If you’re like me, you think all your animals need a friend because they're lonely. But, surprisingly, many species prefer to be loners despite how they are portrayed. So today, we're going to answer the question, "does your hamster need a friend?” Also, hamsters have a fascinating history contributing to the answer to "does your hamster need a friend.”
Hamster origins and behaviors toward other hamsters
Syrian hamsters (known by many other names) originated in the Syrian and Turkish deserts. They are one of the most solitary and territorial species on our planet. In short, hamsters do not get lonely. Therefore, to answer the question, "does your hamster need a friend?" they don't.
Considered a “vulnerable” species, European doctors initiated a breeding project to maintain their existence. While they’ve been fully domesticated and aren’t “endangered” anymore due to breeding programs, they’ve kept their solitary and territorial temperaments. Unfortunately, when you see hamsters for sale at pet stores, they're generally in an enclosure with many companions. This also perpetuates the misnomer that they prefer to have lots of friends around. The hamsters on display are typically very young and can co-exist peacefully. However, when they enter adulthood (8 to 10 weeks), having multiple hamsters together is asking for trouble. Occasionally, they can live together, but it causes significant stress. Stress decreases their already shorter lifespan of 3 to 4 years. Also, they can decide to stake out their territory at any time. Defending their turf leads to vicious fighting, even to the death. Finally, female hamsters are very aggressive toward males when they are in heat. Keeping your hamster in a private enclosure prevents unwanted pregnancies and battles.
Creating the Perfect Hamster Hamlet
One-on-one, Syrian hamsters are very friendly and loving and enjoy having human friends. They need a large, tall enclosure with plenty of hiding places to simulate a spacious desert environment. To keep your hamster happy, you'll want something at least 2 feet long, 1 foot wide, and 1 foot high. Bigger is acceptable, too! To create suitable hiding spaces, they'll make burrows in their bedding. What kind of bedding should you use? You can see which type they prefer or mix it up. Fabric or cotton bedding isn't recommended (choking hazard).
Don't think your little one will hide all day, though! Hamsters love to run and play. Toys such as exercise wheels, tunnel toys (also good for hiding), and plant/wood-based chews keep them healthy and prevent boredom. Lots of love and attention are also essential for a happy hammy, so don't hesitate to pet and interact with them regularly.
Like all animals, hamsters need an unlimited fresh water supply. The best way to keep your hamster hydrated is through a vacuum-action water bottle. Hamsters are omnivores who like to store their food in their cheeks! (It's always good to stash food and treats for later.) Typically, hamsters eat nuts, grains, and seeds. They also like fresh fruit and veggies such as apples, broccoli, cauliflower, and pears. Always remember that fruit has a lot of sugar, so limiting their fruit intake is wise. We've got all kinds of healthy snacks and treats for hamsters, which you can find right here.
Again, if you're wondering, "does your hamster need a friend?” the answer is a resounding no. Syrian hamsters prefer to be alone at home. So don't feel bad if they don't have a hamster buddy. They're perfectly content with you as their companion. Caring for them, as outlined here, will keep them happy and healthy.
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