where does this firm conviction come from, you want to know?
That’s quickly answered: Take a closer look at your furry little friend. If you keep your hamster in a species-appropriate manner, you will be able to observe that he likes to dig tunnels. If your hamster couldn’t think, he wouldn’t be able to create complex tunnel systems or would die in them sooner or later – because without the ability to think, there can be no sense of direction. But this sense of orientation is essential to find its way in the tunnels!
This fact alone is very clear evidence that hamsters must be able to think in order to survive at all.
In addition, you’ll quickly find that your hamster really thrives when you keep adding variety to his environment with new items.
However, make sure your hamster can’t fall off high platforms. Hamsters can think, but they have no sense of heights!
A hamster wheel, seesaw, hay ball, and many other items can get your hamster’s brain going.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to redesign the entire cage every day from now on, but that every once in a while (every few weeks) you add a little variety with a new object.
It can also be enough to change the enclosure a little bit every now and then. Even small changes will appeal to your hamster’s brain and encourage them to explore.
How intelligent are these little rodents really?
Hamsters can think – we’ve already been that far.
But how intelligent are the rodents really? Can hamsters plan things in advance? Are they calculating? Can they feel deep emotions?
We will now answer all these questions in detail. In addition, you will get some tips on how to challenge your hamster to prevent boredom. But for now, let’s start by answering the questions we just asked – after all, these questions are pretty exciting, aren’t they?
American researchers found that hamsters develop up to 15% more brain cells when they are regularly confronted with new things. New experiences create new brain cells.
To provide your hamster with a variety of new experiences, it’s not necessary to constantly rearrange the enclosure. It may be enough to feed a variety of foods, give your hamster a run in your home or a room, or add different surfaces to the enclosure.
In addition, in the course of research, it was found that the activity of the hamsters remained relatively high even in old age. Furthermore, mental stimulation had a very positive effect on health and overall lifespan.
Hamsters that were able to keep themselves busy became sick significantly less often and lived on average almost half a year longer than their hairy counterparts that tended to be bored for most of their existence. However, it’s not just variety that’s a deciding factor in lifespan, but also the overall satisfaction of the animals.
Your hamster must always have the chance to adequately fulfill its basic needs. Therefore, when furnishing your hamster, always make sure that the individual items are made of rodent-friendly material.
Plastic items, for example, have no place in a hamster cage!
Do hamsters plan their future and can they feel emotions?
Although hamsters are very intelligent animals capable of learning new things and storing them for a long period of time, the animals cannot plan their future.
Like all animals, your hamster always lives in the here and now.
So he won’t worry about what he has to do tomorrow morning or worry that you might not feed him.
Your hamster is only interested in what is important to him right now and how he can fulfill his current needs. He is not concerned with the past, nor with his future – to some extent, this way of thinking is also enviable, isn’t it 😉 .
By the way, your hamster is quite capable of feeling emotions and recognizing them in other creatures.
If you have a good relationship with your animal, you will most likely be able to notice that your hamster behaves differently towards you when you are angry, scared, sad or happy. In turn, your hamster may also react sadly or bored or angry if he is not kept species-appropriate and is constantly hungry or bored in his enclosure.
This brings us to the next important point: How can you tell if your hamster is overworked or underworked?
We’d better dedicate a new paragraph to this question, because it’s not so easy to answer.
How can I tell if my hamster is over- or underchallenged?
- signs and reasons for overstraining
If your hamster is overburdened with a situation, this overburden can show up in different ways. As a rule, however, you will notice that your pet either withdraws completely or reacts increasingly aggressively. In addition, it is not uncommon for the stress to which the animals are subjected by the overload to lead to infections and other diseases.
The overstrain in hamsters can have many reasons. Here you will find three possible causes:
You may be keeping several animals in one enclosure, even though hamsters are strict solitary animals.
Keeping two hamsters in different enclosures can also cause stress if the enclosures are placed right next to each other.
Since hamsters are nocturnal, they require plenty of sleep and rest during the daytime hours. If your hamster’s sleep is regularly disturbed by noise, this circumstance can overwhelm your pet!
- signs and reasons for underchallenge
Depending on how severe the under-demand is, it can be recognized quite easily. Most hamsters that have to be bored for an extended period of time will develop stereotypical behaviors. In addition, you can often see a blank stare and a slight cloudiness in the animal’s eyes. The animal’s activity is greatly reduced, and often this condition is accompanied by a loss of appetite.
Three possible causes of underactivity in hamsters are:
The enclosure setup is always the same and offers no variety to the animal. Your hamster’s enclosure is too small, preventing him from moving around and exploring the area. The flooring doesn’t allow your hamster to dig tunnels and pursue its interests.
3 tips to prevent boredom in your hamster’s life!
Finally, here are three tips that can help eliminate boredom in your hamster’s life!
Especially for hamsters, there are various labyrinth systems that not only actively challenge the hamster, but can also satisfy the basic need to build tunnels.
If you offer your hamster the opportunity to explore such a labyrinth from time to time, you can kill two birds with one stone!
- regular (secured!) exercise
If possible, you can give your hamster the option to explore a certain area of your home on a regular basis. However, make sure that there are no cables within reach of the hamster, as hamsters are rodents and can quickly get into mortal danger by chewing the cable!
- clicker training
Hamsters are so intelligent that you can teach your animal various tricks by means of clicker training. Clicker training not only brings variety into everyday life, but also a lot of fun for humans and animals!
Just give it a try!
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
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