If you are a new hamster owner, you might wonder how hamsters communicate with each other, their owners and whether they can even make noises.
What nosies do hamsters make? Hamsters make a numerous of nosies depending on their mood. They will squeak, hiss, brux, chirp, and occasionally cough and sneeze. Hamsters will make the same noise for different reasons, therefore it is important to understand your hamster’s body language.
Although hamsters are probably one of the quietest pets you can have, that doesn’t mean that they never make a sound.
In this article, we will try to explain what noises hamsters make and what do they mean. We will also focus on the body language of hamsters so you can always know what your furry friend is trying to tell you.
What Sounds Do Hamsters Make?
Hamsters can emit a bunch of different noises. You might miss some of them, however, since they are nocturnal animals, which means that they are mostly active at night.
In any case, let’s take a quick look at the sounds that hamsters make and what do they mean.
Probably the hamster sound that most people know about is squeaking. After all, it is the most common sound that hamsters make. Usually, it is a high-pitched, shrill squeak, almost like the noise that a rubber duck makes when squeezed.
Being the most used form of vocal expression for hamsters, squeaking is used to communicate a wide range of emotions, including happiness, irritation, fear, attention seeking, hunger and even pain or illness. So, it may be difficult to know exactly what your hamster is trying to tell you by squeaking.
An occasional, short squeak means that the hamster is happy and content. Sharp squeaks, especially if they are repetitive, can indicate that something is wrong or that something is bothering him. Loud, continuous squeaks can be particularly worrying, so check on your hamster as soon as possible.
Hissing is a way for hamsters to tell you that they are not comfortable with something in their living environment. This is common for new hamsters since they usually need some time to get accustomed to their new surroundings.
If your hamster hisses when you are around, try to move slowly and speak in a soft voice. If he hisses around other pets, you may need to separate them until they become more familiar and comfortable in each other’s company.
Hamsters make a clicking noise, also called bruxing, when they rub their upper and lower front teeth together. This is a ritual that usually happens when the hamster is feeling calm and content.
Chirping is another form of communication that hamsters use and they use it to signal a variety of emotions, just like they do when they squeak. This sound is usually faint and high-pitched.
Hamsters chirp when they are scared, excited or when they seek attention. If you have more than one hamster, chirping sounds made in company can signal playfulness but it can also be a sign of aggression and upcoming violence, especially if chirping goes on for some time.
Chirping can also be a sign of pain, so check on your hamster if you hear this sound.
Coughing and Sneezing
Like humans, hamsters sneeze and cough for the same reasons. Your pet may be irritated by something like dust or a strong smell, which can cause him to cough or sneeze lightly and temporary.
Persistent bouts of sneezing and coughing can be signs of a common cold or allergies. Common allergies include food allergies and airborne allergies like furniture polish, hair sprays or perfumes and even cigarette smoke.
If you notice recurrent and frequent coughing or sneezing, get in touch with your vet as soon as possible because these symptoms can also be caused by some serious health problem, like a respiratory infection.
How Do Hamsters Communicate with Other Hamsters?
We know that hamsters use a lot of different sounds to express their feelings but is that the only way they communicate with each other or with their owners?
Hamsters communicate with sounds, body language and by certain chemical cues. Let’s take a look at each category and decipher how hamsters communicate among themselves.
As we already mentioned, hamsters can make many sounds, which is one of the basic ways of communication for them.
For example, female hamsters will use chirping and squeaking as mating calls when they are in heat and looking for a mating partner. Male hamsters, on the other hand, use mating calls when they find a female to let her know they are ready to mate.
Teeth chattering is typically a sign of fear or aggression among male hamsters. However, female and intersexual encounters can also lead to teeth chattering and displays of aggressive behavior.
Some hamsters have been known to emit ultrasonic sounds for echolocation because they have poor eyesight and they need help to navigate. However, ultrasonic sounds are sometimes also used as mating calls, especially in Golden Hamsters.
Body language is often used when two hamsters meet in an attempt to assert dominance, especially if the two hamsters are males.
Circling and sniffing is a typical way for two hamsters to check out each other and meet. The circling will continue for a while until hamsters decide who the dominant of the two is. Hamsters will show their submissiveness by sitting on their legs in an upright position so they can’t be thrown off balance.
Once the positions have been established, hamsters will engage in a face to face sparring. The dominant hamster will try to bite the belly of the submissive hamster while he remains seated and tries to push him away. So, basically, being in an upright position is hamsters’ way of dealing with dangers.
This may end without a fight if one hamster shows appeasement by holding out one paw and avoiding eye contact.
Unfortunately, it often escalates into a fight, which is announced by high-pitched squeaks. Hamsters will usually fight by rolling around and inflicting wounds. The fight will end when one hamster surrenders by freezing in a belly-up position.
However, sometimes the dominant hamster will try to chase the submissive one and that can end up badly, especially in a cage where the submissive hamster has nowhere to escape. You can stop this by squirting water on them to break up the fight.
Hamsters also use scent to send messages to other hamsters. To do so, hamsters use their scent glands to mark their territory and assert dominance.
