Hamsters are usually quiet, but can also express themselves through noises. From growling to chattering teeth, the repertoire is surprisingly large.
If you want to understand and appreciate your pet correctly, you should learn and understand the range of sounds.
This guide will help you interpret sounds and context correctly.
In this article, you will learn when hamsters make sounds and how to classify them. This is not always easy, because often the sounds seem the same, but can have different meanings.
Understanding hamsters by sounds
Hamsters make sounds that are rather reserved and discreet for humans. However, they are a serious warning sign in almost every case.
These are some of the sounds that hamsters may make:
They can express fear or aggression, be a warning, but also indicate pain.
However, if you keep your hamster species-appropriate, handle it carefully, and there are no conspecifics in the area, you will rarely hear it.
Fear and aggression
Fear and aggression seem to be two very different sensations for many. However, they can actually blend together seamlessly.
If you corner your hamster, he feels threatened, or he feels he needs to protect resources, fear turns into aggression.
So your hamster is not “bad” when he warns you or even attacks you. He merely feels compelled to defend himself.
Typical noises it makes are squeaking, squealing, screeching, hissing and growling or chattering its teeth.
Let’s take a look at what the individual sounds mean.
Beeping, squeaking and screeching
High-pitched sounds ranging from small beeps to screams clearly indicate great anxiety in your hamster.
They can occur when:
the hamster is frightened
he is cornered
he perceives a supposed enemy
Other causes are also possible, which we will discuss later.
As long as the hamster can still flee, it will do so after the squeak or screech, or it will go into a stupor and play dead.
From this you can tell that the trigger is fear.
Now for the other possibilities: Pain.
If the high-pitched sounds suddenly occur when you hold the hamster or take a previously tame animal on your hand, it a pain sound.
There are numerous causes for this. Among them are:
Fractures or bruises
Scratches or cuts
The best case scenario is that the animal was merely startled and calms down following the moment of shock.
In any case, you should observe the further behavior and consider whether you are responsible for the fear.
If the whimpering or crying occurs again and is accompanied by other changes, such as reluctance to eat or significantly less movement, you must consult a veterinarian.
Growling and hissing
This is a clear defense and warning. The hamster is threatening to attack.
If you do not respect the sounds and retreat, it can come to bites and scratches.
When hissing, the hamster opens its mouth and makes a hissing sound. Growling, on the other hand, can sound like a low growl.
A hamster makes these sounds, for example, when it can no longer escape, or when it sees itself or resources threatened.
The resources can be food, water or toys.
In addition, there are other situations in which the sounds can occur. These include:
the hamster feels disturbed, for example while sleeping
warning for conspecifics
The growling may even occur during mating or serve to chase the partner out of the territory again afterwards.
Teeth chattering and teeth grinding
Another possible vocalization in hamsters is the chattering or grinding of teeth. These sounds can serve as a warning of an attack and are meant to scare off opponents.
Likewise, the reason may again be due to illness or pain.
Be sure to note the body language and situation when doing this. Does your hamster rattle or crunch even in complete silence and not under stress?
Then this clearly indicates a health problem. On the other hand, does he make the sounds because he perceives the smell of another hamster?
Then it is sufficient to increase the distance between the cages or – if no other hamster is kept by you and you have only stroked one – to wash the skin thoroughly.
Talkative hamsters? – Noises for attention
In addition to the sounds and noises already mentioned, a hamster may also make noises for other reasons.
These occur mainly in animals that feel particularly comfortable and safe in their environment.
This is because in the wild, one wrong sound can mean considerable danger for a hamster. Therefore, they use their vocalizations only for warnings, defense or by mistake.
However, there is also an exception to this rule. This one is about youngsters and you will find out in a moment why they tend to make themselves heard with noises.
Short beeping or cheeping occurs with hamster babies and young animals quite also without direct threat.
They call their mother, for example, if they are lost or feel helpless for other reasons.
If hamsters were separated from their mother too early, you can still hear these sounds later.
This is also true for animals that are very attached to humans. If you have bottle-fed a hamster or spend a lot of time with it, it may well want to call you or get your attention.
Talking to yourself
Grumbles, contented peeps, or sighs are occasionally heard from hamsters that find a special surprise while foraging and are content or even happy.
They feel secure enough to “talk to themselves.”
Some animals may also growl and grumble a bit when they are playing, or disappointed with the food supply.
A small sneeze speaks to excitement. This can always be the case when you are handling food in front of the hamster home or when your hamster gets a new toy.
A single sneeze is therefore positive and no reason for concern. On the other hand, if your pet sneezes more frequently and has nasal discharge, it is a sign of illness.
Rattling and scratching
Rattling toys or bowls, scratching on the floor, but also scratching the bars or walls can serve to attract your attention.
Your hamster may be bored or impatient because you are not serving his food quickly enough.
Watch closely when he exhibits these behaviors. If your pet is bored more often, it can lead to stress. This, in turn, has a negative effect on health and can even cause aggression.
Sounds as a sign of pain and illness
Since hamsters use similar sounds in different situations, it is not always easy to distinguish between them.
Therefore, in the case of pain or illness, you must always look at the big picture.
Is your hamster eating and drinking significantly more or less lately? Is he sleeping more or restless?
In these cases there could be a disease and an examination by the veterinarian is recommended.
Always interpret noises in context
Just as with illness and pain, you should always interpret sounds in other situations in context.
If your hamster is playing or foraging and making sounds without being disturbed, the sounds do not indicate anything negative.
If, on the other hand, he flees, rears up or even tries to attack you, you must find the cause.
This is especially true if your hamster was previously curious and playful or even trusting and tame.
A slight change in behavior during puberty is perfectly normal. However, sudden changes are always a warning sign and should be taken seriously.
Take the environment and your behavior into account. For example, is it suddenly louder or more hectic?
Are you under stress or time pressure and did your pet get scared because of it? Were children or other pets alone with the hamster?
Even a shock is enough to trigger fear and aggression. Likewise, it may be an illness or injury that you have not noticed before.
A species-appropriate attitude and an adapted handling to the animal prevent many problems.
Therefore, in addition to the topics of nutrition and husbandry, also deal with the body language of hamsters and their habits.
This will help you to correctly classify noises and to avoid difficulties. In addition, through better understanding, you can deal more easily with the small rodent when conflicts arise.
Hamsters: What sounds reveal
In order to correctly interpret the vocalizations of hamsters, you need to observe the circumstances and your animal well.
From whimpering to call you to growling as a warning, you should not take the sounds as malice on the part of the animal.
Even a hiss usually means nothing more than “I don’t want that.” and is therefore perfectly legitimate.
Once the health side has been clarified and fright and shock can be ruled out, you should gently work on getting your dog used to people and keeping him occupied with you.
This way you will soon be able to perceive only positive noises from your hamster.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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