Signs Of Depression In Hamsters (Reasons+What To Do)

Hamsters are lively and cheerful companions. However, most people often don’t realize that even Hamsters have emotions, and even they can feel sad and depressed. But how would you know if they are depressed? What are the signs of depression in Hamsters?

Depressed Hamsters often show signs of lethargy and sometimes even aggression. You may notice that they are always hiding and are reluctant to play. Overgrooming is also one of the common signs of depression. Do not try to hold your Hamster forcefully, they may bite you.

If your Hamster is not eating and defecating, it can be a major health issue that needs an immediate vet visit.

Hamsters are active animals, and they are likely to run and play around their cages.

Sometimes you may notice a sudden change in their behavior. This could be an early sign of health issues, and you must not take it lightly.

However, not all the time, it means they are ill.

Don’t worry; I will help you understand their behavior and signs of depression and also share some tips to cheer up their mood.

Do Hamsters Get Depressed?

Hamsters are smarter than most people think. They might not be as smart as cats or dogs, but they do understand a lot of emotions.

You must provide your Hamster with a good living environment and give them all the attention they deserve, this will help them live a happy and a healthy life.

However, certain situations can lead to depression and anxiety in Hamsters. If your Hamster has experienced trauma, stress, or something is wrong in their living space they might get depressed.

Hamsters need more than a cage, food, and water. Mental stimulation and exercise is important as well.

An imbalance in these elements can lead to health complications in them. You must try to keep your Hamster stress-free as stress is terrible for them.

A vet won’t be able to help much, even if your Hamsters are sad or depressed.

So, it’s up to you to realize the symptoms and provide them with necessary changes so that they can live a happy and cheerful life.

How To Tell If My Hamster Is Depressed?

Hamsters can’t communicate with us vocally, but they do show signs and behavior to transmit their message.

The symptoms of depression in Hamsters can be subtle and hard to detect.

However, if you pay close attention to their behavior, you will catch it at an early stage.

Lethargy

Your Hamster will become lethargic if he is depressed. He will just stay curled up in a corner of his enclosure.

He will not show any activity. You will notice that his energy level has degraded and that he has stopped to groom himself.

Always In Their Hideouts

Hamsters do not prefer to come out of their hideouts when they are stressed or depressed.

Picture Credits: Nelson, The Syrian Hamster; Instagram Handle: nelsonandnorma

If your Hamster is depressed they mite hide for hours and not move a bit.

They may lay around a corner or even sleep for hours without showing interest in anything.

Loss Of Appetite

You must have known by now that your Hamster will eat everything and anything you provide them.

Also, it is a common sight for us to see them munching on hay or their food whenever we pass by.

However, a depressed Hamster have less appetite. They are reluctant to eat even if we offer them their favorite veggies of fruits.

Not eating or insufficient eating can lead to several health complications in Hamsters including dental pain.

Biting

Although Hamsters share a friendly relationship with their owners, they, too, can bite just like any other pet.

A depressed Hamster is very aggressive and may bite you when you try to approach them.

A Hamster may bite you as a reaction to your action, which it doesn’t like. It is a normal animal behavior when they get hurt, afraid, or irritated. They bite to express their discontent.

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Overgrooming

Although Hamsters usually spend 20-30% of his life grooming themselves but then it is a bad sign if they overdo it.

Overgrooming can even lead to some health complications in Hamsters. You will also see them losing patches of fur when they overgroom.

Hamsters often over-groom when they are bored or stressed. Therefore, make sure that you give your Hamsters plenty of play toys to stay occupied.

Why Is My Hamster Depressed?

There is always some reason behind a depressed Hamster. If your Hamster is sad or unhappy, it’s time to find out the cause for the same.

Only when you know the reason of your Hamster’s depression, you’ll be able to help them.

Depression in Hamsters is usually due to one of the following reasons:

  • Stress can often lead to depression in Hamsters. Being cooped up on a small cage, being moved from time to time, etc. can also be a significant problem.
  • Severe pain or injury can make your Hamster depressed. You will your Hamster stops to eat or move if they are in pain.
  • Hamsters are active pets, they require mental stimulation to keep themselves healthy. A lack of exercise and mental stimulation can lead to depression in Hamsters.
  • If your Hamster has recently undergone surgery, they may get depressed.

If your Hamster is depressed all of a sudden, then it is easier to identify the cause. If you have made some changes in your Hamster’s living environment or diet in recent times that have made them unhappy, then start with reverting those changes.

It is always best to visit a vet, if you are suspicious about your Hamster’s health.

Seasonal Depression In Hamsters

It is common in Hamsters to seem depressed during cold days. Seasonal depression is when Hamsters and not exposed to much natural light.

You will start to see a change in your Hamsters behavior as fall approaches. In some cases, Hamsters do not return to its old self until spring.

You will also see your Hamsters shed during this period. Hamsters generally overgroom themselves during this time and thus look miserable.

There is not much you can do if your Hamster is under going seasonal depression. Just try and give them a lot of attention.

If you have a long haired Hamster, try to brush their hair everyday when molting to help them get rid of all the loose hair and prevent fur balls.

Boredom In Hamsters

Hamsters are active animals and they cannot stay quiet in one place for a long time.

Several Hamster owners don’t even realize how much mental stimulation and care Hamsters need to live a happy life.