Different hamster breeds have different types of glands. Syrian, Turkish, Romanian and Roborovski hamsters have a pair of scent glands on their flanks, one on each hip.
On the other hand, dwarf hamsters, like Winter White or Campbell’s hamsters, have six pairs of scent glands. They are located on their genitals, belly and ears.
How Do Hamsters Communicate with Humans?
You are probably more interested in how hamsters communicate with their owners. Using auditory cues is one of the ways. The other is with body language.
Since we have already covered the sounds that hamsters make, let’s just quickly sum them up again and what is your hamster trying to say to you when he uses them.
- Squeaks – Short, occasional squeaks mean that your hamster is happy. Loud and repetitive squeaks can signal that your hamster wants attention, feels hurt, irritable or uncomfortable or that he is frightened and threatened by something.
- Hissing – Hissing is a way for your hamster to let you know that he is upset, agitated or scared.
- Chattering – When hamsters chatter, it means they are either nervous or excited. In some cases, it can also be a sign of fear or aggression.
- Clicking – Hamsters engage in clicking (bruxing) when they are feeling content and happy.
Body language can tell you a lot about your hamster’s intentions, mood and health.
The position of your hamster’s ears, for example, can signal different things. If his ears are erect it means that he is curious about something. If his ears are positioned forward with his cheeks puffed up, the hamster is feeling insecure and prepared to flee. Ears at the back are a sign of tiredness, so treat your hamster carefully because he may bite you if you irritate him.
If your hamster is stretching and yawning, that means that he is feeling relaxed and content. Sometimes, yawning can signal exhaustion or nervousness but that is not often the case.
When a hamster stands on the back feet and moves his front arms together in a boxing-like stance, that means that he is feeling threatened and is ready to respond with aggression. Teeth grinding is meant to tell you that your hamster feels irritated and wants you to leave him alone.
If your hamster is walking slowly, like he is creeping, that can be a sign of a health issue. The same goes for crouched body posture, which can indicate pain or discomfort. He can also be frightened and uncertain if he is creeping.
Chewing on the bars of his cage is the hamster’s way to tell you that he is bored and that he would like some attention and fun, as soon as possible. It can also be his way to let you know that he wants new or different toys.
How to Tell that Your Hamster Is Happy?
You may wonder what noises a happy hamster might let out. However, happy hamsters won’t just show their content with sounds but with their body language as well.
What Sounds Do Happy Hamsters Make?
The most common sound that happy hamsters make is a clicking noise or bruxing. This usually happens when the hamster is content and calm.
Another sound that hamsters emit when they are happy is squeaking. However, squeaking can signal many things, including fear, pain or aggression. The happy squeaking is short and occasional, while repetitive, loud squeaking signals other things.
How Do They Show It with Their Body Language?
Happy hamsters often groom themselves in the presence of their owners. If he does it while he is out of his cage and with you, that means that he feels at ease and calm. In fact, if the hamster climbs on your hand, he is feeling comfortable around you.
When a hamster stretches and yawns, in most cases it means that he is feeling good and relaxed. Burrowing in the clean litter can also indicate happiness.
Hamsters that are active and playful are probably happy with their living situation and environment.
How to Tell that Your Hamster Is Scared?
Once again, you can tell whether your hamster is scared by the noises he makes, as well as his body language.
What Sounds Do Scared Hamsters Make?
When a hamster is frightened or nervous, he will often squeak loudly and without stopping. This is their way of letting you know that something is wrong.
Hissing and chattering are both sounds that indicate aggression, which is often the hamster’s way of responding to feeling threatened and scared.
How Do They Show It with Their Body Language?
Hamsters are well-known for their freezing abilities. While a hamster may stop moving because he is trying to hear something, it is usually caused by fear or surprise. Puffed cheek pouches and ears bent forward are also a sign of fear.
If your furry friend is getting startled when you approach him, that usually means that he is not yet fully comfortable around you and doesn’t feel safe.
When a hamster creeps along the floor, particularly near the walls, it signals the state of uncertainty and fear. Another way hamsters react to being scared is running around the cage looking for a place to hide. He may also lie on his back and show his teeth to tell you to back off because he is afraid.
Do Different Breeds of Hamsters Make Different Sounds?
Some hamster breeds can behave differently. For example, Chinese hamsters are usually more relaxed and don’t get agitated or stressed as much as other breeds. Also, Syrian hamsters are solitary animals and prefer to live alone, especially after they reach maturity.
However, these behavioral differences are not represented in the way that different breeds communicate, especially when it comes to noises and sounds they make. Perhaps smaller breeds may be able to make higher-pitched squeaks than larger breeds but generally, there are no differences in sounds that different hamster breeds make.
Do hamsters make noises at night? During the night hamster will be very active. They are likely to run around their cage and use their wheel which will make quite a bit of noise. It is best to not keep your hamster in your bedroom as they’ll likely keep you up.
Do hamsters make noises when they sleep? The majority of hamsters are crepuscular which means they will sleep during the day and are most active at dawn and dust. Hamsters make very little noises while they sleep.
Why is my hamster making weird noises? Hamsters make noises to communicate and express their emotions and will make different noises for different reasons.