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Appropriate company for hamsters

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Ensure your hamsters have appropriate company

 

Hamster © iStockphoto

Hamsters need:

  • Careful consideration. 
    - Not all species of hamster can be housed in groups. Syrian and Chinese hamsters in particular are not naturally sociable and are better kept on their own. Under appropriate conditions and if care is taken, Dwarf hamsters can be group housed. 
    - If you are housing hamsters in groups, take great care to make sure the groups are compatible. Hamsters are generally solitary animals, and can be aggressive towards other hamsters. When aggression occurs between hamsters it can be very dramatic and lead to serious injury or even death. Housing Hamsters in Groups (PDF 231KB).
     
  • Familiarity. Do not house unfamiliar hamsters, and different cages of hamsters, next to one another as they can find this stressful. Hamsters use odours including pheromones to communicate.
    - Females in oestrus produce potent pheromones and should not be housed near males.
    - Males secrete pheromones to mark territory and this can be stressful for other males nearby. 
     
  • The stress associated with handling reduced by ensuring you have positive interactions with them and gently habituate them to you. Hamsters are timid animals, and although they can become accustomed to careful handlers, they become frightened and aggressive if they feel threatened. Hamsters enjoy interacting with people who handle them carefully, and are sympathetic to their needs. Handling your hamster (PDF 193KB)
     
  • Other animals in the home to be prevented from accessing them or their cage. Hamsters can find the presence and scent of other animals in the home stressful.
     
  • Constant supervision when they’re with another animal that may deliberately or accidentally harm/frighten them even if you think they are good friends.