Picture Credits: Dora, The Syrian Hamster; Instagram Handle: thehamstercalledmouse

Hamsters need more than a cage, food, and water. Providing some toys to play with and places to hide could spice up their life and make them feel good.

You should rotate the toys in every few days to keep them busy and avoid getting bored of all of them.

Also, try to increase their floor time. This will also help you to keep your Hamster engage.

Though it is very important to give your Hamsters enough floor time to play and run around, at the same time you should make sure that your little one is safe and secure while running free.

This is my Hamster’s favorite toy bridge. Have a look!

Depression After Major Surgery

It is normal for Hamsters to not being themselves after a major surgery.

If you have neuter or spayed your Hamsters in recent times, then they may seem stressed to you. This is because they undergo severe pain and change in hormones.

Also, lethargy and loss of appetite are some common behaviors of Hamsters after any significant surgical procedure.

You should try to calm down your Hamsters and provide them with as much comfort as possible.

The pain or wound may subdue within a week or two, but their personality and behavior may remain subdued for long.

How To Cheer Up My Depressed Hamster

We often mistake the pain and discomfort of our Hamsters for depression. If you are unsure whether your Hamster is depressed or not, the best option would be to take them to a vet.

A vet will help you check if your Hamster has some kind of pain or undiagnosed illness.

Being prey animals, Hamsters are excellent at hiding their pain. They do so to avoid looking week in front of their predators.

If the vet finds no physical discomfort, then it is probably a mental problem. Loneliness and boredom are some of the few reasons.

Here are a few tips that will help you to cheer up your Hamsters:

  • If you have made some changes in your Hamster’s living environment or diet in recent times that have made them unhappy, then start with reverting those changes.
  • Provide your Hamsters with enough toys. Toys can enrich your Hamsters life and always keeps them engaged. Besides keeping them engaged, toys also help Hamsters to work out. Try choosing different varieties of toys so that your furry friend never gets bored.
  • Provide your Hamster with the largest enclosure possible. Always remember that the enclosure will be your Hamster’s home. Get them an appropriate enclosure which has enough space for them to play and run around. The cage which you choose for your little one must be comfortable as well as safe.
  • Increase your Hamster’s floor time. Just let them out in an open and spacious room with closed drafts and ventilation, so that your little friend does not escape. If possible let them out for at least 1-2 hours each day. This will also help you to bond with your Hamster
  • Provide your Hamsters with a varied diet. You can also mix different kinds of vegetables, this will make a tastier treat for your Hamsters. Change is an integral part of everyone’s life, and the same is true with your Hamsters.

Enrichment Ideas For Hamsters

Toys can enrich your Hamsters life and always keeps them engaged. They need mental and physical stimulation to keep themselves happy.

Picture Credits: Dora, The Syrian Hamster; Instagram Handle: thehamstercalledmouse

If you could provide them with more things to do or do some activity with them, then they will be more than satisfied. Here are a few ideas to try:

  • Hamsters love to burrow. You can provide your Hamster will a cardboard box filled with shredded newspaper, this will keep them engaged.
  • You can also try making a maze for your Hamsters that would lead them to delicious treats.
  • Design a treasure hunt for your Hamsters. You can use cardboard boxes to make it. You can include some other materials and utilize the vertical space as well for them to play and exercise.
  • Get your Hamster a homemade hay feeder. Stuff hay into toilet paper tubes and let your hamsters pull it out.

As hideouts, you can either get a wooden made hiding spaces for your Hamsters or fleece made snuggle bed, which they can get into and feel at home. These are some of my favorites.

You can also check out this set of 10, Hamster Chew Toys, your Hamster will surely love it.

Can Hamsters Die From Depression?

In some cases, Hamsters do pass away from depression.

Hamsters are super active creatures but sometimes due to poor living environment and lack of mental stimulation, they get bored.

Depression can often lead to loss of appetite and other health complications that can take away your Hamster’s life.

Therefore, make sure you provide your Hamster with a happy and active life by providing them with the enrichment and interaction they deserve.

Why Is My Depressed Hamster Not Eating?

If your Hamster is unhappy or depressed, it is common for them to lose appetite.

You will notice that a depressed Hamster will lose interest in all their favorite activities, including munching on their favorite food.

You can try luring your Hamster to eat food by offering them tempting treats. Offer them some tasty snacks and good quality hay, such as a third cut timothy hay.

You can also give them their favorite fruits like elderberries, watermelon, etc. or their favorite vegetables like carrots or beetroots.

However, fruits and vegetables should only be served as treats and in no condition shall replace the staple diet of your Hamster.

Overfeeding can lead to sugar buildup. This can lead to health problems such as bladder stones, sludge, etc.

Sometimes, Hamster’s depression becomes so severe that they stop eating altogether.

This can lead to serious health problems, including gastrointestinal stasis, where the digestive system stops moving. This can even prove to be life-threatening for your Hamster.

If your little one has not eaten anything from the past 10-12 hours, I would suggest you take them to a vet.

In some cases, even dental pain also leads to depression in Hamsters. Here, the vet will be able to provide you with the best possible health.

Sources: Research Gate, Dehydration In Hamsters, Journal Of Nutrition, Science Mag, Springer Link

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Mohini

Hello, I am Mohini, the founder of this blog. I am a qualified Animal Nutrition. I am here to help everyone understand their pets better.

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