When you are taking care of a pet, their comfort and wellbeing mean the world to you, so it is vital to learn how animals like hamsters communicate, especially if they are in pain or distress.
Learning to understand their noises and movements can help prevent any serious conditions and generally improve their wellbeing.
Is your hamster making crying and screaming sounds like this?
We’re sure you’ve noticed that though they do not shed tears hamsters do make crying and screaming noises when distressed.
Hamsters do not cry but the shrill screaming and squeaking noises you may hear are intended to be as upsetting as possible to get your attention, just like tearful crying would be.
Screaming is your hamster’s way of getting through to you.
Despite their cute fluffy and rather diminutive appearance, hamsters can and will use shrill shrieks and crying noises when distressed or in pain. For the newbie hamster owner, it can be quite a surprise to introduce their hamster to a cozy new cage and watch them scream and wail.
What are the possible causes of a screaming hamster?
As with most creatures, the screams of a hamster will be down to pain, fear, or other distress. We forget that as humans we are incredibly large and intimidating, meaning that a panicked hamster may have no other choice than to wail if we get too close.
Remember that in the wild hamsters are solitary creatures, so their social skills are not the best. Some hamsters will scream when they are being handled or watched, and believe it or not some hamsters simply scream as a stereotyped or as a learned behavior unrelated to their emotional state.
You will probably observe over time (or via Twitter memes or viral TikTok videos) that hamsters can be very vocal and may voice their displeasure at the removal of food or treats with a good ol scream!
What should you do about a crying hamster?
The first thing to do is not panic. If you are holding or handling the hamster, it is best to place them in their cage and give them some space.
Bright lights and noisy environments can be quietened and dimmed to see if the crying settles and to buy some thinking time to work out what is wrong. If there are signs that there is pain or a health-related issue, they will need to be taken to the vet.
There may be more to hamster emotions than previously thought…
If you are baffled by how your pet hamster is feeling, scientists who study animal behavior are even more so. This is because a lot of the time the hamster behaviors cant be taken at face value so you can never be fully sure what is going on!
An intriguing study published by the British scientific organization The Royal Society devised an effective method of assessing the emotional state of a hamster.
The researchers used a judgment bias methodology that can analyze how a hamster’s mood will affect its decision-making.
The boffins took a group of 30 hamsters and split them into two groups. The first group lived it up in ultra-comfortable cages with plenty of toys and cost bedding. The second group of hamsters had more Spartan accommodation with basic bedding and a wheel.
These hamsters had been trained to discriminate between drinkers filled with bitter quinine water on the left side of their housing and sugar water on the right side.
These two types of drinkers were then introduced in the same positions to the hamster cohorts’ respective cages as well as a third drinker in a variable position.
The results were remarkable.
The fine-living group of hamsters was 12% more likely to approach a drinker that was close to the bitter drinker than those in the basic cages.
This marked display of optimism in hamsters was replicated when the hamsters were switched around and the rough-living hamsters got an upgrade. Understanding such positive shifts in hamster behavior can hopefully help improve pet hamster care.
Taking the time to learn about your hamster will help you meet its needs….and screams.
If you and your hamster are adjusting to your life together screaming may be a transient phase. Once any serious issues are excluded, you may be dealing with a behavioral quirk that your pet uses to vocalize displeasure from time to time.
By continuing to observe and research your hamster’s behavior you will increase in confidence that your care is maintaining their wellbeing.